Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Truth...So Far

Pusanweb has spoken to various cast members of Babo-Palooza! and has created this report of

“Just the Facts”

On December 1st and 2nd at 10:00 pm, a group of foreigners, under the name ‘Round Face Productions’ performed a sketch-comedy show called ‘Babo-Palooza!’ The event was held in a small black-box theater in Namcheon-dong, near Kwangalli Beach that had bench seating for approximately 65 to 70 people. For each of the two performances, the show was over-sold. Approximately 75 to 80 people were in the audience each night for a maximum total of 160 people. Tickets to the event were 7,000 won and beer was on sale for 2,000 won a can. The show included 8 sketches and ran a total of 1h30m. The sketches are summarized on this blog site

There was never any hope of making money on the show as the expenses exceeded the income. The actors never expected to get paid, and the organizers hoped only to break even. The organizers stated in their introduction at the beginning of the show that if there were to be extra money made that it would be donated to a local charity (probably an orphanage). After all the accounts were in, the organizers were approximately 200,000 in debt after the costumes and props were bought and the sets, equipment and theater were rented.

All of the cast members except for one female Korean woman are teachers with either E1 or E2 visas and are from Canada, the USA, Ireland, and the U.K. On Monday, December 11, the actors started being contacted by the International Crime Division of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency. There is some contention as to whether or not they were:

a) being interviewed/questioned

b) being booked for a crime(s)

c) arrested for a crime(s)

It seems now, however, that the Korean legal system’s “arrest” is a different concept than that of the west and in all likelihood, they were in fact ‘arrested’ according to Korean law. They violated both Immigration law by performing in public, outside of the parameters of their visas (which was exacerbated by selling tickets and beer), and criminal law by participating in a performance not approved by the Korean Media Rating Board, for not getting the proper permits for staging a show.

Between Monday, December 11 and Friday, December 15 nine members of the show had separately been to the International Crimes Division and were interrogated individually for between 1 hour and 3 hours. Very satisfactory translators were provided for the members. Throughout each interrogation, everyone was fingerprinted and everyone signed a statement. Three of the members were asked for urine samples, which they provided. All three tested negative for any illegal substances. Everyone was let go at the conclusion of their interviews.

Throughout the course of the interrogations, it was noted that one of the police officers had been an audience member on opening night. She had attended the show on the Friday and when asked by a cast member on her way out of the theater if she enjoyed it, she said yes, she had. During the interrogations, however, the police officers mentioned that they felt the content was offensive to Koreans or inappropriate.

Currently, no sentencing has occurred. The police investigation is still apparently continuing. After their investigation is complete, the normal course of Korean law is that the evidence will be submitted to a prosecutor who will then make his/her judgment (fines, deportations, etc.).

At this time, no cast member has been fined or deported. No sentence has been passed on anyone. Any site that reports otherwise is in error.

There is a lot of misinformation in the Korean media stories about Babo-palooza! as well as on the Korean blogs and on the forums. Most of that has, hopefully, been addressed above. Over the weekend, Pusanweb will try to address individual points of misinformation from the blogs, media and forums.

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