Friday, November 30, 2007
By Andy Jackson
Korea's national obsession with English education may yet influence the outcome of the presidential race.
English education is not just academic for Korean voters, especially parents with children in public education. In Korea's high-tech, export-driven economy, English proficiency is seen as key to getting a good job and a stable income.
Parents also find themselves faced with the need to help their children compete with their peers to gain entrance to the best high schools and universities. They do the best they can to help. Korean mothers are famed for the support and pressure they give to their children during their studies.
Wealthy parents can, and often do, send their child abroad to improve their English skills. They also hire expensive private tutors to supplement their children's English education. Few middle and working class parents have the means to send their children abroad.
To compound the problem, parents see the English education offered by Korea's public school system as completely inadequate.
Faced with the prospect of seeing their children fall behind their classmates and eventually being pushed into a bleak future of marginal employment, parents sacrifice and scrape together what they can to send their children to private after-school language institutes (hagwon). English programs take half of the 30 trillion won a year ($32 billion) spent on Korea's private supplemental education system.
For parents who can afford it, English proficiency also opens the door to an international education, which further enhances their child's job prospects. Fifty-three percent of all international students are taught in English-speaking countries (mainly the United States, Britain and Australia).
So the debate on English education comes down to money and the future happiness of parents' children, two great motivators of voter behavior.
Of the three leading candidates, Chung Dong-young of the United New Democratic Party has taken the most ambitious position on English education. He has voiced concern that the current system places an ``English gap'' between rich and poor families. He claims that he will ``seize the public enemy; soaring private tutoring fees.'' That is certainly music to the ears of financially strapped parents.
To do that, he plans to have English classes taught by native speakers available to all students in elementary and secondary schools as after-school programs, which would help students with their English as well as reduce the amount of time they would have available to spend in a hagwon.
The difficulty with Chung's plan is that there are 12,000 elementary and secondary schools in Korea. It is unrealistic to believe that the government could successfully recruit enough native speaking English instructors for every school, especially for those in rural areas. The cost of such a program, including salaries and housing, would also be prohibitive if fully implemented, likely higher than the 1.8 trillion won per year that Chung claims.
So many students would have to be taught once or twice a week by native speaking teachers running a circuit between several schools. Naturally, parents who could afford to do so would chose to keep their children in a hagwon rather than place them in such a system, so it would do little to address the gap in English education between rich and poor children.
One hopeful idea that Chung proposed would be to eliminate the English section of the College Scholastic Ability Test. Most English education in Korea's public school system (as well as the private institutes) is directed toward passing the CSAT, which helps students in getting into good colleges and boosts the high schools' evaluations, but does little to improve student's communication skills. Chung would replace the English section of the CSAT with a separate English certification test
Lee Myung-bak of the Grand National Party also notes the burden that private English education places on families, and has his own ambitious ideas.
Rather than hiring more foreign teachers, Lee plans to strengthen English education by improving the English skills and teaching abilities of Korean teachers. He plans to train 2,000 current English teachers and recruit another 1,000 teachers every year.
The plan is realistic in the sense that it takes advantage of existing resources (Korean English teachers) rather than trying the difficult task of building a large pool of native speaking English teachers.
However, parents would have to be convinced that the quality of English education has really improved before they would willingly give up supplemental English education for their children. Lee addresses that need by planning to have elementary school students tested on their academic ability and secondary school students take standardized tests on their academic achievement.
Lee plans to introduce competition into the system by giving incentives to teachers whose students do well on the tests and by publishing the testing averages of every school.
Unfortunately, Lee's test and competition ideas would compound the current problem of schools ``teaching for the test'' rather than teaching to help their students learn to speak English. That part of Lee's plan would do little to change an education system that produces students with good English grammar skills but who can't communicate in English.
As can be expected from a candidate that has only recently entered the race, independent candidate Lee Hoi-chang has not yet articulated a full education plan. However, he has stated that he plans to move the English education system in Korea's pubic schools from a grammar and testing-based focus to one designed to enhance students' communication skills.
The candidates have noted the seriousness of the problems with Korea's English education system but offer radically different solutions. Voters are going to have a clear choice about which path they wish to see Korea take.
Andy Jackson teaches American government in the Lakeland College bridge program at Ansan College, Gyeonggi Province. ― ED.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Opens In Korea. December 6 2007
How I saw it DVD Screener
Plot. Plot SPOILER ALERT
Box office totals for movie in USA. $118,823,091
Have you ever like the remake more than you did the original? The majority of the time the answer has been yes. In this case, the answer is a huge no! I never was a fan of the original 1988 "Hairspray", So when the remake was announced, based on the Broadway musical, I went in with a bias against the film. I am glad to report that I was wrong about that.
The films cast pulls this film off so that there is not a bad acting role in the film.
Now please realize if you see this in a Korean theater, you will be the only one catching allot of the jokes.
What I really like was Tracy Turnblad family with John Travolta, filling in for the late great Divines role, and Christopher Walken portraying her father, seeing John and Chris act as a married couple was hilarious.
Please give it a look when it arrives in Korea.
Velma Von Tussle: 'Detroit sound?' What's that? The cries of people being mugged?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
To say I am just in Shock. He was one of my favorite Redskins. If they want to cancel the game this weekend. I sure would not complain at all. So young, he was 24 years old. He leaves behind his girlfriend and their 1 year old daughter.
Redskins safety Sean Taylor dies a day after being shot in the leg
Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor's father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.
"His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me," said Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. "It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans."
He said Taylor died early Tuesday at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday.
Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse's hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn't sure how he had squeezed the nurse's hand.
"Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something," Sharpstein said.
Taylor was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss.
"According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder," Miami-Dade County police said in a statement.
But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor's home. Officers were dispatched about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor's girlfriend called 911.
Sharpstein said Taylor's girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor's 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor's girlfriend were injured.
Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary.
The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago in the Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor's home, according to police.
"They're really sifting through that incident and today's incident," Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, "to see if there's any correlation."
Born April 1, 1983, Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is police chief of Florida City.
Especially since the birth of his daughter.
"From the first day I met him, from then to now, it's just like night and day," Redskins receiver James Thrash said. "He's really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It's been awesome to see that growth."
An All-American at the University of Miami, Taylor was drafted by the Redskins as the fifth overall selection in 2004. Coach Joe Gibbs called it "one of the most researched things" he'd ever done, but the problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL's mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the team.
Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a playoff game in January 2006.
Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor's home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.
Taylor said the end of the assault case was like "a gray cloud" being lifted. It was also around the time that Jackie was born, and teammates noticed a change.
"It's hard to expect a man to grow up overnight," said Redskins teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who also played with Taylor at the University of Miami. "But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child."
On the field, Taylor's play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he'd ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.
This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee.
"I just take this job very seriously," Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. "It's almost like, you play a kid's game for a king's ransom. And if you don't take it serious enough, eventually one day you're going to say, 'Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.'
"So I just say, 'I'm healthy right now, I'm going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?' And that's whatever it is, whether it's eating right or training myself right, whether it's studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself."
His hard work was well-noted.
"He loved football. He felt like that's what he was made to do," Gibbs said. "And I think what I've noticed over the last year and a half ... is he matured. I think his baby had a huge impact on him. There was a real growing up in his life."
Associated Press writer Jessica Gresko in Miami contributed to this report.
Monday, November 26, 2007
November 25, 2007
I've had two posts not make it through the spam filter and their owners contact me and email them in. They also happened to be interesting, as well as supportive of me. I can't control the spam filter on Typepad, and have had my own comments not make it through, at which point, since I am the owner of the blog, I just published them as a post. So I'll do the same here.
These two posts are also from two women in Korea, who channel well the frustrating experiences that foreign women feel here, in a society whose laws are designed to basically cater to the social and sexual freedoms of Korean men. In this way, so do Korean women experience these fears and frustrations – as well as real physical dangers – as foreign women do; the only difference is that foreign women may have a bit of extra leverage as foreigners, or additional options, which often include just leaving Korea.
As to the commenter who seemed so ready to doubt unless hearing from the proverbial horse's mouth, I can't speak for MissKoco or why she chooses/chose not to blog out her horrible experience for all the world to see. Perhaps, though, I'll venture to guess, it's because of comment sections just like the one see here? "What were you wearing? Were you looking at him in a way that wasn't respectful of Korean culture? Why did you push him, since according to Korean custom a woman who...blah blah...? You don't like it, just leave" and all kinds of other helpful, rogue gallery commentary. Not too hard to imagine why especially women aren't telling their story.
And on the other hand, it's easy to see why only foreign women could or would, if anyone does, as in the case of the American law student who had been telling her story in the expat blogosphere for two years now, and seems to be using the Misuda show to get her story out – GOOD FOR HER, and a brilliant move, if that was an ulterior motive for getting on the show. I myself had contacted her about doing a podcast on her experience, but it never panned out. I think she did her story justice a damn sight better than a mere podcast that would be preaching to the choir – put it out there to the people who need to be hearing about this, turning her horrible experience into something that might have some positive effects after the fact.
Yet, you know what she still has to fight against. She has heard it, too: "You suuuure you didn't bring this on yourself?" If there's any room for doubt, it seems that in Korea, someone's always trying to crowbar into it and yank. Since she was in her house, and he was an intruder, the inevitable question of, "What were you wearing" and "Maybe you gave him a certain look that he misunderstood" couldn't come into it. Even in Korea, saying "Why don't you follow me home and break into my house to rape and perhaps murder me, baby?" won't fly.
So why doesn't MissKoco blog her experience? Doesn't take Dr. Phil to figure come up with a pretty probable and plausible reason, "Whitey." This whole "I'll believe it only when you have audio, video, pictures, and written affidavits from at least 3 witnesses" attitude is tiresome. The pattern is as clear as day, talked about constantly amongst foreigners, and isn't hard to imagine, given the way foreigners are talked about and (mis)represented in the media.
In other words, people choose, in all their particular and peculiar ways, to NOT LET THEIR NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES DEFINE THEM. So, no matter what you think of my blog, to ME, my blog is my way of coping with things so I can get on with the other things I do in my life here. Getting detained/arrested (whatever) became a bearable experience because I was recording it, because I knew I would blog it. It gave me the sense that I would not have to bear it alone. For others, they may want to keep it off their blog because that isn't something they want to make become a public spectacle, since it was enough to bear by oneself, let alone when your sister was visiting the country, which may have (I can imagine) involved its own kind of pain.
When my father died, a far, far more painful experience than anything an ajussi or "Korean society" could ever dish out, I didn't want to see friends, because I didn't want to break down in front if them. I don't like sharing my moments of true weakness, instants of deep and personal pain, which I'm not the type to blog. Hey, that's me. Others can and do. No one's "right" and there are lots of imaginable reasons how and why people react to being violently attacked in Korea, especially those of us who may lack the support systems that many cultural insiders have access to. So, I leave that to MissKoco – and anyone else in her position – to decide to answer. Or not. In the end, that's her choice, not mine. And the only reason you even know about what happened with MissKoco is because I brought it up as part of my own shit, which perhaps wasn't cool, but you wouldn't even have had the privilege to know about otherwise.
My point is – think about all the many, many women who have had horrible experiences to tell, but which society doesn't want to hear, which society actively discourages from being heard. And think about the stories the media salivates in waiting for, which it will publish without the slightest shred of believablity or journalistic integrity, yet STILL pale in comparison with the ones you never, ever hear and are simply common and everyday occurrences here.
THAT's why all this is fucked up, in the big picture. Commenter "Nightfall" mentioned the famous quote that a society is best judged by how it treats its prisoners. I would broaden that a bit by mentioning how it treats those at its margins.
Here are the two very astute comments that inspired this post:
From ExpatJane, in response to criticism that I brought this upon myself:
“Is he saying it's JUST Korea? I don't think so. Plus, that's not the point. The fact is stuff like this happens a lot in Korea and this is where he and a lot of others who have to put up with this sort of bullshit are.
I've been extremely lucky. Maybe it's because I've got that "fuck with me and die" look down; I mastered it growing up in L.A. because you can get into trouble if you can't step clear of trouble or repel it when you see it coming. However, I hear stories like this and I've had the drunken ajosshi encounters too. Those experiences happened to me my first year. I'm a quick learner and I AVOID them religiously. It's one big reason I simple DON'T go out where I'll risk running into Korean drunks. Even then, I frequently traveled through the Gwanghwamun/Jongno district of Seoul when I headed home in the evenings from Ewha. I avoided the packs of office workers in suits stumbling out of bars.
He's NOT being paranoid - not at all. I've altered my routes and habits to avoid it, so far, I've been very successful.
His proposal was to record this stuff. I started doing that awhile back. If I get some asshole(s) trying to mess with me, it's amazing how quickly it changes when I whip out my phone and start taking pictures of them (with the phone I have now, video.)
HollaBackNYC has been doing it for awhile:
"Holla Back NYC empowers New Yorkers to Holla Back at street harassers. Whether you're commuting, lunching, partying, dancing, walking, chilling, drinking, or sunning, you have the right to feel safe, confident, and sexy, without being the object of some turd's fantasy. So stop walkin' on and Holla Back: Send us pics of street harassers!"
We need a Holla Back Seoul division...ASAP.”
And from a reader whom I'll just refer to as "C" until I hear otherwise, in response to ghost.yoon's comment:
ghost.yoon said ..."However, the more outside influence gets into Korea , the better it will get. I may not know you too well as an individual, but I hope you stay in Korea as long as possible, despite it's failings. It is because of individuals like you, perceptions will change, leading to greater social change overall. After all, part of my own perception of my own people has become influenced by you and your writings." (November 23, 2007 at 04:36 AM)
Well said, ghostie, bloody well said indeed.
Metropol, I have been reading your blog for almost a year. The breadth and depth of your thinking, writing, and photography make your blog always utterly compelling and entertaining reading, but I think this may be the first time I've felt the real need to comment.
I am absolutely ENRAGED at the injustice and absurdity of this incident. And to those "I'VE been in Korea since Dangun was a kid, never happened to ME, blah blah, you're not in smallville anymore, blah blah, must be YOUr fault, blah di blah" commenters I say, good for you, pollyanna. Wish I lived in your nice world.
For my part, I cannot tell you how many times I've been subjected to verbal abuse and sexual harrassment from ajosshis - drunk and sober - in my five years here.
My only recourse in all cases (I'm five foot two and weigh about 110 pounds) has been to pacify the arseholes by smiling and pretending not to understand (as on the several occasions I've been screamed at and threatened with violence for being American and being here, and even though I'm not American I have to grant they WERE right about my being here, yes) or by simply getting the fuck away from them as quickly as possible. The second option (getting the fuck away and quickly) was always the right choice (indeed the only choice) in the cases of sexual harrassment, a sampling of said to wit: the well-dressed 40-something ajosshi parked in his stupid shiny black K-cadillac who politely called out to me as I was walking home late one night and showed me how urgently he liked to masturbate (amazing, I couldn't see any penis to speak of, even though he'd pulled his pants down well far enough); the inevitable random drunk businessmen who would sit themselves down at my table EVERY TIME I ate out alone at night in my friendly old neighborhood of Sadang-dong and who would refuse to leave despite my polite-as-you-can-be protestations because they ALL thought I ought to be grateful for their married-man-on-soju company, and i KNOW they left young female Korean solo diners well alone, because THAT would be sexual harrassment; the man who followed me on the street for MILES, even into the fucking SALON where I had an appointment, and where my hairdresser had to call the peelers; NUMBERLESS taxi drivers who have tried to engage me in sparkling conversation - accompanied by descriptive gestures and leers - about sex and my marital status; then there are the laneway lurkers, and the sneaky subway touchers and feelers...) Oh, I could go on.
NONE of the above was ever warranted or invited on my behalf. I pride myself on being sensitive toward and respectful of cultural difference. I have many good Korean friends. I behave politely and conservatively wherever I go in public in Korea. Yet somehow I still manage to get the ajosshis all worked up. Yeah, go figure.
Michael, the cultural life here would be so impoverished without you and your fantastic blog. Don't give up. And don't listen to the wankers who try to bring you down in this comments section.
We readers need you! hwaiting!
And I need you, too, readers! Much love to those of you who encourage and challenge me in the comments. Seriously, knowing I could get this message out there helped keep me calm and sane through what was truly a ridiculous evening.
And I will continue to strive to keep this blog worth reading and produce stuff worthy of myself as well as this fine culture; the way I see it, the only stuff a Korean would want to really read and keep on reading is stuff that displays a certain honesty about life here, which itself comes from being committed enough to stick around when the going gets...sucky.
That is, my friends, what separates strangers from acquaintances from guests from friends from family. I just happen to place myself somewhere between the last two categories. And I don't judge those who choose to place themselves somewhere else, or who even choose to call it a night and go home. As Too Short once said, "Get in where you fit in." I'd add to that, "Or where you can make a space for yourself if there isn't one."
My main guiding principle is, that while you do, and no matter how many mistakes you make along the way, as long as you're making a sincere effort motivated by goodness, people will understand what you're doing.
No matter what I do, I'll always be an American. I don't look Korean, I'm not a native speaker of this language, I wasn't raised here, nor was I educated here. But as a person living here, I live according to its words, its rules, and its laws. But this society, like many others, is in flux, and some things are ambiguous, conflicting, and downright embarrassing, even ACCORDING TO THE VALUES HELD WITHIN THIS SOCIETY ITSELF, BY ITS FULL MEMBERS.
I continue to navigate my life here, which inherently exists at the margins, which by the very nature of the foreigner's constructed and maintained WEIRDNESS here, which continues to place me in bizarre and surreal situations, no matter how hard I try to stay out of the bad ones and enjoy the interesting experiences that the new ones offer.
But I know that no matter how hard I try, I'll always end up in them sometimes. It's inevitable, it's the law of averages. But I can only try to make the negative experiences into something more positive, and try to use my perspective and experiences as something that members of this society - which I define as any one of the interconnected millions of people living in Korea, regardless of skin color, religion, passport or visa status – can benefit from as I continue to strive to leave this world a better place than I originally found it.
And were it not for the privacy-related laws regarding photography in Korea, an American-style Holla Back! might be a good idea. Perhaps as a clearing house for evidence of all these things happening? As a way of documenting and discouraging, perhaps not on the individual level, but in the aggregate?
THAT would make for an interesting site, and for some interesting copy.
The Truth is of Little Concern to the Korean Truth & Reconciliation Commission
hERE WE GO AGAIN
Over at the Marmot’s Hole he has a couple of postings up here and here about the Korean government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report that the US government should compensate Korean civilians killed in an air strike during the Korean War. This is the commission’s first report on what is expected to be a series of reports accusing the US military of criminal actions against civilians during the Korean War and demands for compensation.
Before I even began researching into this incident I was pretty much certain that this war criminal claim would turn out to be no different than the fraudulent accusations made about the No Gun Ri Incident along with the Associated Press’ attempt this year to make another sensational war criminal claim with the USS DeHaven Incident. Both claims ended up being quite easy for me to debunk with a little research which is the same with this issue.
The war criminal claim being leveled by the commission is that an air raid by US Corsair bombers killed 51 Korean civilians in the Yecheon area of South Korea in January of 1951. The commission is claiming that this document proves their claims of war crimes being committed against civilians:
What is interesting about this document is that it is an order from the Commanding General of X Corps General Edward Almond to the Commanding General of the ROK Army’s 2nd Division to destroy enemy forces in the triangle shaped area of operations between the cities of Yecheon, Andong, and Yongju and that the ROK 2nd Division would have maximum air support from the US during the operation. No where in this document do I see anything about targeting civilians or anything else remotely close to a war crime. Additionally you can also see in the order that the ROK 2nd Division was attached a TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) from the US Air Force to coordinate air strikes for the Korean division. These were not just air planes randomly strafing but just like the USS DeHaven Incident the fighters over this area were directed by TACPs who were in direct support and control of the ROK Army.
In this map posted below you can see that the 2nd ROK Division is X Corps reserve located just north of Mun’gyong before moving to clear out the area they were assigned:
Right click and select view image for larger picture or click here.
You can also see in the map that the fighting in this area was quite desperate as the Chinese and the North Koreans were in the midst of a full offensive operation and the capitol of Seoul had been lost again on January 2, 1951. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee makes the claim that the North Korean Army was never in Yecheon thus making the bombing of the Korean civilians criminal. In the above map you can see that a North Korea unit did in fact make it all the way to Andong just east of Yecheon and that the North Korean Army had other plans for dealing with the territory to the west of Andong where the incident happened:
Enemy guerrillas, numbering between five thousand and seventy-five hundred and currently massed around Tanyang and along the twenty miles of Route 29 cutting through a high mountain spur between Tanyang and Yongju, were to displace south and southeast to disrupt the Eighth Army’s Pusan-Andong line of communication. The whole operation, according to the captives, was to be conducted in conjunction with Chinese advances in the west.
If you look on the map you can see that these 5,000 to 7,500 guerrillas are heading straight for Yecheon where the killing of the civilians supposedly took place. Yes, the North Korean may not have been in the area of Yecheon but thousands of guerrillas were. Additionally the document provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is nothing new. The fact that General Almond ordered the ROK 2nd Division to this area is available in history books:
Almond concentrated the bulk of the ROK 2d Division at the lower end of the Mun’gyong pass, where it could help bottle guerrillas massed in the mountains to the northeast around Tanyang. Already operating against these guerrillas was part of the X Corps special activities group, a small provisional force recently formed by X Corps headquarters around its special operations company for raids and other missions behind enemy lines. The group so far had been fully committed to security missions in the X Corps’ rear area.
The amount of communist guerrillas operating within South Korea before, during, and even after the Korean War is a fact that many Koreans would rather not have known, but the fact remains that many South Korean communist guerrillas augmented by North Korean cadres fought against the allied forces during the Korean War to include the Yecheon sector. If the civilians that were killed in the air strike were in fact civilians, they would have been killed in an area of operations that the ROK Army was responsible for that was infiltrated with thousands of communist guerrillas not to mention the fact that any air strikes called in would be under the direction of a highly trained US Air Force TACP under the full control of the ROK Army. It is quite telling that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission mentions nothing about this.
To understand why such information is left out and not mentioned, it is important to understand what this commission really is. The Marmot has done an excellent job exposing the possible motives of the leader of this commission Father Song Ki-in:
“If you look at history to now, (US assistance to Korea) has been out of US national interests, they’ve never really helped us in actual fact… If just dialogue with Pyongyang goes well, all the United States needs to leave here is a team of advisers.” In a 2005 interview with the Weekly JoongAng, he said, “North and South Korea, Seoul and Pyongyang first need to join hands to [get the] US military to withdraw. North and South Korea must closely stick together, even if kept secret from the United States.” He’s called the US a “barrier to Korean reunification,” and has blamed the US for the division of Korea, saying, “If you look at the old Katsura-Taft Agreement, doesn’t it clearly reveal has the United States has treated our nation? Actually, many US troops were killed during the Korean War, but the 38th parallel was drawn by the Americans, and they provided the cause for drawing the parallel.”
Clearly this guy is just another in a long line of fifth column anti-American activists in Korea. The Taft-Katsura Agreement is just more simplistic anti-American propaganda just like the claims made by this commission. To this day I haven’t met a critic that can debunk my view on the Taft-Katsura Agreement and I seriously doubt Father Song Ki-in could either. I also find it interesting that Father Song blames the US for providing the cause for drawing the 38th parallel. What is interesting about that is that the reason the parallel was initially created was because the US military defeated the Japanese during World War II freeing Korea from the Japanese colonizers leading to the nation being occupied by Russia in the North and the US in the South. I guess he would rather had the peninsula occupied completely by the Russians in which case he would never have been a Christian preacher in the first place. Yes the logic from these people is truly mind boggling.
This commission, just like the No Gun Ri issue, Taft-Katsura, and even the General Sherman incident are all just part of a long line of historical revisionism endorsed by leftist Korean politicians and activists that seek to blame the United States for all the failings of the Korean government. If the failures of prior Korean governments was the fault of the big, bad United States, then all the failures of the current Korean government must also be the fault of the big, bad United States now. That is why the Korean government finds it so necessary to create a historical context in order to blame current problems on the US. So when the North Koreans detonate a nuclear weapon, who does the South Korean government blame for it? The United States of course, while totally remaining silent about the fact the South Korean government are the ones that financed the nuclear weapon by giving massive amounts of non-monitored aid and hard cash to the North Koreans.
When the current nuclear deal eventually unravels, which it will, the South Korean leftists will blame the United States again for this and they can point to their built up pile of historical revisionism to provide context that the US is not a friend of South Korea now and never was. This is of course rubbish, but the more and more I read blatant anti-US propaganda from government bodies like this Truth & Reconciliation Commission the more I wonder if the US should be a friend to South Korea now? I guess next month’s South Korean presidential election will go along ways to determining that.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Why the Anti-Discrimination Law Must be Amended.
From the time I heard that the Korean Government was going to pass “Anti-Discrimination” Legislation I was skeptical; if not hopeful. How could a society such as this with such deep-rooted biases against even its own ever hope to pass legislation that would somehow protect those who need it most? Of course, my reasons for hoping for the passing of this bill were somewhat selfish. As a foreigner trying to raise a family in Korea I am keenly aware of the ways in which such a law could make life easier for me and mine.
But since I have been in Korea for a long time, I think I can sort of ‘step outside of myself’ a bit and challenge myself to find reasons why the government would choose to delete the 7 contentious items from the bill. It is said, to really understand someone you must walk a mile in their shoes. So, I am taking a moment to really try and understand, item by item, why it is necessary to remove these items from the Korean perspective. Prof. Gill Wonpyeong’s wise words (albeit something may have been lost in translation) have given me the necessary mindset from which to spew forth:
Family type –
Because it is important that we make sure that the people that we work for are only the most moral of people. We should not be forced to hire someone, regardless of their qualifications, if they are estranged from their spouse. It does not matter if a woman’s husband cheated on her and left her with 3 kids to feed, it must be her fault in some way and society must punish her for that by making it difficult for her to work a decent job with other decent people. This is particularly important in a society reaching a 35% divorce rate. In addition, we certainly don’t want to have to work with someone who comes from a broken family because we know that if someone comes from a family like that they must be messed up, crazy or both, regardless of their qualifications.
Nation of Origin
Businesses don’t want to pass this one possibly because they know that the ramifications would be far reaching in the area of employment. Employers would no longer be able to pay people differently based on the color of their skin….this would force many businesses to shut down because they simply could not afford to pay their workers. This can’t pass because that would mean that we would have to actually pay out a little more of our profits to those dirty-looking ASEANs. We have to keep their wages low to make sure that they will want to return to their home countries with the thanks that they were able to work in such a profitable environment. Never mind that they lost their right hand due to lack of a safe working environment. They should be glad that we gave them a chance to earn more money in a month than they could in a year in their own country. Also, we wouldn’t want to actually pay them enough money that they could live in the same neighborhoods and send their mongrel children to school with our own children.
I didn’t originally know that this would be included in the bill. If I had, I would have known right then and there that there is NO WAY IN HELL that we can allow this because we have to maintain the purity of our 5000 year language and its 400 year old script that is the most scientifically logical and greatest invention of the most auspicious king that ever lived. And we certainly can’t have foreigners demanding that they be made aware of their rights in the law in their own languages. That would make it impossible to railroad them into confessing and making sure that the bloated statistics that we feed to the newspapers about foreign crime on the rise are kept accurate. Of course, we must maintain our linguistic superiority at all costs.
Prof. Gill may have neglected to mention a few important points in this regard. This item cannot stand because we certainly wouldn’t want to have to actually accept the fact that there are homosexuals in our society. We must make sure they stay in the closet. After all, if they were allowed to come out of the closet freely how terrible that would be for all people. How could we continue to work side by side with someone knowing that they might be after our ass after working together for 10 years? How would we even be able to enter the bathroom for fear that we might be raped by one of these animals? Of course, the women homosexuals should be protected because of the benefit they provide for the lonely working man’s need for a little girl-on-girl action. Unfortunately, if we allow that then we would also have to reciprocate and that would be disgusting. So we just have to keep it all in the closet.
This is related to Sexual Orientation because there is a need to discriminate against those who are HIV positive. We must make sure that they die quickly, and alone and penniless, without taxing our medical system. We must also insure that those who have some history of even the most treatable of mental illness should be kept away from the workplaces. How can we work with peace of mind knowing that the person next to us might be transferring their neurosis to us through some sort of evil mind control?
This one is a little hard to understand. Why put this in there at all. Educational discrimination is the backbone of Korean politics. How else would you get to know the people you need to know unless you went to the same school? Passing this portion of the bill would mean the end of discrimination based on the school you attended and everyone knows that it would be bad for society if we couldn’t make sure that we all worked with people of similar caste.
Criminal Record –
Because regardless of the fact that someone has paid their debt to society, everyone should be able to feel free to make sure that this person returns to exactly the same place in society that they came from. We have to prove our theories of ‘once a thief, always a thief’ by forcing them into such destitution that their only resort is crime and then we can put them away for life.
There is also the problem that when the head of a family commits a crime, his or her family census register shows the crime and even a grandson of a living criminal should be forced to work in only the most menial of jobs, regardless of his skill or education because he must be made to pay for the sins of his patronage.
Finally, if this bill were to pass unaltered, the litigation would be endless. Koreans cannot be expected to just change their system of discrimination and bias that has existed for five thousand years. Korea really doesn’t want to become a global society. It would just be too much work. Anti-Discrimination is not in line with a number of the most basic tenants of Korean Society. For Koreans, it is natural to discriminate and examples of this train of thought are found in daily life. So, why bother to change it.
Note to the hopelessly stupid (and Prof. Gill, just in case he is more confused than I think he is): The previous was intended to be sarcasm.
Title: No More Illegal Native English Teacher
- Korean Government will prevent illegal activities by verifying requirements of native English teacher and tighten their non-immigrant status -
○ The Ministry of Justice in South Korea decided to implement strict measure from December 2007 to eradicate illegal activities of native English teachers who are causing social problems such as ineligible lectures, taking drugs and sex crimes.
○ In order to prevent ineligible native English teachers from coming into South Korea, the verification of eligibility of English teachers will be greatly strengthened. For example, when they apply for a visa they will be obliged to submit a certificate of criminal or non-criminal history and medical examination report, and basically they have to apply interview with Korean consul at the Korean consulate in their country.
○ Also, English teachers, who disturb social order during their staying in Korea such as illegal teaching, taking drugs and sex crimes, will be banned from entering South Korea. Also illegal employers will be receive heavier punishment. In the meantime, related authorities will share information about English teachers who breach their orders, and originally block their entering South Korea by inspecting them from the visa application stage with focused management.
□ Strengthening verification of eligibility of English teachers
○ Foreigners who intend to receive a visa (E-2) for English teachers from the South Korean Government should submit a certificate of criminal or non-criminal history issued by the Government of the applicant, and self-physical examination report for taking drugs and infectious diseases. After entering South Korea, they should receive physical examination report from a designated hospital and submit it to Korea Immigration Service.
○-In order to prevent forgery and alteration of application documents such as the certificate of criminal history, the Korean Government will require ‘Apostille’ which verifies whether the official document is really issued in the relevant country by a competent Government authority.
○ Since native speakers who received certificates of issuance of visas at immigration services received E-2 from consulates in China and Japan until now, it has been difficult to verify whether they really have the diploma specified in the document.
However, from now on, the applicants should apply for the visa at Korean consulates located in their home countries. Since the first time applicant shall have to apply for an interview with consul, the investigation for the issuance of visa will be more strict.
○ In order to prevent submission of forged documents such as certificates of diploma at the time of applying for certificate of visa issuance, the Seoul Immigration Office will organize and operate document a identification team to originally block the issuance of visas using forged documents.
□ Supplying native English teachers flexibly
○ The Korean Government will implement measures to utilize English teachers and professional personnel who are staying in South Korea to solve the shortage problems of native English teachers which may occur due to the tightening verification of eligibility of native English teachers.
- Flexibly applying the regulations with regards to activities other than eligibility of stay in South Korea (Article 20) and changes and additions of workplaces specified in the Korean Immigration Law.
□ Strengthen non-immigrant status of English teachers and management on employer
○ In order to prevent illegal English teaching activities and taking drugs and sexual harassment of English teachers, the South Korea Government will continuously and systematically implement joint crackdown on illegal English teaching, and will take action to deport offenders and block the entry of them simultaneously.
○ The punishment on the illegal employers will be heavier and the violators will be reported to the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development to implement administrative sanctions on the illegal academies and block the employment of illegal English teachers.
○ In order to prevent native English teachers who disrupt social order with taking drugs, committing sexual harassment and alcohol intoxication, the black list of problematic English teachers shall be shared between related institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, and Korea Academy Association to intensively monitor the information of such English teachers and originally block the entry.
□ Expected Effect for the Improvement Measure on English Teacher System
○ It is expected the uneasiness of citizens incurred from ineligible English teachers will be mitigated by blocking illegal activities of disqualified English teachers who entered South Korea with tourist visas, visas obtained through forgery, and prohibiting entry of former convict and the person taking drugs thanks to this measure on the native English teachers by the Ministry of Justice.
○ The Ministry of Justice will continuously monitor the effects of these measures. If such illegal activities of English teachers are not eradicated, it will consider out stronger punishment measures.
【 Reference 】
□ The Status of Disclosed Illegal Foreign Language Instructor (2001 ~As of August 2007)
Year Total USA Canada Australia New Zealand China Philippine UK South Africa Others
Total 1,481 437 540 118 98 71 13 78 38 88
2001 307 108 102 24 25 3 2 16 1 26
2002 317 94 112 32 21 8 4 9 12 25
2003 180 47 63 14 15 12 2 14 3 10
2004 144 37 52 17 10 9 2 7 5 5
2005 290 72 150 12 14 11 2 13 10 6
2006 143 46 38 14 6 18 9 4 8
2007. Aug. 100 33 23 5 7 10 1 10 3 8
※Others : Japan, France, etc
○ Apostille treaty is multilateral treaty where issuing countries verify the certification of official documents instead of omitting complicated verification procedure between treaty countries.
○ As the Apostille Treaty is effective on July 14, 2007, the official document with ‘Apostille’ attached can be verified in treaty countries without separate notarial acts. The convenience of handling processes of work for students, immigrants and trading business has been much improved.
- Total 92 countries including USA, UK, France and Japan are joining this Apostille Treaty concluded in 1961
- If citizens who wish to send official letter to foreign countries obtain ‘Apostille’ from the civil affairs office in annexed building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade after receiving official document, such official document will be recognized as official document in the competent country.
This was translated for me by a very competent friend. I checked the English as much as could be done, and here it is. The way it reads, the new regulations will apply to new teachers and those changing jobs. (doing a visa run).
There is a presidential decree and some legislative action behind all this, I have a copy of that and am working on getting it translated. I will post it when it is done.
Doosan Bears’ slugger Kim Dong-joo will get his money, but what about the other free agents? / Korea Times File
Controversial Free Agent Rules Take Heat Out of Baseball Stove League
By Kim Tong-hyung
With the free-agent market having its share of all-stars and impact players, it would be easy to presume baseball clubs would light up the stove league fire to challenge the league's balance of power.
Although parity has never been more evident in the league, with the race toward the championship basically turning into a lottery, there isn't a rush for teams to add difference-makers to their rosters.
Sure, Doosan Bears slugger Kim Dong-joo will eventually get his 6.2 billion won ($6.6 million)-plus deal from the Seoul club or somebody else.
And although SK Wyverns first baseman Lee Ho-joon is not as good as he thinks he is ― no team is paying 4 billion won for a strikeout prone free swinger with sub-par fielding skills ― he will still end up among the league's highest-paid hitters when everything is said and done.
But aside of Kim and Lee, can you name any other player that is creating a meaningful offseason buzz? Didn't think so.
LG Twins catcher Cho In-sung, considered the top player at his position with superb defensive skills and pop in his bat, was quick to re-sign with his team on a four-year, 3.4 billion won contract, after it became apparent that he wasn't getting that kind of money elsewhere. The Twins also re-signed veteran reliever Ryu Tae-hyeon to a three-year, 640 million won deal, with the 36-year-old generating little interest in the open market.
Cho Woong-chun, a reliever for the Korean Series champion SK Wyverns, is also likely to re-sign, as teams aren't willing to loosen the purse strings for a 36-year-old setup man.
It's not that the teams aren't trying to win. Considering the ridiculous amount of money a team has to pay to a player's former team to sign him as a free agent, it has become a lot more feasible to rebuild through the draft and develop players from farm teams.
Under league rules, a team that signs a free agent must either pay his former team cash worth three times his previous salary and send it a ``compensation player'' from its own roster, or cut a paycheck worth 4.5 times of the player's previous salary.
For example, should the Twins pry away Kim from their Seoul rivals on a 6 billion won contract, they will have to pay the Bears 1.26 billion won in cash and also give up one of their own players.
It's hard to argue that any player is worth that much money in the Korean baseball league.
Kim and Lee, considered this year's top catches, are likely to command more than 10 billion won combined, which is just about the entire payroll of the four-time Korean Series champion Hyundai Unicorns, who are now on the streets looking for a new owner.
The absurd compensation rule becomes more of a problem considering that Korean players obtain free agency after nine years in the league, compared to Major League Baseball (MLB)'s six years.
Considering that most of the players are subject to compulsory military duty, it usually takes 11 or 12 years for a player to obtain free-agent rights, at a time when his athletic abilities are way past his prime.
Because of this rule, only the top echelon of players are managing to test their value on the open market, while mid-level players tend to stay with their teams instead of risking losing their jobs completely. Only six of the 20 eligible players filed for free agency this year.
Since free agency was introduced in 1999, only a handful of free agent signees have lived up to their hefty contracts, while most were reduced to overpaid benchwarmers.
Samsung Lions outfielder Shim Chong-soo, who signed a record 6 billion won contract with the Lions in 2005, led the league with 31 home runs and 101 RBIs this year, rebounding from a horrific 2006 season when he hit .141.
Other big signees, such as Ma Hae-young and Jin Pil-joong, are out of the league.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
SAD TO SAY, NONE OF THIS SUPRISES ME.
I Got Arrested for Calling the Police
STILL SITTING IN DISBELIEF IN FRONT OF MY COMPUTER
I am using all my energy to not go over to the Dark Side once and for all and write off this country completely. Trust me when I say that I sure am glad you can't choke people with your mind, or do other bad things with the Force – cause things would have been pretty gruesome tonight.
You see, I was ARRESTED today, FINGERPRINTED, and CHARGED WITH ASSAULT. It's now 3:15 AM (this wonderful experience started around 10) and I'm mad enough to punch through a concrete wall. Or at least try.
Oh, why, oh, why did you get arrested, you ask? Surely, people who get arrested were doing SOMETHING to end up that way, right? I mean, people who end up getting the pleasure of watching the crazed drunk handcuffed to a railing in the holding cell while being fingerprinted aren't usually absolutely free of guilt, right? I must have been a LITTLE bad, right?
That's why I don't think I've ever been more a mixture of humiliated and enraged in all my life. Because not only was I not doing anything at ALL wrong or unlawful, but I was actually just trying to play upstanding citizen, which got me arrested and charged with assault.
How could this be, you ask?
Come on, right? Let me tell the story. And I swear on my father's grave – he died a few years ago and I don't like to talk about it much – what I'm telling is the truth. No exaggerations. I am trying hard not to curse and just relay the events as they happened, as I'm trying to turn this into a positive experience, one that I can process and learn something from.
And also, I am doing this in an act of pure blogging in its original form, since I just need to get this out, and blogging this is cathartic; I feel like pulling my hair out and banging on the wall and screaming, but since that does nothing productive, I'm gonna let off that steam in as positive way as possible. And perhaps this will be a cautionary tale as well, and can concretely benefit one of you if you find yourself in a tricky spot.
Three of us – a model, MissKoco, and myself – went to do some shooting in Ewha and Shinchon. We had two video cameras, my DSLR, a couple lenses, and the mammoth flash in tow, along with extra shoes, a bag, and other things to keep everyone's hands heavy. After finishing up in Ewha, we took a cab down to Shinchon, where we disembarked from the cab and got set up to take the final planned shot (me and MissKoco had been planning this little trip for more than a week and even went location scouting to get angles and test shots) near the entrance to Yonsei University. It was a specific shot we needed and the "money shot" of the evening; things had been going well, and we had gotten all our planned shots, and this was going to be the slam dunk.
The model is lithe and attractive, and she LOOKED like a model, and what she was wearing was definitely striking. People walked around us politely as we were about to get started shooting (taking a couple test shots, actually), assuming that we must have been shooting something important. We were in the middle of discussing/deciding the first pose when suddenly, the drunkest ajussi you ever saw came right up behind us and started accosting us.
I could barely understand much more than "blaargh blaargh Korean girl, blargh bleegh nigger ("깜둥이 새끼") blather blather fucking American ("미국놈") – you know, the standard drunk ajussi talk. Did I attract his attention? Did I give him a funny look? No and no, as I was literally in the middle of a sentence when he appear behind and to my left side, at which point I rolled my eyes and thought, "Not now, of all times..."
So what to do? We just stood there and completely ignored him, hoping he might just wander off. He just continued his harangue. I then (and so did the model) said very firmly "Sir, please leave us alone. We're working." (아저씨, 지금 일하는 중이라소 좀 가주세요.) The firmest the language ever got was "Please leave." (아저씨, 가세요.) I never once cursed, nor did I yell, or otherwise lose it. I am sort of used to this kind of thing, after all.
Now, we could have just left. Just called it a night and just left. In retrospect, I wish we had. But the entire evening's efforts culminated in this final, unifying shot, and we had a deadline – we had barely been able to make time with the model as it was, and this was for something that had to be done that night, or not ever. It was really a peculiar situation.
So, I decided that maybe we should cross the street to the big, well-lit coffee shop – the brand-spanking new "Beans&Berries" –and wait it out. So we decided to cross rather than take a cab and loop around. At the time, this seemed as good an idea as any, and besides, we had the clothes right and all our equipment out. We were really almost done.
Presently, we're standing at the crosswalk, and the guy was trying to grab my bag, grab me, and was feigning hitting me; he reared back like he was going to kick me once, and once grabbed my label, at which point – the first of only two times I touched him – I brushed his hand off me. I did not push him, grab him, or touch him in any other place on his body. I then raised my voice so that all in the area could hear – there were a LOT of people waiting to cross the street – "I'm giving official warning to you to stop touching me." ("공식적으로 경고합니다. 더이상 만지지 마세요") Something like that – and no, I don't talk like that when I'm mad, but is something I'd had this prepared in my head since I have a rule I've talked about on this site before: when in doubt, it's the foreigner's fault. Or, to paraphrase an old southern quip, "When the nigger starts to win, then we all jump in."
Anyway, I wanted there to be no question that I, 1) spoke Korean, 2) was trying to evade a fight, and 3) was not the crazy, drunken, violent foreigner everyone seems to think we are, if you believe the newspapers and other rumors and lies.
I must admit, I did want to knock the guy out, and boooy was I tempted; but I didn't, and I never laid a finger on him other than to take his hand off me. Again, no pushes, punches, or anything like that.
So the light changes, and we go into the coffee shop. Of course, the ajussi follows us, but we thought that in the blinding light of day, he'd maybe give up and move on, at which point we could just go right back out and shoot for 10 minutes and we'd be done. Yay, right? Wrong.
We occupy the third table in; there is a young couple at the first, the second is empty. The ajussi comes in, cursing and carrying on, at which point the young couple sitting down tightens up, and a silence falls over the first floor. The two girls are at the table, and MissKoco has decided to order a drink, since she felt bad we were camping out there and causing trouble, even if it wasn't really our fault. We were just thinking: we ran across an old, belligerent drunk, so the best place to go was a well-lit place where there would be less chance of anything happening as well as witnesses if it did. Good idea, right?
Well, our favorite person in the world comes up to our table, at which point I stood up and very forcefully told him to leave us alone and to stop harassing the girls. I also did another one of the "official warning" things, which freaked out a lot of the people and caused some people to come downstairs to look. He tried to grab me again, and I barely even touched him as I brushed it off, mostly just stepping back and avoiding him, actually.
The tall, male employee had come out from behind the counter and was trying to get the ajussi to leave, at which point he just plunked down in the table next to us and continued cursing at me. Fucking American this, dirty nigger that, respect Korea, I lived in America so I know you people, where are you from, American Indian, etcetera. Oh, it was lovely.
But now, he was just the tired, sleepy drunk guy talking and mumbling to himself. Fine, right? But he wouldn't leave, and even though we were completely avoiding eye contact, and he just continued with his one-man show, I knew he was just going follow us out again if we left. We had a true fan.
So I decided to call the police. Public drunkenness, harrassing people, he tried (albeit feebly) to hit me, and causing a disturbance. And the stench of soju was so rank and rancid that it was clear who was the problematic party, right?
So I called 112 at 10:07 and spoke with the operator for exactly one minute and 20 seconds, explaining that there was a drunk guy here harassing people, that he was harrassing and following us specifically, and our exact location. He hadn't done anything bad to us, nor us to him – I just wanted the police to come, find this guy sitting here drunk with the entire 1st floor of the coffee shop all up in arms, and just escort the guy away. He was being a public nuisance, right? I mean, we could have been any concerned citizen and called the police about a dangerous, threatening, or otherwise potentially harmful character harassing people on the street, right?
Well, they show us, and I figured I had remained calm, done the right thing, stayed in the light, called the cops, and that the cops would do the Korean thing and be like, "Walk it off, sir and don't let us see you again tonight", and we could take our last shot without fear of being harassed. And I had always calling the cops the better idea than letting myself get mad enough to actually lost it, hit a guy, and get into worse trouble. And remember, "when the nigger starts to win, then we all jump in," anyway. Doesn't matter who started it.
So the cops arrive. They listen to his harangue, filled with racial slurs and expletives, then when we're packing up because we've had our fill for the evening and thought our little friend was in good hands, the cop says *I* have to come down to the station. When I incredulously shot back, "Why?" the cop says that the guy is now saying I kicked him.
Of course, that's complete and utter, brown and drippy horse shit, to put a fine point on it. Not only had I had a huge black camera bag in tow around one shoulder, and an SLR with a huge, honkin' flash in it in my hand outside, which would have made it quite a feat of balance to kick him, he would later assert in the police station (the second stop of the evening, not the first) that I had grabbed him with BOTH HANDS and then kicked him hard in the shin, leaving the blue welt that was there, which only the Lord knows how he got. And the Lord also knows that I couldn't care less, since I certainly didn't give it to him.
And I certainly could not have grabbed him, two-handed style, and given him that kick, even if I had wanted to. To get the kind of bruise he had on his leg, I'd have had to wind up pretty good to get some swing into it, not be all right up on the man. And that would have been as obvious a scuffle as hell, anyway, and hey – WHERE'S MY BRUISE? I did taekwondo for three years - not long enough to be frickin' Jean Claude van Damme, but I did enough sparring to get lots of leg bruises from shin clashes, one of the most common injuries in kick-crazy Taekwondo, but you don't get shin bruises by being up on a guy. You need to clash shins in a kick, both people get bruised, and it fricking HURTS.
In short, I didn't kick SHIT. Didn't hit anybody, either. Didn't push nobody, or even use bad language. I was completely and utterly under control, was trying to defuse the situation the right way, and if anything, just wanted to appear as calm and professional as I could for our model, who wasn't enjoying this one bit, and was supposed to have finished an hour ago at this point.
So I go down to the station, he lies his ass off, saying that 1) he had just come up to us with "good intentions" and was curious about what we were shooting and just wanted to be helpful (I was writhing in my chair at this point, since I was sitting in the same room with him), 2) HE had asked the employees to call the police on ME - which was another bald-faced and confirmable lie, since there are records and witnesses and the shorter young lady at the coffee counter had specifically come up to me and asked if I had indeed called the police, which I answered in the affirmative, 3) that MissKoco had been a white MAN (nice state of inebriation ya got there, bub!) 4) and that I had grabbed and kicked HIM.
Please...spare my intelligence.
What fascinated me was how no one was taking breathalyzers, and they were listening to his ass still. They were treating his testimony – with no witnesses on his side – as the same as mine! And after he was done, he was just allowed to go home.
Me? I was served papers, made to do the red thumbprint on every page, then taken downstairs where the violent crime unit is to be electronically fingerprinted and made to sign what I think was an official record of my arrest and another form asking me whether I wanted the American consulate (embassy?) notified, on which I checked the "no" box, of course.
What gets me is that, on the word of an ajussi so drunk he can't stand, and in his testimony to the cop, he mentioned he's unemployed, has no cellphone, and lives in a boarding house – I was arrested and booked. And it was just his word against mine (oh, by the way, he said that MissKoco wouldn't be called since she was American and you know, her word just isn't that believable). So he's going to just call the model and ask her for her version of the story, since she's Korean, and despite the fact that she's technically in my party and would tend to be on my side, her word is more valid because Koreans apparently don't lie.
This makes a whole lotta sense, right? So yes, now I get to worry about 1) whether I will be found guilty or not, 2) get to live with this hanging over my head for weeks or even months, I'm told, 3) don't know if this will affect my visa renewal process when it comes time next year to renew, and 4) if found guilty, I might have to pay THIS GUY and then I'm even more royally screwed, since I will have been convicted of ASSAULT. That looks good these days in the Immigration Office, right?
Lovely. I've followed the law all my life, never been arrested (besides a protest in college in which like 500 kids were "arrested" for like 5 minutes), and never hit anyone outside of a Taekwondo dojang or my little brother (sorry about that, little brother!).
So it's 4:33 in the morning now, and I can't sleep, and am still thinking WHAT THE FU*K?! I avoided the fight, went to the brightly-lit place with lots of people, and called the cops. And now I've been arrested, fingerprinted, and booked!
Welcome to the world of those with criminal records!
And you know what the cop said, in a moment of "let me give you some friendly advice, kid" candor?
"You should have just gone home. You shouldn't have called us. Next time, just leave."
And that, kids, is the moral of the story. When you're the foreigner, and you haven't done anything wrong, RUN. Otherwise, all the person has to do it lie, and you're guilty until proven innocent, even if they're a drunk, nearly homeless loser who doesn't even have a single witness to corroborate his lies.
Damn, I'm mad! Damn!
Yeah, this is why I learned the culture and language and came to Korea – to end up arrested, red-thumbed, and booked in a police station in the middle of the night after *I* had called the police on some drunk waste-of-flesh who very well might have gone on to harass OTHER PEOPLE.
The ironic thing? I really wonder if he'll EVEN REMEMBER what happened tonight. I mean, he harrassed us, made a fool of himself, and gave OFFICIAL TESTIMONY while smashed beyond comprehension. He STUMBLED out of the interrogation room. Stumbled!
They just let him walk. And I gotta wait for the judge to rule.
P.S. Just for fun, I recorded the delightful demeanor of this man, who was drunk out of his addle-brained skull and lying so much that I think he either convinced himself that this was the truth, or he just was so shit-faced that he probably tripped over something and bruised himself, then the next thing he remembers, he's standing in front of me, trying to take my camera bag. With me and MissKoco talking, it's partially in English, partly Korean. (Two quick edits in there, made to take out personal names.)
Second, enjoy the special moment he and I were forced to share while I waited to be taken to Seodaemun Police Headquarters – we were stuck looking at each other, twiddling our thumbs.
This little gem is all in Korean!
I've also got video of him being a drunk old bag of flesh, but that's for later.
Posted by Michael Hurt on November 21, 2007 Permalink
Friday, November 16, 2007
In the Asia Times, Dr. Lankov has penned one of the best pieces on Korean reunification I’ve ever read. Period.
Be sure to read it. Be sure to read it NOW.
Among the points:
- Don’t hold you’re breath for “Chinese-style” economic reform in the North. It won’t happen.
- Despite resistance to reform, North Korea is crumbling from below. The Romanian endgame is a likely ending.
- Whether it likes it or not, South Korea must prepare for reunification.
- The major task is to smooth the transition, and to do this, a provisional confederation is a possible solution.
- No such confederation will be possible, however, until there is new leadership in Pyongyang.
- A 10-15 year confederation will give the North a chance to transform while softening some of the problems associated with immediate unification (i.e., mass cross-border movement, South Korean real estate speculation in the North, unresolved land ownership issues, etc.).
Some of Lankov’s points are bound to be controversial. His proposal that a general amnesty be granted for crimes committed under the Kim regime, for example, is sure to raise a few eyebrows. So will his call for generous affirmative action programs for North Koreans in South Korean universities. Nevertheless, read the whole thing carefully — lots of good observations and solution proposals.
NOTE: Just to add my own two cents:
- While I understand the need for a general amnesty for crimes committed under the Kims, I question whether such an amnesty will work as a practical and political measure. No amount of time is likely to protect Kim’s butchers from South Korean politics. Former South Korean president Chun Doo-hwan stepped down in 1987. Nine years later, he was sentenced to death for what he did in 1979-1980. South Korea’s ruling party, meanwhile, has spent the last five years forming committees to look into abuses committed during the colonial period and military dictatorship periods, and those ended over 50 years ago and 20 years ago, respectively. Given the enormity of what has transpired in the North, South Korean politicians and — seeing how they’ve been the primary target of South Korea’s recent historical naval-gazing — South Korean conservatives in particular are unlikely to give North Korean leaders a pass. Lastly, but probably most importantly, there’s likely to be great pressure from below in North Korea to see their tormentors punished. It would take great political will on the part of what is likely to be a weak and pressured transitional regime to hold off on bringing North Korea’s former leaders to account. On a positive note, however, should the current North Korean regime end in Romanian style, the question of what to do with Kim and Company might naturally work itself out in the first few hours of the revolution, allowing the North Korean masses to get their Fanon-esque cathartic act of violence done with right away.
- Quotas for North Korean students in South Korean schools — sounds reasonably in theory, but good luck getting the South Koreans to go along with that. Like in many societies, education is a hot-button issue in South Korea, and I can’t see the South Korean public standing by while precious admission spots in Seoul’s top universities are allocated to inferior North Korean students. Or, to put this another way, South Koreans are reluctant enough as it is to contribute tax money to reunification, so I can’t see parents happily sacrificing their child’s shot at the big time so Cheol-su from Nampo can go to Seoul National University.
- What the piece doesn’t delve into is the international aspect. An interim confederation would not exist in a vacuum. As is pointed out ad nauseum, the Korean Peninsula is surrounded by Great Powers like China, Japan, Russia and, by virtue of its presence, the United States. It would be interesting — and probably important — to speculate on how the geopolitics of the region might play into the political decision-making of the reunification process.
more from Lankof
Some rejoinders before I’ll run away for my next appointment.
You argue that the general amnesty promise is unlikely to be kept, I am afraid it is the case. However, I hope that when things settle down a little, it will the most notorious people whose punishment would become a political issue. Frankly, if some guards from the camp #22 will go to prison, I will not feel sorry, even though I will still probably publish few columns about value of unbroken promises. However, without amnesty these people will fight hard (and, without divulging to much in the open media, I can hint that they have made some preparations). This means many more deaths, Second, rough justice, revolutionary-type, should be minimized or, ideally, avoided. You know, people who become victims tend to be the least dangerous representatives of Ancien Regime.
Re affirmative actions. You know, my major worry (idealistic, perhaps) is that for a generation or two North Koreans will remain inferior, second-rate citizens. Without a sufficient number of holder of SKY degrees there will be no “new” North Korea elite. I know how crazy the ajumas will be. But this is important.
TO HARDYANDTINY (#3)
No, they do not. First, they know that South is doing better, but they do not realize how large the gap really is. Second, it is difficult to estimate which part of the population know even this. Majority in Pyongyang and borderland areas, but perhaps a minority elsewhere.
TO SANSHINSEON (#7)
The problem is: these issues (indeed, each one worth a book) are NOT discussed publicly. Believe me, since I read much on this subject. Few references in passing, and it’s all. It is “politically incorrect” to talk about NK failure, as if the silence will help to solve the problem.
TO CAPTBBQ (#8)
This is exactly what I am most afraid of (and want to avoid). Chaebol making the northerners “cheap labour” For ten or fifteen years, it might be OK. But not for generations.
to WangKon936, #13
WangKon, be surprised! Pretty much every college-educated Russian knows who Lincoln is. And if said Russian majored in history, s/he will know a lot about carpetbaggers and Reconstruction. As a matter of fact, world history, esp. European and American history, has been taught very well in Russian schools - a lot of teaching hours, great detail. I do not know any other country where “foreign history” was taught so well - or, at least, in such quantities. This is partially side-effect of “Marxisation” of the school system in the 1920s, and partially an old tradition going almost to Peter the Great’s times.
to Corpy Carly #14
Re migration. I am afraid you are correct. However, the “the maintenance of the DMZ as a heavily militarized border” will of limited use, since Korean soldiers will not shoot at the North Korean defectors (and if they do, there certain to be a public outcry). And even landmines will instantly become controversial. So, the flood will happen. And this is why I believe that confederation or any kind of special legal regime in the North will help to mitigate the disaster. It makes legal border control measures easier. It will also help to execute other policies designed to keep North Koreans in place. For example, in this article, due to space constraints, I mentioned “land rent system” proposal only in passing, but the land rent system might become such an incentive. The idea in brief: for ~10 years the farmers will have the distributed land not as property, but on condition of “free rent”. Then the land will be made their property, but only if the would-be owner actually worked the land for the entire length of this period. This will make people less willing to come South. For the first year or two it might even make sense to keep the PDS (public distribution system) – again on conditions that you receive rations only in your place of residence or, perhaps, elsewhere in the North.
But let’s be frank: unification will be a disaster for the South – at least, in short-term, since long-term effects might be benefitial. And I am not talking about preventing disaster, only about mitigating it.
Re FDI: investment should be ecouraged. The arable land and living houses are the only exception, but very important one!
The issue of domination. Alas, you are correct. The new economy will be owned almost exclusively, by outsiders, largely South Koreans. Carpetbaggers will flood the country, too. The palliative measure will be creation of the new North Korean elite – this is why affirmative actions are so important. Not only in the university admissions, but also with employment (some quotas of the locals at the managerial positions for the companies operating in the North, etc.). By the way, these policies are likely to create another issue: the “new elite” will consist largely, if not exclusively, from the scions of the Kims’ officials. This is why I believe that large-scale training of defectors is of such paramount significance, to create another layer of future elite which will be opposed to the old system and, to some extent, free from its shortcomings.
But once again: this is not a perfect solution. There is not perfect solution. Alas.
We have a very reliable data, even if somewhat old, on the NK population, since in the early 1990s the NK government invited US experts to help with census and provided them with wealth of data. The NK officials tried to doctor the books, hoping to hide the size of their huge military, but in the demographics such manipulation is difficult, so the real picture was easily reconstructed. See early works by Eberstadt who was one of those experts. So, the short answer to your question is: yes, the population is younger, but the difference is not as large as one might expect. The TFR in NK is ~2.1, and life expectancy is in the mid-60s. So, it will help, but will not make a large difference. To complicate matters further, the NK population is very unhealthy.
TO Corpy Carly, #16
I know. I lobby hard for these policies (education for defectors), both with US officials (no success so far) and SK officials (moderate success). If somebody in this blog will be in position to make noices, make these noices, too. I do not know how much time we have left, but it’s never too late to start breaking. It’s better to hit a wall at 45 miles an hour then at 60 m/h.
Re 성통만사. To my discredit, never heard of it. Just googled it, found their site, and will have a look right now.
TO WangKon936, #22
No need for apologies. Frankly, the over-emphasis on the world history in Soviet/Russian curriculum is sort of anomaly, but this is the type of anomaly I like! And I think many people read the Hole, many more than even Marmot himself thinks. I have had interesting experiences when things I said in my blog (in Russian, a reliable secret language, one assumes) were sometimes cited by people under very surprising circumstances.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Mancini and Kim forever linked
November 12, 2007
Of the thousands of times Ray Mancini pulled on a pair of boxing gloves and stepped inside a ring, the thought had never crossed his mind.
But as the pain increased during his fight with Duk Koo Kim in an outdoor stadium behind Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Nov. 13, 1982, Mancini considered throwing in the towel. Lightweight title be damned.
His head throbbed. His hands ached. He couldn't breathe without feeling like he was being stabbed.
As he considered his options, surrendering began to seem wise.
Had he quit, 25 years of pain would have been washed away in an instant.
Mancini takes a deep breath and sighs.
"My body, physically, wanted to quit, but mentally, I wouldn't allow it," he said. "That's not who I was. Ray Mancini was not a quitter."
Sadly, neither was Duk Koo Kim.
JUST ANOTHER PAYDAY
The 21-year-old son of a World War II veteran and the 23-year-old child of South Korean rice and ginseng farmers battled fiercely for the WBA lightweight championship on that mild Saturday before a national network television audience.
Because there had been a major fight between Aaron Pryor and Alexis Arguello in Miami the previous night, few of the regulars on the boxing circuit attended the Mancini-Kim bout, despite the fact that Mancini was one of the game's rising attractions.
He was personable and good-looking and had a style that frequently left his opponent's face, as well as his own, bruised and swollen.
"There got to be a point around that time when people realized that if you were a boxing fan, you had to see the kid fight," said Mancini's promoter, Bob Arum.
"Each fight seemed to top the next. It didn't matter who he was matched against. It was Mancini they were coming to see. He was the show."
Mancini was being groomed for a fight against Pryor, who on that Friday night at the Orange Bowl stopped Arguello in the 14th round of a bout that the late boxing writer Pat Putnam of Sports Illustrated called, "one of the fiercest title fights in recent memory."
Nothing of the kind was expected for the Mancini-Kim fight. It was just another payday for Mancini and an opportunity for CBS to develop a relationship with an emerging superstar. Little was known of Kim, who brought a 17-1-1 record but had never fought outside of Asia and had no opponents of note on his record.
Royce Feour, the longtime boxing writer at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was one of the few reporters at ringside for the Mancini-Kim bout.
"The talk around Caesars Palace the week of the fight was that, indeed, Kim was not a qualified opponent," Feour said.
Curious to learn more about the mysterious South Korean, Feour arranged to meet Kim in Kim's suite at Caesars a few days before the fight.
The introverted Kim offered little of himself, but Feour noticed a lamp shade on which Kim had handwritten something in Korean. Feour asked the interpreter what it said.
The answer: "Kill or be killed."
NO STEPPING STONE
Though Kim was widely viewed as a stepping stone, Mancini believed otherwise. He had pored over tapes of the South Korean and knew he would be a serious threat to his title.
"People in America are not sophisticated about boxing from the sense that they just don't have an awareness of anything that goes on outside this country," said Mancini, at 46 an independent film producer and the owner of a cigar manufacturing company.
The scheduled 15-round bout drew a number of A-list celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Bill Cosby. They saw an unexpectedly competitive and highly grueling bout. Mancini tore at Kim at the opening bell, only to be met by fierce resistance.
"Nobody really knew much about Kim, but it wasn't too long into the fight before we were looking at each other and saying, 'Hey, we have ourselves a fight here,' " said Sig Rogich, who was a member of the Nevada Athletic Commission before eventually becoming an advisor to President George H. W. Bush.
"This wasn't one of those fights where you automatically expected the champion to win. Each round was incredibly hard-fought."
Mancini wasn't known as a devastating puncher; but he wore down his opponents with the volume of punches he threw and his sheer will to win. Mancini would take three to give one if he had to, and he fought with a religious fervor.
"I was competitive like that naturally, but I was raised that you just never quit and would come and come and come and give every last ounce you had inside of you," Mancini said.
As he looked across the ring, he saw himself in the man he was battering. Kim took a series of flush, hard punches and not only didn't flinch, but fired back almost immediately.
It wasn't long before Mancini's left eye was swelling grotesquely.
"I was very impressed at Kim's ability to absorb punishment and to dish out a lot of his own," said Jim Hunter, who covered the fight for Reuters.
The fight was uncomfortably tight for Mancini fans just past the midpoint, and for the first time in his career, Mancini was having doubts. Aching and uncertain, he considered asking his corner to stop the bout.
"The only thing that saved me was the way I trained," Mancini said. "I trained more physically than most fighters. I had an old-school trainer, Murphy Griffith, and we used to do a lot of things that fighters years ago would do. I'd go neck deep in water and shadow box four-minute rounds. I'd push a boulder up a hill. I'd do push-ups with a 60-pound sack of sand on my back.
"The thought of quitting entered my mind, but I thought about the way I had worked. I worked like a dog to get ready for my fights and I knew if I could dig down, I'd find a way to keep going."
The frenetic pace was having a subtle effect on Kim, too. He was attacking in spite of Mancini's onslaught, but his rallies were fewer and the punches he took were cleaner.
"Boom Boom never changed his strategy," said Marc Ratner, who attended the fight as a fan, but went on to become the most famous boxing administrator in the world when he ran the Nevada Athletic Commission for 13 years. "He was the stronger of the two and eventually, he began to wear Kim down."
Mancini controlled the 10th through 12th rounds of the 15-round bout and pounded his gloves together with glee as he walked back to his corner after the 12th.
He was beginning to think positively.
"One of the things that I think has really hurt boxing was going from 15 rounds to 12 for championship fights," Mancini said. "I lived for those championship rounds. "I always felt they were my rounds. I believed nobody had trained the way I had trained and that was going to pay off in those final three rounds."
Mancini began to drop straight rights off Kim's head, which resonated with a thud. Kim's counters were less frequent and less powerful, though he would land a hard left often enough that he couldn't be discounted, something recognized by Tim Ryan, who was doing the blow-by-blow for CBS Sports.
"Certainly, the underrated Kim is giving Mancini all he can handle," Ryan told his viewers in the 12th round.
THE FINAL MOMENTS
As the 13th opened – the first of Mancini's championship rounds – he landed a 35- or 40-punch combination, most of which were to Kim's head.
Referee Richard Green, one of Nevada's most experienced judges, was keeping a close eye on Kim, but never seemed to be on the verge of halting the fight.
And Ratner, who helped institute numerous safety measures during his term with the Nevada commission, never felt Green made a mistake by letting the fight continue.
"Ray was getting the better of most of the exchanges, but Kim was fighting back and he was defending himself and competing," Ratner said. TV analyst Gil Clancy, a highly regarded trainer, told CBS viewers that Kim was "still dangerous with that straight left hand." When the bell sounded to start the 14th, Mancini popped off his stool and sprinted toward Kim, who wearily pulled himself up.
Seconds into the round, he whistled a straight right that landed. Kim managed to avoid the follow-up left, but he couldn't avoid the right hand behind that.
The right landed flush on Kim's head, sending him hurtling backward. His head banged off the canvas as he fell on his back.
"Finally," Mancini thought.
Green ushered Mancini to a neutral corner. When he turned toward Kim to pick up the count, Kim was on all fours, attempting to pull himself up. He got about three-quarters of the way before tumbling back into the ropes.
Green quickly waved off the fight as jubilant Mancini fans stormed the ring.
What Mancini didn't realize as he raised his arms above his head in exultation was that the darkest days of his life were about to commence.
"I don't think the average fan understands how much the fighters have to commit emotionally to a fight like that," Mancini said. "When it's over and you win, there is this overwhelming sense of relief. I was really badly beaten up, and I felt like I'd gone to hell and back, but I did what I came to do, which was to keep my title."
Mancini walked to Kim's corner several times after the fight ended in a bid to congratulate his opponent on his gallant effort. But Kim was beginning a bigger fight, one he had little chance to win.
TURN FOR THE WORSE
A blood clot had formed on Kim's brain during the fight. Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, who performed 2½ hours of surgery on Kim that night at Desert Springs Hospital, speculated that it was caused by one or two powerful punches.
The surgery could not effectively stem the pressure on Kim's brain, and a traumatized Arum suggested in the emergency room that the sport be suspended until a panel could examine ways to make it safer.
As a man's life and a sport's future hung in the balance, Mancini was facing problems of his own. Sensitive even in the best of times, he was about to face a boxer's biggest nightmare: Kim was about die.
Four days later, on Nov. 17, 1982, a Nevada judge declared Kim legally dead and doctors removed him from life support.
"He died once, and I felt I was dying every day," Mancini said, softly. "When you're a fighter, you develop a respect for your opponent and I had all the respect in the world for this guy. I just wanted to win the fight. I never wanted to see him hurt. It was devastating."
There had been deaths in boxing before, but none resonated with the public the way Kim's had. The bout featured a glamorous champion in a famous venue live on national television.
Even those who never paid much attention to boxing knew of Boom Boom Mancini and Duk Koo Kim.
Smiling strangers would approach Mancini and ask, "What does it feel like to actually kill someone?"
Mancini wanted to vomit. His ire grew worse when his children were tormented at school. His daughter, Carmenina, was in second grade when a classmate approached her and said, "Your father is a murderer."
Mancini was distraught. He would lie in bed at night and see Kim's face, replaying the scene over and over in his mind.
He knew it was an accident, but it wasn't one he would easily forget.
Mancini returned to the place he had long sought refuge, winning a 10-round decision over journeyman George Feeney in Italy just three months later, but it wasn't the same.
Mancini, who now lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., went 4-4 after the fateful fight, bouncing in and out of retirement before ending his career for good in 1992, after a loss to Greg Haugen, with a 29-5 record.
"He was never the same fighter," Arum said. "He just didn't have the thing that made him who he was. He was never as aggressive. He never threw the punches with the reckless abandon that he used to. He was shaken to his core."
It was a tragic fight in so many ways. Four months later, Kim's mother committed suicide. Green, the referee, committed suicide, too.
Ray Mancini lived on, haunted forever by the memory of that brilliant afternoon in the Las Vegas sun and a fight gone horribly wrong.
"The rest of my life, I'm not just Ray Mancini, I'm Ray Mancini, the guy who killed Duk Koo Kim," he said. "You never escape that. You wonder what it would have been like for the both of us if I had quit or if he had quit and this hadn't happened.
"I've done a lot of praying, a lot of thinking. I'm never really going to know why it happened. No one will. He was a tough kid. Too tough, really. Too tough."
I REMEMBER WATCHING THE FIGHT AND I REMEMBER THINKING THAT IT DID NOT LOOK THAT BAD AT FIRST. I also remembered that his finance and him were married after he died. Her photos looked so distraught. A fight where everyone involved lost.