Thursday, May 17, 2012

"They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2

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'
Part 13: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1

Part 14: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 15: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 16: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 17: 'Regret' over t
he scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 18: "Korean men have no excuse"
Part 19: "Unfit foreign instructors should be a 'social issue'"
Part 20: 'Clamor' at foreigner English education site
Part 21: Foreign instructor: "I want to apologize"
Part 22: No putting brakes on 'Internet human rights violations'
Part 23: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 1
Part 24: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2

Yesterday I posted the first part of a January 20, 2005 article by Ohmynews. Here is the second part, which consists of interviews with the parties involved in the English Spectrum incident:
"They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps"

Interviews with the parties involved follow. The interviews were conducted via personal visits or over the phone.

▲ During the interview on the 17th, one of the victimized women explained that her
psychological distress began with this controversy and [displayed] her suffering.

Women: "We were harassed with threatening emails and are receiving psychiatric treatment"

Woman A: "There was a so-called party and by 1 or 2am there was a quiet atmosphere. For a minute or two it was directed that the mood liven up for a minute or two and at that time foreigners took my photo. However the calm atmosphere quickly returned. From the very start it wasn't something like a secret lewd party. It's because the situation was strangely changed by some internet media's sensationalized reports. When the remarks denigrating Korean women were first reported it centered around the problem of some low level foreigners.

However, the photos were circulated at the Anti English Spectrum cafe, and when they were spread to portal sites via articles written without confirming the facts by Dalian and My Daily, it degenerated into a problem with the women [in the photos] and M Bar. My Daily didn't confirm the facts and we complained and the reporter answered, "Telling the truth now won't make it true." I wanted an article explaining things put out and said, "The photos do not show the entire party," and even more sensational articles were put out. Dalian even said to us who complained, 'What good will such a thing do now?'" "They are people without even basic common sense for running media.

In short, since this incident, it's impossible to live a normal life. I am even misunderstood by my family, relatives, and friends. I am harassed by threatening emails and am also a person receiving psychiatric treatment. I just wish the truth of the matter would be properly revealed. My heart/mind wounded by this incident will not be easily healed, but I hope people will recognize the entire truth now.

Woman B: "I also have suffered due to the spread of photos taken of me and my friends. At the time there was no particular expectation in regard to the party. That day was just like an ordinary day and I just met/found my friends. If it had been the kind of atmosphere where foreigners could hit on me I would of course have left, but the atmosphere there was nothing of the sort. The problem photos were just shot casually by the foreigners as keepsakes.

Woman C: "The netizens made me shut down my cyworld homepage. Profanity and comments maligning me as a "problematic person connected with M Bar and English Spectrum" were left on my cyworld homepage, and in the end I had no choice but to close it down. Even more, it was not just the people involved, it was also the homepages linked to theirs which had similar comments left and those homepages were forced to close as well."

"There was never any such atmosphere"

▲The interior of M Bar, where the controversial party was held.

M Bar owner: "English Spectrum only carried a banner ad [for the bar]. I don't know the people running [that site]. There were ads for other businesses besides ours at the site. Two parties were held (at the end of November and in mid-December [2004]). Just like on normal days, on the days of the parties as well there were lots of Korean men there. If you think it was a secret lewd party, why was it openly announced a few days prior to it being held?

The Anti English Spectrum Cafe originated with anger towards some thoughtless foreigners, and I sympathize with that purpose. However, they wrongly shifted to attacking women who had nothing to do with it. This is not to protect foreigners who write disparaging words. Who those foreigners are, I don't know. The netizens disclosed our personal information. It's defamation, a violation of the right to our own images, and a violation of our human rights.

With no connection to their original purpose of criticizing low quality foreigners whatsoever, they branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps. The netizens committed cyber terror cloaked in collective madness. However, they don't seem to realize how serious a crime their own behavior was. My Daily and Dalian's sensationalized articles amplified the impact [of the incident]. They released the name of the bar and a rough map to it uncensored.

Initially, the photos were also released without a mosaic. They reported without confirming the facts and included netizens' negative comments and sensationalized photos. When these articles were posted on portal sites, the impact [of the incident] grew significantly.

We've finished reviewing the laws. We don't want to respond immediately. The reason for reviewing a legal response is to elicit self reflection from the Anti English Spectrum cafe operator and resolve the incident as soon as possible. How the situation is in the future will determine whether we take a legal response.

Experiencing this has suddenly caused many feelings. While I think that some thoughtless foreigners should absolutely be punished, not all foreigners should be rejected. As well, some internet media which publish articles which do not confirm facts should have their responsibility made clear. Finally, if we do not guard against the netizen's reckless collective madness, more victims may continue to appear in the future.

[The position of My Daily and Dailian]

The women who claim that they suffered due to this incident have pointed to some internet media and an internet cafe as being the epicenter of the spread of the photos, and these people have shown an attitude of partially admitting their fault. However, they claimed they were not responsible. Their arguments follow.

[I'm skipping the three paragraphs about My daily and Dalian, as they're summarized in part 1.]

The Anti English Spectrum Cafe manager said, "The purpose of our group is not to be 'anti M Bar' but 'anti-English Spectrum.' That they became victims through the photos being leaked was contrary to our intentions. Other sites also published many of the related photos, but only our bulletin board did not find it appropriate to make this [the women] into an issue. I did not make a connection with M Bar on the bulletin board first, and it would hard to [find] a connection with M Bar.

I sent an email to them but I never received a reply and there's no reason to meet them. If they are suffering from mental anguish, they can distinguish right from wrong in the future. As well, I resolved the misunderstanding over the two photos I personally uploaded in an email sent to the involved parties. When I moved the the photos from the English Spectrum site, over 2000 people had already seen them. Netizens have commented on our cafe's legal liabilty and found various ways ways to deal with it.

In conclusion, our cafe is perfectly legal. Even if there is a problem with pictures or writing that other netizens post at our cafe, it's not my responsibility. At 8pm on January 18, we will have an offline meeting in Hongdae, and management has already been decided. We plan to discuss concrete plans for the future.
They weren't the only ones who thought their cafe was perfectly legal. One wonders if the women involved ever thought to go after AES through Naver. While the alleged responses of the media outlets ("Telling the truth now won't make it true," and "What good will such a thing do now?") are mind boggling (if, well, not surprising), the response of the AES founder makes it difficult to see him as anything but an asshole: "If they are suffering from mental anguish, they can distinguish right from wrong in the future." That fits in nicely alongside "If she was raped, well, in the future she should dress more modestly." Still, the message is clear enough: Korean women are to have nothing to do with foreign men. Or as that pamphleteer put it in the late 1940s, "beware that you will be insulted right in front of [the] public." It wouldn't be long, however, before AES would start backing away from such statements and moving towards the 'let's improve English education for the sake of the children' line.


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to mention that this has been a really interesting series. Lots of work involved, so props to you sir.

matt said...

Good to know it's being enjoyed!