Friday, March 30, 2012

Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women
Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?

In the early morning of January 13, Segye Ilbo was the first to write about how photos of a party were lashing the netizens into anger:
Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
The stir over 'denigrated Korean women' is greatly expanding as it has been claimed that the A forum of the foreigner E English instructor site, which denigrated Korean women, held an official gathering and openly threw a secret party.

One netizen's posting at the '[Anti-] English Spectrum internet cafe' which says "the foreign English instructor site and its postings denigrating Korean women were reported to 'Ilsan police station'" is being spread indiscriminately around the internet. The posting claims, "This is turning out to be unrelated to the E site incident (disparaging Korean women), but this place is also where an offline gathering organized by the site's A forum took place."

For this reason, he posted about ten photos showing scenes of a secret party at M Club with people wearing t-shirts that read 'English Spectrum,' 'Ask the Playboy.' In the photos are disconcerting scenes of foreigners and Korean women enjoying a party in which they are drinking alcohol and are entwined with each other.

The posting also made public the address of the homepage of M Club, which provided the location for the party. After the address was released, netizens connected to M Club's homepage and flooded it with comments denouncing the club. The homepage administrator finally explained that, "We have absolutely nothing to do with this incident."

M Club said, in comments "regarding the English Spectrum incident," "We know that right now photos from our party are surging throughout the internet." "Are women all whores or all yanggongju if they dance with Westerners? This is a nonsensical affair born of cultural ignorance and extreme nationalism." At the moment it has not yet been confirmed whether M Club organized the secret party.

In spite of M Club's aggressive justification, its site was flooded with comments denouncing it. As well, there is concern that the spread of photos from the photo page showing even the faces of those attending a party unrelated to the original incident might lead to a second wave of victims.

Prior to this, on the 11th the Joongang Ilbo's article "Controversy over foreign English instructor site denigrating Korean women" introduced some of the things posted at E site used by foreign English instructors in Korea, and reported how postings there which sexually denigrated Korean women had caused controversy.
The article went on to rehash the original anger at the writings by English teachers at English Spectrum. Several hours later, My Daily issued an update on the 'M Club' mentioned in the above article:
M [bar] involved in stir over denigrated Korean women closes homepage

Recently a foreign instructor site which caused controversy by denigrating Korean women temporarily shut down, and the homepage of M Bar, which organized a party for foreign instructors, removed all of its menus from the site.

By reading reports by some media outlets about the denigration of Korean women, netizens who had learned of the party organized by M Bar, and attended by Korean women and foreigners in Korea, left critical comments in the guestbook found at the bar's website.

M's manager made clear her feelings: "We know that right now photos from our party are surging throughout the internet. However, please think about the injury and pain the subjects of those photos will receive. Friends who are innocent and pure souls who went out and had fun at the place where I work have overnight become "whores and yanggongju."

"Are women all whores or all yanggongju if they dance with Westerners? Is it art if women undress in a nightclub to win a ticket for a trip to southeast Asia? The still of the foreign man people saw with mesh underwear was nothing but an impromptu performance by an artist who pursues nudity [as art]," the manager explained.

However, some netizens who made an 'anti' cafe for this site criticized M saying 'It's no different than a place that arranges prostitution.'
For those who are unaware, yanggongju means, literally, 'Western princess,' but in fact refers to prostitutes for the US military. It's not the last time we will see this term, or see women known to be with foreign English teachers referred to as such. It is also not the only way in which netizens and the media will make connections between foreign English teachers and US soldiers. For a (rare) critical look at perceptions of yanggongju, see Hyun Sook Kim's 'Yanggongju as an Allegory of the Nation: The Representation of Working-Class Women in Popular and Radical Texts,' a chapter in the book "Dangerous women: gender and Korean nationalism." You can certainly read some (perhaps all?) of it here.

As for the articles above, as the Chosun Ilbo put it days later, "When the photos were discovered, it was like pouring oil on an open fire." What would have been a minor kerfuffle over rude comments by foreign teachers on a website truly exploded with the discovery of the photos, providing the scandal with a half life which still irradiates perceptions of foreign teachers today. And yes, I will post the (censored) photos soon. But not today.

And to keep score, that's essentially two websites which have been shut down by netizens in the space of two days.

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