Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Oh, those naughty, AIDS-threatening, skirt-chasing Aussie English teachers…

The Chosun Ilbo (English) contributed a true classic today,


Australian English Teacher Blacklisted for AIDS Threat

Allegations of improper conduct against expatriate English instructors in Korea refuse to go away. The Korea Foreign Teacher Recruiting Association estimates that about 10 percent of the 20,000-30,000 foreign instructors working here are fired after they were found to have committed sexual improprieties or refused to teach classes.

It cites the case of a Korean woman identified as Kim who says she met an English instructor from Australia at a friend’s birthday party. Kim went out with him for several months. When she broke up with him, the Australian sent her an e-mail in February saying he had had sex with two prostitutes in the Philippines without using condoms in 2006 and Kim had been his next date. He said he was so afraid that he could not tell her about it, and had not had an HIV test. The instructor said Kim “deserved” to get AIDS considering what she did to him.

NOW THE ALLEGED EMAIL IS ON THE WEB SITE, BUT IT WAS JUST SO SMALL THAT I COULD NOT COPY IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The KFTRA has added the instructor to a blacklist of 68 foreign instructors accused of sexual harassment and contract breaches. The association told institutes not to hire the Australian.

In an earlier case, an American instructor who worked in a high school in Yongin made headlines when he was fired for teaching students how to smoke marihuana and said Japanese women “are the best.”

( )

citing Korea Foreign Teacher Recruiting Association (KFTRA ) estimates that some 10 percent of the 20,000-30,000 foreign instructors in Korea have been canned for either “sexual improprieties” or because they refused to teach.

No word from the association on how many have been canned in the last month of their contract so the hagwon owners could avoid paying their severance bonuses.

The Chosun — no doubt for reasons of journalistic integrity — included this cautionary tale:

It cites the case of a Korean woman identified as Kim who says she met an English instructor from Australia at a friend’s birthday party. Kim went out with him for several months. When she broke up with him, the Australian sent her an e-mail in February saying he had had sex with two prostitutes in the Philippines without using condoms in 2006 and Kim had been his next date. He said he was so afraid that he could not tell her about it, and had not had an HIV test. The instructor said Kim “deserved” to get AIDS considering what she did to him.

Lovely. The KFTRA added that the instructor in question has been added to its blacklist of foreign teachers. Whether he sues the KFTRA for defamation and violation of labor laws, however, has yet to be seen.

One American teacher, meanwhile, reportedly accomplished the difficult feat of simultaneously violating Korea’s drug taboos and hurting national pride by teaching his students how to smoke pot and claiming that Japanese women were “the best.”

Interestingly, the headline of the Korean Peace reads, “White English Teacher Threatens Korean Woman with AIDS.” Great. Remember this should said paper start complaining about US headlines.

The story apparently started in the Chosun Ilbo’s tabloid paper, the Sports Chosun, whose piece ran the very helpful subheader, “Beware the ‘Ugly White Teacher’” (as opposed to “Beware the Ugly White Magazine Editor,” which would be me). Informatively, it quotes one 28-year-old Korean female English teacher in Busan, who claims that white teachers have a tendency to believe that they can easily bag Korean women who approach them to learn English. The story also includes other tales of whitey teacher behaving badly, including one 43-year-old teacher in Andong — of all places — who had the gall of writing on the profile of a chatting site that the most precious thing to him was looking at the glistening sweat on the curves of a woman’s breasts, thighs and ass (The horror! The horror!). He also counted sex as one of the things he likes to do during his free time. Hey, it’s better than masturbation. Or blogging.

This is all very humorous since right next to the piece (this is the online edition of the Sports Chosun, after all) are links to the headlines of Orange, the Chosun Ilbo’s adult content site — today’s edition apparently includes such morally uplifting topics as the wonders of mesh stockings with a hole in the crotch, a guide to cheating with your ex, a piece on women who like it doggy-style and a guide to camping sex. Thankfully, however, the articles are all in Korean, and presumably none of them were written by white English teachers.

UPDATE: And in a related note, one of the bigger online stories Today (in Korean) involves school parents outraged at elementary school teachers at a school in Gwanak-gu who signed a petition pleading for leniency for a fellow teacher found guilty of molesting two female sixth grade students. The court’s decision wasn’t exactly draconian — the teacher, who was accused of sitting two students on his knee while he touched their chest, was sentenced to fines since, according to the court decision, the incidents took place in the open and the defendant was “sufficiently aware” of his mistakes. And even this was after the the prosecutors decided not to charge him with violations of child sex laws and settled for violations of child welfare laws. The guy has been relieved of his position, but he still attended at outdoor school function (supposedly in a private capacity) earlier this month. In a telephone conversation with the Munhwa Ilbo (unlike foreign English teachers, I guess Korean teachers accused of kiddie molestation get to present their side of the story), the teacher said he can’t accept the court’s original decision (claiming he sexually abused the children), so he’s going to appeal. So much for being “sufficiently aware” of your mistakes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Serious Funnyman

Until recently, I'd never heard of Rick Mercer. Mercer is a political satirist in Canada who hosts the "Rick Mercer Report." It's like "The Daily Show" but Mercer manages to do what Jon Stewart cannot (or will not) - use his sharp wit with relative equality on politicians from all of Canada's approximately 237 political parties.

Mercer is a funny guy who gets to do a lot of interesting things - drive a tugboat, run a tank over a car, and go skinny dipping with a former Liberal Premier. In one segment of his show, he convinced the leader of the Canadian Green party to cut down a tree.

He's also a strong supporter of the military, so when Noreen Golfman, a women's studies professor in Newfoundland, wrote a column in which she complained that her holidays were ruined by sad stories about injured soldiers ("poor sods" she called them) in Afghanistan and questioned Canada's mission there, Mercer got angry. Especially since the "poor sod" she wrote about was a friend of his - Master Cpl. Paul Franklin.

His column is a great exercise in smackdown. Sure, it's a few months old, but it's good stuff.

Fighting words

By Courtesy (St. John's)
The Independent
Friday, January 26, 2007

By Rick Mercer

For The Independent

Poor Noreen Golfman. She wrote in her Jan. 12 column (Blowing in the Wind … ) that her holidays were ruined by what she felt were incessant reports about Canadian men and women serving in Afghanistan. So upset was Noreen that, armed with her legendary pen, sharpened from years in the trenches at Memorial University’s women’s studies department, she went on the attack. I know I should just ignore the good professor and write her off as another bitter baby boom academic pining for what she fondly calls “the protest songs of yesteryear,” but I can’t help myself. A response is exactly what she wants; and so I include it here. After all, Newfoundlanders have seen this before: Noreen Golfman, sadly, is Margaret Wente without the wit.

Dear Noreen,

I am so sorry to hear about the interruption to your holiday cheer. You say in your column that it all started when the CBC ran a story on some “poor sod” who got his legs blown off in Afghanistan.

The “poor sod” in question, Noreen, has a name and it is Cpl. Paul Franklin. He is a medic in the Forces and has been a buddy of mine for years. I had dinner with him last week in Edmonton, in fact. I will be sure to pass on to him that his lack of legs caused you some personal discomfort this Christmas.

Paul is a pretty amazing guy. You would like him I think. When I met him years ago he had two good legs and a brutally funny sense of humour. He was so funny that I was pretty sure he was a Newfoundlander. You probably know the type (or maybe you don’t) — salt of the earth, always smiling, and like so many health-care professionals, seemingly obsessed with helping others in need.

These days he spends his time training other health-care workers and learning how to walk again. That’s a pretty exhausting task for Paul … heading into rehabilitation he knew very well his chances of walking again were next to none, considering he’s a double amputee, missing both legs above the knee.

At the risk of ruining your day Noreen, I’m proud to report that for the last few months he has managed to walk his son to school almost every morning and it’s almost a kilometre from his house. Next month Paul hopes to travel to Washington where he claims he will learn how to run on something he calls “bionic flipper cheetah feet.” The legs may be gone but the sense of humour is still very much intact.

Forgive me Noreen for using Paul’s name so much, but seeing as you didn’t catch it when CBC ran the profile on his recovery I thought it might be nice if you perhaps bothered to remember it from here on in. This way, when you are pontificating about him at a dinner party, you no longer have to refer to him simply as the “poor sod,” but you can actually refer to him as Paul Franklin. You may prefer “poor sod” of course; it’s all a matter of how you look at things. You see a “poor sod” that ruined your Christmas and I see a truly inspiring guy. That’s why I am thrilled that the CBC saw fit to run a story on Paul and his wife Audra. I would go so far as to suggest that many people would find their story, their marriage and their charitable endeavours inspiring. Just as I am sure that many readers of The Independent are inspired by your suggestion that Paul’s story has no place on the public broadcaster.

Further on in your column you ask why more people aren’t questioning Canada’s role in Afghanistan. I understand this frustration. It’s a good question. Why should Canada honour its United Nations-sanctioned NATO commitments? Let’s have the discussion. I would welcome debate on the idea that Canada should simply ignore its international obligations and pull out of Afghanistan. By all means ask the questions Noreen, but surely such debates can occur without begrudging the families of injured soldiers too much airtime at Christmas?

Personally, I would have thought that as a professor of women’s studies you would be somewhat supportive of the notion of a NATO presence in Afghanistan. After all, it is the NATO force that is keeping the Taliban from power. In case you missed it Noreen, the Taliban was a regime that systematically de-peopled women to the point where they had no human rights whatsoever. This was a country where until very recently it was illegal for a child to fly a kite or for a little girl to receive any education.

To put it in terms you might understand Noreen, rest assured the Taliban would frown on your attending this year’s opening night gala of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. In fact, as a woman, a professor, a writer and (one supposes) an advocate of the concept that women are people, they would probably want to kill you three or four times over. Thankfully that notion is moot in our cozy part of the world but were it ever come to pass I would suggest that you would be grateful if a “poor sod” like Paul Franklin happened along to risk his life to protect yours.

And then of course you seem to be somehow personally indignant that I would visit troops in Afghanistan over Christmas. You ask the question “When did the worm turn?” Well I hate to break it to you, but in my case this worm has been doing this for a long time now. It’s been a decade since I visited Canadian peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and this Christmas marked my third trip to Afghanistan. Why do I do it? Well I am not a soldier — that much is perfectly clear. I don’t have the discipline or the skills. But I am an entertainer and entertainers entertain. And occasionally, like most Canadians, I get to volunteer my professional time to causes that I find personally satisfying.

As a Newfoundlander this is very personal to me. On every one of these trips I meet Newfoundlanders who serve proudly in the Canadian Forces. Every day they do the hard work that we as a nation ask of them. They do this without complaint and they do it knowing that at every turn there are people like you, Noreen, suggesting that what they do is somehow undignified or misguided.

I am also curious Noreen why you refer to the head of the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier, as “Rick ‘MUN graduate’ Hillier.” I would suggest that if you wish to criticize General Hillier’s record of leadership or service to his country you should feel free. He is a big boy. However, when you dismiss him as “Rick ‘MUN Graduate’ Hillier” the message is loud and clear. Are you suggesting that because General Hillier received an education at Memorial he is somehow unqualified for high command? We are used to seeing this type of tactic in certain national papers — not The Independent.

You end by saying you personally cannot envision that peace can ever be paved with military offensives. May I suggest to you that in many instances in history peace has been achieved exactly that way.

The gates of Auschwitz were not opened with peace talks. Holland was not liberated by peacekeepers and fascism was not defeated with a deft pen. Time and time again men and women in uniform have laid down their lives in just causes and in an effort to free others from oppression.

It is unfortunate, Noreen, that in such instances people like yourself may have your sensitivities offended, especially during the holiday season, but perhaps that is a small price to pay. Best wishes for the remainder of 2007; may it be a year of peace and prosperity.

Ouch. Makes me almost (sort of) want to go out and drink a Molson.

It's kind of sad, though, that a Canadian entertainer can speak out more strongly on issues of war and the need for force than most American politicians.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Residents of Daejeon are being bombarded with some 200 banners on the side of school buses and hung on walls carrying the stark warning: "You are being watched."

Foreign teachers are threatened with fines, blacklisting and deportation if they are caught teaching private English lessons, something not allowed under their E-2 visa status. The Daejeon Foreign Language School Association is offering rewards of up to 500,000 won for information leading to the apprehension of teachers breaking the terms of their visa.

"This is an opportunity for them to stop," said Charles, the gentleman whose telephone number was displayed on the banners, "we wanted to warn them before they are caught."

Charles said they decided to take this rather dramatic action because "the situation was getting out of control." He said the main problem wasn`t so much the legal E-2 teachers teaching private classes, but the scores of foreigners with only a tourist visa who were teaching illegally.

▲Picture by Sean Morgan

"This damages the business of the hagwon by taking away potential students, and because of the money that can be made, encourages even legal teachers to break the law," he said.

Charles admitted that in many respects the hagwon themselves added to the problem. "The salary for legal teachers is quite low, so when they see how much money can be made teaching privately, they are encouraged to do it. And of course there are hagwon who also employ these tourists as teachers."

Charles said the campaign isn`t intended to just target illegal foreigners, but anyone breaking the law.

"In just over a year we have taken more than ten hagwon directors to court for hiring foreign teachers without a proper visa," Charles told The Korea Herald. He said the hagwon were fined between one and five million won, and banned from hiring a foreign teacher for a year. "This effectively puts them out of business, because with only Korean teachers, they will lose their students," he said.

Charles said three hagwon directors have been reported to the authorities so far this month.

And regarding the campaign against illegal private lessons, "since we have put up the banners I have received many telephone calls reporting teachers who are teaching private classes," he said.

English teachers in Daejeon, however, are outraged. One contributor said, "if the hagwon paid a decent wage, and paid overtime, and paid on time, then teachers would not be interested in taking private classes."

Other contributors admitted there was a problem with illegal teachers, but said there were even more problems with the hagwon regarding pension, tax and overtime issues.

"But this campaign makes us all feel like criminals," said one, "legal or illegal."

By Chris Gelken



this is from a friend of mine, I found this quite interesting!!!

I notice these days, particularity, in Noeun dong Daejeon, that
several (I counted 10 so far) of the hagwon buses are driving around
with huge banners attached to the side of the buses both in Korean
and English saying that "All Foreigners are being watched for private
teaching and if reported you will be deported and fined. Also there
is a 500,000 Won reward for turning in the foreigner along with the
Korean household and the Korean who may have introduced them". It
also goes on to say that "The foreigners are not "qualified teachers"
and that in hiring a private teacher you run the risk of something
bad going wrong with your kid and/or apartment". Three phone numbers
are included: Immigration, the Police, and the Hagwon Association.

Just yesterday as I was walking to the gym, one of the hagwon bus
adojis screamed at me through his window with a big glee on his fat
face "You are being watched!!!" The kids in the bus looked horrified
as to what the psycho was going on about.

Now, I don't even do privates, but I feel as if I'm some kind of
terrorist in the dong. I think the Hagwon Association of Daejeon
needs to be called on this. Any ideas what one can do about it? Just
ignore it and let it pass????

I completely agree. I think it is complete bullshit. However, I fear
that the 'walking out' will result in all of them being deported.
Threatening to walk out is another matter altogether. It's my
understanding that the Korean media likes to portray us as all lazy,
fat and incompetent and I fear that this public branding will be
deepen the already alienating experience of living and working here.
You are completely right to be as angry as you seem. I too am quite
disturbed by this. I don't want to feel any more "watched" than I
already do. The more I think about it the more I like your idea.

other feelings...................

I completely agree. I think it is complete bullshit. However, I fear
that the 'walking out' will result in all of them being deported.
Threatening to walk out is another matter altogether. It's my
understanding that the Korean media likes to portray us as all lazy,
fat and incompetent and I fear that this public branding will be
deepen the already alienating experience of living and working here.
You are completely right to be as angry as you seem. I too am quite
disturbed by this. I don't want to feel any more "watched" than I
already do. The more I think about it the more I like your idea.

All this stuff that's going on with immigration and the vans driving
around with banners regarding foreigners is complete bullshit. We
should do something, we shouldn't stand back and do nothing. We
didn't come here to be treated like slaves, controlled, nor owned by
our supervisors.

I strongly believe we (foreigners! ) should take a stance. On a
Wednesday, or whatever day we should all walk out of our schools.
I'm speaking of particularly the schools/hagwon' s in Neoun. I am
appalled by what's going on.

All the foreigners should walk out giving a specific date, time
location. For example, walk out of our schools next Wed. at 5:00pm,
holding our own banners in English and Korean telling them to stop
being #1 racist, #2 to take the banners off their freakin vans...
and #3 have a little more respect for other cultures.

If we do this, who knows if anything will come of it. But, it will
hopefully get into their heads that we're not just going to do
nothing about it. What do ya'll think??????? ???????

I remember this campaign happening about the same time of year in 2003 - lots of banner ads near apartments etc - "Hiring private foreign teachers is illegal etc". It died out in about 2 weeks.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whats going on around me in Korea.....

Friendliness Between Japan and Korea Withering

Friendliness Between Japan and Korea Withering
Goodwill between Korea and Japan has declined from a high point of mutual bonhomie during the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by the two nations.

According to a survey by Gallup Korea and the Japan Research Center, 20 percent of Koreans have friendly feelings towards Japan and 36 percent of Japanese felt the same towards Korea.

In a 2002 survey by the Chosun Ilbo and Mainichi Shimbun, 35 percent of Koreans and 69 percent of Japanese had friendly views of the other country.

When asked the reason for their antipathy, most Koreans cited the territorial dispute over the Dok-do Islets, while most Japanese said they're turned off by anti-Japanese sentiment in Korea.

Regarding Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, 79 percent of Korean respondents said they were opposed to the visit, far more than the 8 percent who said they accepted it.

In Japan, 34 percent of the respondents accepted the visit while almost the same number, 32 percent, opposed it.

When asked which country Korea should be close with, Koreans chose the U.S. (37 percent), North Korea (28 percent), China (20 percent), and Japan (5 percent). Japanese said Japan should be closest to the U.S. (42 percent), China (17 percent), South Korea (6 percent) and North Korea (3 percent).

The survey was conducted in March through one-on-one interviews with 1,502 adults from Korea and 1,124 adults from Japan.

US misunderstanding of Korean culture fanned anti-Americanism?

Katrin Fraser who is set to become the new director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, apparently feels the Bush administration’s “lack of understanding of Korean culture” has fanned anti-American sentiment in Korea. According to Ye Olde Chosun, she particularly criticized Bush’s labeling of North Korea as “evil” as running counter to Korean cultural norms:

She says South Korea’s “swift and largely negative reaction” came from two factors. One was a gradual buildup of anti-U.S. sentiment due to Bush’s rejection of engagement with North Korea, and the other “cultural insensitivity on the part of the Bush administration.” By calling North Korea “evil,” Bush offended against Korean norms of relationship management and communication, which focus on face-saving and “kibun,” she said.

“If the president had demonstrated an awareness of the importance of maintaining kibun in relating to Koreans (North or South), perhaps the South Korean response to his statement would have been more muted,” she writes.

She’s partly right — at least in the sense that at the public level, the maintaining of gibun is, generally speaking, important to Koreans in both North and South when it involves utterances directed at them personally or at the group of which they are a part. Of course, judging from North Korea’s routine ideological, racial and even personal attacks on the United States, Japan, South Korea’s opposition Grand National Party or public figures it dislikes, Seoul’s rhetoric toward Japan, or for that matter some of the heated public discourse within South Korea itself, the gibun of other parties can be of considerably less consequence.

For most of the post-Korean War period, South Korea’s rhetoric towards North Korea hardly took into account the gibun of North Korea’s leadership. If Bush had called the North Korean regime “evil” ten or fifteen years ago, it might have been well received by many South Koreans. Heck, if he’d called Japan “evil,” it would have been met with spontaneous street celebrations, even today. The difference is that over the last 10 years, South Koreans have moved away from viewing North Koreans as “horned communist devils” and more towards viewing them as part of the tribe, so to speak. The issue then becomes one not of the Bush administration failing to understand the Korean cultural concept of gibun, but rather one of it failing to understand — or care about — the a) changing nature of Korean nationalism and national identity and b) the priority Seoul placed on improving relations with the North.


Robert’s remarks are dead-on. Ms. Fraser does seem out of touch regarding the dynamics of the region and doesn’t seem to realize her own comments portray the South Koreans as hypocrites. Then again, the touchy-feely politicians rarely ever see any flaws in those they are trying to coddle.

In regards to Arelius’ comments….I’ve seen the same things right here in Korea. Just two days ago the subject of the Norks concentration camps came up in conversation with a group that involved two South Koreans. They both went into 100% complete denial mode about the North doing anything of the sort and even went so far as to insinuate that most of the Norks problems (including the food shortages) were the result of the US trying to isolate the North from the rest of the world. Now these were young S. Korean university students but it does give an insight into how the younger generation of Koreans view their Northern cousins. It’s that same old “Koreans are always the victims” routine only now the victims are the Norks.

When the curtain finally is pulled back on the North and the world sees first hand the atrocities the Norks have committed, the South will have to answer some very difficult questions. I have a feeling that the South Koreans won’t be able to buy enough gibun to hide their shame for denying for decades what’s been going on in the North and for helping prop up the KJI regime.


The anti-US movement was quite active since the 1980’s, grew greatly in the 1990’s, and was jump started not due to President Bush, but rather due to former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung’s June 2000 Inter-Korean Summit. After the Inter-Korean Summit Korean nationalism was sky high and much of the general Korean public thought unification was near and that the US was now the problem preventing it. This has since proven to be absurd with the disclosure that Kim Dae-jung bought the summit along with the follow on Nobel Peace Prize with a $500 million dollar bribe to North Korea and the continuing defiance of the international community with North Korea ballistic missile and nuclear tests. However, after that summit the Korean mind set was clearly that the US was the problem now, not North Korea.

Without this mind set, "The Great Water Dumping Scandal of 2000" (WHICH GAVE US THE KOREAN FILM "THE HOST") would not have created such a massive anti-US backlash. There was no "misunderstanding of Korean culture" from President Bush back in 2000 to cause such a large anti-US back lash to a minor and a highly hypocritical incident.

The same can be said for the 2000 Koon-ni Range protests as well. That range has been used by the US Air Force for decades, but suddenly in 2000 it becomes a national issue spreading anti-US hate. The protests at the range continued for years afterward with the Korean government giving the US Air Force no alternate range to use. The US Air Force had to in fact fly crews to Thailand to conduct training there because of the Koon-ni Range issue.

Perhaps Ms. Fraser can point out the "misunderstanding of Korean culture" to those of us that were here in 2000 who remember this hate so well.


After an $80 million bribe a train has finally traveled a few miles across the DMZ into North Korea:

Trains crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on Thursday for the first rail journey through the border dividing the two Koreas in more than half a century, the latest symbol of historic reconciliation between the longtime foes.The one-time test run of trains through the 2 1/2-mile-wide no man’s land along two restored tracks on the west and east sides of the peninsula comes after repeated delays since the rail lines were linked in 2003 — and despite unresolved tensions over the North’s nuclear weapons.

As all ways you can count on the South Korean uni-fiction minister to describe thing in ethnic terms:

"It is not simply a test run. It means reconnecting the severed bloodline of our people. It means that the heart of the Korean peninsula is beating again," Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said at a ceremony at Munsan station, 7 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, before boarding the train.

Instead of trying to justify things in ethnic terms in a typical pathetic attempt to appeal to Korea’s homogeneous society, how about Minister Lee justify this one time test run in economic terms? How the heck do you justify one test run by bribing the North Koreans with $80 million dollars:

Each year since 2004, the two Korea's had agreed to hold the trial runs and had even set a date, but canceled each time because North Korea’s military did not promise a guarantee of security or safe passage. During the latest round of general-level talks, North Korea insisted it would provide only a one-off security guarantee.

As if it was doing South Korea a huge favor, North Korea got US$80 million worth of raw materials from the South to manufacture shoes, soap and other goods, for allowing one trial run of the reconnected railways.

This is just like the June 2000 Inter-Korean summit where approximately $500 million dollars worth of bribes were paid by the Kim Dae-jung government to secure a photo op with Kim Jong-il and justify the Sunshine Policy. The Inter-Korean summit was nothing more than the world’s most expensive photo op. Likewise this news today is simply the world’s most expensive train ride.

A sea by any other name.

South Korea has sent a special delegation this week to Monaco to lobby the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) on the question of the use of the name “Sea of Japan”, which as you may know the Korean government wants changed to “East Sea”.

The goal of the delegation is to “make efforts to prevent the IHO from holding a vote on the issue. If the vote is held, we will pursue the goal of making member countries abstain,” according to a Korean Foreign Ministry official. Mainly because the “prevailing sentiment of the member countries is to recognize the current use of only Sea of Japan”. Yes, it seems it makes a difference to absolutely no one except Korea.

“Still, the government is not ruling out the possibility of the issue being put to a vote, as IHO regulations allow members to present urgent issues on an emergency basis as long as the other member nations consent,” the official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Urgent issue? Emergency basis? Sensitivity? Mountains, molehills, proportion? Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe I’m just missing the extensive coverage of this ‘urgent issue’ in the rest of the world’s press.

Korean-Japan Tunnel?

From the And-Monkeys-Might-Fly-Out-My-Butt Department comes this report on the proposed construction of an undersea tunnel that would link Japan and Korea.


Currently three tunnels are under review. The first at 209 km would link Karatsu in Saga Prefecture, Japan to the southern island known as Shimonoshima of Japan’s Tsushima to Geoje in Korea’s South Gyeongsang Province. The second tunnel (217 km) would link Karatsu to the nothern island (or Kaminoshima) of Tsushima, to Geoje. The third tunnel (231 km) would link Karatsu to Tsushima to Busan.


Any one of the proposed routes would make such an undersea tunnel the world’s longest, and more than four times longer than the Channel Tunnel that links Britain and France.

The benefits of linking Japan with Korea by tunnel are mostly economic, because it would cut the cost of transporting goods between the two countries by about 30 percent. However, some Koreans oppose project, claiming it would provide a means for Japan to “advance into the continent.”

LOST THE LINK BUT STILL A NICE STORY.............................................

Never mind what the Koreans are on about, even China agrees that the water mass that separates Japan from the Korean Peninsula is called The Sea of Japan.

The Korea Times publication is reporting that the Chinese Government official website ( has the water mass listed as the Sea of Japan, not the East Sea as Korea calls it.


The Korean Embassy in China asked the Chinese government for a correction but has not yet received a response.

Park Ki-tae, the head of Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), said that the Web site reflects the Chinese government’s official stance.

Park said that the agency would send a letter of complaint to the Chinese government. He said it is likely a correction will be made.

“China has an understanding of Japanese colonization, and it is actually the first time the name was found in China,” Park said.


As far as I am concerned, there is no reason to change the name of the sea. It strikes me as interesting that the Koreans are so hell bent on changing the name of this sea that they are taking unfair shots at Japan in their media not to mention the ridiculous YouTube postings we’ve seen recently. But alas, I doubt much will change.


Foot-in-Mouth Disease

A Chosun Ilbo article, “Senior Officials Struck by Foot-in-Mouth Disease,” reports that the chief of the state-run think tank “Korea Information Society Development Institute” made the following comment at a breakfast meeting with thirty business figures while talking about the importance of the female workforce:

“Women are more developed creatures than men since they have one more hole.”

The newspaper also reports that Gwangmyeong Mayor Lee Hyo-seon made the following “faux pas” at a luncheon with a visiting delegation from the Washington branch of the presidential Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification:

“When I visited Washington D.C., I saw niggers swarm all around the city,” he said. “How can you live in such a scary place? I was so afraid that I didn’t come out of my hotel at night.”

The mayor said that he didn’t “exactly remember whether he used the word ‘nigger,’” but he promised to apologize.

What an idiot! If he cannot remember if he used the word “nigger” at that particular time, then that suggests he, at least,” uses the word at other times.

These kinds of comments go beyond “foot-in-mouth” disease; they show the true character of these goofballs.

NOW FOR THE ACTUAL ARTICLE...................

Senior Officials Struck by Foot-in-Mouth Disease

The head of a state-run think tank has sparked controversy with an offensive remark about women. Korea Information Society Development Institute chief Suk Ho-ick was delivering a lecture on the Korean IT industry at a breakfast meeting with 30 business figures at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Wednesday. Talking about the importance of the female workforce as a growth potential for the 21st century, he said, “Women are more developed creatures than men since they have one more hole.”

Women's studies scholar Min Ga-young of Hongik University said the KISDI head’s remarks demonstrated a pervasive view among men of women not as equals but as sex object. Suk on Thursday said he had no intention to denigrate women and was merely emphasizing the important role of women in the future.

Meanwhile, Gwangmyeong Mayor Lee Hyo-seon has invited censure again with offensive remarks about African-Americans. Lee was forced to give up his membership in the Grand National Party after he made derogatory remarks about Jeolla Province last July. On Monday, Lee made the faux pas at a luncheon with a visiting delegation from the Washington branch of the presidential Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification. “When I visited Washington D.C., I saw niggers swarm all around the city," he said. "How can you live in such a scary place? I was so afraid that I didn’t come out of my hotel at night.”

The delegation were in the Korean city to form a twin relationship with the Gwangmyeong branch of the unification council. The mayor on Thursday said he made the remark “because my guide warned me not to go out at night since there were many African-Americans in Washington. I don’t exactly remember whether I used the word “nigger.” He promised to apologize to the delegation as soon as they arrive back in Washington.
Preview Rambo 4

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when can i see it?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What is happening to Korean college students?

Tonight, while having dinner with a couple of my Korean college students, one of them, a forth-year business major, mentioned how he hates having classes with freshmen. When I asked him why, he told me that freshmen were so noisy in class that it was hard to hear the professor. When I suggested that he tell them to be quiet since he is a senior, he told me that when he once tried that, one of the freshman threatened to take him outside and beat him up. I then asked what the professor did when the students got noisy in class, and he told me that the professors usually just ignore them, which really surprised me.

I am teaching college freshmen conversation classes that have close to fifty students in them, and I am frequently having to tell the students to be quiet during my lectures or to put away their cell phones. Students come to class without books, paper, or pens, and even the ones who come to class with pens and paper seem to think it is more fun to write and draw on their desks than in their notebooks. I usually catch one or two students in each class absentmindedly drawing on their desks. Even though I always stop my lecture, jump down their throats, and make them erase the graffiti, there will be one or two students in the next class doing the same thing. It seems to be a nasty habit that is hard to break. Korean college students remind me of high school students in the United States, and I think that part of the reason for that is that Korean professors have basically given up on classroom discipline.

My department head came to my office last week, and told me that our school cannot afford to fail students, and very clearly suggested that I should not fail any of mine. Third-rate colleges in Korea are so desperate for students these days that they are practically selling their diplomas. One of the students at dinner tonight told me that a growing percentage of our students are coming from industrial high schools, which were originally set up for students who did not plan on going to college. That explains a lot since many of my freshmen cannot even make five complete sentences in English. I would guess that more than fifty percent of my students come to college for reasons other than to learn.

There are people in every society who do not have the aptitude and motivation for college-level study, which is all right since they can just find jobs, instead. The problem in Korea is that Korean colleges are trying too hard to accommodate these weak, unmotivated students at the expensive of students who are there to learn.

Korean colleges need to raise their academic standards, improve classroom discipline, and fail the assholes who deserve to be failed.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

411st birthday party

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Well we celebrated my 41st Birthday a little early this year.

I turn 41 on MAY 14TH AND THAT IS A MONDAY so no drinking and I have a late class that day so Nada. So me, Dan Greer, Mark and Marta, had fun in SEOUL.


No More Chill's in Korea

So that looks like a 1 time trip......

then we went to the IMAX and saw Spider Man 3, Greer really liked the Harry Potter preview....

then we went to Hooters...

Overall it was a nice night and we had allot of fun.

Happy 41st to me....................
Publish and be damned is not a wise choice

"Korea`s laws on libel are confusing and open to abuse," one of the lawyers contacted for this article told The Korea Herald.

"They are a weapon that can be used by innocent victims of media abuse, and equally they can be used as a shield to protect the guilty, often allowing them to commit repeat offenses."

And falling afoul of these laws is so easy, as American Joe McPherson is finding out.

McPherson, is an English teacher, writer, and a well-known and respected blogger. His blog, "ZenKimchi" has been extensively quoted around the world, and is full of useful and interesting facts about Korea, especially Korean food.

In the words of fellow blogger, Michael Hurt from "Metropolitician," Joe is a good guy. "He`s got much love for Korea, as evidenced by his site, his love of Korean food (he has even been interviewed by The New York Times), and has done much to extol the virtues of Korean food to both Westerners who come here as well as to the outside world. He has even been in a book talking about all the great things Korea has to offer."

▲Disputes are dealt with at the Labor Office in Uijeongbu. Just getting here is a trial in itself. [Chris Gelken/The Korea Herald]

McPherson certainly doesn`t seem to fit what is largely an unfair stereotypical image so often portrayed in the local media of an unqualified language-tourist, just here for the money, the parties and the girls. Yet, he is now facing the possibility of a law suit for alleged libel. If a fine of more than 2 million won ($2,100) is imposed, he could also face the prospect of deportation.

"Somehow, if an employer doesn`t pay you your wages or severance, or takes money from your paycheck without explaining or having you agree to it, they can pretty much get away with it," McPherson wrote. "Even if you win your case (at the Labor Department and civil court) there is little legal framework to force the employer to pay you."

In July 2006 McPherson filed a complaint against his hagwon for failure to pay his end-of-contract severance money.

"In August the Labor Board determined that the hagwon had to pay me everything I was due," McPherson said. "It came to about 6 million won, so we are not talking about a small amount of money here."

But having an official and legal piece of paper saying you are due this money, and then actually getting the money, are two quite different things.

In February 2007 McPherson finally went to civil court, where the judge not only upheld the Labor Board decision, but awarded McPherson a further 2 million won, bringing the total to 8 million won. The hagwon is still refusing to pay, and has lodged an appeal. An end to the process is nowhere in sight.

"Yet if you want to complain about it on the internet, which is often the only venue for us, it`s a crime," McPherson told The Korea Herald. "I received notice that the hagwon filed a complaint and I am being investigated by the police for criminal libel."

Brendon Carr, a foreign legal consultant with law firm Hwang Mok Park, had some striking comments on Korea`s libel laws. "Unlike the United States, Korea does not exalt free speech as a constitutional right," Carr told The Korea Herald. "However, the Korean Constitution does recognize a right to reputation. In other words, reputation enjoys higher standing under Korean law than free speech. This same idea is common in European countries; America is unique in the degree to which speech is protected. It`s possible that Korea is unique in the degree to which reputation is protected."

Essentially, the terms of Article 309 of the Korea Criminal Code say that writing something that can hurt the reputation of another, regardless of whether or not it is true, can leave the writer/publisher open to prosecution.

"The Art. 309 is basically a club by which the government and business interests muzzle the press," Carr said. "More than 100 criminal complaints are lodged each year against press outlets, and hundreds of cases go to the Communications Ethics Board for non-criminal resolution of disputes. Accordingly, the press here is much more cautious about reporting things where the identities of the wrongdoers may be discovered."

However, the Criminal Code does include the following exception contained in its Article 310: If the facts published are true and disclosed solely for the public interest, the act of publishing shall not be punishable.

Currently this privilege does not extend to bloggers on the internet.

"Truth is only a defense for the press, not for the general citizenry. And the publisher must prove the disclosure was solely for the public interest," Carr said, "and this is where most of them get punished."

The Korea Herald outlined a couple of possible story scenarios relating to cases such as McPherson`s, and "hagwons from hell."

Carr had these words of caution, "The Article 310 exception of `public interest` is much narrower than you think. My own judgment is that there is no public interest served by telling the story of the hagwon from hell."

English teachers, Carr said, "are not `the public` - they are a small segment of it. The rest of the public has no interest in being warned about how these hagwons may or may not treat their foreign employees."

The Korea Herald would be forced to disagree. Estimates vary slightly on the number of foreigners working legally as English teachers here in Korea, but each and every one of them comes into contact with hundreds of Korean children on a daily or weekly basis.

A teacher who is being victimized or treated unfairly by a hagwon is an unhappy and disgruntled teacher. No matter how professional that teacher may be under normal circumstances, when they are being cheated out of their lawful earnings, when they feel they are being let down by the legal system, then their performance will obviously suffer. A distracted teacher is a poor teacher, and consequently the students will suffer too.

According to some estimates, Korean students spend over 15 trillion won a year on private English classes. This is based on 11.2 million students spending an average of 1.2 million won a year for classes in hagwons or private English teachers. Korea spent the most on private education in 2006 among the 30-member OECD, accounting for 2.9 percent of GDP.

A Labor Department official recently told The Korea Herald that she saw "so many English teachers" in her office, and said hagwons - "the bad ones" - knew how to manipulate the system. "The process takes so long, many English teachers eventually just give up," she said. "The law needs to be changed. Hagwons must be held accountable."

It is, therefore, impossible to consider the case of English teachers in a vacuum, saying they are only a minority segment of "the public." They are a significant minority who come into contact with, as we have just mentioned, more than 11 million students on a daily basis, and are in the front line of a multi-trillion won industry. Consequently, anything that happens to these teachers, especially if it is at the hands of unscrupulous hagwon owners, and if it has the potential to affect the quality of the education they provide, should most certainly be of paramount public interest.

Parents certainly have the right to know if the hagwon that has enrolled their children, that is taking their money and promising a quality education, is or has been involved in legal disputes with its teachers. A hagwon that shows little respect for its teachers, and even less respect to orders from the court, is unlikely to show much respect to its students or their parents.

By Chris Gelken


Got a problem? Who you gonna call?
-Korean Herald, Tues. April 11

You're a teacher. Your school or hagwon has just blatantly broken the terms of your contract. After 11 months of dedication and stellar service, the director suddenly accuses you of being a bad teacher, among other things, and gives you your marching orders. He then cheerfully tells you he has contacted immigration, he won't give you a letter of release, and by the way, you have 14 days to get out of town.
Who do you call?

You may be tempted to call The Korea Herald - plenty of teachers have - but the Seoul Help Center is actually your best bet. Or you could try the Labor Department. They have an English language website and there are various other resources on the internet. But if you are determined to fight this through to the bitter end to assert your rights, be prepared. You are holding very few cards and the deck is stacked against you.

The Uijeongbu District Office of Seoul Regional Labor Office. Just getting there for your hearing is a trial. [Chris Gelken/The Korea Herald]

First off you have to know your "enemy." Frankly speaking, the hagwon sector has become just too big and too influential. According to some estimates, Korean students spend over 15 trillion won ($16 billion) a year in private English classes. This is based on 11.2 million students spending an average of 1.2 million won a year for classes in hagwons or private English teachers. Korea spent the most on private education in 2006 among the 30-member OECD, accounting for 2.9 percent of GDP.

Given the lack of oversight, the sector has become a cash cow for criminals - or the criminally inclined - and archaic labor laws just make it so easy for them to use, abuse and discard what is essentially a limitless supply of witless and gullible foreigners in search of their "Asia experience."

Obviously, the number of hagwons who do engage in illegal or unfair practices against their teachers are in the minority. But they are a very significant minority.

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself the victim of breach of contract, then you have to consider your immediate financial situation. If you are short on cash, then to be perfectly honest, in the majority of cases the best advice is suck it in, take it on your chin, and go home.

Sounds tough, doesn't it? Sounds so unfair and even stupid when you consider how harmful this can be to the good image that Korea works so hard to create through its Korean Wave, its cultural exchanges, and its bids to host major events such as the Winter Olympic Games.

But you may be surprised to learn that you are not alone in this frustration. There are plenty of Koreans who feel exactly the same way.

It may also come as a surprise that among the most "frustrated" are junior and mid-level officials at the Labor Department who have to deal with foreign complainants on a day-to-day basis.

"I am so, so sorry," an official at the Labor Department in Uijeongbu said to The Korea Herald. "I see so many foreign English teachers here, but because of the laws, sometimes they blame us and get angry with us."

So, you have lodged your complaint and have been awarded a hearing before a Labor Department inspector. Getting to the office in Uijeongbu is trial enough: an hour on the subway from City Hall in downtown Seoul, and then a 6,000 won taxi ride from the station.

You are tense; the lousy traffic from the station to the office has you on the verge of exploding. You are so anxious to make a good impression. You are sure you gave yourself enough time to get there, but every traffic light is red and the local council chose that day to dig up the road.

Still, you arrive with minutes to spare. Then you are told no representative from the school has shown up. They haven't called the department to ask for a rescheduling and they certainly haven't called you. They just didn't bother to show up. And why should they?

The law, as it stands, does not compel a hagwon director or his representative to attend a Labor Department hearing. They can ignore the notice to attend a hearing with no penalty whatsoever. In fact, they get three opportunities to fail to attend. They have "the freedom" to do this, the official said.

"It they don't come, then we send them a letter with another date for the hearing," the Labor official told The Korea Herald. The Labor Department does not even have the right to ask why the director did not attend, or demand the courtesy of an apology.

"They know they can do this, the bad ones, and they abuse the system," the official said. After three non-appearances the case is referred to the prosecutor's office.

"But then, even if they are found guilty, the fine is so small it is nothing to them," the official explained, "and often the teacher has already left the country because the process takes so long."

If the teacher leaves Korea before the case goes to the prosecutor, then the whole thing is dropped. "All the director has to do is wait," the official said, "it is so easy for them to win."

And with the paltry fines handed out by the prosecutors, the hagwons win even when they lose.

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the Labor Department inspector assigned to any particular case may appear disinterested, unenthusiastic and perhaps even unhelpful. In many cases, it is a pointless, and certainly thankless, process.

The law, the official insisted, needs to be changed. Hagwon directors need to be held accountable, and the fines for any wrongdoing have to be significant enough to prevent any repeat offenses and serve as a warning to others, the official told The Korea Herald.

"Korean teachers sometimes also face this problem in hagwons," the official said, "but they usually have family support here and obviously have the time to fight the case." So for foreigners, the official told The Korea Herald, the process needs to be sped up.

So what do you do when faced with this reality?

Lodge your complaint with the Labor Department, and armed with a certificate that you are involved in a dispute with your employer, immediately head off to the Immigration Department. If you get to them before your hagwon director, they will put a hold on your visa so you can remain here to fight the case.

The next move should be to contact your embassy and alert them to your status, and the fact that you may require financial assistance. They can help in putting you in contact with family and friends back home and facilitate the transfer of money. But don't expect any handouts, because you won't be getting any.

And then call The Korea Herald. We love a good story.

By Chris Gelken


'Unqualified' foreign teachers busted in crackdown

A 38-year-old Bulgarian who came to South Korea on a tourist visa in July 2001 found he was treated special here, at least compared to other illegal aliens, especially those from Southeast Asian countries, who have to work for lower wages and live on the run from the law.

The Bulgarian was hired as a "native lecturer" at a foreign language school in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, and earned about 2 million won (US$2,160) a month. He lacked formal qualifications and came from a non-English

speaking country, but he got his teaching job because he can speak some broken English and is white.

Two other foreigners - a 27-year old from Columbia and a 32-year-old from Panama- were also hired as as English teachers for the same reasons, though they are illegal immigrant workers.

Illegal aliens who have found teaching jobs in the greater Seoul region sometimes pay 25 to 30 percent of their income to the middlemen who find them their jobs, in order to stay relatively "safe" from legal authorities. Some are caught, of course, and deported to their respective countries.

On May 9, the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency (GPPA) said it found 46 illegal immigrant workers who were teaching illegally at foreign language -including English and Mandarin Chinese- institutes on tourist visas. In addition, police arrested 56 South Koreans who hired the foreigners or found them their job, on charges of violating immigration-related laws.

The foreigners were able to hide their lack of English skills by teaching just the alphabet or counting numbers for children in kindergarten-level classes, police said.

Kim Su-gwang, head of the police agency's investigation for foreign crimes, said, "Those foreigners came here after watching Internet ads that luring them with money and tourist opportunity in exchange for language skills."

"The case shows you a lot about South Korean English education," Kim said.

Of the arrested foreign language teachers in the latest roundup, there were 17 Chinese, 10 Canadians, 7 Americans, 4 New Zealanders and 8 foreigners from non-english speaking countries.
Victims honored at Va. Tech commencement

Victims honored at Va. Tech commencement

By KRISTEN GELINEAU and SUE LINDSEY, Associated Press Writers 47 minutes ago

The image most people have of Kevin Sterne is harrowing: a photo showing a tourniquet wrapped around his wounded leg as rescue workers rushed him out of Virginia Tech's Norris Hall.

But on Saturday, there was a new image of the 22-year-old former Eagle Scout: jubilant and full of life as he limped across the stage at the university's Cassell Coliseum using a crutch and displaying a grin to accept his degree in electrical engineering.

The crowd rose to its feet and cheered Sterne in one of the most poignant moments of the morning commencement ceremony at the College of Engineering.

It was one of several campus ceremonies in which individual colleges and departments handed out diplomas to students, including posthumous degrees to those killed in the April 16 attack at a dormitory and classroom building.

The College of Engineering was hit particularly hard, with 11 students and three professors killed in the shooting.

Engineering Dean Richard Benson was overwhelmed, his voice breaking at times, as he spoke about the slain.

"Forgive me," Benson said quietly as he paused to collect himself while commemorating professor Kevin Granata, who was shot in a hallway as he tried to save students during the rampage in which 33 people were killed.

The widow of G.V. Loganathan accepted a teaching award in honor of her husband, a man Benson said students fondly regarded as the best professor they ever had, the kindest person they ever met and incredibly wise.

Another slain professor, Dr. Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor, was remembered by the dean for his "profound courage" in blocking his classroom door so his students could escape out the windows. He was among those killed by student gunman Seung-Hui Cho, who took his own life.

Professors, students, their families and friends wept openly as those attending the political science department's ceremony were asked to remain silent while a bell chimed for each of nine slain students and their posthumous degrees were awarded.

Professor Edward Weisband said he has vivid memories of each of them in class, "attentive, bright, caring."

He promised their families that their children's empty seats "shall always remain in any class I teach."

As the overflow crowd rose to honor several of the department's six injured students who were able to attend, Weisband said, "We take inexpressible joy in your survival."

At an English department ceremony, nearly all of the 135 graduating students and many faculty members stood when asked if they knew someone killed or injured in the shooting spree. The crowd of several hundred rose and applauded loudly as posthumous degrees were awarded to sophomore Ross Abdallah Alameddine and senior Ryan Clark, who was one of two students killed in a dormitory before the gunman moved to the classroom building.

English professor Nikki Giovanni read "We are Virginia Tech," a poem she penned hours after the rampage that infused a campus convocation with strength the day after the shootings. She was inspired, she said Saturday, by the desire to convey that "what we do is more important than what is done to us."

The individual school ceremonies continued the theme of striking a balance between celebration and sorrow that began with a university commencement event Friday night.

While one engineering student's mortarboard read "This 2 shall pass," and one bore the name of victim Jarrett Lane, another graduate's said "4 HIRE." Students tossed around an inflatable beach ball and booed when it was confiscated.

Faces were somber as the dean commemorated the dead, but graduates broke out in cheers and tossed their mortarboards in the air as the ceremony concluded.

At the English department ceremony, department chairwoman Carolyn Rude said this year's commencement could not leave behind the heart-rending events of a month ago, but she said tragedy can be used to heal.

"It does its best work within us if it enhances our resilience, our wisdom and our ability to care," she said. "It finds its best expression in our will to honor the lives of those we have lost."

Virginia Tech awards diplomas to slain students

Virginia Tech awarded diplomas Friday to students killed by a classmate last month during a mass shooting rampage, with the university president calling them "innocent and beautiful young minds."

Thousands of students wearing caps and gowns crowded into the university's stadium to receive their degrees in a bittersweet ceremony just four weeks after fellow student Cho Seung-Hui shot dead 32 people on the rural Virginia campus.

Pictures of the 27 students and five teachers were shown on the stadium's huge screen while their names were read aloud to the crowd of students, faculty and families.

"We wish to pay tribute to those innocent and beautiful young minds who wholeheartedly joined the university community seeking knowledge and growth," university president Charles Steger said.

"And to the dedicated professors who were devoted to imparting that knowledge and nurturing that growth," he said.

"They wanted to make their mark as individuals, to be a part of the greater world and make it better -- and those of us assembled here tonight can attest that they succeeded," he said.

Retired general John Abizaid, who headed the US Central Command in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, praised the university in his commencement address to the 3,600 new graduates for the way it dealt with the tragedy.

"After the terrible events of April, I now know that Virginia Tech is an even greater place than most imagined," Abizaid said.

"Calm, steady leadership, compassion and teamwork in times of crisis and in the aftermath of crisis have a way of showing the character of a place and this place has great character."

In the rampage on April 16, Cho, 23, a South Korea-born, US-raised English major, shot dead his 32 victims in two campus buildings.

Two students were killed at a dormitory early in the morning, and 30 people were killed in a separate building around two hours later.

In between, Cho mailed to NBC news a package of writings, still images and videos in which he posed with guns, hammers and knives and ranted about the evils of the rich.

Police and university officials said after the tragedy that some professors and local police had pushed him to seek treatment from mental health professionals while he was at the university.

Days after the shooting, the university announced that graduating students would not be required to finish their final coursework for the year to help troubled students and victims cope with the shock.

It also announced, after discussions with the families of the murdered students, that they would all be awarded degrees and graduation certificates.

Posthumous diplomas were awarded to nine of the dead students Friday, while the 18 others were to be presented at individual college and departmental convocations Saturday at the university in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The families of victims were also to be given class rings, a traditional American graduating prize that students can purchase.

"There are 3,000 to 4000 people (to whom) ... this is very, very important, one of the major milestones in their lives," Larry Hincker, the associate vice president for university relations, told AFP by telephone.

"But at the same time there is unquestionably a bittersweet nature to it. This university is still mourning a terrible tragedy," he said.

"It's something that people are struggling with, but we wish to try to find the right balance to remember, recognize and memorialize those that we've lost, and at the same, recognize the many thousands who accomplished something quite significant in their lives," he said.

This was way too funny.

I only have one comment, no one died in this music video. Every stoopid live song video, someone dies in it. Thats why I have quit watching Music videos here in Korea.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Wonder Why?

Why Are the Anti-FTA Protesters so Quiet?

On June 3 last year, three days before the first round of Korea-U.S. free trade negotiations opened, 1,300 anti-FTA protesters held a rally at the Jongmyo Shrine in downtown Seoul. Some 40 anti-FTA demonstrators went to the U.S. to oppose the trade talks, waving banners and took to the streets. Eleven months later, Korea started the first round of free trade talks with the EU on Monday. But there were no big anti-FTA protests in Seoul during the negotiating period. About 20 anti-FTA protesters gathered and called for the cancellation of the trade talks in front of the Shilla Hotel, the negotiating venue, on Monday morning, but that was all. Seoul Metropolitan Police said no anti-FTA rallies were reported.

Anti-FTA protesters just held press conferences and issued statement. Even the notorious lawmaker Chun Jung-bae, who staged a 25-day hunger strike against the trade treaty with the U.S., welcomed trade talks saying an FTA with the European bloc will be in Korea’s interest. Of course, it is welcome that anti-FTA protesters express their opinions in a reasonable way such as a press conference rather than massive rallies. Still, the question remains: what made them change their attitude?

Despite differences in detail, trade talks are trade talks and will require Korea to reduce tariffs and open its market. Indeed, an FTA with the EU could have a bigger impact on the Korean economy than one with the U.S., since the EU’s average tariff rate is higher than the U.S.’ On my way to the Shilla Hotel to cover the talks, my taxi driver said, “Why are they so quiet this time? They were noisy when trade talks with the U.S. were going on.” Many people must have the same question. Did they in fact just oppose a trade pact with the U.S. due to anti-American sentiment?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Baseball report

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Well I got a baseball...

I also saw a triple play and a grand slam in the same baseball game. I wonder what the odds are on that.

Well I resigned the contract yesterday with Woosong. What can I say? I like it here in Daejeon.

The 3 pictures below are of me and my students at the HANWHA Eagles baseball game a few weeks ago, their names are David and Shabaz. The eagles lost but we had a great time at the game.

Monday, May 07, 2007

There were these 2 Englishmen and an American.

Somewhere there has to be a great joke here, I just have not figured it out yet.

Well on Saturday May 5th I went to see the F.C. Daejeon Citizens play the F.C. Seoul in a K-League Soccer match at Daejeon World Cup Stadium. The subway is now open so it was an 1100 won ride to the pitch. It's Line 1 Subway #119 exit #7.

The first photo is of the WC Stadium here in Daejeon, its known because back in 2002, this is where Korea upset Italy in the WC match.

The second is one of the Englishmen that I met at the match. It sure was interesting watching it with them.

The 3rd is the words Daejeon. Hey, I thought that it looked nice.

well the game ended 0-0 tie, but i had fun.... enjoy the video..


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Friday, May 04, 2007

Can I jump off a cliff?

Never have I been so disgusted with the boys I believed in. Not sure what Avery said at the half, but it surely did not work. Dirk, you will take your medicine for years - and deserve it. There is no question that as beaten as you were last summer, Mavs fans, this will be far worse.

Am I a Rock Star?

I know that is a funny comment but let me tell you why I made the above comment.

A few weeks ago, I was offered some extra overtime and I took it. For 1 week I taught an English Class at the Daejeon girls middle school.

Well you can imagine what happened, here comes me 1.93 meters and the girls just stare at me like, oh s^&%, this dude is tall.

All the time I was teaching I had little girls just come up to me and start giggling and laughing, so I went into princess mode and treated them like royalty, the laughter just ensured. It was interesting to listen to these girls talk about, they hate wearing school uniforms and that they hated to all have very short hair. (in some schools your hair is cut to be uniformity). Over all is was a very nice time that I spent getting stared at.

Now for what has happened a few times already here in Daejeon.

I go to the baseball games here in Daejeon. So when I get a call and I am at the game, no one is really surprised. What I have done a few times is dance like a complete fool while I have been at the game and a few times I have been shown on MBC-ESPN or SBS TV. My Students have even commented on seeing their teacher on TV. Yesterday I went to see TMNT at the CGV and While I was waiting for the show to start, One Korean lady just stopped and looked at me and said Hanwha Eagles? I said yes and she and her friends smiled. They remembered me being shown on the big screen dancing like a fool. The last game I went to a few people waved and said, "Hello dancing man." What else I have noticed is that they are very polite fans, so when I yell at the UMP for making a bad call you can really hear my loud voice, I have even had a few people repeat the exact words that I have used. I'm even cheered for yelling at the ump.

So am I a rock star?
Summer Looks Bleak for Local Film Industry

An article published today in the online version of the Korea Herald warns that the Korean film industry faces a serious crisis as a slew of Hollywood blockbusters is poised to hit local screens this summer. After a period of solid growth, the local film industry has seen the share of Korean films plummet and the number of new projects is on the decline.

"Spider-Man 3", released Tuesday in a whopping 617 theaters around the nation, sold 502,000 tickets on opening day alone. By way of comparison, "The Host", Korea's biggest hit, was released in 620 theaters last year. Whether Spidey can sustain this momentum remains to be seen -- in any case, don't expect it to outperform the mutant tadpole.

Other Hollywood productions slated for release in coming months, including "Shrek the Third" and "Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End", threaten to overshadow mostly small-budget local films this summer. In March, the share of Korean films nosedived to 21.6 percent in the metropolitan Seoul area, down from 45.8 percent a month earlier, the worst performance since December 2004 when Korean films eked out a miserable 16.9 percent.

Quarterly figures for January-to-March of this year, when Korean films captured a 48 percent share, are down from 72.5 percent in 2006. American movies, meanwhile, increased their share to 70.5 percent, staging a sharp recovery in the domestic market. This is a dramatic turnaround for Hollywood, given that American films struggled to maintain even a 30 percent share last year. The reason for the steep downturn? According to a survey by SBS radio, the recent decline of Korean movies at the box office is largely due to deteriorating quality. About 44 percent of respondents in the survey cited the lower quality of local films, while 23 percent blamed the slump on the reduced screen quota.

A recovery just around the corner is unlikely given the drastic reduction in film productions this year -- expected to be down around 30 percent from last year's 108. Except for "200-Pound Beauty," there was no major hit Korean film this year, while a growing number of Hollywood movies sell more tickets than expected, regaining their combined market share they lost to Korean rivals in past years.

[Source: The Korea Herald]

Korean filmmakers face a gloomy summer

t was not long ago that Korean filmmakers appeared to be winning the game. A steady stream of well-made films and blockbusters crushed Hollywood flicks at the box office, signaling a new renaissance period for the local film industry.

The solid growth, however, has slowed down significantly in recent months amid a slew of worrying signs. The combined market share of Korean films is plunging. The number of new film projects is also dwindling. Investors remain wary about the commercial viability of Korean films. Worse, several Hollywood blockbusters are poised to dominate the Korean box office in the run-up to the crucial summer season.

Leading the Hollywood lineup is "Spider-Man 3," which was released on Tuesday. This blockbuster secured a whopping 617 theaters across the nation, selling 502,000 tickets on its release day alone.

Given that Korea's biggest hit film "The Host" got released in 620 theaters last year, "Spider-Man 3" is expected to pull off a solid box office performance, threatening other small-budget Korean films like "Adeul (Son)" and "Long Day's Journey into Night." Even if Korean filmmakers manage to survive the attack from Spider-Man, the battle is far from over. A powerful ogre ("Shrek the Third") and pirates ("Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End") are set to join the Hollywood lineup in coming months, casting a dark cloud over mostly small-budget local films.

According to Max Movie, an online film ticket website, "Spider-Man 3" dominated ticket reservations this week, pulling off a 62.7 percent share, followed by "Adeul," a Korean drama that only secured a 19.4 percent in ticket reservations.

This lackluster box-office performance of Korean films came after Korean filmmakers failed to bolster their share in competition with foreign movies. In March, the share of Korean films nosedived to 21.6 percent in the metropolitan Seoul area, down from 45.8 percent a month earlier, according to multiplex operator CJ CGV. The figure marked the worst performance since December 2004 when Korean films combined carved out only 16.9 percent.

Quarterly figures are also negative. In the January-to-March period this year, Korean films achieved a 48 percent share, down from 72.5 percent in the year-earlier period. American movies, meanwhile, increased their share to 70.5 percent, staging a sharp recovery in the domestic market. This is a dramatic turnaround for Hollywood, given that American films struggled to maintain even a 30 percent share last year.

Korean Film Council, a state-funded film promotion agency, said in its latest report that Korean filmmakers introduced 32 movies in the first quarter of this year, up just one from the year-earlier period. The number of moviegoers who chose to watch Korean films declined 41.9 percent. In contrast, 45 foreign films led by Hollywood were released in Korea during the same period, marking a sharp increase from 21 films a year earlier.

In a recent survey by SBS radio, the recent decline of Korean movies at the box office is largely due to the deteriorating quality. About 44 percent of respondents in the survey said the quality problem dragged down the share of Korean films, while 23 percent blamed the slump on the reduced screen quota.

Experts said the dearth of big hits like "The Host" is affecting the overall performance of home-grown films. The odds for a rebound are also low because of sharply reduced film productions this year. Korea produced 108 movies last year, largely boosted by the Korean Wave-led boom. But due to the downturn in the film industry partly sparked by the oversupply, the number of films made this year is expected to be down about 30 percent from last year.

Filmmakers, critics and government officials are now debating whether the slump will last longer than expected or a recovery is in the offing. Except for "200-Pound Beauty," there was no major hit Korean film this year, while a growing number of Hollywood movies sell more tickets than expected, regaining their combined market share they lost to Korean rivals in the past years.

By Yang Sung-jin


Reader Comments

I don't know why people in Korea are all that concerned. They look at the output and are worried, but just how many blockbusters have Koreans produced this year? Very few since Host is the answer. Thus, should they be all that surprised that Hollywood blockbusters are gobbling up market share this year? If Korea wants blockbuster like results, they need to produce blockbuster type movies. Notherwise, stop whining when Hollywood blockbusters come in and take over. You don't get good outputs if you don't start with good inputs!

This will be a very interesting summer to watch movies here in Korea.