Monday, October 31, 2011

Music notes

In response to this question, Stephen Epstein's RAS presentation last week about girl groups was well worth attending. There was a lot of textual analysis of lyrics and dissection of the narratives present in the videos. I liked his description of the dichotomy between girls presenting themselves as shy and inexperienced while at the same time 'anticipating being deflowered,' I think was how be put it.

The article which made him interested in the topic of Girl Groups can be found here (enter page 25 at the bottom). There's lots to tear apart - you've got to love a self described "middle aged man" asking, "Just what is it about them that drives us into such a frenzy?" and then match that with this: "Some are so surprised by the elder generation’s enthusiasm for girl groups that they cannot help but mention the Lolita complex. Nevertheless, that would be an example of an exaggerated principle that remains from the past authoritarian era." (Nice try, but I don't think wonjo gyoje began in the 1970s.) "In the course of shifting from a masculine-dominated era to one of feminine equality, the imposing frames of age and gender are being slowly torn down. The time has come in pop culture where a man in his 40s can cheer for teenage girl groups without being looked at suspiciously." Ah, so this is what happens when "the imposing frames of age and gender are ... torn down" - you get to ogle teenage girls "without being looked at suspiciously." One wonders if part of this brave new world will involve men getting something more than a suspended sentence for paying a 14 year old for sex.

This - "They are at the edge of the frontier of popular culture, but they are not just pioneers—they are the culture." - made me think of Verv's evisceration of celebrity worship in the new Broke in Korea (page 20).

As for this - "They render the term “singer” insufficient." - that's true, but not in the way he's thinking, as Gord Sellar argues here. And Gord - here's a video you're looking for - Kim Jung-mi performing with back-up dancers (near the end) - in 1974.

And in revisiting that time period, I should mention Mark Russell's article in the New York Times about Korean rock from the 60s and 70s:
Shin Joong-hyun remembers the first time he took the stage 55 years ago in Seoul. Just 18, he had passed an audition for the U.S. Eighth Army and was selected to play top American hits to the troops. “I was too young to be scared,” the 73-year-old rocker said in a telephone interview, “so I just tried to do a good job.”

Soon, he was playing 20 to 30 dates a month at U.S. military bases all over South Korea, songs like “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” “40 Miles of Bad Road” and “Rock Around the Clock” — the first song Mr. Shin sang, instead of just playing guitar. “The soldiers seemed to like my guitar playing,” he recalled. “They were really enthusiastic and often asked for more solos.”

Bands that got their start rocking out on U.S. Army bases became the vanguard of a new music scene in South Korea. Mr. Shin was at the heart of it, creating bands, finding singers and writing many of the most memorable rock songs recorded in South Korea, especially from 1968 to 1975.
He also mentions DJ Soulscape, whose mix cd "More Sound of Seoul" is made up of selections of 1970s Korean funk, pop and rock from his massive LP collection. I highly recommend it, as it makes clear that a lot of the music back then represented more of a blend of traditional Korean music and western music, unlike what is popular today.

Mark also notes that two collections of Shin Jung-hyun's music have been released in the US. In addition to those releases, I just discovered that Pony Canyon has released eight cds of Shin's music, with cds focusing on the Pearl Sisters, Lee Jung-hwa, Kim Chu-ja, Kim Jung-mi, Jang Hyun, and The Three Travelers, as well as cd reissues of Hicky Shin (Shin's 1958 instrumental album, with interesting tunes like 'Twist Arirang') and the Add 4 (Korea's first rock and roll band, from 1964). Purple Record was cleaned out (after my visit), though I missed two (and saw no need for the Add 4 reissue, having purchased an earlier cd of it recently). The cds all come with introductions by Shin Jung-hyun and lyric sheets, and sound better than some versions of the songs I've heard (unfortunately, all of these reissues are mastered from the original vinyl, as the master tapes no longer exist, a situation that may be due to the Park Chung-hee government, as Mark relates). I recently picked up a Lee Jang-hee best-of cd, and the it's obviously based on the original master tapes - it sounds great. It's quite a shame Shin's music can't be listened to in the same manner.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deconstructing girl groups (tonight)

Tonight's Royal Asiatic Society lecture will feature Professor Stephen Epstein discussing "Girls' Generation? Gender, (Dis)Empowerment and K-pop." Here's a description:
This lecture will engage in a close analysis of the music and videos of groups such as the Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation, KARA, T-ara and the discourse that has surrounded their rise to popularity in South Korea, in order to challenge the notion that contemporary consumer society is making a radical break from more traditional, deeply embedded power structures and argue that a set of recurrent tropes in the studied media and marketing presentation of Korean girl groups undercuts claims to a progressive ethos.
It should be interesting - the last time I saw Professor Epstein speak he was introducing the documentary he made about the Korean punk scene over a decade ago. And readers of The Grand Narrative will note that he worked with James Turnbull on this material.

More details can be found here. The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is north of Jogyesa Temple, and is 5,000 won for non-member and free for members.

Monday, October 24, 2011

NYT on "The Crucible"

The New York Times published an article last week looking at the reaction to the film “Dogani” (“The Crucible”):
At an appeals court in the southwestern city of Gwangju in 2006, a school official was convicted of raping a 13-year-old deaf girl and sentenced to one year in prison. When the verdict came, an outraged middle-aged man, also deaf, let out an incomprehensible cry from the galley, signaling frantically with sign language.

“It was clear that the man was shouting, ‘This is wrong! This is wrong!”’ Lee Ji-won, a newspaper intern, wrote in her blog later that day under the subject line, “I saw the foul underside of our society.”

The man was forcibly removed for disrupting the courtroom. And that might have been the end of it. Except that the intern’s blog inspired a best-selling author, Gong Ji-young, to write a novel based on the sexual assaults at the Inhwa School for the hearing impaired, the school’s attempts to conceal the abuses and the victims’ struggle for justice.

Now, a film based on that novel — “Dogani,” or “The Crucible” — has roiled South Korea.
It goes on to offer some distressing statistics:
The number of sexual crimes against mentally or physically disabled people reported to the police was 320 last year, up from 199 in 2007, according to the National Police Agency. But the government estimates that fewer than 10 percent of victims report sexual crimes to the police for fear of being shamed in public trials.

In South Korea, sex crimes generally can be prosecuted only if the victim presses charges, and charges are often dropped if a financial settlement is reached between the defendant and the plaintiff. Two years ago, the law was revised to require that all sex crimes involving alleged victims aged 18 or under be prosecuted, even if they have not themselves pressed charges. Following the uproar over “The Crucible,” the government has promised to extend this to cases where the alleged victims are mentally or physically disabled.

When sexual assault cases involving victims aged 13 and under come to trial now, roughly 95 percent of defendants are found guilty, but penalties are weak, with about a third receiving prison terms and the rest receiving suspended sentences or assessed fines. Half of the teachers who were convicted of sexually assaulting their students or others were given nothing more severe than a pay cut or a short suspension, according to the Education Ministry.
Do read the entire article. More statistics about teachers and sex crimes can be found here.

It's good to see that this is pushing the discourse on punishment for sex crimes (and legal responses) along, though, as I've pointed out here, this is a process that has been underway for the last five years, since a girl was abducted and murdered in Yongsan in February 2006.

Even earlier, in 2004, in response to a case in Miryang in which investigating police insulted teenaged girls who were gang-raped repeatedly over a period of months (and leaked their IDs to the media, and made them point out their rapists face to face), there was outrage by netizens and offline protests . Though 41 high school boys were involved, none were convicted of criminal charges.

"Rape is dismissed with a caution???"
(From here, where more photos can be found.)

Similarly, none of the children involved in a elementary school student on student sex abuse scandal at a Daegu were ever punished.

Lax treatment of sex offenders who have victimized children has led to furious public responses before. In the Yongsan case there was anger at the fact the killer had a previous sex crime against a child settled through compensation and was allowed to strike again (though this was due in part to it being incorrectly reported that he had committed many such sex crimes in the past), and of course the Nayoung case that came to light in the fall of 2009 made many waves.

Recently the Korea University med students who molested their drunken classmate were given tougher sentences than the prosecutors asked for, but at the same time, an appeals court judge reviewing the sentences of six years in prison and ten years of offender registry given to four men in their early twenties who gang-raped a 12 year old girl for four hours, opted to give them suspended sentences instead (see here, though it should read "a three year sentence suspended for four years", not "three years in prison and four years of probation").

Related to this is this rather shocking statistic (from here):
Some 50 percent of teenage rape cases occurred in groups, compared to 30 percent for adults. Experts say that this tendency is higher in Korea than in other countries.
I had wondered before if a good number of those adult gang-rapes were in fact university students. This comment illustrates this quite well, and is believable in the light of the above quote.

And, in discussions of revising sex crime laws, perhaps someone might want to consider raising the age of consent to something higher than 13. Just an idea.

This topic reminds me of a story a friend told me years ago (but reminded me of recently) which took place in a hagwon south of Seoul. A female student at the hagwon was found to have a dislocated shoulder and vaginal tearing, and it was discovered that two male classmates had held her by the arms while egging on a classmate to stick his finger between her legs; the dislocated shoulder came from her struggling so much. A teacher was in the room, but because they were under some sort of playground equipment (if I remember correctly) they couldn't be seen, and with other children playing, couldn't be heard. The age of the students? Kindergarten. It was all settled in house, the result of which was - nothing happened. The parents of the girl pulled their daughter out, unsurprisingly. I suppose the hagwon owner considered the simple economics and figured losing one student was better than losing three. So it goes. One wonders if there would be any reason for the boys not to take away from the experience the lesson that, if they work together, they can get away with anything.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A collection of newspaper cartoons about foreign English teachers

I found the above cartoon the other day, and as I was trying to track down a specific cartoon on this site, I thought I'd put all of the anti-foreign teacher cartoons together. After I realized I had no cartoons from 2007 (when anti-foreign teacher articles and reports reached a peak before the E-2 visa regulations changed), I decided a search was in order, but found more than I expected. Here are all of the cartoons or illustrations related to foreign English teachers I could find, positive and negative. You may note the consistency with which the gender and race of the teachers is depicted, as well as certain racial characteristics.

This odd image of a couple kissing is from the incredibly bizarre column titled 'sickening face' published in August 1984 during the French teacher 'scandal.'

This cartoon comes from a Kyunghyang Sinmun opinion article from 1997 (which includes the phrase "Korea is a paradise for unqualified English teachers") :

(NSA: Native Speaking Assistant?)

This one is from a December 17, 2004 Donga Ilbo article titled "Foreigners see various aspects of corruption in Korean society," which paints some foreign teachers as victims of hagwon owners.

("I knew I shouldn't have accepted a job from Chun Doo-hwan!")

On April 5, 2005, the Donga Ilbo published an article titled, "'In Korea, English teachers have a fascinating life'; US recruiting site belittles Korea," which included this cartoon (obviously by the same artist):


From an August 15, 2005 Donga Ilbo article about apartment complexes having an English village with a foreign teacher titled "Our apartment's children don't go to hagwons":

From a November 23, 2005 Busan Ilbo article about apartments having English villages with a foreign teacher for marketing purposes:

From a December 7, 2005 Segye Ilbo article about foreign profs and visas (note the artist's signature - he'll turn up again):

"Visa?" 'lecture'

From a December 30, 2005 Kukmin Ilbo column about the Busan dialect:

From a March 6, 2006 Hankyoreh article about need for teachers in the countryside:

'Chungcheongbuk-do': "We have no budget!"

From an April 16, 2006 Hankyoreh article about companies introducing teachers to other businesses making lots of money:

From an April 18 2006 Kyunhyang Sinmun article which asked people, 'Which is more useful, an English camp or a native speaking teacher (55% chose the former, 40%, the latter):

As the teacher has no nose, I'll assume she's one of those 'fake' native speakers. The same question is pondered in this cartoon from the Hanguk Ilbo, April 25, 2006:

A June 4, 2006 Hanguk Ilbo article looks at the placement of native speaking teachers by province or city:

From a July 9, 2006 Segye Ilbo article titled “It’s urgent that measures be prepared for unqualified native speaking English teachers”:

The cartoon below is from an August 16, 2006 Seoul Shinmun article titled "Washout Native-Speaking Teacher Problem":

Late, absent/ gets money and does a runner/ molestation

Two days later, on August 18, the Segye Ilbo, mentioning the arrest of John Mark Karr, provided this cartoon in an article titled "As long as they just speak English... "Don't ask" recruiting of foreign instructors":


From an October 9, 2006 Kookmin Ilbo article about English names:

"My name is Jio"

On October, 23 2006, the Hanguk Ilbo provided this illustration for an article titled "US gangster drug criminals became hagwon English teachers?"

English instructor

From a November 22, 2006 Chosun Ilbo article titled "Foreigners started rumors about Hongdae? 'Street of pleasures,' a bitter distortion" (about a Korean woman studying in New York who met foreign men there who talked about Hongdae - and not because of art or music (gasp!)):

"The Girls of Hongdae..."

From a March 6, 2007 Hanguk Ilbo article titled “Public servant who can’t speak English? Don’t even dream of promotion [Ulsan]":

From a March 11, 2007 Hanguk Ilbo article about TOEFL and ways of studying:

I just liked it for the nose on the TV anchor:

From the May 9, 2007 Hankyoreh article ‘The reason for English teachers who speak poor English’ (at 46 places in capital area there were teachers hired for being white but were non native speakers):

From the May 26, 2007 Donga Ilbo article "Learn Korean in Andong":

From the June 11, 2007 Kyunghyang Shimun article "Native speaking teacher ‘low content’ – As long as they speak English, OK":

Translation: "It's chowdah! Chowdah!
I'll kill you! I'll kill all of you -
especially those of you in the jury!"

From the July 13, 2007 Munhwa Ilbo article “fake phone English teachers abound”:

"The pronunciation?" "Shallashalla"

I don't think they could be much clearer about how they feel about talking to a Filipina.

From an October 4, 2007 Donga Ilbo article about co teaching, and the need for training:

From an October 17, 2007 Segye Ilbo article titled “Native speaking teachers work in the country? NO”:

"Big city"

From a November 12, 2007 Gangwon Ilbo article titled "The power of English":

From a February 10, 2008 Kyunghyang Sinmun article about enticements to buy apartments like English camps:

From a February 18, 2008 Hanguk Gyeongje article about a free language chatting site:

A March 20, 2008 Hanguk Ilbo article titled "Killer wanted by FBI openly teaches in Korea" published this cartoon:

"Wanted" "Teacher"

From a March 24, 2008 Maeil Gyeongje article about English immersion education:

From a March 29, 2008 Maeil Gyeongje article about Konglish:

This was in the June 18, 2008 edition of the Weekly Chosun:

"Native speaking instructor"

Ironically, it's a translation of an article written by a foreigner criticizing the abilities of foreign teachers in Korea. As for the cartoon, I love the sign he's holding. Who doesn't want a foreign teacher blow-up doll? If you can't get a robot, I mean.

From a June 25, 2008 Sindonga article titled, “By memorizing a framework of only 200 sentences, you too can master practical English”:

"Shalla shalla"

(It says that the Korean person is someone who has "studied using this method for 1 year." For those doubters out there, perhaps the foreigner is praising him because he isn't a native speaker, as can be seen by the lack of a huge nose.)

From a July 18, 2008 Kyunghyang Sinmun article about taeglish and piglish (taekwondo, piano + English):

This cartoon appeared in a September 26, 2008 NoCut News (and Gyeongin Ilbo) article titled "70% of Incheon native speaking assistant English teachers are inexperienced":

"Experience" .

From a December 5, 2008 Seoul Sinmun article titled “Study English with a native speaker through the computer”:

From a December 17, 2008 Maeil Shinmun article titled "Why do unqualified foreign English teachers abound?," which opens with the question, "If you're white, all goes well?," had this pointy-nosed foreigner holding an (incorrect) graph:

From a January 28, 2009 Hanguk Ilbo article about Seoul shouldering private education costs:

This cartoon accompanied a May 20 Donga Ilbo article titled "'Drug instructors' caught and still teach - schools and hagwons take no action and cover it up":

An August 9, 2009 Segye Ilbo article titled "In a single year, thousands of dollars are spent inviting... fraud native speaking teachers" provided two cartoons:

The August 24, 2009 Weekly Chosun had several articles about English Teachers (see here for translations) and provided these cartoons (the first is meant to comment on how the media views foreign English teachers):

On October 31, 2009, Sports Seoul published an article titled "Pursuing the reality of sex crimes by foreigners which threaten Korean women" in which was written "From Southeast Asians who enter the country illegally to earn money, to white native speaking English instructors... sex crimes against Korean women by foreigners are rampant."

 The Hankyoreh published four positive articles about foreign English teachers on November 29, 2009 and had these four cartoons accompany the articles:

"Forty students?"

"Why doesn't she ever consult with me about classes?"
"Do this today, OK?"

"I want to improve my skills as a teacher" (Book:"Teacher training")

"Are they going to ignore me?"

On December 1, 2009, Ilyo Sisa published a round up of incidents for that week and included a section titled "A bunch of foreign instructors headed to prison... why? A 'stoned lecture' while on drugs," which reported that there had been a shocking arrest of foreigners who worked in kindergartens and schools, including a regular [employee] instructor at a university and an actor seen on a terrestrial broadcaster. Five were arrested, one booked but not detained, and three more were being pursued for smuggling or taking cocaine or pot cookies in Incheon. (SBS also reported on this bust.)

On February 19, 2010, the Donga Ilbo published an article which wasn't about foreign teachers at all (it mentions the native speaker way of thinking when studying English), but which included this bizarre cartoon:

"Correct expression", "accurate pronunciation"
(note that the artist also did this classic cartoon)

On March 24, 2010, the Donga Ilbo published an article titled "By day he teaches, by night he sells drugs... Teacher wanted by Interpol" with the English subtitle "He is a killer, drug dealer… and your teacher" (which depicts the teacher as a gumiho or fox with 9 tails who has turned into an English teacher):

On March 30, 2010,  Ilyo Sisa, published an article titled "Unqualified English instructor who was a former gangster caught; In the US he was a 'murderer', in Korea, a 'teacher.'"

This cartoon is from a Gyeongin Ilbo editorial from October 26, 2010 titled "Opium eater Native speaking teacher":

The Munhwa Ilbo published an article on December 8, 2010 titled "Native Speaker Phone English? Turns out it's a korian. Deception by yuhaksaeng [posing as] 'neitibeu seupikeo'" that included this cartoon (it's not hard to figure out which one is foreign):

From a December 13, 2010 Kyunghyang Sinmun article about a foreign teacher stealing a trophy from other teachers while drunk:

On December 15th, Sports Seoul published an article following up on the 'fake' native speakers titled "'Ddeokbokki should be pronounced 'ddeobbogi' - the sorrow of fake native teachers." The accompanying cartoon, depicting the ddeokbokki incident and a teen talking about her sexual experience in earshot of the teacher (who must play dumb since he 'doesn't understand Korean') raises questions:

Do they have blond hair (and a goatee and earring) and look grotesque (compared to the Korean girls) because they are masquerading as foreigners?

This cartoon is from an August 9, 2011 Chosun Ilbo article titled "Famous Gangnam hagwon owner was LA gang member 14 years ago":

Gyopo murderers working as English teachers in Korea always seem to be fodder for cartoonists; this makes quite clear the person in question is Korean.

This cartoon is from an August 9 2011 Hankook Ilbo editorial about the hagwon owner wanted for attempted murder in the US:

Note the knife in his back pocket. As the teacher has no nose, he has also been pretty clearly depicted not to be a westerner.

From an August 19, 2011 Chosun Ilbo article titled "[Why] Ethnic Koreans in Korea suffer discrimination - wronged native speaking English teachers":

It's good to see the newspaper that printed "White English Teacher Threatens Korean Woman with AIDS" [Korean, English] so concerned about the plight of non-white, ethnic Korean foreign teachers.

On December 9, 2011, the Seoul Sinmun published an articlesubtitled "American gangsters deported for murder, drugs and gun smuggling became native speaking teachers" (more about that story can be read here):

"Fake diploma; native speaking instructor"

This cartoon is from a lengthy March 20, 2012 Donga Ilbo article about the effect the disappearance of native speaking teachers would have on public schools in Seoul, especially with Gangnam-gu having 4 billion won to spend on NSETs when other districts had no money.

On July 10, 2012, this cartoon appeared in a Donga Ilbo article titled "University student 'English study tip': A part time job in Itaewon":

On August 24, 2012, Financial News posted an article about native speaker video English, which was accompanied by the following photo:

On October 11, 2012, the Gyeongnam Sinmun, offered the following cartoon in an article titled "Foreign kindergarten instructor habitually took drugs" (pot cookies):

On May 3, 2013, the Munhwa Ilbo article published the following demonic photo to illustrate an article titled "An American wanted for first degree sexual assault of a child turned out to be... an 'elementary school instructor' on the run in Korea for 9 years":

This July 29, 2013 Munhwa Ilbo article, titled "'Foreigners [caught for] hidden cameras' increase sixfold over four years - concern videos may be leaked overseas," mentions a foreign teacher who took upskirt photos (but not at a beach, which was the focus of the story) and illustrates the article with an image of the same teacher seen directly above, and illustrated by the same artist.

On February 12, 2014, the Kyunghyang Sinmun published this episode of Park Sun-chan's 'Jangdori' in their hard copy edition and online) based on a case of mistreated African performers.

A certain artist. 

"People from poor countries need to realize that they live in luxury in Korea."

A certain criminal.
[Holding bag of 'drugs']

[At a native speaker English hagwon]
"Thank you so much for deigning to visit our shabby place."
"Teacher!" [Bowing deeply.]

On August 4, 2014, the Gyeongin Ilbo published this cartoon about English and Chinese native speaking English teachers leaving Incheon schools:

On December 4, 2014, the Law Times published this cartoon to accompany an article about a judgement requiring a hagwon owner to pay foreign instructors severance pay:

Some additional, non newspaper cartoons include this and these (NSFW) comics, which I also looked at here. The graphic accompanying this article is also amusing.

Vaguely related is an October 23, 2009 Kyunghyang Shinmun article titled "Foreign school students do 'lots of drugs'" depicted mostly Korean students doing drugs with this cartoon:

Plus a 'best of' compilation:

No one is safe. No one.

Last but not least, this is from a cartoon on a blog about a Korean teacher's foreign co-teacher ("shalla shalla" represents what Koreans think English sounds like). For some reason, the gif's animation only seems to work if you click on the photo - so click away: