Monday, December 18, 2006

PS. This is version 2.0 of an earlier article that I wrote for Socius. I have trimmed and added a few comments.

When I usually write for Socius, I stick with the movies, because that what I like and that’s what I know. Within the last few weeks here in Korea I have seen a few things that, frankly, have had me wondering what in the heck is going on here in Korea?

I would like to make this remark right now! These are my own views of what is going on here in Korea and do not reflect the noble views of Socius. This article will cover a lot of material that I have seen on different web sites.

This whole thing started out to me with a great article written by Stephanie Shimko about a play in Busan, the article was called Babopalooza and it told of some foreigners in Busan who told stories about their time here in Korea. It was not done for profit and any extra money that was made was to be donated to a local orphanage. I thought, well isn't this a great idea and this made people laugh.

It is when a few days later that the shit hit the fan and I will give the links of what followed next.

People, not Space Invaders!
Foreigners in Busan busted for ‘anti-Korean’ performance
Foreigner Discrimination in Korea
(Seriously Stupid Department) KBS ‘foreign beauty’ program slammed for racism
Just the Facts
Police Story Korea Style

I know it’s a lot of links but please take your time and read these and then you wil have an idea of what in the hack is going on.
Now please read Steph's article

People, not Space Invaders!

Next was my reply to her article and I would like to add some more to this

I am not sure if this will make sense but this is how the Korean Police explained to me why I should never volunteer for anything here in Korea.

We do not believe you when you will say that you will work or do anything for free. (Even though it would have been for the orphans) this goes against Korean thinking and understanding. (I was never sure if this is what he was thinking because it was translated to me).

So needless to say, I have never volunteered to help with the kids.

You really are asking a legitimate legal question with the cool bar, because, what happens if there is a raid and the foreigners are playing, based on my experience they will be fined because they, the police, will think that they are doing this for $, even though no $ has changed hands.

You are also correct in that, even thought this is the truth, could you be detained because the truth cast a bad light upon Korea. To be honest, I wish I knew that answer.

So my guess is that, we are not allowed to do anything except work and if we act, or sad to say, write columns, that could give the appearance of us getting paid. In actually we do it for free and for the love of doing it. I guess that is also illegal here in Korea.

Food for thought. Great article Steph.

Now Lets pay special attention to this part of her article....

they were fingerprinted and asked to sign wavers stating that they did not request their respective embassies to be informed about them being detained. Afterwards one of them was talked to "off the record" about how it is inappropriate to make fun of other people's cultures.

Now do you notice the off the record comment here? Please remember this because it will be brought back again into the story later.....

Now for those who know me, know that I was a Military Policeman in the US Army and when I saw drug use, I had to write one hell of a statement and if I lied in my report, my butt could have gone to jail. My question and comment is this, someone reported that there was drug use at this play and that some of the people had to give a urine sample. The entire tests came back negative on these people. My comment is now to the police, do you realize how foolish you actually will look when these people start to contact their embassies and they will demand who reported the drug use and who made a false statement and will this person be jailed or fired. Any claim of high ground is gone and this looks bad a very unprofessional.

Now this is from The Marmot's hole and this is his story, now the number of the audience was wrong and so was the fact of the $ charged and where it went to, looks like the Korean press link was wrong or they just deliberately printed false information, to be honest I do not know why they printed the incorrect information.
Foreigners in Busan busted for ‘anti-Korean’ performance

Now pay attention to this part……

In addition to claims of violations of E-2 visas, these guys are being prosecuted (persecuted?) for putting on an illegal performance. This is an issue that affects everyone, including bloggers, since right now there appears to be some question as to what kinds of activities foreign workers can do other than work, defecate and sleep. When these guys went in to the police, the police also discussed the illegality of another local event–a regularly-held Poetry night at a local bar where foreigners and Koreans would get up on stage and read poetry and play music to an audience for free. Guess what? The police said that was illegal. Are you in a band that plays in Itaewon on the weekends, or a mix-master at a Shinchon dance club? Guess again! You're breaking the law according to Pusan police. Talking to a small group of Korean friends on the street? Who the heck knows, right? Could be illegal. This has a HUGE chilling effect on what we foreigners can do in Korea. Frankly, I'm not really sure anymore we can do.


THIS WAS the exact question that Stephanie asked in her article, WTF can we do here in Korea? He brings up the exact same questions that Stephanie does and to tell the truth I do not have a clue here for any correct answer.

Now the next 4 deal with one of the promoters of this event and what he had gone through and his attempt to correct the incorrect information that was initially reported.

Just the Facts
Police Story Korea Style

Now please pay special attention to this comment…

What gets me about this, and again, I haven't had time to read all the comments, is how these expats can be rounded up for offending Korean sensibility, and when Koreans read about it in the papers, the mildest form of reaction will be simple agreement that the police did the right thing and the expats should be deported and fined, but a typical reaction would be to off-handedly say the teachers should be roughed up or something.

Yet, this same society can't get much energy flowing across the masses when it is reported that a Nazi bar is doing business in one of its major cities - that the waiters and waitresses wear brown uniforms aka Hitler's fanatically political supports/intimidation troops - complete with swastika armbands.

Something like that comes out, and the expat community reacting to it just doesn't understand Korean culture - it really isn't meant the way it looks, it’s just a concept, yada yada yada…

But I guess they are making progress…

Judging by the limited amount of attention I was able to give to the TV foreign beauties posts here and elsewhere, it seems a fair number of Koreans were upset at what happened there.

Give it another 100 years……and you'll see….

Now to see what he was talking about please click on to this (Seriously Stupid Department) KBS ‘foreign beauty’ program slammed for racism Link and please beware this actually happened live on Korean TV. So far I have told a story about what happens when expats makes fun of Korea. Now look at what happens when it’s the Koreans making fun of the foreigners and look at the aftermath of it.

Now to be honest here my original intention was to write a Korean Movie Industry review and I was going to ask a heck of allot of questions. I may still do that one. I started doing research and these 2 stories came up and I was thinking, "WTF?" One group makes fun of and they are given pee tests and then asked to sign papers not informing their embassies. Then I see the Korean do the exact same think that the Busan police stated...

...Afterwards one of them was talked to "off the record" about how it is inappropriate to make fun of other people's cultures. So my question is why have not these fools been dragged into a police station and given pee tests, if they did the exact same thing that the people in Busan did?

Now this is what I really could not believe.....

* What was the most embarrassing thing to happen to you in Korea?
* What kind of things do Koreans do that you can understand least?
* What dating places have you gone with your Korean boyfriend?
* When have you felt, "Ah, I've become a real Korean now"?
* What are five good things about Korean men?
* What Korean entertainer would you like to have as a boyfriend?

It was like the Koreans were trying to sell the fact that Korean men are the best in the world. I do not know if anyone has noticed lately but there have been ads with White females and Korean men and I have always wondered if this is trying to sell that same point that I have listed above. With these questions is sure does make one wonder.

This is what has me wondering about the future of Korea. Stephanie told me a story awhile back about a little girl at our last school and how she wished that she could look just like Stephanie (Blond Hair and Blue Eyes) when asked why it was because she did not think that she looked beautiful and that is she looked like Stephanie that she could be beautiful.

I really started to think about what she said. In the ads here in Korea we see, White females, selling all kinds of beauty products and I cannot imagine what this is doing to the little Korean girls feeling of worth and self respect. I always thought that she was a very beautiful little girl but she did not believe it because she was being told by the ads in print and on TV that this is beauty and what she has is not fashionable and this made her believe that she was not beautiful.

The real Korean quote is what made me do a double take... Earlier this year when Hines Ward mania was gripping this nation, one of the parents of one of my students at my last hogwan made this comment, "It's not Hines Wards fault that he is only half-Korean." It just left me dumbfounded and left a bad taste in my mind. Once again the narrow view of Korea reared its ugly head. I sure did not like what I was seeing.

Overall this has been a large look at a huge problem that all of us who live here are real soon going to have to ask ourselves. Why are we in Korea and can we really do anything except go to work, go home and never do anything to interact with Koreans, because just by talking to them in English, are we violating our visa status? With this case we may get an answer that none of us want like.

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