Thursday, July 26, 2007

May 18th or HWARYEOHAN HYUGA (or "Splendid Vacation"), it was the code name the military had for their operations in Gwangju in 1980.

Opened in Korea: 25 July 2007.

How I saw it. CGV

Plot. The story of events leading up to the 1980 Gwangju incident in South Korea.

As I write a review, I try never to bring any of the past hang-ups that I have and try and judge each film. For the most, I can do it. In this case. I can not. A while back one comment asked me why I stated in a preview what i think and what I believe and how the past has make me think and react the way I do. I think that, you the reader, deserve my honest opinion and need to see the bag that I brought with me when I saw this film.

It was 1991 and I was stationed in Camp Carroll, (Waegwan South Korea) and the First Gulf War, had just ended. A friend of mine was going to spend the weekend at one of our Katusa's hometown. (Korean Assigned To US Army)He was really looking forward to it. When he came back it was a different story all together.

To me, my friend just looked very different. I went and asked him, WTF happened? He told me about how all of the town just hated him and they were chased back to his parents place and how they were yelling at him. I then asked what city he went to, he said "Kwangju" (The unit knew that I was a history major) so he asked me WTF about Kwangju (Gwangju). I explained to him about what had happened and how a lot of people blame the USA for letting that happen. He understood it. Then his KATUSA friend came over, and I went off on him! I yelled WTF? Are you trying to get him killed, you know damn well he nor any US Army can go their, WTF were you thinking. It had never dawned on him that his friend could have gotten into serious trouble. We talked about what had happened and he told me that he had lost a few of his family and how they always thought that there was a mass grave with over 10,000 people buried there. We never talked about that weekend for the rest of the time that I was stationed in Korea.

It left a very bad taste in my mouth and to be honest, to this day, I refuse to ever visit Kwangju again. I had a short stay at Camp Ames (near Kwangju) but I did not react with anyone who lived in that city.

I knew that I was coming back to Korea in early 2005 to work in Korea as a teacher, so i decided to touch up with my studies of Korean History. When I revisited my studies of this subject. I flat out could not believe WTF I was reading.

(Now readers, please remember something. This is version 1 of this review. I have asked and hope that a few people, who are more aware of all of the story for help n editing, so this review may change a few time for historical accuracy.)

Now lets talk about the background of the film.

A huge red flag came up when No USA INVOLVEMENT article came out.

What I would like to point out are these various comments.

Here’s what Wicham said in his book “Korea on the Brink” (2000):

Neither Bill Gleysteen nor I knew that the Special Forces brigades had been ordered into Kwangju on May 18. We did know, however, that the ROK 20th and 30th Infantry Divisions, both of which had special training for riot control duty, were being withdrawn by Defense Minister Chu from CFC Operational Control. My permission to withdraw these units was neither sought nor required under the terms of the CFC Agreement. Rhu told me that some units from the 20th Division were being dispatched by ROK authorities to the Kwangju area, but that the 20th Division’s troops had not yet been involved in suppressing the riots.

and this......

Gleysteen’s “Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence”. Here’s what he has to say on the topic at hand in a nutshell:

The basic source of controversy about the U.S. role in Kwangju was the widespread public assumption that General Wickham in his capacity as head of the Combined Forces Command must have known about the deployment of Korean army troops in the Kwangju region and approved their role. In fact, none of the Korean forces involved in the mayhem on May 18-21 were under Wickham’s operational control. Nor did he or I have any knowledge of what those forces would be ordered to do.



I think it was Lee Jae-Eui’s accounts of the situation in Kwangju that I found the most difficult to digest.

Most Koreans, except older conservative ones, want you to believe Kwangju was a shining example of resistance to dictatorship by heroic advocates of freedom and democracy —- basically a boomerang interpretation from the “bunch of commie bastards” one the authoritarian government sold after the massacre.

Outsiders, especially foreign reporters, influenced by the global times in which Kwangju 1980 happened, the same people who championed “democratic” uprisings in South and Central American nations and Africa when “socialism” was still deemed a viable alternative to the ills of liberal capitalistic democracy, have also wanted to paint a best or better picture of the protest leaders and members in Kwangju.

But, from bits and pieces I have caught here and there, I can’t swallow this interpretation well.

I can’t bring myself to saying Kwangju was Korea’s Tiananmen.

And what bothers me is that there is a concept worth saving that gets destroyed if we make Kwangju Korea’s Tiananmen:

It is hard enough for mankind to follow the wisdom of Gandhi.

If we dilute it by applying it to situations like Kwangju, it becomes even harder.

Non-violent resistance to oppression — rather than turning to violence and bloodshed - even when right is on your side — even when excessive violence is being used by the authorities against your movement —- is something to be praised and it has been proven to make progress in places like India or the US or the former Soviet Union and so on.

I’m still conflicted about Kwangju 1980 — because I can accept the use of violence by citizens against an oppressive government. I don’t rule out that means altogether.

And I can’t say one way or another if Korea 1980 was a place and setting in which I would have accepted the use of violence or not…..

But I know which I prefer greatly —- the use of non-violence.

And it dawned on me today

didn’t Kim Dae Jung fight hard for democracy in Korea for decades — effectively push the government (though ultimate success to a long time) —- without preaching the need for violent resistance or a violent defense against oppression?

That is praise worthy….

I’m not too sure at all the leaders in Kwangju 1980 deserve such praise or the same level of praise…..


No, sticking it to leftist students is not the only reason. ‘Kwangju Satae,’ has been used in the Western academic community for decades, and I seen no need to conform to South Korean revisionism, especially in the case of a mob mentality ‘incident’ now, in my opinion, inappropriately romanticized. If people get upset for having a spade called a spade, oh well.

As I said, I used that terminology in Kwangju with absolutely no problem. The only odd looks I got were a bit of astonishment from locals when I understood what they were talking about.

NoW for those who have no idea what happened that day may I please now direct you to this web site HERE!

Now lets talk about the USA-Korea military alliance. Short Version.

1. If South Korea is attacked by a foreign power, the USA will defend South Korea.

2. If it is an internal problem, then South Korea will deal with it in a manner that they seem fit.

To be honest, I have always felt that if South Korea wants to blame anyone for what happened in Kwangji, all they need to is to look in the mirror for the answer.

Korea pop war review Mark has some great information about the movie and some interesting photos.

Now for the review.

I have to ask a question, if this incident is so important in Korean History, then why was it treated with too many fictional people and the main hero/villain was a person of fiction.

from csm

In the film, the rebels, led by a fictitious former colonel, revel in defiance and mayhem. Troops fire point-blank into a boisterous crowd – minutes of carnage that didn't happen that way. "Too much dramatization", says Chi. The director, Kim Ji-hoon, he says, "may have overdone it".

Mr. Kim says the film shows the rebels "not as terrorists but as people who wanted to defend their country". Yes, they "were fiction", he says, "but I tried to venerate them so the 10 days of revolt were as close to the facts as possible".

The truth was terrible enough to deserve an accurate retelling, says Chi, sounding like critics of Oliver Stone's "Platoon", about Vietnam.

"The people of Kwangju will be embarrassed by so much divergence", he says. Other Koreans "will think it's what happened, and the younger generation may have a wrong understanding of history".

The film took the very simple approach that soldiers were evil killing machines and the people were just in the wrong place in the wrong time. For a film that claims to try and show all sides of this incident, to leave out the voices of the soldiers was a damn disgrace.

I was hopping that the film would at least attempt to be a t least a good piece of propaganda, it was not even that. The film was cut very badly and at times I had no idea why the next shot was even added, it was a mess to watch with no real timing and pace, it all seemed very rushed.

I have no idea why they insisted that it was 1980 but actor Lee Joon-ki looked like he had just left a 2007 Korean dance party. I never believed him in the high school student role.

Another major problem I had was the stupid love story between Min-wu (Kim Sang-kyeong) and female nurse Sin-ae (Lee Yo-won). Why do movies insist on calling it history but give us these stupid and tired love stories that take away from the historical importance OF the actual events as they went down?

The only good thing about the film was that the film did talk about the US, it did not blame the US for the incident happening.

To make a very long story short, the film ends with Min-wu and Sin-ae getting married, but its a wedding in Sin-ae mind. The wedding will never happen because he is dead and so is most of the wedding party. I could not believe that they ended the film like a modern Korean Music Video. What a huge waste of the crew, and the Director.

In trying to tell a story of a major event in Korean history, the director, Kim Ji-hoon, blows in and had the audience treating the actors who died as heroes and forgetting about the real cost of those days.

Please pass on this film at all cost.

Grade. F
You know, once in a while, I actually do something right. It makes for a good teaching moment.

This week at Woosong, we have had a Government sponsored camp for a weeks with students from Onchon (sp?). I have been teaching the middle school 3 kids. Well today was one of the students 16th birthday (Victoria's). We has recently talked about how special the "Sweet 16" birthday was for USA girls and I Was going to try my best to make Victoria's birthday a nice one.....

It worked better than even I could have hoped for.

I went to Costco and was trying to pick the right cake, and I could not believe it when I found A cake that had some red roses on it and it had written "Happy Birthday" on it. I knew that I had found my cake! I also had picked up a copy of Harry Potter 7, and I had made each student a pdf file with all 7 HP's and all 4 LOTR's. I then went back to Woosong and hid the cake and no one saw it!

I then took role and started walking around class, very worried, I said, What am I forgetting today? Finally some one said, ITS Victoria birthday... I said, "Oh right," then I walked out side and picked up the cake and gave it to her....

She started to cry. I really shocked her! then I went to get the plates and silverware to eat the cake... I then said, "You know I forgot SOMETHING" I went back and gave her a black bag and I told her to open it up. Her friend was yelling, "Harry Potter!" Victoria had never seen a US copy of HP and now she has one. The class was cheering when we sang Happy Birthday and her eyes were really tearing up when she got the book.

The students loved the cake and the cd and the birthday party. I know I made her 16th birthday a very happy one.

Like I said, every now and then I actually do something right......

Yonhap: Kabul Won’t Budge Because of West

Now even Yonhap is setting the United States up to take the blame if the hostages in Afghanistan get killed.

In an analysis report, Yonhap — citing experts — says Kabul is ignoring the Taliban’s demands because it doesn’t want to offend the West, including the United States and Great Britain.

It notes that more than 90% of the Afghan budget is provided by foreign aid, especially from the United States, and that the Karzai government cannot act freely of US influence because it’s protected by NATO.

Yonhap ends by saying most analysts say negotiations to free the hostages depend on how effectively Seoul persuades Kabul to act and how effectively it secures the cooperation of the Western nations.

Of course, what Yonhap doesn’t say is that, perhaps, Kabul is ignoring the Taliban’s demands because a) it doesn’t want to turn kidnapping into a lucrative business, and more to the point b) Korea’s contribution to the fight against the Taliban has been next to nil, and its 200 non-combat troops will be withdrawn by the end of the year anyway. Kabul has absolutely no reason whatsoever to free enemies of the state who, upon their release, will go about attacking schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, killing Afghan civilians and attacking both its troops and the troops of allied states, all to rescue a bunch of highly irresponsible individuals who should have never been in the country in the first place and were probably engaged in activities even the Karzai government deems illegal. When Kabul freed five Taliban terrorists to save an Italian journalist earlier this year, it didn’t do it out of the kindness of either Karzai’s or Bush’s heart — it did it because Italy threatened to pull out its 2,000 troops. Influence is earned, and Seoul — so sorry — hasn’t earned any.

Rather than pinning this all on the West (read: the United States), what really needs to be asked is a) should we (Koreans) even be trying to negotiate with the Taliban, and b) if we do choose to negotiate, what can we do to earn the necessary influence with the Karzai government. Seoul needs to be showing Karzai the green and/or promising to send combat troops, not pestering Washington or NATO to lean on Kabul. And if the media thinks it can get the government to adopt a strategy of threatening Washington with increased anti-Americanism if it doesn’t get Karzai to do what Seoul wants, Yonhap, the JoongAng Ilbo and Hankyoreh (just to mention the ones I’ve read) had better recognize — this is a war against an organization that aided and abetted in the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Americans in our own damn country, and if you think we (Americans) are going to help said organization because the Korean embassy in Washington threatens us with “Fucking USA,” you’re sorely mistaken, my friends.

UPDATE: More bitching courtesy Yonhap, this time about Korea’s burdensome position “sandwiched” between Kabul and the Taliban. Yonhap quotes an Afghan source as saying that although the Korean government wants to accept the Taliban’s demands, Kabul — which actually has the authority to release the prisoners — is steadfastly refusing. Later, it quotes Al Jazeera, which reported today that the reason Kabul is refusing is “because it was greatly criticized by the United States” when it swapped Taliban prisoners for an Italian hostage in March.

And then there’s this classic from Yonhap — apparently, the Bush administration finds itself in a “dilemma,” namely, that the kidnapping might cause a rift in the Korea-US alliance and heighten anti-war sentiment in the United States. It also claimed that at a “sensitive time” right before presidential elections in both countries, the White House is on guard against the kidnapping becoming a political issue. A Washington source said Bush was caught between US policy of not negotiating with terrorists and assistance requests from its ally, Korea. Yonhap also noted that if the US appears to be helping Korea, it could make the situation worse and heighten anti-war sentiment in the United States. However, one official said that if the United States refuses to help, it could once again ignite anti-American sentiment in South Korea ahead of the Korean presidential election.

NOTE TO YONHAP — It’s not the United States that’s caught in a dilemma. You are. The US will (or at least should) do exactly what it did with the Italians — not a God-damned thing (unless Seoul asks for a rescue operation). You, on the other hand, are now faced with a choice — you can now either stick firm to the principle of not negotiating with terrorists and let your hostages die, or pay an extravagant amount of money — both in ransom to the Taliban and to buy influence with the Afghan government — AND piss off the United States, Great Britain, Germany and just about every other NATO member with troops in Afghanistan (save for, perhaps, the Italians) to rescue your guys. Have fun.

UPDATE 2: Cheong Wa Dae has issued a statement expressing regret about the press — the foreign press, that is! During a regular briefing, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Chun Ho-sun said that the foreign press was indiscriminately releasing unconfirmed reports that did not take into account that they could play into the kidnapper’s plans, and that the presidential office couldn’t help but express regret over these reports.

A Cheong Wa Dae official said the statement was made because the foreign press reports, quoting local Afghan sources, were amplifying confusion.

Chun also asked local media to be careful about what they report, saying the situation was one which lives hanged in the balance. In particular, Chun said media speculation about a memo written by Foreign Minister Song Min-soon — photos of which made it on the air — mustn’t negatively influence the hostages’ situation.


One may argue about the wisdom of giving money to the Taliban now, but overall, Seoul should be more concerned about their own people in distress, instead of western governments and besides, S.Korea is not in the Talibans’ line of fire so no worries for Korea about terrorists attacking by using the money Seoul gave them.
Harsh as it may sound, that should be Seouls’ position.

Fair enough. I guess it could also be argued — along similar lines — that since Seoul seems intent to pay ransom that very well may be used to kill Americans (seeing how it, unlike Korea, is in the “line of fire”), the United States should launch a rescue attempt to free the hostages before said ransom is paid. Sure, the hostages could get killed and heighten anti-Americanism in Seoul, but Washington should be more concerned with protecting its own citizens — including its soldiers in the field — rather than the Korean government.

Harsh as it may sound, that should be Washington’s position.

a must read

I will post after the kidnapping tale is complete but Michael wrote one hell of a blog. please read the entire blog.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Foreigners Face Restricted Banking

The nation's financial regulator will restrict both nationals and foreigners in withdrawing money from banks' automated teller machines (ATMs) and opening accounts to prevent financial frauds such as ``voice phishing.''

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) plans to revise laws that block such frauds this month for implementation in September.

Under the amendment, both domestic residents and foreigners will not be able to transfer money via ATMs or online worth more than 30 million won ($32,800) a day, down from 50 million won. The sum of daily withdrawal will be cut to 6 million won from 10 million won.

Foreigners who stayed here less then three months will be banned from opening new accounts, raising concern about possible discrimination against foreigners.

For those foreigners who lived in Korea for more than three months, they can open accounts with the provision of their qualification papers, including work permits and identification certificates.

But they will not be able to access online banking and ATMs in the first three months even after they opened an account. They will need to directly withdraw and transfer money over the counters at banks during business hours.

Following the news, migrant workers here are voicing concerns over limited access to banks.

``Since most of foreigners are here to make money, restricting their relationship with financial firms will make it difficult for them to live and provide support to their families abroad,'' said ABM Moniruzzaman, general secretary of Migrants' Trade Union. ``How can they directly go to banks after work when they are all closed? They need access to ATMs in case of emergencies.''

Since June last year, the FSS has found a total of 3,990 cases of voice phishing that caused damage to victims worth 37.1 billion won.

A person or foreign groups fluent in Korean have been using a method of identity theft _ or ``phishing'' _ posing as legitimate businesses, which they use to phone people to obtain their personal information such as credit card and PIN numbers.

Then, the scammers use the data to access the victims' accounts to either withdraw or transfer money to accounts established here and abroad.

The victims are able to retrieve their losses only after they win a lawsuit against the criminals.

The FSS has requested Korea Post and the Korean Federation of Community Credit Cooperatives to follow the measures against their customers.

``We have put priority on safeguarding banks, postal offices and the cooperatives where a rise of frauds have occurred through teller machines,'' said a FSS official. ``The cap of money transfers and withdraws could be eased on certain account holders should they get approval from their service providers.''

It, however, did not decide whether to have mutual savings banks follow the revised restrictions.

Friday, July 20, 2007



By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, US RANGER,
Ph.D., author of "On Killing."

Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending?

What is worth dying for? What is worth living for? - William J. Bennett

In a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.

Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.

Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me, it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf.

But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world.

They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools.

But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep.

Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero?

Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference.

There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: Slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision.

If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones.

I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die.

That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?"

Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?"

It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and
horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial
kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness and horror at your moment of truth.

Gavin de Becker puts it like this in Fear Less, his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling."

Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level. And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes.

If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself..."Baa."

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy.

It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other.

Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

Dave Grossman , LTC(ret)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Update on me and Korea.

Well it has been an interesting month so far in Korea.

Lets start with my former co-teacher Steph. She will be working in Dubai as a teacher. I hope that she has a good time there. As usual with Steph. Her last few days we not boring.

We went to a nice farewell party at a nice diner near her place and the sirloin was great. we then went to Dusan Dong (New Downtown) and had a nice night of partying, (I drank way too much cherry soju.) Then Monday something really funny happened, she needed to mail a few boxes and she could not get a taxi, so I brought a taxi to her. Then she had to mail the box.

the first one was easy with no problems, it was the second one that caused me to LOL. She mailed a suitcase home but it was too big for the post office and they would not mail it. She threw a Korea Wine Hissy fit, just like a Korean LADY and I was LOL alot. finally the Korean Postal guard showed up, fixed the problem in 1 minute and the package was reboxed and mailed. It was just too funny to listen to her whine.

I wish her well and hope she finds what she is looking for.

Last week Me, Dan, Greer and 2 of there friends went to Seoul to see HP5 at the IMAX. It was a so so film, but Greer liked it. In a few months I will try and get a ticket purchased for their wedding on Feb 23, 2008.

Also, Troy and Arwyln have announced their engagement, no date yet. I do wish them the best also.

Now for news that did not surprise me at all. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you all know of my total hatred of one Hogwon, OEDAE. Well I warned Trey that they would screw him over and guess what, they did. No pension and they made him move with one month left in his contract and they shorted him over 1000$ on his last paycheck. My old school now has a new female and I have told her all of the horror stories. She knows and will be on the watch.

Now for my job, I had a week vacation that turned into 3. What happened was that one of my classes canceled so for 2 weeks I had no classes. I did some paperwork this week for the school but thats been it. Next week it kids and back to the grind but I have enjoyed the little summer break.

I finally ordered the PS3 esp when the price dropped 100$. I should have it sometime next month.

I am still doing the movie reviews for the Busan web, Socius and I have also started writing a few for the twitch site.

Now believe it or not but by next monday I should be done with my families xmas gifts. Still no word from Sean or Claudia in California so I will wait and see what happens. I have to go and pick it all up this weekend.

Thats all for now, just an update what's going on with me in Korea.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Exciting World of South Korean Protests

For a country of about 50 million people, there are a lot of protests in South Korea. With a national average of 11,000 public protests a year, the average South Korean riot policeman is mobilized to contain 85 demonstrations a year.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hot Fuzz Sunday, Or Why Korean Protesters Get No Sympathy From Me

I started writing this post about 3 weeks ago, when I was physically assaulted by Korean NGO motherfuckers for trying to help a lady friend return a pair of shoes she had bought just a few hours before, when we left the store as a big protest started.

I sat on the post, since I was too angry to be anything other than the "angry anti-NGO loser protester foreigner guy" in the post. And even though my assault was proof positive of just how deluded and violent most front-line protesters are – as well as how they're the ones who instigate fights with the generally restrained riot police, which is a big switch from the draconian days of the democracy movement a few decades ago – I just didn't feet like getting into it, baby.

You, dude. I generally sympathize with the fight against "The Man" wherever you are, but throwing shit at people? Man, Korean protesters suuuuure know how to make even their theoretically possibly political allies hate them – because they're hateful fucking people.

And why did Newsis blur their faces out? Christ, Korean media – get a fucking spine. I doubt a protester who was in the midst of creating a political and newsworthy act can sue a newspaper and say his reputation is harmed because of a picture that wasn't printed in the "public interest." It's not like this is paparazzi of two lovers through a love motel window – this is news, dude.

Throwing shit at people? Dag. That's almost as bad as jumping the random foreigner who made the mistake of going to the wrong department store on the wrong damn day.

Read on, although it's one of my signature "long ones." Sorry, kids – although I try to sweeten it up with pictures. Actually, I do think the experience was a weird kind of hilarious. The last thing I expected to be doing that day was tussling with a bunch of clueless idiots who think that physical violence is the way to deal with the one or two people who snuck past their ill-defined "picket line."

Perhaps if they engendered any respect for their cause through proper behavior in their protesting – and were smart enough not to hit the police and not the CIVILIANS, of whom they are theoretically comprised, most average working people would have sympathy for them; as it is, the only people who give two shits about protests in Korea are actually the people protesting and being screwed over at the time.

As it is, when your politics make you prone to jump any passersby who don't happen to agree with you, you just become those annoying protest people no one cares about.

Hey, when I was protesting along with the TA's and other clerical staff back at Berkeley and the campus was effectively and administratively shut down, we didn't jump or even curse at students and staff who dared pass the picket lines; save that shit for the police, if you're gonna get violent, dudes.

Yesterday was one of the weirdest Sundays ever in Korea. Part of it, you can read about in the news, actually.

How did this come to pass? What the hell is going on here? Well, it all started as a lazy Sunday...

I woke up with few plans. Got up about 11, rolled out of bed; ahem, I mean rolled up my bed and put it in the closet; and had an appointment to do a little exercise and get some lunch. So me and a lady friend threw around a Frisbee (her first time, but she did a great job) and went to do a little shopping. The agenda?

- a name card case (yes, I finally made some)
- a laser pointer to entertain my crazy cat
- a shower head, since mine had broken in a fall from its holder

Now, I hate department stores, since they're crowded and overpriced (at least to me). I know they hold all the nice items in society, but most of the things I buy don't have designer labels, but LED displays and other blinking lights. But my friend insisted that perhaps they would have nice name card cases and that she could get some shopping done as well.

I responded that we could get ALL of our needs satisfied at Yongsan, since they have not only electronics for the laser pointer, E-mart for the shower head, and yes; a new department store that...

A stern smile; yes, they have those; nixed my suggestion. It sounded like just another excuse to go to Yongsan, which it...ahem...was. So, even though we had gotten a late start, we were going to the department store first, then eat, then eventually go see Hot Fuzz.

So we taxi down to the New Core Outlet near the Express Bus Terminal and proceed to wander around. Our lady friend spied a laptop bag she liked and proceeded to try before deciding to look around before making the buy, and we wandered around a bit. Then she spied the shoe sale.

Nine West, Steve Madden, Calvin Klein;real brands, all for just a few man-wons apiece. Well, they're the original American prices, just without the crazy import taxes and department store markup, which makes a pair of American $79 shoes that would go for $250 in a Korean department store $79 and a great deal in a Korean outlet store. She was in shoe heaven, and I was pretty bored.

So I flitted about, looking at this and that, and then floated back to the shoe section, where she was trying on stuff, and was asked for suggestions. I scanned the entire size 245 section and confidently said, "The blue ones are nice." She thought they were quite cute, but a bit high; I thought these Steve Madden pumps to be the only thing that really stood out from the mostly trendy lot.

She decided against them (I made a note that she would probably regret it, but didn't want to push her into buying them and then blaming me for regretting that) and she got a pair of decently cute shoes I hadn't seen and we were back to buy the laptop bag. As she was buying, I noticed a much cooler laptop bag – my photo eyes are exact; and suggested she take a look at that one. She did, previous purchase was canceled, and everyone busied themselves canceling previous purchase, getting cash from the other register, and other various things.

I decided to wait near the entrance, where the small group of riot police – a pretty familiar sight in Korea and something of which I had barely taken notice when we came in – had gathered into a small army outside of all of the entrances. And there had been protesters, but they were mostly ajumma and young women, and I guessed from the signs that they were workers who were promised some kind of job protection but hadn't gotten it and were protesting about either the store's stance on it, or their treatment by the store.

Whatever. There are protesters everywhere, and I stopped liking them a long time ago. I've been known to stand on a few picket lines myself, twice when the graduate TA's went on strike at Berkeley, once for a "takeover" of my undergraduate University Hall. Pretty small potatoes, all, but I also respected the picket lines of some other strikes, especially one that involved a hunger strike conducted by undergraduates that involved some pretty fucked up police action by the university cops, involving pain holds and clubs. And that was the Berkeley university police;not even the normal cops. Ouch.

So I have sympathy for people who put their asses on the line, protest non-violently, and focus their cause into reasonable action. "Civil disobedience" has two meaning for me, not just the one.

Korean protesters, on the other hand; the ones who wear the red headband with "단결투쟁" written on it and are generally mean, verbally abusive, and throw things at the riot police, who are now mostly kids doing their military duty, and not the hardcore military corps and hired thugs who gassed, beat, and even shot movement protesters back in the 80's; I can't stand.

Why? Me, a hefty lefty who is "liberal" to the core and has a Berzerkely degree in Ethnic Studies (a department founded through campus protest) to boot?

Because they're just plain rude and hold citizens hostage as their main strategy; their strategy is one of being as irritating as possible, as opposed to putting their "bodies on the gears of the machinery" or whatever 60's rhetoric you'd like to use.

See, the red headband people who besieged the National Health Insurance Building in my area generally never even showed up for the protests. That's what irked me, back when they were "protesting" in 2002-2003, and preventing anyone in the neighborhood from getting any sleep. They blared revolutionary music and slogans from 6 in the morning; even, and especially, on Sundays; and when you'd pass by, instead of the hordes of angry protesters whom you'd thought you'd see, it was one guy in a van with a loudspeaker trained on the building.

Where were the protesters? Probably sleeping.

Same with the red headband people outside the Korea Exchange Bank in Myeongdong. Blaring slogans and music, cheering crowds, but no people. And we had to endure listening to their noise assault all day. The technique seems to be to be so annoying to everyone in the area that people get angry at the offending organization, rather than at the protesters. But I think that's bogus.

And as someone who's filmed and photographed many, many protests since 2002, I can say that, without any exception I've personally witnessed, it's the protesters who start the violence, who are generally violent. a photographer with equipment at the ready, when the bottled water started flying, I was taking out my big flash and getting ready. All the major media was there, with still and video camera people, and generally, photographers are considered invisible when it comes to demonstrations, pretty much neutral parties.

During 2002-2003, I shot freely amidst even the most anti-American protests, with "Fucking USA" blaring in the background and burning American flags. SNAP SNAP. Never had a single problem. I didn't like them, nor care for their methods personally, but no one ever fucked with me, and I maintained a quiet neutrality. When I'm in the zone, I'm not American, or anti-protester, or anything. I just take pictures. SNAP SNAP.

So, I'm standing in an evil Starbucks actually just waiting to leave, but since the heat was starting to be ON, I was snapping a few shots of the protesters outside the door, along with some KBS dudes and other professional photographers, when this one punk kid materializes out of the crowd and starts fucking with me.

Actually, I'm a little surprised, since even as a foreign photographer, no one's ever come right at me or broken the unspoken line between the media and the political act going on; they are there to make a point, the media is there to cover it. That's one part of the reason they're out there, and a reason no one fucks with the photographers.

So it was a little like watching a movie and the characters suddenly looking straight at the camera and saying, "Hey, you!" I was surprised, because here was suddenly this kid yelling at me, getting in my face about taking "his" picture. While the KBS and other dudes were snapping away with big zoom lenses and whatnot. I'm thinking, "Dude – why you fucking with me?" and "Waitaminnit – isn't this a protest?"

But my response was simply, "What?" I was still making sense of this. He said that I didn't have a right to take his picture, that his "right to his face" was being violated, to stop taking pictures. As the entire Korean news media was snapping and rolling away. So I was annoyed, mostly because I wasn't taking pictures because this idiot was talking to me, and responded in disbelief and irritation that this was a political event, it was a news event, and if he was concerned about "초상권침해" then he could sue me after the event.

And WTF? With the entire Korean press corps going SNAP SNAP SNAP around me and the building and half the protesters playing it up for them, I couldn't digest who the fuck this kid was. Was he a Starbucks worker who didn't want me photographing while in the store? Was I misunderstanding something? Was he a customer whom I was confusing with a protester? He didn't have a red headband thingie, I noticed.

Anyway, then he asked me who I was. Annoyed that I was even being made to speak with this fool and breaking the line I maintain between me and my subjects, I snarkily said, "I'm shooting for me! So what?" Then he asked me if I was a cop (yeah, the Korean police is hiring Samoan foreign photographers now), and why the fuck I was shooting; which is just about the dumbest question you could ask, as violent protest is breaking out all around the building.

He was one of the protesters, and when I had told basically told him to go fuck himself, he went outside and started having them take pictures of me. Cool – so I made exaggerated gestures of taking pictures of the people taking pictures of me. And they were taking pictures of me taking pictures of them taking pictures of me.

Ho HO! Two can play that game! So I took more pictures of them taking pictures of me taking pictures of them taking pictures of me. Then I gave them the finger – I had lost any inkling of photo journalistic objectivity here, and was, indeed, just in the building to help my friend buy shoes and a bag (they didn't have any name card cases); I'm a little sorry about that in principle, although on the personal level, the finger is the least of what I'd like to give that kid.

Man – the "Fucking USA" and burning the American flag and even racist images of "black dogs" and "Korean whores" (a picture of a black GI simply standing with a Korean woman) didn't get to me, but this one punk kid did.


The caption in Korean (taken from read "Wanted - race-mixer" and most of the "commentary" on the site's bulletin boards (to which I wrote and complained about the racism, but remained up for months until I stopped checking) had something to do with her being a "slut" for having sex with a "black dog" or "black nigger dog" or some other variation. I'm sure the people who write that, or passively approved it, are the same people some of my "liberal" compariots call "friends" as they argue with me that I should have sympathy for these NGO people. It's funny that the same NGO's that liberally used "미국놈" and even racist epithets to refer to Americans (I heard them at the protests, I was there, so nobody can tell me they didn't or refer to edited transcripts) suddenly got all friendly with the international anti-war people (a lot of whom were Canadian and American, much to the professional NGO protesters' chagrin) when they started showing up in March for the anti-war stuff. Suddenly they were "our American friends" in the struggle and "compatriots;" Sheesh – at least have enough self-respect to keep track of whom you ostensibly hate. I'm sure the anti-war movement leaders were never shown pictures of the "I hate America" "education" being given Korean schoolchildren.


Anyway, I forgot about him, shot about 10 minutes of riot police going at it with the protesters, then things calmed down enough to leave the store and go to Black Angus for some steak. Yeah!

I've gotten into a yelling match before, but I've just learned to outbluster the blusterer. Still never escalated into fisticuffs, although that credit usually goes to me, not the drunk guy who'd like nothing other than to take a swing at me. So this incident rated pretty low on what Will Smith called the "Weird Shit-o-Meter." Nothing to get flustered over. See it every day.

So, during dinner, the lady friend said she needed to go back and get the blue shoes. I was fine with that, since the whole affair seemed to have died down, to the point that neither of us was even thinking about the protest anymore, which seemed to have died down as we were leaving, anyway. Heck, even the police had been going home. I vaguely remember there being some ajummas sitting in front of the doorways when I left, but that's about it. Didn't even think about it.

Well, we return to the store and we try to go in one of the open doors, past which you could see the store being very obviously open for business. There were a whole bunch of ajummas sitting in front of it, but it seemed pretty easy to walk through.

They immediately started up, saying that the building was closed.

Which was an obvious lie. I guess I wasn't even thinking that they were going to actually try and prevent entry. And it irritated me that they were lying. So we said that the store was obviously open and we were going in; so one ajumma comes up to to lady friend – as if I hadn't just had a conversation with her in Korean – and tried to tell her to explain this all to me; problem was, we both understood that she was lying through her teeth and actually insulting our intelligence. Since we were obviously intent on getting into the store, she directed us to the back door and said we "could probably get in that way." Cool, ajumma. Hooked up, right?

So we go to the back door, which was indeed, quite sparsely populated with fools in red vests and headbands. And there were a few ajumma arguing with one of them, which was effectively distracting the group; and there were just like 6-7 people around the entrance, but nothing like a clear line or anything. Just a group of protesters arguing with some flustered ajumma.

Cool – it would be easy to just walk up and not even talk to them, since they were occupied, anyway, so I lead the way with my patented slip-and-slink move and the lady friend follows. We're in! No problems, no confrontations.

Then this sanctimonious bitch – sorry, but that's all I can think to call her – comes up, all of like 21 years old or whatever, and starts yelling "You can't come in here!"

Of course, I ignore her ass and walk past her. Who's she? Da police? She's just another person, just like me. She has no right to stop me or anyone else from entering. So then, she lays hands on me.

So I'm like "Get your hands off me!" because she's all grabbing me and trying to physically push me back. Since I have what's called self-control and maturity, I didn't start no shit, especially with a girl; I just wanted her to get her hands off me.

At which point, she's yelling "He's trying to come in! Get him! Get him!" and seriously – like 5-6 dudes jump me. I'm serious – they JUMP me and try to take me to the ground.

I have $1200 in camera equipment in my hand, a laptop in my backpack, as well as about $2000 worth of accessories in flash, another lens, and other various photo stuffs in that bag. Now, they're grabbing on the bag (which held up really well, in retrospect) on both straps, the bag itself, as well as on both my arms, while one dude is wrapping his arms around my stomach, trying to lift me off my feet.

So – at that point, I could have done several things:

– use my very heavy camera as a single-use and very expensive bludgeon against the closest attacker's head
– used my variously free left land (I'm a righty) to uppercut the guy trying to wrestle my to the ground and get him off me
– drop the camera and put said guy in a choke hold and withstand all blows, turtle style, and promise to squeeze his larynx until either a) I lost consciousness from them hitting me (which they hadn't started to do yet, but was anticipating they might), b) or they backed off and I used him as a hostage, since there was no way I was winning against 5-6 guys, since I'm not, however much I'd like to believe I am, a ninja

Yes, these thoughts went through my mind, and I succumbed to none of them, although I kept the last as an option if they starting hitting, which, when 5 dudes gang up on 1 dude, constitutes a threat to my life, the way I see it – but I didn't have to, since I had one other option – very LOUD indignance.

See, all my years in Korea did amount to something useful.

So, I went into Indignant Anger Mode™, developed, tested, and patented by angry Korean ajussis and overbearing Korean moms since time began with bears, tigers, and garlic in caves on this peninsula.

I started yelling, "Why are you touching me? How can you touch me?" at the top of my lungs in Korean, along with, "This is illegal! You are criminals! You can't touch me! You are all criminals!"

That's the best Korean I could muster, given how angry and tense I was, and anyone who speaks a second language knows how easily one's language ability leaves you in such moments of intense emotion, fear, or anger. Given the volatility of the moment, that was fucking Nobel Prize-worthy literary prose I was coming up with.

In the midst of the tussle, a young protester girl had quietly come up and softly taken my camera from me, obviously to make sure it didn't get broken, so I could sense from the beginning that there were some people amongst this group who must have thought this whole thing was ridiculous and that I was just a dude coming into the store, not some representative of the Establishment they fancied themselves fighting against; that's one thing that kept my head calm, or was a sign that I possessed a calm head.

Somehow, the whole thing was surreal in that yes, I was angry, but also kind of was beside myself and analyzing the whole thing somewhat objectively as the situation was playing out. I was thinking they were dumb-ass, punk kids, I was thinking they were just being overzealous and taking somebody's "No one comes in under ANY circumstances!" a bit too far, and even as I had a clear shot at this skinny kid who had deluded himself into thinking he was lifting me off my feet, I didn't try and knock him out.

Yes, part of it was also fear that this would escalate the situation and result in me giving them an excuse to send me to the hospital or worse, so my logic was also somewhat based in self-preservation as much as high-minded motives to keep things chilled below any point of no return; yet, I also didn't feel these guys were bad people – just very fucking deluded, annoying, and taking this shit WAY too far.

Anyway, back to the yelling. Presently, the yelling is working, and a couple girls come over and tell their boys to chill out. One of them was the sanctimonious bitch, and I was about to give her some credit when she was like, "Why are you trying to get in here?" like she was the po-po.

I was still angry, and this was the attitude that had gotten her butt-boys on my ass in the first place, so I was responded with a very loud, "Who are you? Do you work here? (zing! - hehe, I guess not anymore, otherwise she wouldn't be in the red headband – cruel thought, I know) This is illegal! You don't have the right to touch me!"

So she gets this shocked and indignant look on her face, rolls her eyes, and rejoinders with, "Why you using panmal with me?"

Yeah. I was using the impolite, informal form of Korean. So sue me. "After you jump and manhandle and nearly knock me on my ass, that's waaaay past polite, bitch."

Or so I wish I could have said in just that kind of snarky way in Korean. As it was, I marveled for a moment at the seriously inflated sense of aggrievement that causes these people to actually believe that them taunting, spitting, and then hitting riot police isn't going to make one of them snap and hit back, at which point they'll yell "Police brutality."

And for those of you who want to go all Martin Luther the King, Jr. on me, please. That's one of the reasons the CRM succeeded – the suppression of the public use of violence in the movement, which is what garnered the sympathy of not just the rest of the nation, but the rest of the world. Had black protesters been regularly been seen assaulting police and guardsmen at the time – which, given the violent circumstances of the racist-ass Southern establishment at the time, would have been perfectly reasonable and understandable, and was a mode of protest some Black political leaders used, and somewhat effectively, e.g. the Black Panthers, who used violence more rhetorically than actually – no one would have given the movement any support.

Anyway, my point is, in the Korean context – this ain't Kwangju and it's not 1980 under a military dictatorship, although Korean protest movement styles really haven't figured that out. No one has sympathy for people who are effectively assholes.

Especially people who throw shit at other people getting paid by the hour, working up in Lotte Department Store. No one deserves to get shit thrown in their face working the meat counter – go raid the main offices and throw shit on some guy who actually makes the decisions, not the little guy.

Same principle with me. Why you jumping somebody who obviously ain't working for The Man in da sto', ain't the po-po, and ain't even Korean? Idiots.

Anyway, after everyone on the entire ground floor had gathered for the scene and dispersed back to their empty counters, I walked in, panting heavily – fighting is exhausting, and I'm out of shape, to boot – and still flowing with the first real adrenalin rush I had had since getting into a fight with Brian Wolf in 8th grade, or my girlfriend in college had an accident on the interstate highway and skidded us into a railing.

I don't get flustered like that often, and the coming down afterwards is quite nearly overwhelming. All I could do was focus on the task at hand, which was amazingly and ironically simple – we went to the counter, I got the shoes off the shelf, and asked, "These are the ones, right?"

EVERYONE on the floor was looking at me with a seeming mix of, "What the Sam Hell?" or "That's one crazy motherfucking foreigner" or "Now, that's the kind of man I need – fighting through crowds to take me shopping!"

In general, the crowd of workers seemed quite impressed even while they were as surrealed out as I was. "All that over some shoes?!" is what everybody involved seemed to be asking. That had to be the question people were asking. What other question could possibly be crossing anyone's mind, who had just seen that scene? Wow.

The lady ringing us up seemed to be holding back a smirk as she quickly wrapped up the sale after I ker-chunked the shoes on the counter and asked, "얼마예요?" We took our ridiculous little plastic bag of shoes and walked out the door with the ajummas, who looked genuinely shocked yet amused that we had gotten in.

The whole walking out part made it worth it, in a silly way – it was very end-of-Pulp-Fiction anti-climactic, and although I hadn't just cooly disarmed two amateur stickup fools, held on to my mob boss's valuable stash, and retrieved my wallet from the stickup man's trash bag that said "Big Bad Motherfucker" on it, well, it felt pretty close, given the fact that this was still a pretty wild run-in to have in a department store.

So, I felt one part stupid, one part silly, and one part "Big Bad Motherfucker." 'Cause we got what we came for:

We ended that surreal evening by seeing two more real bad motherfuckers on the big screen, in the movie Hot Fuzz, which absolutely was both the funniest and most fun action flick I'd seen in years.

That night, I was happy to find that the incident hadn't actually bothered me much; I wondered if it was just me getting older, or me getting used to the surreality that defines life in Korea, but you seem to stop noticing the longer you're here.

In the end, I was happy to realize that I wasn't really angry or begrudging at all; I hadn't tipped over to clichéd point of becoming the "anti-Korea expat", which seems to be something some people fall into and that you see sometimes after bad things happen to good people you know here – "Fucking Korea," or some such.

Naw, I was just happy nothing happened, I had used my brain to defuse the situation, and that I had had the wherewithal to do that in the first place. We both watched Hot Fuzz and left feeling like the "bad motherfuckers" we had just seen in the movie.

'Cause we came, we exchanged, and we conquered.

'Cause we left with the shoes.


Hey, Honey, Does This Beef Smell Funny?

Members of civic groups opposed to the sale of U.S. beef throw cow manure inside the Lotte Mart Sangmu branch in Gwangju yesterday. Newsis, which transmitted the photo, blurred their faces. Lotte Mart introduced U.S. beef yesterday, the first time a nationwide supermarket has sold it in more than three years.

Lotte Mart trumpeted its rollout of U.S. beef with full fanfare. First, the store sent out an announcement on Wednesday, talking about how much cheaper the meat would be than the Korean or Australian offerings.

Then Lotte followed the standard Korean marketing plan: posing models next to the beef to generate even more press.

“The news that Lotte will be the first chain store to sell U.S. beef received plenty of publicity,” said Gwak Gye-yeong, salesperson at the Seoul Station branch of Lotte.
What Lotte didn’t count on was a rush of protesters, some throwing dung, who forced six of the chain’s 53 stores to stop selling the beef yesterday.

The stores opened at 10 a.m. Less than an hour later, about 100 people from the civic group called the Korea Alliance Against the Kor-US FTA stormed into the Seoul Station branch, fought past riot police and held a sit-in.

The Seoul Station, Chungju, Anseong, Sangmu, Cheongju and Gwangju World Cup branches had to stop selling the meat because of the protestors. Chungju and Cheongju are in North Chungcheong. Anseong and Sangmu are located in Gyeonggi and Gwangju, respectively.

Yesterday was the first day the meat has been ever sold by large supermarket chain stores in more than three years, since fears of mad cow disease brought a ban on the beef.

More than 100 kilograms were sold before the protestors rushed in at Seoul Station.

Even after the sales were stopped, customers there asked for the U.S. beef. A woman in her late 30s who declined to give her name, said she wasn’t worried about mad cow disease. “I stayed in Los Angeles for two months last year. Nothing happened to me,” she said.

She said she couldn’t understand the protesters. “I know the cow growers are not well-off, but what about the city dwellers?”

Lotte said it had sold an estimated 2 tons, or 35 million won worth of U.S. beef, as of 2 p.m. yesterday. The amount was four times more than the import beef sales last week.

Lotte Mart, the country’s third biggest supermarket chain, prepared 10 tons of sirloin, rib eye, chuck short rib and chuck, all choice grade, which is equal to Korea’s first grade. They also lowered the price for a promotion. “Lotte is not making any direct profits from today’s sales,” said a Lotte Mart employee who declined to be identified.

One hundred grams (3.5 ounces) of non-frozen top sirloin sold for 1,550 won ($1.70). The same part from a Korean cow is sold for 6,000 won. Each customer was limited to a purchase of 1 kilogram.

Lotte will continue selling beef and the sales at the four will also resume in the near future, said Gwak.

By Hwang Young-jin Staff Writer[]


Brendon Carr
Posted July 14, 2007 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

"I would be interested in knowing how ROK law allows such behavior. If groups want to protest, I don’t disagree, but is damaging private property or disrupting business activity allowed?"

Come on now — how long have you lived here in Korea?

What they did was flatly illegal. And nobody — other than you, Mr. Foreigner — cares.

Unlawful protest activity is generally not stopped by police (riot police allow lead pipe-wielding “civic group” numbskulls vent their spleens rather than stand their ground and enforce the law), nor is it often punished by the court. “The Law” gives way to a host of other considerations, including “pure intent” (i.e., the rest of us must be compelled to continue to subsidize their loss-making farming activity) and “social perspective” (i.e., the Yankee and the Jap will accept any provocation without consequence — only China and North Korea are to be feared). Fight your way in through the police (probably not that hard), fling turds around a supermarket and scupper the sale of US beef? You get a suspended sentence. Or a cookie, since you’re “on message” with the mercantilist establishment.

If you think Seoul would carry out its harassment of a Chinese private-equity fund as this government is doing to Lone Star, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. The Chinese government would not tolerate such abuse. But the Koreans are afraid of the Chinese; there is no similar fear of Uncle Sugar. Perhaps there should be. Teaching the Koreans some fear that there might be consequences from pissing in America’s cornflakes would do wonders for the bilateral relationship.

What I suggest is strictly reciprocal trading relations as suggested by (ugh) Tom Clancy. If American goods and services aren’t welcome in Korea, then perhaps the welcome mat at the Port of Long Beach ought to be reconsidered.

And no, despite being great fun, the fact that enforcement of laws simply melts away before social pressure is decidedly not good for Korea’s desire to become a hub of anything. If those dippy farmers wanted to stand out in front of the Lotte Mart, on public property, and hector people entering and leaving the store, I’d have no problem with that. However, that the state would not take measures to ensure they couldn’t barge into Lotte’s private property with their bucket of feces is just another reason for the “Korea Discount” — it’s a sign that rule of law is not established here.

One possible saving grace is that the photo in question of the dung-flinging protestor was taken in Kwangju, Ground Zero for demented anti-US hysteria.

Max Watson

I was craving a nice affordable steak yesterday evening after having read about the beef on sale. I plotted out to go to Lotte Mart, but instead diverted to the easier Grand Mart where all they’ve currently got is Australian and Korean beef. Like always I didn’t buy any.

Earlier I was discussing my steak plans with a Korean who informed me that he wouldn’t eat American beef because he doesn’t want to get mad cow disease. I laughed and began schooling him. There’s been 140 cases humans getting the sickness, out of a world population of 6 billion. The link to getting the disease from eating tainted meat is only hypothesized. Further, if a cow got sick in Korea, do you think that the public would find out? Hell no. There’s been cases in Hong Kong and Japan, but none here. Korea can’t report it, the domestic beef industry would fold because everyone would start buying imported beef.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sometimes you really just have to sigh

Despite the best efforts of The Korea Herald to highlight the problem - and initiatives by the Korean government to stamp out discrimination in the workplace - it seems that some people just don`t get the message.

Gina Song of Bundang Kids Club is a case in point.

She was responsible for the following advertisement for teachers: "If you are young and white, you are alright with us." Really, about the only thing you can do is sigh, and laugh out loud at how ridiculous this situation really is.

The advertisement went on to say, "Average weight (or thin) people are preferred. Also please, no Australians/New Zealanders/Irish etc. Brits may be considered under special circumstances. Of course, no non-native English speakers or ethnic minorities."

The Kids Club hagwon, in a rare example of honesty, warned any potential applicants that the contract they sign with them is probably not worth the paper it is written on.

"One year contract required by law. Please note, however, that cultural differences exist with respect to contracts."

The hagwon then reproduced this alarming message: "English teachers in Korea occasionally have contract disputes with their employers. In the Korean context, a contract is simply a rough working agreement, subject to change depending on the circumstances. Most Koreans do not view deviations from a contract as a breach of contract, and few Koreans would consider taking an employer to court over a contract dispute - we don`t think you will take us to court either!"

Really? Well, Bundang Kids Club probably covered its bases with the following: "Salary negotiable. Paid vacation. Optional medical insurance. Year-end bonus - if you complete one year."

The "optional medical insurance" is required by law and is absolutely non-negotiable. When The Korea Herald called Ms. Song, she cheerfully agreed, but suggested, "Some teachers want to save money so they decide not to have the medical insurance."

It saves the school money, too, a detail she conveniently left out along with the fact that non-payment of medical insurance is illegal.

When it was pointed out to Ms. Song that she was breaking multiple Korean laws with her advertisement, she cut the conversation short with: "I am hanging up, I do not wish to speak with you, and you will not be considered for this job."

That is a great pity because the advertisement was so tempting. An e-mail to Ms. Song went unanswered.

By Chris Gelken


A Russian version


Victory for Sochi

The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi. In the second round of voting in Guatemala City yesterday, the Russian bid received four more votes than its rival, the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. After celebrating with the members of the Russian delegation in Guatemala, Kommersant special correspondent Andrei Kolesnikov explains whose votes brought Sochi victory.
"The Main Thing Is To Get To the Second Round"

Things happened fast. After the presentation of the Russian bid, the members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) left the room for a short break, during which the Russian delegation was not allowed to approach them. Not that anyone wanted to.

"The main thing," said Svetlana Zhurova, a Russian gold medalist in ice skating at the Games in Turin, "is to get to the second round… There Europe will help us. Europe will vote for Europe!"

Now the only question was exactly how Russia can be considered Europe. Every member of the IOC would have to figure that out for themselves.

The South Korean presentation began. Alberto Tomba, a retired downhill skiing champion from Italy, served as the star of the show, exclaiming at the Korean snow and going into raptures over the service in the double hotel rooms in the Olympic village. Then a map of Asia, on which only a handful of countries besides Korea, Japan, and China were labeled, appeared on the screen. The whole of Central Asia was a nameless void on the map…neither Turkmenistan, nor Kazakhstan, nor Uzbekistan were pictured.

The members of the Russian bid delegation gathered around one of the monitors in the press center.

"Why didn't they include us in Asia?" asked Russian deputy prime minister Alexander Zhukov. "Well, whatever. But the Asians? By the way, did you see their Moldovan boy?!"

The Korean presentation included a boy, or more accurately, a young man, who really was from Moldova. The Korean woman emceeing the presentation told everyone that a coach had taught the Moldovan boy how to ski and that now he dreams of winning the Olympic gold. And he realizes that he will be able to achieve his goal only if the Olympic Games are held in South Korea.

The boy nodded dutifully. Why he won't be able to win the Olympic gold in Sochi is obvious: he was the hero of the Korean presentation.

"And now they're rolling out the topic of the reunification of the two Koreas," said Alexander Zhukov, pointing to the monitor. "And they're mentioning how they lost last time by three votes…"

"Well, that's why they lost, because they played up that topic," said Svetlana Zhukova scornfully.

On the screen, an old South Korean woman was saying that she had last seen her North Korean son 50 years ago and that if the Olympics are held in Korea, she will have a chance to see him again.

"And they're always having kids singing in their ads," said Alexander Zhukov, with a note of condemnation in his voice. "We had way less singing in ours."

I recalled that there had been no singing children at all in the Austrian presentation. That was one of its main pluses.

Overall, the Austrian presentation was a cheerful and commendable affair. The Austrians behaved as though they were preparing themselves to lose proudly, with their heads held high.

After the Korean presentation, I was walking in the corridor when I caught sight of three-time Olympic figure-skating champion Irina Rodnina and Russian Transportation Minister Igor Levitin.

"Did you see the Moldovan boy?" asked Ms. Rodnina indignantly. "And he was probably born in the USSR! He's not that much of a boy anymore!"

"Anyone who says that's a girl will have to deal with me first," corrected Igor Levitin.

At that moment, some members of the Korean delegation passed by.

"Oh look, it's the Moldovan boy! Large as life! Come here, little boy!" cried Iriina Rodnina.

The young man was actually somewhere between 18 and 20 years old (definitely old enough to have been born in the USSR). As soon as he noticed us, he shrank close to the opposite wall of the corridor and skulked off towards the exit.

Meanwhile, on the second floor of the hotel the most dramatic part of this story was already getting underway as the members of the IOC entered the room to finally cast their votes. If any country won more than 50% of the vote, it would win in the first round. This wasn't likely and was the least desirable scenario for the Russian bid: Sochi would definitely lose in that case.

The people entering the room were followed by the sad – or, more accurately, absent – gaze of Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the Sochi 2014 bid committee. He himself was forbidden by the rules of the competition from entering the room.

In the room, IOC president, a Frenchman named Jacques Rogge, told everyone that the first round of voting would take place using electronic ballots that had several numbered buttons, one for each city. Pyeongchang was assigned number 4, Salzburg was number 3, and Sochi was number 5.

The voting was quick, and short work was made of the Austrians. It later emerged that Salzburg had received 25 votes, Sochi 34, and Pyeongchang 36.

At that moment, however, no one knew how many votes each candidate had received. All that was announced was that Salzburg was out, meaning that Sochi had made it to the second round.

And right there, without a break, the second round of voting began. At one point it was interrupted when one of the IOC members apparently had an attack of nerves and broke one of the voting buttons.

The results of the second round of voting were not due to be announced until two hours later, but the radical change that the first round wrought in the mood of the Russian section of the press center, which five minutes earlier couldn't even imagine that Sochi would get higher than third place, was amazing.

"Yeah, it's too bad that the Winter Olympics will be in Sochi," I overheard someone say. "That means that Piter (St. Petersburg) won't get the Summer Games…"

In other words, people were absolutely positive that by this time, nothing was impossible for Russia.

In actuality, however, the situation was far from being so clear. The votes that had previously gone to the Austrians were not guaranteed to transfer automatically to Sochi. They would have to be dragged over to the Russian side.

The members of the IOC who had been unable to deliver victory for Salzburg would have to be convinced to bring home victory for Sochi. But they, as it turned out, were unsure both of themselves and of Sochi. And there were no more convincing arguments.

"No One Said a Single Word of Encouragement! Unprofessionals!"

But by the time when the members of the IOC moved over to the Intercontinental Hotel to pronounce the final sentence, some clarity had come into the situation. Someone from the IOC had admitted to his Russian colleagues that it would be better to have the Olympics in Sochi than in Korea. Near the entrance to the hotel some volunteers, seeing my badge, had already begged me to give them a Sochi pin in exchange for a Guatemala pin or even two Guatemala pins. The point of this exchange was clear. No one was interested in Pyeongchang pins anymore, which were everywhere, like dirt in Guatemala City. Sochi pins, on the other hand, were like dirt in Salzburg: nowhere to be found.

In the lobby of the Intercontinental stood IOC vice president Vitaly Smirnov. I asked him whether Sochi would win.

"I said so yesterday on television," answered Mr. Smirnov testily.

"Well, so what?" I said. "Mr. Zhukov also said that yesterday at the briefing. It's a tactic. Everybody does it."

"What kind of tactic?!" objected Mr. Smirnov. "You journalists, you have no faith that we're going to win! I've plowed through a huge pile of your newspapers! No one said a single word of encouragement! Not a single one! Unprofessionals! But we knew, we were working!"

Mr. Smirnov had apparently already decided who was the professional around here, and there was only one: himself.

"Don't you think that this is basically the president's achievement?" a female Russian journalist asked him.

"The president told me: 'You've done good work!'" he roared.

Mr. Smirnov was clearly trying to wield this affirmation against the unprofessional journalists who dared, there at the very heart of the IOC, to annoy him with their unprofessional questions. He remained distracted after that for several minutes, presumably entertained by his vengeful thoughts against a world so thickly populated with unprofessional journalists who two years ago were incapable of appreciating the full epic grandeur of Sochi's bid.

And then, as the room teemed with the bedraggled Austrians and the Korean delegation, whose members carried a rolled-up national flag (and who were meekly accompanied by the Moldovan boy), and, I suddenly discovered several subtle hints that were impossible to ignore. First of all, the music in one of the IOC video clips strongly resembled the music of the Russian national anthem. Secondly, several dozen photojournalists were suddenly swarming around the Russian delegation, while only four people had gathered around the Koreans.

Jacques Rogge got up on stage and began to talk about where Sochi is located. That was also a good sign, although then he also mentioned the location of Pyeongchang. Both remarks appeared to evoke genuine interest from the members of the IOC. Two Korean journalists standing near me suddenly began to congratulate each other on camera, while the members of our delegation grabbed each other's hands and held on tightly.

Jacques Rogge, like always, was in no hurry to announce the final results of the voting, and I mentally sympathized with my fellow Russians, imagining how their palms must be sweating under this assault on their nerves.

Finally a young Guatemalan girl brought Mr. Rogge a large envelope on a cushion.

The IOC president seized the envelope with uncharacteristic swiftness, ripped it open, and said one word: "Sochi."

"We're All Just So Happy Here"

The members of the Russian delegation celebrated as though they had never even considered winning. They had a right to be glad: Sochi had been the outsider in this crazy race from the very beginning. Throughout the hotel's lobby, the fever of hugging and kissing was contagious.

Only Vladimir Kozhin, a member of the Russian presidential administration, attempted to maintain some semblance of calm.

"It turns out that the world has changed," he mumbled. "Who would have thought… And that politics doesn't decide everything? Who would have thought?!"

"Yes, giving the (Winter) Olympics to a country that hasn't had them yet! This is a challenge…for us!" said Mikhail Kusnirovich, the head of the Russian company Bosco, which makes the official uniforms for the Russian delegation.

Mr. Chernyshenko brought over a memo from the IOC, from which it emerged that Sochi had received 51 votes to Pyeongchang's 47, meaning that Sochi had picked up 14 of the votes that had gone to Salzburg in the first round. Strangely enough, I noticed, most of them came from Americans.

Alexander Zhukov's cell phone rang. It was Vladimir Putin, calling from on board his jet. I almost expected him to turn his plane around over the ocean when he heard the news.

"Yes!" said Mr. Zhukov. "Yes! Thank you! We're all just so happy here! There hasn't been a moment like this in a long time!"

He was being modest. The new Russia has never had a moment like this. This was a clean and clear victory that nothing could mar.

"I think the decisive contribution was made this morning, Vladimir Vladimirovich!" said Alexander Zhukov into the phone, and I assume he meant the presentation by the Russian bid committee.

Mr. Putin then apparently asked to be put through to Jacques Rogge, while around Mr. Zhukov the party continued.

The Main Thing Now Is To Not Drop the Ball

At the press conference afterwards, the members of the Russian bid committee, the IOC, and several Russian officials faced several questions that gave both them and me pause. An American journalist asked Mr. Rogge how the Olympics could be given to a country that violates human rights and kills journalists.

Mr. Rogge replied that the IOC is not involved in politics, and then fell silent.

After a few moments, Mr. Chernyshenko managed a reply. "We are still a young democracy," he said. "The choice of Sochi means that Russia will become even better integrated into the international community, that it will be more strongly oriented towards the outside world…"

He could have sounded more certain as he said this. The young journalist smiled condescendingly.

Soon, however, the grilling was over, and the party at the Russia House in Guatemala City resumed. And continued...

In Russian

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Opened in Korea. 11 July 2007

How I saw it. CGV 3D IMAX

Plot. After returning to Hogwarts to begin his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter discovers that much of the wizarding world, including the Ministry of Magic, is in denial about Lord Voldemort's return. The Order of the Phoenix, a group sworn against Voldemort, is using its vast array of wizards and witches magical abilities to combat Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic, suspects that Dumbledore is using these claims of The Dark Lord's return as a means to over-throw Fudge as Minister. In retaliation, a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is appointed by the Ministry in order to keep an eye on Hogwarts. This new teacher, Professor Umbridge, implies strict new teachings and rules, forcing a group of students, under the tutelage of Harry, to form a club, by the name of Dumbledore's Army.

Now for this review, I am going to assume that you have read the book. If you have not yet read the book, then stop reading this review right now! I will be spoiling the film and book for you.

I have no idea why they insist on making Harry Potter into a 2 hour film, the story is at the point where 3 to 3.5 hours is needed to tell his complete chapter. This is a good film but it could have been so much better and that's what is so frustrating about this film, What could have been.

Now let's talk about what went wrong with this film.

1. The aftermath of the Dementors attack. All we are shown in the film is the one letter sent by the ministry. We are not shown anything else. What was really missing was the fact that his Aunt Petunia knew what a dementor actually was. I just have a weird feeling that in the next book, this fact is going to be played out.

2. Harry's lack of anger at the beginning. The film never really lets him show just how alone he feels until the middle and the beginning of the film really suffers from it.

3. The reduction of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Dumbledore in this film. If you have read the book, this will make sense. I do not understand why they are slowly being written out of the film when they all pay huge roles in the next chapter.

4. Cho Chang. Now I have no idea why this was done in the film but, in the book Marietta Edgecombe is the one who betrays Dumbledore's Army, but the betrayal is instead committed by Cho in the film, effectively ending her relationship with Harry, but is later revealed to have been under the influence of Veritaserum while interrogated by Umbridge, dropping the whole hexed parchment storyline altogether. This made no sense at all and I thought really hurt the film.

5. Sirius Black. Now I have no idea why his role was reduced, but the two parts that did not be removed were his argument with Snape and his talk with Harry about what Harry saw during his Occlumency. Both of these events lead to Harry's total hatred of Snape. This becomes very important in the next chapter.

6. The total removal of the return of Rita Skeeter. This is where Harry tells all about what has happened to him and what really went down last year. It also omits "The Quibbler" With this removal, Harry's main school enemy ,Draco Malfoy, is reduced to a petty bully and this will really hurt the next chapter.

7. The reduction of Twin Weasley's escape scene, what could have been a lynch pin to a great scene and a much better movie, we are given a 1 minute show.

Now Lets talk about what went right with this movie

1. Luna Lovegood. I knew this was going to be a hard role to cast but Evanna Lynch pulls it off very nicely. She soon becomes the one person that can talk to Harry and at the same time becomes a voice of reason. This was a great choice.

2. Neville Longbottom. It was nice to see that they are allowing him to grow and to show that he is slowly overcoming his self doubt.

3. Umbridge. You will really believe that she is trying her best to blindly follow orders. I loved all of the cat plates that were in her office.

Now for the 3-D part of the Imax film that I saw.

You will be told when to put the glasses and when to take them off. I am glad that they put the last 15 minutes into 3-D IMAX, when you see Sirius being hit and falling into a mist like vapor, with the 3-D, it looked like a real passing into the next plane. When you see the battle between Dumbledore and Voldemort, in 3-D it was just like you had a ring side seat to a great boxing match. The end of the 3-D was the best when Harry finally figures out that he can love and Voldemort can't. Harry wins this round of the larger battle.

The end was way too short. I wish that it would have had a longer talk between Harry and Dumbledore. It seemed rushed and too short. It did not show Harry dealing with the loss of the only family that he had.

In the end we are left with a good film, if you have not read the book. If you have read the book, you are left wondering, "What could have been." All of the pieces for this film to be a great film was there for the taking and David Yates,the films director, wasted a golden opportunity and instead gives us HP 5, The Lite Version.

Grade. C-