Thursday, April 12, 2012

Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'

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?
Part 6: The 'Ask The Playboy' sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children
Part 10: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 11: "Middle school girls will do anything"
Part 12: Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'

On the evening of January 15, NoCut News published its second article of the day about the English Spectrum incident, this time about the "Yankee counter strike force" mentioned in this article.
'Yankee counter strike force', angry netizens seem to counter with violence

There is worry that there is a movement towards 'physical punishment' in regard to the great social criticism recently aroused by postings on an internet site by some foreign language instructors denigrating and describing how to molest Korean women and students.

This movement has posts on several anti foreigner sites which take the form of "recruitment of do-or-die squads" and read "Someplace where lots of foreigners gather we plan to teach insolent foreigners a lesson - join us."

Netizen reaction to comments by foreign instructors denigrating Koreans: "Let's deal with this physically."

An announcement at one site determined that the qualification to take part was to be "a Korean national with a healthy/wholesome worldview" and encouraged punishing U.S. soldiers who gather in the Hongdae area on weekends.

This recruiting announcement listed as strike targets 'US soldiers who posted comments denigrating Korean women and their sympathizers,' 'foreigners who threw the promiscuous party and the business owner who provided the venue,' and 'hagwon owners who hire unqualified foreign instructors or employees with criminal records or who are under-educated."

As well, additional posted provisions allowed immediate action such as "Immediately punish U.S. soldiers discovered in the Sinchon area who act disrespectfully toward Koreans."

This movement is in fact causing great turmoil among some netizens. At internet bulletin boards, there is a surge of questions such as, "I want to participate, but how should I do so?" "How should we react ([what is] the meaning of the internet term 'punish')?"

As online voices are loud urging that some foreigners be given a wake-up call through force, netizen anger at 'disregard [for our] nation' may overflow offline. However, there are also not a few voices worried that this movement may lead to violence.
The fact that the netizens (including those at Anti English Spectrum) wanted to form a 'Yankee counter strike force' which would target "US soldiers who posted comments denigrating Korean women," "the Yankee bastard who posted the instructions on how to carry out sexual violence against female Korean students and [...] the Yankee bastards who threw the shocking party," and which would urge members to "Immediately punish U.S. soldiers discovered in the Sinchon area who act disrespectfully toward Koreans" would suggest that the netizens had equated foreign English teachers with "Yankee" soldiers (or at least with "Yankees," as the photo someone posted at DC Inside to accompany this article would suggest). These online plans to form a 'strike force' targeting Americans would lead to a warning by the U.S. Embassy a week later, of the sort usually reserved for anti-USFK protests.

Members being urged to "Immediately punish U.S. soldiers discovered in the Sinchon area" was likely a reference to the May 15, 2004 incident where, as related at ROK Drop,
4 GI’s and a KATUSA went and partied in the Shinchon area of Seoul. Apparently one of the soldiers stood on the back of a taxi to take a picture. Some concerned citizens exchanged some heated words with the soldiers about standing on the taxi to take a picture. I believe it is safe to assume that the Korean students who were the "concerned citizens" were probably equally drunk at the time considering it was 2AM in Shinchon.

Anyway a fight broke out which according to the court transcripts the "concerned citizens" started, but after the fight broke out more Koreans jumped in on a chance to pound on the soldiers. One of the soldiers who had just arrived at the scene because he was meeting his friends, pulled out a pocket knife in an effort to defend himself and his friends from the "concerned citizens" who were throwing bricks at him and even assaulting him with a broken beer bottle. As the soldier was assaulted by the mob the soldier held the knife to the throat of one of the attackers that was choking him for up to two minutes and during the struggle cut him. [...] The soldiers were eventually subdued by the mob and arrested by the police department[.]
The Marmot translated some of the anti-USFK articles surrounding the incident published at Ohmynews as well as a statement by the "Pan-national Committee for the Two Middle School Girls, Shin Hyo-sun and Shim Mi-seon, Who Were Murdered by a U.S. Armored Vehicle," which noted that "Korean society is defenseless* against the wayward acts and violence committed by U.S. soldiers in Korea because the unequal U.S.-R.O.K. SOFA agreement cannot be amended."

As a Stars and Stripes article linked to in the ROK Drop post notes, such 'civic groups' influenced the legal outcome of this case:
At first, Korean investigators concluded the assault had not involved an intent to kill, so authorities charged the soldier with battery, [Seoul attorney Jin Hyo-guen] said.

But anti-American activist groups weighed in, pressing police and prosecutors to charge the soldier with attempted murder, Jin said, and the prosecutor changed his mind.
He was eventually sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Part of what gave the anti-American groups leverage were these photos:

I'm sure you can guess which photo got the most media attention (obviously not the one of the citizens holding the soldier down). One was left assuming the soldier in the bottom photo was responsible, but it was actually the soldier in the top two photos. Mind you, I don't think the soldier at bottom ripped his own clothes off. As it was put at ROK Drop, "Kim Jong-il’s ministry of propaganda couldn’t have done a better job than this." Speaking of which, here's the KCNA's take on the incident:
S. Korean Stabbed by GIs

[]GIs in south Korea stabbed a civilian in his twenties surnamed Pak seriously wounding him near Yonsei University in Seoul on May 15, according to south Korean radio KBS. Five GIs who got drunk pounced upon Pak and one of them stabbed him on the neck with a knife when he tried to stop them kicking about in an unruly misconduct against a south Korean on a street that morning. The criminal was nabbed by civilians while fleeing.

Such outrage of GIs dyed to the marrow in murderous disposition lashed the south Korean people into fury.
As pointed out in that Marmot's Hole link, Ohmynews seemed to be trying its best to "lash[] the south Korean people into fury." Worth noting is that the photos above were, as the Metropolitician relates, taken by a citizen passing by after the fact and uploaded to Ohmynews.

The photo snapper, Bae Sang-beom, was interviewed in this Ohmynews article, where he gave his opinion of USFK, along with a few other issues:
More problematic than Sinchon is Hongdae. The area crowded with clubs between Hongik University's front gate and Far East Broadcasting is like a foreigner district. In particular, when U.S. soldiers from Pyeongtaek and Uijeongbu descend upon the area on Fridays and Saturdays things like fights among foreigners take place at a serious level. According to a police official, it's at the level that the Hongdae police box alone cannot maintain order and crimes by U.S. soldiers are increasing. [...]

Going to elementary, middle and high school in the Hongdae area, I saw many inappropriate scenes between foreigners and Korean women in clubs. I am planning a documentary which will deal with this problem. My dream is to be a broadcast cameraman.
Those are some rather prescient comments. Eight months to the day after the stabbing incident, NoCut News published the article at the top of this post about the 'Yankee counter strike force' to be formed by those angered by photos of "inappropriate scenes between foreigners and Korean women in [a] club" in Hongdae. And just over two years later, on January 29, 2007, YTN would channel Bae's comment about how "Hongdae police... alone cannot maintain order" and references to "crimes by U.S. soldiers" by broadcasting a report titled "Hongdae, Foreigner 'Lawless Zone'" (apparently contibuted to by Anti English Spectrum). A week later, YTN would broadcast another report titled "U.S. Forces Banned from Hongdae," where a police official reported that Hongdae had returned to "a state of very serene public order" since the ban.

Anti English Spectrum's list of accomplishments includes both of the reports, and says of the latter,
After our cafe's broadcast went out on the atrocious behavior of foreigners at Hongdae clubs, Commander Bell’s U.S. forces in Korea were completely prohibited from entering Hongdae clubs.
If one was to wonder why a "citizens' movement" bent on protecting children from illegal foreign teachers and allowing for "upright English education" was so concerned with banning G.I.s from Hongdae, hopefully it's pretty clear that to the netizens who founded Anti English Spectrum, foreign English teacher = Yankee = U.S. soldier = rapist /threat to children / druggie / bringers of AIDS.

There is a lot - and I do mean a lot - more that could be said about this connection, but I'll return to this topic another day.

*I've briefly looked at the use of the term 'defenseless' before.

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