Sunday, October 06, 2013

Korea Times calls out American for 'disparaging' Korea

In the Korea Times the other day was an article titled "Busker's Moore rapped for mocking Korea":
Bradley Ray Moore, a drummer of popular Korean indie band "Busker Busker" recently caused controversy for “disparaging” aspects of Korea in an interview with a U.S.-based music site.

In the interview with “NOISEY,” Moore pointed out the nation’s loose standards in hiring English-speaking teachers.
How the hell is that 'disparaging' Korea? (Someone needs to talk to a number of politicians for their anti-Korea crimes.) If this was Korea Times of 2009-2010, I'd get it, since at that time there was one writer there in particular who liked to manufacture negative quotes about foreign teachers in interviews with people involved in education (when he wasn't trying to get bloggers deported and succeeding in the case of a Canadian journalist), and who I could see declaring that "point[ing] out the nation’s loose standards in hiring English-speaking teachers" was the job of the Korea Times (or the Korean media in general). Also, I searched online and could only find the Korea Times talking about the English teacher thing.

The main criticism of the interview with Moore - here - is that he spoke openly about the Korean TV/recording/advertising/idol industry and painted it in less than sparkling colours, in particular his Superstar K experience, which sounded like an exercise in slave labour. Seriously, do go read the interview.

Of course, the ol' standby in explaining away foreigners who speak truths Korea Inc. would rather not have spoken is trotted out:
After the interview hit the Internet, CJ E&M, which owns multiple cable channels including Mnet, and Superstar K, explained his remarks were due to cultural misunderstanding.

Moore also posted a message on his Twitter, saying “When I was on Superstar K3, I didn’t know Korean and Korean culture well and misunderstood things. But now I’m studying Korean hard and happy doing music and broadcasting. I am very thankful for Superstar K3 for all their support and their contribution to my life.”
I guess he misunderstood the 'see nothing negative, hear nothing negative, and, especially, say nothing negative about Korea - especially to foreigners' part of Korean culture. So no talking about forced diets, taking away phones, being locked down, being kept up for days at a time, and making tons of won off their efforts with little in return. Oh, and no making comparisons to anything like this, because that would be 'disparaging Korean culture.'

In his essay on the 88 Olympics, Ian Baruma notes that
Tony Kornheiser, for example, writing in The Washington Post, pointed out that Koreans were hurt because American journalists refused to obey the unspoken rule that they should only look at what Koreans chose to show them. If press censorship, self- or government-inflicted, is a cultural value, then let us help change the value or shut up about democracy in South Korea.

Seriously though, kudos to Moore for turning the very sane idea of 'screw this, I'm taking time off to rest' into something advantageous.


K said...

Chortle chortle at Baruma. But look how far things have come for western journalists since '88. Now he'd have his interviews redacted or have quotes 'massaged' post-interview for the Obama administration.

Anonymous said...

South Koreans routinely complain about the drug-addicted, AIDS infected foreigners who come over here and make billions of won and then go home to retire comfortably at the age of 28 by failing to teach their children English.

But when a foreigner points out that the hiring standards are lax, that's somehow offensive to Koreans?

Cognitive dissonance at its finest.