Friday, May 30, 2008


Thursday, May 29, 2008

McDonald's beef lkjafoj328uskdrfjekwlajv (can't even think of good headlines anymore for this shit).

So some people went to a McDonald's in Seoul to protest the restaurant's use of American beef. Because American beef is dangerous. And Korean beef is safe. So they shouldn't use American beef.

Haha, fail. There's a prominent box on the McDonald's Korea homepage addressing concerns about where the restaurants' beef comes from. The poster above, originally from here, says that the store uses Australian beef. Burger King has a little thing of its own on their site (it's a pop-up):

Lotteria has a pop-up of its own advertising domestic and Australian beef:

A few others:

Oh, please please please please please please please snuff the visa waiver program. And please please please please please please please have everyone here start bitching and moaning. And please please please please please please please have people make the connection and realize they don't get shit for free. And please please ple . . . wait, "make the connection?" Nevermind.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Perhaps the Korean Teachers' Union doesn't care for American beef, but I'm not sure.




From a couple days ago. Source.

Jesus Tapdancing Christ. Source.

So first we had that hate group the "Anti-English Spectrum" (ha!) run their mouths about foreigners in the Korea Times---and then show their true colors on their Korean-language homepage. Then the Korean Association of Foreign Language Academies trotted (trut?) out the usual stereotypes in that same paper. Now, another loony fringe organization has come out with wall-to-wall anti-beef coverage of the same hue and with the same single-minded determination. Oooh, wait, that's not a fringe organization, that's the 400,000-strong Korea Teachers and Educational Workers Union (KTU), and these photos are from their newspaper 교육희망, sitting on my desk today.

Sort of related, a few weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece for the Korea Times asking why people were spending so much time worrying about dying from Mad Cow Disease when the realities of being a pedestrian and a driver are so much more dangerous. That was just after two Suncheon high school students were killed on a field trip when the taxi driver driving their school bus lost control while coming down Hallasan. Anyway, I got into a bit of trouble at my school for that piece. A few of my coworkers read the English-language Korea Times, saw the article, and eventually translated it into Korean and passed it around. No serious damage, but it did make for an awkward couple of days. I'll give you three guesses as to why some coworkers were upset with the piece. No, it wasn't because I was exploiting the deaths of students to counter anti-American rallies. No, it wasn't because I was pointing out that Koreans are bad drivers. And no, it wasn't that I was making fun of a popular TV show. It was because I criticized the KTU, of which lots of my coworkers are members. I was a little harsh on them, and was probably off-base with some of my comments, especially since I don't have access to Korean-language media because of my limited Korean skills. But I don't think I was necessarily misinformed, and I was bothered that my colleagues focused on such a small part of my larger argument. In the piece I wrote:

The notoriously xenophobic and anti-American KTU has been given many opportunities to spout off against American beef imports.

While encouraging discussion among able students on topics like the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and beef imports being unhealthy [is fine], to coerce students to attend rallies and to brainwash them with ultra-nationalistic propaganda is irresponsible, to say the least.

A few of my coworkers were pretty upset, and one of them---the man who translated the article in Korean---printed out and gave me the union's "Founding Manifesto" and "Platform," both available online, to dissuade me that the organization is anti-American. Both are worth a read; here's a couple excerpts from the former, promulgated on 19 years ago yesterday, May 28th, 1989:
The KTU is the best classroom, wherein teachers themselves can be living examples of democracy, for students who must be raised as democratic citizens. Because we know that the democratization of society starts with the democratization of education, we 400,000 teachers will be unable to talk about democratization, unable to teach students democracy, unless we replace our antidemocratic educational system and change our reality, a reality that is destroying harmony and meaning in the lives of students and teachers. This is why we have organized the Teachers and Education Workers' Union, a concrete act of the democratization movement.

Meanwhile our dictatorial regime and its selfish educational profiteers, such as MoonGyoBu [the former Ministry of Education], DaeHanKyoReon [the former Korea Federation of Teachers' Association] etc. have distorted our intentions and trampled on us remorselessly. With their irrational behavior, they are on a wild rampage, intent on impeding the advance of history.

Comrades! Let's unite and fight for our students' smiling faces!

Comrades! Let's work together for the democratization of education, the democratization of society, and reunification under the banner of the KTU!

For Korean education! For democratic education! For humane education! For solidarity with the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union!

The pro-democratic stance of those two documents stand in stark contrast to how some of the union's activities have been portrayed in, say, the Chosun Ilbo, and while I'm not sophisticated enough to understand the ins and outs of the Korean media, the. In fact, as regards both the union and the anti-beef stuff, my coworkers dismissed any articles I presented from that paper, claiming that it, the Dong-A Ilbo, and the Joongang Ilbo were spreading lies. In fact, the big reason that my colleagues didn't accept the rest of my article, at least to my face, was that they thought it was built on a false premise influenced by the wrong papers: a he said (PD Diary) vs. she said (everyone else). Fair enough, and perhaps those papers have axes to grind, but it's not as if the union doesn't have an agenda, or hasn't been prone to bouts of anti-Americanism. And while I realize that protesting American beef isn't the same as protesting American culture, and that these rallies shouldn't be read as anti-American in spirit, I do question how appropriate it is for teachers to be so actively political. Everybody has their own cause, and I'll admit I wouldn't be so upset if, say, students and teachers protested human rights abuses in North Korea, or walked out of their class to protest a near-fatal beating handed down by a teacher, or protested something like the No Child Left Behind Act. But the things with which the union apparently takes issue go well beyond food safety, and encouraging students to participate either by coersion or by example seems unusual and over the students' heads, but these quote-unquote educational opportunities are apparently in line with the KTU's motto.

Anyway, you can find some Chosun Ilbo pieces on the union here and here, and it's easier to just say to click on all the "related articles" rather than linking to them myself. And, here are a few other cartoons I found on their site, without too much poking around:

Classy. Source.



Source. This has nothing to do with anything, but I found it amusing.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

American Boy Dead at Public Bath in S. Korea
Numerous Angry Letters from Foreigners Pour In

A growing number of foreigners in South Korea are protesting against
the sudden death of 14-year-old American boy who was found on May
10, 2008 dead at a public bathhouse in Gyeongsan City, North
Gyeongsan Province, South Korea.

They are complaining about the poor emergency care of South Korea's
911 service and about the lack of quick response of the bathhouse'

A number of angry letters flooded in The Seoul Times newsroom after
the incident. The South Korean police started an investigation about
the mystery death of the young American boy.

Here are some the letters from the foreigners living in South Korea.

Bright and Loving Kid Found Dead at a Public Bath

Just over a week ago, a very bright and loving kid was found dead at
a public bath. Mike White was a friend of mine and he will be
missed. His loss is very personal and made even more difficult to
bear by the fact that so little is known about the circumstances of
his death.

However, as personal as this loss is, it does bring up a whole host
of issues that we should all be interested in. For one, why is it so
difficult for a grieving mother to get information about the
circumstances of his death?

For another, were there other people in the baths with him? If so,
why didn't they help him and why aren't they coming forward with
more information? Were they afraid to help? Does Korea lack Good
Samaritan laws?

According to what little information has been disseminated, the
ambulance took over 45 minutes to get to the scene. When it finally
did arrive, it was poorly equipped to deal with the situation. Was
this just a fluke, or should some light be shined on the state of
Korea's s emergency services?

There is a sense that, rather than struggle with all of the
difficult issues this story brings up, those involved (the sauna,
the police, the press) seem to be trying to ignore the issue in the
hopes that it will go away.

I sincerely hope that is not the case. For those that knew Mike,
this matter is far too important to just be forgotten and it should
be of interest to anyone (Korean and foreigner) living in Korea.
Jeff Summers

I Was Shocked by Mike's Death

Bathhouses of the Royal Hawaii JimJil Bang in Gyeongsan City

Dear Editor,

I saw the news about Michael White and was shocked. He was only 14
years old but was a very big boy and may have been seen by the staff
at the bathhouse as an older teen. I feel so sad for his mother and
hope the press can take a balanced look at this story and find some
better answers.

Especially I wonder if their were an witnesses, since bath houses
are separated and Mike must have been there by himself. I met him
through my work with KOTESOL and his mother. He got dragged along to
planning meeting and was a real active guy. He helped me out by
taking care of my two children and acting as an older brother to
them at a few

I can't stress enough that this issue should not be looked as an
American vs Korean but as an issue of getting to the bottom of
unsettling circumstances.
From what I heard of the medical report he
had trauma to the throat and I wonder if there could have be a fight
or some kind of incident that is being covered up.
Please do what you can and try to keep any national sentiment out of
this and look at it as a local boy let down by our community. Korean
and expat inclusive.

Kevin Landry
lklandry@gmail. com

Untimely Death of Young American Man

Stephanie White, Mike's mother, showing the album of his son
Photo Courtesy of Chosun Ilbo

Dear Editor:

It is with much sadness and concern that I am communicating to you
about the untimely death of a young American man, Michael Stephen

On the evening of May 10th, 2008 at the Royal Hawaii JimJil Bang in
Gyeongsan City, Michael experienced bodily trauma from which he did
not recover.

This death was that of a healthy 14-year-old. I had personally known
him for more then two years.
He was an active, bright boy who loved life and will be deeply
missed by all those who knew him.

The staff and administration at Royal Hawaii must be held
accountable for lack of action on the night of his death.
Why was Michael's mother notified about his dire circumstances anly
after he was already brought to the ambulance in the parking lot of
Royal Hawaii?
Michael's mother was in the womens' section of the same facility at
the same time.

Why was the ambulance transport service brought for Michael who was
already reported dead?
Who reported him dead?
Did not the ambulance service staff need verification of facts
before sending only a transport vehicle?
Michael was unconscious in the ambulance, not deceased. If a
properly equipped ambulance was provided, Michael had had a good
chance of being saved.

The Gyeongsan City Police Department must be held accountable for
releasing a proper and full report to Michael's mother, Stephannie

Witnesses who were in the mens' section of the Royal Hawaii need to
come forward to explain exactly what happened. Michael's death is a
suspicious death.

A full investigation is paramount.

Michael will be forever be fondly remembered by those who knew and
loved him.


Richard James Slezak, B.A., B.S.W.
Daejeon University
Department of Educational Development
Volunteer Warden for Daejeon City
Canadian Embassy in Seoul

Vigil for 14 year old American Boy in Gyeongsan

You are invited to attend a Vigil being held for Stephen Michael
White, a 14 year old American boy who drowned at a sauna last
Saturday night in South Korea.
Michael's life was taken from him at too early an age and under
suspicious conditions. Please join us for prayers in respect of
Micahel and his mother, Stephannie. The Vigil will be held across
the street from the Royal Hawaii Sauna in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsanbukdo
on Sunday, May 18th from 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

Stephen Michael White Fund
Kate Bissell
504-6 Sampoongdong
Eunhasoo Ville Apt 201
Gyeongsan, Gyeongsanbukdo
Dear editors,
Please include this version of my letter in memory of Mike White,
(rather than my first version), as I was quite in shock and
apologize for any misunderstanding of my first letter.
Thank you,

For Editorial in Memory of Stephen Michael White ("Mike")
I first met Mike (age 14) about three years ago. He was volunteering
with the group of student volunteers I was working with at the
annual Kotesol conference.
Even though he was so young, he was also very savvy and, best of
all, brought a spark of relaxation and fun to our frenzied group.
I've met him several times since then and he was always very kind
and gracious beyond his years.
I feel so shocked and saddened by Mike's untimely passing. My deep
condolences to Mike's family and friends.

Gwen Atkinson
gwenniea@yahoo. com

Testimonial to Michael White

I met Michael in the winter of 2007 when he and his mother drove
down to Pusan to deliver the special gift of a rescued puppy to me.
I could instantly see instantly the optimism, love and light that
radiated from Michael.
Though I only met him for a brief time I could feel that he was
truly a special young man. He shared a special bond with his mother
that was instantly evident. They were more than just son and mother,
they were best of friends which even to a stranger was apparent.
That he was taken from us too soon is tragic but it is important to
celebrate the life that he led and to remember the person he was and
the spirit and light that radiated from him.

Cheryl Binstock (Busan)

Mike Stood Out among Many Volunteers

I have been in Korea for five years, and have been involved with the
international conference of KOTESOL for four years. I was the Venue
Signs Manager when I met Mike. For two years in a row he volunteered
the night before the conference to help put up signs.
I was responsible for many volunteers, but Mike stood out among
He was kind, attentive, helpful, and most of all he was respectful.
I noticed what a great worker he was, and that impressed me. At some
points, I could actually leave him in charge of other volunteers,
and I had every confidence that the job would get done. He was a
leader, and while I only know him for a brief time, he will be
remembered as being likeable, congenial, responsible, dependable,
and hardworking.
Anyone would be better for having known Mike White.

Jennifer Brown (Canadian)
English Teacher - Myongji Elementary School (2006-present)
(Venue Signs Manager - KOTESOL International Conference - 2005-2007)

--- In expatskorea@ yahoogroups. com, "Corina"
> Hello everyone,
> I am writing to let you know about a silent compassion vigil being
> held at the American Embassy in Seoul on Friday, May 16th, 2008
> 8:30 am onward. The vigil is being held in the memory of Stephen
> Michael White. There will also be another silent vigil at the
> Gyeongsan Royal Hawaii Sauna on Sunday, May 18th. (Gyeongsan is a
> minute train ride from DongDageu Station).
> Michael was a 14 year old member of our expats community. Some of
> you may know him, or his mother, Stephannie White, from KOTESOL,
> Hoseo University, KonKuk University, Yeungnam University or from
> expat events. On Saturday evening, May 10th, we went to the Royal
> Hawaii Sauna to relax after a long day and the unthinkable
> While Michael was in the men's side of the spa, he was drowned in
> shallow cold pool.
> Michael was nearly 6 ft tall and a strong swimmer. He was versed
> how to be safe with regards to paying attention to his heart and
> breathing in sauna/hot tubs. He was in excellent health and had no
> preconsisting conditions, or conditions discovered in the autopsy
> that would have caused him to drown on his own.
> His mother and I were not notified that there was an emergency
> Michael until sometime after an ambulance had arrived. Later in
> week we were informed that the ambulance was apparently called at
> 11:02 pm, but we were not notified until 11:45 pm. Both of us have
> first responder training and might have been able to save his
> Everything surrounding Michael's death was a horrible chain of
> people's unwillingness to act promptly and properly. The poor
> response was from every level of response Michael received from
> patrons at the spa with him, to the staff, to the paramedics who
> arrived without oxygen, equipment to monitor vital signs or
> to restart the heart, to the emergency room staff and finally the
> police who didn't bother to close the spa and hold everyone inside
> for questioning.
> The autopsy showed he suffered damage to his throat, lungs & back
> his mouth from extreme coughing & retching. Even if no one was in
> the room the sounds should have been echoing to alert
> that someone was in distress. The doctor who did the autopsy said
> there was a strong time frame when Mike could have been revived if
> folks had 1) responded to his distress 2) the staff didnt presume
> know Mike's medical condidion without training 3) the ambulance
> Please don't let this tragedy go unnoticed. There are so many
> questions that his mother and those of us who loved him want
> answered. It is likely that we will never know everything exactly,
> but we need to push the powers that be to at least try to find
> Justice for Michael.
> Please join in one of the silent vigils if you are able. Please
> forward this e-mail to others in the expats community who may not
> on this site. Please forward this e-mail to other expat sites that
> you know of. Please forward this e-mail to any members of the
> American military bases who might also be interested in not
> Mike be forgotten.
> There is a facebook group started in Michael's memory. The group
> called: A Mother is looking for answers about her son.
> There are many questions she wants answered, but some of the
> questions she wants fellow expats to ask with her are as follows:
> 1. Are there government regulations about safety procedures both
> for customers and staff in public baths? If yes, does Royal Hawaii
> follow those regulations?
> 2. Were resuscitation measures done before the paramedics arrived?
> 3. Why didn't the staff try to find Mother immediately?
> 4. How come nobody tried to help Michael when he was coughing &
> retching?
> 5. Why didn't anyone come forward with a statement to the police
> about what happened to Michael?
> 6. What gives the Sauna the right/medical authority to call in a
> false DOA?
> Again, please give your time and support.
> In Memory of Michael,
> Corina Fransen
> 041-543-0979

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More update From Ms. White

There are plenty of ways for folks to help raise awareness for Mike's situation and to offset the fees for Justice in Korea.

1) Design a Mightie Mike Tee to be used as a fundraiser...

2) comment on Designs already submitted

2) Volunteer to fundraise by selling T-shirts in the Ten Mightie Mike Tee Challenge.

Mike's morgue fees are the biggest expense faced by his friends & family. We can not prepare Mike to go home until the Police give written permission that taking Mike home wont close the case (as it did for Bill Kapoun)

If you want to take the Ten Tee Challenge~ send a 40.000 won security deposit to Mike's Donation fund- AND fill out the form on the website letting us know you are taking the Ten Tee Challenge along with your mailing address. (it will take about 5-7 days + delivery to recieve the tees)

We'll send you Ten Mightie Mike Tees, which you then sell to your friends for 10.000 each. Once you've sold your Tees, simply transfer the proceeds to Mike's Fund. If only 20 people take the challenge and succeed, then Mike's morgue payment would be made for the month!

Justice is possible~! We just have to be able to afford it~

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Korean Supermarkets Won’t Sell US Beef. Time To Be a Dick.

The Seoul Shinmun reports that for the time being, major Korean supermarkets have decided NOT to sell US beef.

This stands in contrast to what they were saying at the beginning at the month, when they were saying they had no choice but to sell it because of consumer demand.

Importers, however, said they would sell US beef to wholesalers and retailers like restaurant butcher shops.

Sinsegye’s E-Mart, for instance, said Monday that it would not sell US beef, regardless of any agreement regarding imports. It said that earlier in the month, it felt it had to put it on its shelves due to demand, but rapidly deteriorating public opinion has made this impossible. It left open the possibility of selling it at some later date, but first there needed to be a public consensus on the safety of US beef.

Home Plus, meanwhile, said it had no plans to sell US beef. It said that when it contacted importers last month, the importers had raised the price, noting the popularity of US beef at major markets last year. With public opinion worsening, however, the supermarket cannot even think about selling it, regardless of how cheap it is.

Lotte Mart also said it has no plans to sell US beef, despite having been positive about the idea earlier this month.

Importers, however, plan to sell their wares as scheduled. One distributor said that while major markets have decided not to sell US beef, he understood that smaller retailers and wholesalers planned to accept deliveries. He didn’t know if the stuff, if labeled US beef, would sell with public opinion being what it is.

Major department stores that sell Korean beef, like Lotte and Sinsegye, meanwhile, have decided not to sell US beef, which will begin hitting the market from early June.

Marmot’s Note: This is complete and utter bullshit. With the market so poisoned, one wonders whether US beef will sell even if it’s allowed back into the country.

Way back when (in 2000), when Koreans got into the “Garlic War” with China, Beijing showed us the proper way to handle trade disputes with Seoul — by being a total dick:

South Korea has decided to import another 10,000 tons of garlic from China, a key trade dispute threatening local exporters of mobile phones and polyethylene goods, officials said Monday.

The decision came as Beijing set Wednesday for the deadline for Seoul to import the garlic or face a temporary ban on two major export items to China — cellular phones and polyethylene goods — in retaliation.

See? Problem solved!

Rather than have the US ambassador call up the head of the opposition to bitch like a little girl, just renegotiate the beef deal, but do so after you’ve slapped retaliatory trade measures on Korean cell phones and cars (which, if the FTA doesn’t go through, is exactly what they may get — on a permanent basis — from the Obama White House). Let the Korean public know that while for cultural and social reasons you’re unlikely to see masses of candle-toting Americans gathering on the Mall to condemn Korean trade practices, this kind of behavior does have consequences. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, for all his faults, at least understood this much. I feel bad for President Lee — this isn’t his fault, after all — but he apparently needs assistance in explaining to the public what’s at stake here. I say let Washington help him out by showing them.



Let's Make a Point...


As someone always up for making creative points, would anyone with artistic skills like to assist in making a satirical cartoon illustrating the folly of making racism-tinged generalizations? Here's one that comes from a Korean blogger (HT to the Marmot):

Picture 1-11

I wrote a comment on his blog asking how Koreans would feel if American newspapers and bloggers started making cartoons based on sweeping generalizations of certain minority groups appearing in the news, as in the Koreans such as Cho Seung-hui or more recently, Choi Kang-hyuk.

A cartoon of say, a sweat-drenched, crazed Korean man clutching a knife dripping with blood in one hand, and a Tech-9mm in the other one outta do it. It would go in a mock post, and the point will be made that this is a shoe-on-the-other-foot kind of thought experiment, and not our actual opinion.

Of course, certain netizens would try to lie and say that we really believed in this, but those idiots would just spread the word, while hopefully the Korean press would get ahold of it. Who knows? The worst that'll happen is that it'll go unnoticed. The best is that it would be.

I'd do the illustration myself, but I can't draw to save my life. Anyone care to collaborate and make a point with me? Rather than phone calls that go unreturned, or online petitions/protests that go unnoticed, let's get creative.

And turnabout is always fair play, especially when the other guy is even more sensitive than you are to low blows. Playing to the Korean sense of national pride and "image" just might be an effective strategy in this case, methinks.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Their are certain days of the year that I really have problems with. Sad to say this is one of those days. I am luckier than most. I only have a few memories of US Army friends who are no longer here MATT'S STORY and a few others. Now their are those who in the US Army who have lost a hell of a lot more friends and today we are all asking why and praying to God that their is a special place in Heaven where soldiers can live in peace.

The video on the top of this entry is about a young man who died in Iraq and it also shows the girl that he left behind. The song is Tim McGraw- If You're Reading This"
Every time that I have heard this song, I cry for Matt and others who are no longer here. I have no idea if I will ever be able not to cry to this song.

Like I said on Matt's story I am getting older, the faces of my fallen friends are not. I every now and then ask why and I still have no answers. Hopefully one day, when my life is over, I can see my friends again and we can talk and laugh and pray.

Like I said this is one of the days that I have a problem with every year.

God Bless You My Fallen Comrades...See you when I get their.

Subject: 3 witnesses total as of 9:40 pm Sunday May 25th

there was a twist to today's vigil in front of the R찜질방~ we
actively sought out witnesses and today we know for sure the cops were
there. They were in plain clothes, so they might have actually been there
last week to, but they didn't introduce themselves last week... so who

Anyway, 3 witnesses have come forward so far and they have spoken to
the lawyer. I can't give details, as the value of the witnesses testimony
have to be weightd in ... yet... this is AWESOME news!

Now, it's in the works to expland the call for witnesses beyong the
Sunday vigils and also get a permit to put the flyer on apt doors. There
are two large apt complexes within easy walking distance of the sauna.

This is working...Justice is possible...Stay Strong in the quest for

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cruz Says Goodbye

May 25th, 2008 Shinsano


My guess is that other people living abroad will understand what I’m about to talk about here. For those who don’t or haven’t, I think any job situation you’ve quit or been fired from is applicable. I can’t tell you how many times, in my early days as a teacher in Korea, that I got so angry and frustrated with things that I wanted to blow out of the country entirely. Just quit my job — perhaps even going out in a blaze of glory.

Furthermore, there are plenty of stories of foreign players leaving teams in Japan, Korea and Taiwan under terrible circumstances — wrecking apartments, threatening former teammates and coaches, or even just saying derogatory things about the country/culture on their way out the door.

But on Saturday Jacob Cruz spent part of Saturday saying goodbye to his Samsung friends and teammates. Apparently they exchanged gifts as well. Cruz has a right to be angry for being cut. He’s not having a terrible year. His power numbers are down and he’s playing hurt.

At any rate — a very professional departure. Best of luck to Cruz wherever he ends up.

Here are his career totals in Korea (in Korean)




Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'd like first to apologize for all the confusion over the 'ning'
site. It was a free service & we felt it might be a good way for
folks to collaborate online.

Turns out this wasn't the case. So.... here we are at yahoo/groups!

Let me first give everyone an update on a few issues:

1) legal representation: Hwang Byung Il "Brian" is Mike's lawyer. I
just contracted with him yesterday (friday may 23). Aside from
the "free" lawyer, others wanted between 3-8million won as a
retainer. Brian originally also wanted 8million. But, he was willing
to negotiate. He has been paid 4 million won and he will have claim
to 30% of any awards Mike receives. No other monies are due him. It
is my hope that since his pay will depend upon him winning, that he
will be very diligent in pursuing all avenues of justice.

Just as a side note: there were not enough funds in the account to
cover his legal fees, I made up the difference from my personal acct.
Also, all expenses relating to flyers/posters/ website etc have come
from my personal accts.

While it is the hope that the 70% Brian thinks he can win for Mike
will cover basic expenses, we can't really sit back and assume that
will happen. On the one hand I really hate asking for donations, but
the harsh reality is, I have to.

2) which brings me to the second topic: fundraisers. Barbara & Katie
have been working long hours and have really come up with an awesome
fun night at Thunderbird' s lounge in Daegu May 30th. The net seems to
be pretty well aware of the event (still doesn't hurt to spread the
word) yet they are also offering door prizes.

if there is anyone who can help Barb or Katie with the door prizes,
please let them know. I don't think they're signed up to the new
group, yet, here's Katie's # 010-2901-4663

we only have two weeks until this event so let's give the girls our

3) Some information has emerged from news reports that support the
idea of a second autopsy. Brian is working on that, yet he does need
some medical help deciphering the medical jargon in the records. If
you know of someone who is in the medical field here in Korea and can
put the medical terms into normal language for Brian that would be a
huge help and would save the expense of him paying to outservice
that. Considering he is working for commission, he might work harder
if he saw we were trying to help him reduce his overhead.

4) am still working on MightieMike. com... all suggestions are welcome

5) trying to work out a way to collect donations from abroad. Paypal
is allowing donations for now, but they want some supporting
documents that just aren't available in Korea. So to avoid any
problems, I just took off the donation button from the website. Any
ideas out there??

In humble thanks for your time, thoughts and comfort
Stephanie White interview - English

Mother – Stephanie White

Interviewer – Joe McPherson

Interviewer #2 – Jennifer Young

* * * * * * *

Interviewer - And now, a special Seoul Podcast.

Welcome to a special edition of the Seoul Podcast.

We are breaking away from our usual format because we felt this is a special incident that needs singular attention. On Saturday May 10th Michael White and his mother Stephanie were with friends spending a day in a sauna near Daegu. Michael was the only man in the group so he had to bathe separately from the others. A good while later Stephanie was told by the sauna staff that he had to go to the hospital – she had to go. What she saw next was any mother’s nightmare. Michael was in an ambulance, unconscious. He was found floating in one of the pools, and he died shortly thereafter.

Big suspicious questions have surrounded his death, like: why did staff wait almost an hour to notify Michael’s mother that there was trouble? Why did they call the hospital and say that he was already dead, when he wasn’t? And why, in an active bathing room before a major holiday did no-one help him?

Tonight we have Michael’s mother Stephanie White. Thank you for joining us.

Mother - Thank you for having me.

Interviewer - This has to be so difficult.

Mother - Actually the hardest part is over, because the worst thing that could have ever happened to me has already happened. So, you know, it’s not as bad as it was a week or so ago.

Interviewer #2 - But I think the specifics of the situation or the way things happen in Korea compounded the situation; or that’s my opinion.

Mother - Ah, definitely there are some huge differences in how things are handled in an emergency situation. I can definitely agree with that.

I did get some more information from the police yesterday. I can fill out that timeline a little bit more.

One of the newspapers said – I can’t remember which one – that a staff worker saw him but thought that he was bathing, and what part of floating face down resembles ‘bathing’ I don’t know. But they left him alone and came back later and saw that he was still in that condition and that is the point at which they decided to help him. So as near as I can piece together from the crumbs of information the police will give me, the staff worker saw him at 11.02. Eighteen minutes later, at 11.20, is when the staff member saw him again and attempted to pull him from the water and resuscitate him on his own.

Now we don’t have absolute confirmation that anyone at the sauna was attempting to resuscitate him but that is the impression I was left with by the police. Now whether that was… I don’t know what to make of that situation.

Interviewer - How crowded was it that day?

Mother - It was very crowded. In the women’s side… My friend and I, we are both adults and her daughter (eleven Korean age) were foreigners so we stand out quite a bit, and (we) live in a fish-bowl, so, we enjoy going to the sauna for the relaxation in the salt pools, but at the same time we know everyone in there is watching us. We prefer to kind-of-like scrub down by ourselves, and it was impossible to find a shallow row that was unoccupied by Korean customers.

[page 2]

Interviewer - That’s really crowded.

Interviewer #2 My question was - because I know you don’t live in a city – how many white people were there? How difficult it would have been to find the white mother of the white boy?

Mother - There were two white women…

Interviewer #2 - You and your friend?

Mother - Yeah.

Interviewer #2 - Just you two?

Mother - Just us two and her daughter. Her daughter is not necessarily white, but she is foreign, and so two foreign women and a foreign child…

And my son he’s 6 foot tall.

Interviewer - He looks really big.

Mother - Yeah. Even back home he towered over all his peer group. So he’s always just been the gentle giant. He’s never been, you know, a fighter in any sense of the word. He couldn’t even do Taekwondo. I mean he could do it but he just didn’t get into the sparring part of things. He didn’t like that part. And so he dropped out of Taekwondo because he didn’t like to have to do the sparring part. So he’s really just a gentle person. He’s just big.

Interviewer - He certainly would have stood out in that crowd because of his height.

Mother - Yes and he’s very pale. He’s not tanned. I don’t tan very easily. He does have black hair, which, you know, can help him blend in a little bit but not as much as myself and my friend who are both sandy blonde.

Interviewer - I assume he had no health problems previously.

Mother - Not diabetic, no health problems. I’m in the process of getting his medical records from his birth hospital now. There’s just so much red tape everywhere because I’m not in the country to request the medical records myself. Having to sign proxies, send it to a friend, it’s just a big mess. I have a congenital heart defect. And so, because of my heart defect, when Michael was born, they did an ultra-sound and he has no congenital heart defect, he’s had no heart problems throughout his life. His only medical problem is to be allergic to bee stings for which I became epinephrine certified in case I ever had to give him a shot for anaphylactic shock.

Interviewer - Right. Now this is what I found a little screwy that the police can’t do investigations looking for evidence. Am I right there?

Mother - I don’t know about looking for evidence but what they told me is, on two separate occasions, this was last Tuesday after Mike’s autopsy, I went into the police station to give my official statement. Because at the hospital they did want to take my statement but I was in no condition to talk to anyone. It took me a couple of days before I was even able to speak.

But anyway, back to the subject. So last Tuesday and yesterday morning, on those occasions they told me that they are not allowed to go out and just do these mass, you know, searches for witnesses. They didn’t say anything about evidence. They said they weren’t allowed to question witnesses. The witnesses had to come in voluntarily to provide information.

And yesterday, what I was told was that they are primarily looking at this as a murder investigation. There’s no idea whatsoever to support the idea of an accident.

But because they don’t have any witnesses, they cannot press charges against anyone for murder.

[page 3]

Interviewer - Really?

Mother - Yes. And that was repeated several times back and forth with the translator to verify. And I spoke to Banji Sok (sp), she’s a reporter for the Seoul Times, this morning and she was surprised by that as well. She said that she was going to be interviewing the police and asking them why they told me such a thing. Because in her investigative experience, she didn’t think that sounded right. And my experience in Korea, often if a Korean doesn’t want to do something for you, they just don’t want to take the time to explain something. They will often just say it’s not possible. To end the discussion. To basically shut you up and go away.

So, the police were very emphatic that they were not hiding anything and they were not involved in any type of corruption. Now I’ve never accused them of that so I don’t know why they would be so defensive about that. But they seemed to think that that was my primary concern. When I only went yesterday to turn in the police statement from my friend Korina. Be cause she was…we needed to get her testimony as well as a witness. And she lives in Channon so she had to wait ‘til the weekend to come down, she works for a hagwon.

So she came down, but the police didn’t want to make an appointment on Saturday.

Interviewer - *Groans*

Mother - Well, you know, they have a day off too.

Interviewer #2 - The entire police force?

Mother - Apparently. So, what we had to do was we had to basically have her type it out, have it translated and then do the thumb prints on all the pages like the police like to do.

And then bring it to the police station. So my primary reason for going to the police station yesterday was to turn in her statement and ask about, you know, to ask about his official time of death. They were not able to answer that question but again went on this tirade about how they’re not trying to hide anything, they, you know, they’re blah blah blah.

And, I kept asking the translator to explain to them that I’m not accusing them. I need them on my side. I don’t want to make them (inaudible) me. They’re the only ones that can get to the bottom of this thing. And I kept trying to emphasize: I’m not there to criticize, I’m not there to cause problems, I’m just turning in this paperwork and was asking if there’s an update. You know, that’s all.

That was kind of intense but they repeated several times, it’s first a murder investigation and secondary as an accident but they had no evidence to support an accident.

Interviewer - But do they have any evidence that there’s any foul play?

Mother - Exactly. See, that’s what they wouldn’t declare about. Because they did…it was explained to me that under Korean law, if a murder takes place, there’s nothing they can do about it unless there’s a witness. So I don’t know if that means they have a suspect in mind. Or they don’t have a witness to be able to press charges. Or if it looks like a murder but they don’t have a suspect or don’t have a witness to lead them to a suspect. See, that part’s unclear.

[page 4]

Interviewer - That’s weird. So I mean if you want to get someone for murder he has to do it in public in front of people?

Mother - You have to have at least one witness saying that they saw something.

Interviewer #2 - They don’t have forensic evidence?

Interviewer - That’s what I was wondering. That’s witness.

Mother - Well, one problem…well, we come from societies that have a very legalistic tradition. So to us, forensic evidence, you know, it’s ironclad. DNA does not lie.

But the situation with Mike is, he was in a sauna, and so, it’s a water environment. And, whether or not forensic evidence was collected, like water from the pool to compare with water from his lungs. I mean, you know, to them, that just seems like, you know, Hollywood.

And so, on the one hand, I want to be angry and critical with the police because it doesn’t seem from my perspective, that they are doing these things. But at the same time, because it’s an investigation, they’re not allowed to tell me what they have done. And so, I just have to trust that they know what they’re doing. And that’s very hard to do. It’s a very hard thing to do.

Now, they did update me on a few things like the timeline. They did update me on the fact that they did check the ambulance that Mike was in. And they said the ambulance was equipped with a defibrillator and it was equipped with an oxygen tank. Now, it was equipped when they checked it.

Whether or not it was equipped on Saturday night, May 10th, is a whole other story.

Interviewer - And were any of those in working order? That’s another thing.

Mother: I don’t know if they checked that part of it. But the point is, they didn’t utilize the tools. So if the tools were there, why didn’t they use them?

Interviewer #2 - And the fact that they were there doesn’t matter at all if they chose not to use them.

Mother - Exactly. Exactly. So, you know, there’s a lot of unanswered questions. But as near as I’ve been told, Mike was first discovered at eleven oh two. So, eleven twenty is when the staff attempts to do something of some type. I don’t know if that means CPR or if they just tried to get him out of the tub and pat him on the back. I don’t know what they mean by that. But they called the medical emergency service at eleven twenty eight. The ambulance arrived at eleven thirty four.

They didn’t contact me in the women’s sauna until eleven forty five. It took me two minutes to go from the sauna room to my locker and find my cell phone. Because the way it was told to me, I thought he just needed to go to the hospital for stitches or something.

Because he is a boy. And he’s had stitches in his foot from stepping on glass. He’s had stitches on his hand for cutting himself with a knife. So, I mean boys get broken bones and stitches. So, I called his cell phone at eleven forty seven and there was no answer.

And there was no answer. At that point I threw my clothes on and we rushed out. No rinsing, nothing, as is. And we got out there and one ambulance guy was doing chest compressions but they were not giving him oxygen. So Korina and I sat at his head and I began to adjust him to begin to give him breath. And the other ambulance driver, the other ambulance worker stopped me from doing that, he said, “No, no, no, no.”

And so I stopped because I felt perhaps there’s something I don’t know. You know, is there a neck injury, is there something I don’t know? So I stopped and didn’t do anything at that point.

And I noticed that Mike was foaming at the mouth with blood. This is the point where’s there’s two things that happened, one, whoever was doing chest compressions didn’t know what the *beep* they were doing and the sternum broke, you know, that little piece there?

[page 5]

Interviewer - Yeah, that’s what they told us in CPR class years ago.

Mother - Exactly. So, you know, that broke. Or, there’s something else involved because later at the autopsy we found that there was damage to the back of his mouth, his throat and his lungs from wrenching and coughing, which can also produce blood. But the amount of blood that was taken out of his lungs at the hospital, you know, they did a slow suction, through his mouth? Takes way too long.

They really needed to do the, I forget what it’s called, but they basically puncture the lung from between the fourth and fifth ribs and insert a tube in another puncture and this allows the lungs to drain out very quickly so that you can give oxygen. It’s like a tracheotomy on your side rather than at your throat.

Mother - And they did the [unclear] and I was begging them to do this in the ER and they kept saying they wanted to take an x-ray first. Well, the x-ray is kind of a moot point at this point. They…well anyway…I’m getting the time schedule all messed up. I know that’s what you…(inaudible)

Interviewer - …I know it’s really blurry right now.

Mother - I mean, so, eleven thirty four the ambulance arrives and they’re dealing with Mike and eleven forty five I’m told, eleven forty seven I call Mike, rush out. We’re at the ambulance just as quick as we can be. We arrive at the ER at eleven fifty seven.

Now…when I…from eleven fifty seven onward, I’m quoting the time from the ER clock because that’s what we’re trained to do in CPR and first aid. You use the clock on location. You don’t use, like your personal watch or something like that.

So the clock at the ER said eleven fifty seven, that’s when we arrived in the room. They inserted the shunt and gave him oxygen. And the doctor was doing CPR chest compressions. The doctor did CPR until twelve eighteen. They did not use a defibrillator. I was begging them to; telling them that they needed to do that. But they basically ignored me and wanted me to leave the room.

Now, I refused to leave the room because I knew as soon as I did they’d stop doing anything. I just sensed it. But I didn’t get in their way. I stood at the foot of the bed and basically rubbed Mike’s feet. Now at this time, his colour’s not too bad. His lips are blue, an indication he’s not being given the oxygen he needs. But his fingers, his fingertips underneath the fingernail, are not blue. This is a really good indication that he’s revivable with a majority of brain function. And that’s critical. Because if I’m willing to accept him with a majority of brain function, that’s my fucking decision. You know, and so, that’s what I wanted. I wanted him back.

And, uhm…the doctor quit doing CPR at twelve eighteen. That’s when I took over. And my friend Korina, she and I took turns as we, one would get tired, the other would take over. And we did this from twelve eighteen until one thirty four in the morning.

[page 6]

Mother - We did chest compressions. Because we were waiting, we were watching the oxygen that was going in. One lung had been cleared. You have four sacs, four large sacs in your lungs. One had pretty much been cleared and the rate of oxygen was enough to sustain brain function. It was staying above 90, which is critical. So that’s kind of the line, that you see on TV, they have the little lines, the flat line and the heart line? OK, the one for oxygen needs to remain above 90. As long as you’ve got that, you’ve got enough oxygen for brain function.

At that point, it’s a matter of draining the lungs so that the lungs can breathe on their own and restart the heart. They…*resigned sounding laugh* waited until twelve thirty eight to do the x-ray. They didn’t want to drain his lungs until they did the x-ray. They waited until twelve thirty eight to do the x-ray. It was close to one o’clock in the morning before they brought the x-ray back and showed that, yes, one lung was clear.
And I simply said, “Why aren’t you draining the other lungs?!”

And I went back to CPR. And I refuse… every time the oxygen guy started to walk away, I basically bullied him into coming back and to keeping up his job of maintaining. Because what his job was to do, was to slowly suction off the blood as it came up. Because as the air’s being forced into Mike’s lungs, blood is being forced out through an auxiliary shunt tube.

His job is to suction that away so it doesn’t go back down into the lungs. It’s a very slow, slow method of draining someone’s lungs.

Interviewer - Wow.

Interviewer #2 - And did they ever give a reason as to why they chose to use such a slow method?

Mother - The emergency room nurse, upon entry, right before the doctor decided he was going to give up, she turned to… the ambulance, we…I passed my phone off to the driver. He called a Korean co-worker to come and be there. And basically the, without doing a brain scan, they determined that he was already brain dead and that it was pointless.

And this was at twelve, maybe ten [i.e. maybe 12:10]. So, without a brain scan, they had already determined that he was brain dead.

And that…I mean, I looked in his eyes myself. And when I opened his eyes, the lights are very bright in the ER, there was the slightest ever bit of dilation. And his eyes were looking straight ahead. These are good signs. These are good signs for hope and there’s possibility.

Mother - And, you know, if I’m willing to take him back like that, then who the hell are they to make the decision that I can’t have him back? And we kept asking, “Is it a problem with insurance?” You know, it’s like “Here’s my credit card.” You know, and they were like "No, no, no, that’s not a problem."

They just simply…didn’t want to take extraordinary measures. And, what we were told by the ambulance drivers was that they apologized because they were told that Mike was DOA. And so when they arrived they found that he was not DOA.

And, so now it’s a matter of, the hospital says that the sauna said that it was DOA so they kind of had it in their mind it was was hopeless and I was just a freaked out mom who wasn’t ready to give up. Well, that’s true. I was pretty freaked out and I wasn’t ready to give up. But at the same time, you know…

[page 7]

Interviewer - They’re medical professionals. They shouldn’t take the word of sauna employees.

Mother - Exactly! What medical authority do these people have to declare him dead on arrival?

And the police had already filled out the form listing eleven twenty as the time of death, when the police didn’t even get to the hospital until twelve fifty! So the whole, eleven twenty DOA time was phone consultation between the sauna and the emergency medical people for the ambulance service. And the police somehow, somehow they’re in the triangle of phone calls being made. And they haven’t really made that part clear to me.

Yeah, and on top of it, the sauna and some of the flamers out there on the blogs are trying to say that this is my fault because I let my 14 year-old son go into the men’s sauna by himself. Well, this is not our first time to a sauna and he’s certainly old enough to know not to run on slippery tile, not to horse-play, not to, to do things.

Interviewer - Mike was not a childish child. He was very mature and certainly, capable of taking care of himself in a sauna.

Mother - As long as he wasn’t ganged up on.

Interviewer - Well, yeah, in reasonable circumstances.

Interviewer #2 - I was going to say, he was hardly by himself.

Mother - Exactly. Because if there are typically, when, you know, because I’ve been to saunas plenty of times and so, uh…someone’s trying to get in on my sign. I don’t know what they’re saying…

Interviewer - OK, do you want to pause for a while?

Mother - No, we’re fine. I…I love the saunas. I enjoy them, just soaking in the salt waters and things, so I go as often as I can. And I’ve noticed on days when it’s women with no children, there may or may not be men. But when there’s women with children, there’s almost invariably husbands and fathers and sons on the others side. And that’s why Michael likes to go when it’s busy. Because he meets other teen-aged boys.

He said that there’s like, some kind of game that they play with the…with the small washing bucket. You skip it like a stone on the water and…it splashes people and so it’ like a splashing game they play. And, you know, it’s just…

Interviewer - …teen-aged boys.

Mother - Teen-aged boys. They’re not…you know, that’s one thing that I was really concerned about when he first told me about this game, that this is something he did back in Chonnan in a sauna we would go to.

And he said, “Nobody’s running, Mom, nobody’s running,” *laughs.* And, it’s something that’s done in the cold pool.

Mother - I guess, kind of standing around or something. From what I can tell, it’s a cross between Marco Polo and a splashing game. So, I don’t, I don’t know.

But um…that’s why he wanted to go. He wanted to go because he knew it would be busy. And, I really didn’t want him to go. I wanted him to stay home and do dishes. And I, if I had one regret with Mike, it’s that I truly regret that I didn’t make him stay home and do dishes that night. ‘Cause, it was his turn.

[page 8]

Interviewer - Now, um, I was wondering why, why did you need a lawyer then?

Mother - Well, the police were telling me, that if I wanted evidence gathered, I had, I want the emergency phone call recording to be released, if I want the medical records to be released, I had to hire a lawyer to get this stuff released to get to them [the police].

Interviewer - *incredulous laugh*

Mother - Yeah.

Interviewer - And so, if someone can’t afford a lawyer, they’re just out of luck?

Mother - Apparently so. Apparently so.

Interviewer: That’s one of those things. Well. Goodness. Well, you went to a, everything’s that’s been happening since then, ‘cause Jennifer told me about a week ago and since then I was trying to put it up on my sites as much as I could. And I was glad to see that the vigils were coming around. Did they, I mean how did they turn, I know about the Seoul vigil, how did the Daegu vigil turn out?

Mother - We had more people come to the Daegu vigil than we had at the Seoul, which was good.

When we first arrived, there was a group of men across the street at the sauna. When I made arrangements with the police, I told them that I would be across the street from the sauna. That we would not picket, we would not shout, we would not prevent patrons from coming or going from the sauna.

Across the street from the sauna is a park, and so that kind of works well for us. We arrived at the park and began to set up and we noticed on the corner, the sauna’s located on a corner, there was a group of men and they were very intently watching what we were doing. So it seemed like they were very much prepared for us to be there.

They didn’t accost us. They didn’t bother us in any way. But, after a few minutes of us setting up, you know, basically a table, some you know, photographs of Mike, had a sandwich board out, there were some flyers. And, you know, there was some people helping with this…there was…maybe eight to ten people at the set-up point.

And, the men across the street who were intently watching us, there were four men in suits and the rest were like in pullovers and slacks and things. More working Joe type guys. The suits left and the working Joes kind of scattered in the periphery.

Some were in the park behind us, some kind of went down the street some, some were remaining on the corners, some sat on the steps of the sauna. And they basically, just kind of like neighbourhood watch or something. And just watched us. Smoked cigarettes and watched us. And that was kind of weird.

The police told me when I went to get permission for this, that they would have a, a car there with a couple of officers to legitimize our presence as well as act as protection, should the people try to give us a hard time. That did not happen. The police did not come.

Mother - That did not happen. The police did not come.

Interviewer - Was it on a Saturday? No...

[page 9]

Mother - Sunday. It was on Sunday. So maybe they were still taking their breaks...still on breaks. So they didn't...and I don't know where the ball was dropped with that...but we spoke to the director of the department who handles civic gatherings. And what they told me was that...because...I didn't have to get a formal permit because it was a memorial. As long as we're there for silent prayer, memory of Mike, we don't have to fill a form, we don't even have to give a notice and...but we cannot picket, we cannot shout, we cannot wave posters or anything like that.

Interviewer - Right.

Mother - Which of course we didn't do. And several families when they came out...they saw the sandwich board and realized that this was a memorial-type situation, and they came over, and they were asking questions about what happened. And so there were at least one family that I know of who were going to the sauna, and they were cutting through the park, passed us, stopped, asked questions, took information, took flyers, and went back home. So we didn't prevent them from coming in. They just...they had to pass by us to cross the street to get to the sauna and just never made it that far.

After we'd been there may be about an hour, an hour and a half, the manager of the sauna came out, and he tried to bring me a bag of some sort. It was just like a black market bag from the (jimjyl?) women. I don't know what was in it. And he wanted to know if anyone there spoke Korean, and we said no. No one did. And he tried to give me the bag and I said no, that I wouldn't take anything from him, because in the eyes of the police, if I allow him to apologize to me, and give me the smallest token tribute of anything, his duty to me is done. And the police will not consider it any more. You might remember the couple--the Korean...ethnically Korean but linguistically I think American or Canadian--couple who were beat up a couple of months ago?

Interviewer - Yes. the noraebang?

Mother - Yes. Yes. And because the...someone from the, I guess the..the gang that beat him up, someone from that gang came in and paid the hospital bill, and because they did that, that absolved them of any guilt or any kind of problem. So the police are not going to pursue it because they made restitution.

Interviewer - Oh, I didn't hear that part.

Mother - Yeah. The gentleman ended up writing a response later and it was published in the Korean Herald - I can't remember the date - but it was towards the end of March/first of April where I think he was out of the hospital at that point, and...but his jaw was still broken. And people had written in angry letters for and against his situation and he was writing a response both to the original article and to some of the letters that had been posted. And that's where he states that..the police wouldn't do anything because someone had paid the medical bill.

Interviewer - Wow. So I mean boy, he just, went and got a black bag maybe with some yoghurt in there and thought that would …

Mother - Uh, yeah, I don’t know what he was thinking. But, uh…

Interviewer - Wow.

Mother - Yeah.

Interviewer - So is the media starting to pick up on this? The Korean media?

[page 10]

Mother - At the sauna, we did have a reporter come over and I don’t have his business card. I gave that to the girl who’s handling the media type stuff. I think he’s from the Daegu local Korean language paper.

He was in the neighbourhood doing an investigation on a Vietnamese bride who had died mysteriously. And during the course of his investigation on this bride, I think that happened about two weeks ago, he just happened to pass us and he asked around.

I noticed him in the periphery because. You know, I was keeping an eye on these men who were watching us and I noticed here’s this new guy. And he approached a few people, asked them questions and then he finally approached us and was asking questions. And so one of my co-workers from a previous job was there and she translated and allowed me to give an interview. And he, I’m supposed to meet him again on Thursday morning at eleven.

I’m finding out more information from the investigative reporters than I am the police.

Interviewer - Wow. Now a few people have asked, now I’ve talked about the story, a few people have asked: is the U.S. embassy involved in any way?

Mother - I called the U.S. embassy at about two a.m., between one forty five and two a.m. that morning.

And, I asked for translation service because they were not draining Mike’s lungs. And they basically said, “Well, we can’t help you, we’ll get you in touch with the consular officer," and, you know, "We’ll provide services for you later.”

And so, to all the Americans out there, you know, we need to become Canadian. Because, I’m not joking when it comes right down to it, they will do nothing, absolutely nothing for you but process the paperwork.

So the only thing you have is the name of the U.S. Embassy kind of like looking over the shoulder of the cops. There’s no real bite to that. And so as soon as the cops realize there’s no true bite to that situation, then, you know, they…I don’t think they’re going to be as diligent. Not that they’re super diligent now. But they’re not going to be as concerned about any accusations of wrong-doing on their part if they think there’s no oversight by the U.S. Embassy.

So the embassy has basically contacted the hospital, contacted the police station and letting them know that they expect copies of the case and they expect everything to be turned in to them.

Now, technically, the FBI is supposed to investigate the death of any American, no matter where in the world. And so I asked them originally, that, should this turn into a murder investigation, would that information be turned over to the FBI office that’s attached to the Seoul embassy. And I was told that they didn’t do that anymore.

Interviewer - What?!

Mother - They don’t do that anymore. That the, uh, FBI office attached to the embassy is primarily for homeland security and terrorism activities. But that they know some people in the Ministry of Justice and, if they felt that the case was a murder and nothing was happening, perhaps they would leverage some phone calls with the upper people of the Ministry of Justice.

So, basically, they’re not going to let, you know, the murder of a 14 year-old boy interfere with beef coming into the country.

Interviewer - I didn’t really think of it that way.

[page 11]

Mother - Well, it’s really touchy right now. They want the beef to come in, the Koreans don’t want the beef, the government just wants to keep the U.S. happy so they can do the FTA thing. And, nobody wants to tie this in with that. So, how do we know demonstrators weren’t at the sauna that night after having demonstrated in downtown Daegu all afternoon?

And had gone to the sauna, ran in to Mike and decide, you know, in a fit, a flash of anger to Taekwondo kick him in the chest or something. Now, that’s pure speculation.

Interviewer - That is.

Mother - But, at the same time, people don’t just spontaneously drown.

Interviewer - And, it’s not a deep, there’re not deep pools. There’re no deep pools in Korea!

Interviewer #2 - And people don’t spontaneously drown in a crowded place.

Mother - No.

Interviewer - Well, what can people do to help? I think that’s what everyone wants to know. What can they do to help? I think everyone’s pissed off right now.

Mother - Well, OK, there’s lots of constructive things that people can do. One thing is that if anyone knows Mike, if anyone knows Mike personally and has a story about him to share, I ask that they please send a kind of character testimonial about Mike to the letters to the editor.

And for Seoul Times, it’s . There’s no space between the words or anything. And for the Korean Herald, that is, uh, .

To send letters to the editor of both newspapers about Mike. Another thing that we can do is talk to our newspapers in our hometowns. Because if every foreigner, or (not even) every foreigner, let’s say, one out of twenty foreigners in Korea right now were to write to their hometown newspaper and tell about this incident. Just those newspapers around the world having the same words come up, the story would be picked up by [unclear] readers. And once it’s picked up by [unclear] readers, it then becomes an international story. And that’s what’s going to be needed to leverage pressure on the Korean press to start talking about this.

There was a TV interview that was supposed to have been done on Monday but it got squelched. There was another article that was supposed to have been done in a Korean newspaper that was squelched. And so, basically, I never even, I was never even interviewed by these people because it never got up off the ground. The Korean newspaper, the Korean mindset seems to think that I’m being difficult because I don’t want to settle out of court. That’s just not…that’s just how things are done. People settle out of court. They don’t go to court. They don’t get their investigations. So, it’s almost as if the sauna owner would take the fall, let his liability insurance pay off, and cover up for whatever happened in the sauna.

Interviewer - Well, that would be quick and quiet.

Mother - Yeah, that’s what they like. So, one thing is, we’ve got to keep it in the media and by writing letters to the editor and writing letters to our hometown newspapers and how you want to word that is completely up to you guys. But if we do that, it has a better chance of being picked up by international wire services.

[page 12]

Mother - Another thing, there’s a, I believe…see I’m not directly involved with a lot of the fundraisers that are going on. Both for ethical issues and for oversight, we want to be able to be very up above board about this whole process. Because I’m very serious when I say I want Mike’s name to live on.

I do intend for this to evolve into a foundation that focuses on, not just promoting CPR and that type of thing, but also promoting the idea of environmental awareness. Be aware of your environment. Be sensitive to your environment. And be willing to help. Have, like, Humanity 101 classes.

Interviewer - Yes!

Mother - So, anyway, in order to do that we have to make sure that certain things, that certain um, there’s oversight and very much above board. I am not in charge of handling the accounts. There’s another woman who’s doing that. Other people are handling the fundraisers. So, I’m not directly involved in any of that. My friends are doing this for me to allow me to focus on the legal aspect and the police aspect of things. So that’s kind of where the dividing line is.

I think there’s a fundraiser that’s going to happen at Thunderbird Lounge here in Daegu on May 30th. There’s supposed be another fundraiser either before or after the Daegu lounge event, the Thunderbird lounge event with a baseball league of some type.

Now, up in Chonnan area where we used to live, I believe Tom Walls is organizing a steak dinner fundraiser. And then Richard Slizak has been in touch with a motorcycle group who want to do a west coast tour in Mike’s honour and raise money that way as well.

Mother - So there’s lots of people out there who are just jumping in and saying, “Hey, we can do this,” or “Hey, let’s have a barbecue.” And word is definitely getting out and people do want to help.

And on the one hand, yes, we will need money. We need money to have documents translated, we need money to have a lawyer hired, which we have not hired yet, we don’t have enough money for a lawyer.

There’s a discrepancy between the law and what the police say about Mike. The police are telling me that it’s OK to go ahead and prepare Mike to bring him home. But at the same time, legally speaking, if I do that, I’m in risk of closing the investigation.

So, we need a lawyer to determine if it’s truly OK to prepare Mike to bring him home or if we have to wait. You may or may not be familiar with the Bill Kapoun situation.

Interviewer - Well, refresh us a little bit.

Mother - The situation is, the parents had to sign a release saying that they understood that by taking Bill home, they were in essence closing the arson investigation. So I am worried that if I take Mike to prepare to take him home that it would close the investigation and a murderer is going to walk free.

Interviewer - So, is there a website people can go to, to find more information?

Mother - I’ve been trying to post things on Facebook. It’s a group called “A Mother is Seeking Answers about her Son.” It’s kind of a long title. I didn’t set that up. He goes by H. Shaws, his handle. He’s the one who actually started it. And he just kind of told me about it and I’ve been posting things there.

Now, there’s another site that’s more for organizers and that’s a Ning site. And, of course, willing to let people help and organize due to the sensitivity of the situation, some things can be talked about among the organizers freely but shouldn’t necessarily be released to the general public. Because I don’t want to endanger this investigation. And that’s kind of my primary concern.

[page 13]

So, I don’t really have any answers about Mike’s funeral because, I just simply don’t know what I can do. I know the longer I wait the availability of embalming decreases. And then there’s the expense. It’s 60, 000 won or $60 U.S. a day for him to stay in the morgue. It’s incredibly expensive anyway I look at it. A lawyer wants a minimum of five million…a retainer. And that’s just a retainer to even start working on it.

Mother - The lawyer that I’ve, I can’t remember if I’ve already said this or not because I’ve just had to repeat this so many times. The lawyer that I was put in touch with last Friday, which I was really hopeful for because he was going to do this pro bono, for free, that he just basically wanted to negotiate a settlement. He wasn’t really going to act on my behalf per se.

So, yeah, we’re looking at five million for a lawyer to start and that’s just so I can answer questions about whether or not it’s OK to accept Mike back. That’s just, you know, that…I don’t really need a lawyer to represent me in criminal court because Mike and I are the victims. But apparently you have to have a lawyer in order to facilitate the process of evidence gathering and witness interviewing and making sure things get done. So it’s, I don’t need a defense lawyer but I don’t really need a civil lawyer so it’s just very confusing. Very confusing. And I’m still seeking answers for that.

Interviewer - It sounds like you need a lawyer to make sure the police are doing their job. Is that really what it amounts to?

Mother - As far as I can tell, you know, it…on one hand I don’t want to insult the police, I don’t want to make them my enemy but at the same time they’re telling me that I need to get lawyer to get Mike’s medical records, I need to get a lawyer to release the…emergency tapes and things like that.

From what I understand, they have to have evidence to take to the district attorney. The district attorney then gives them permission to pursue an investigation or not to pursue the investigation. And it’s kind of my understanding that it’s in a hold pattern until the autopsy report comes back, which could be another one to two more weeks. It’s only been one week since his autopsy.

So, um, basically, the police don’t have permission from the district attorney to continue the investigation. The district attorney has to sign off on it. And they’re waiting on the autopsy report. That’s why it was important I get Korina’s statement in yesterday because that refutes the claim by the sauna that they were trying to contact me by intercom.

They later, the police told me yesterday that the sauna has retracted that statement. They now admit that they did not try to contact me via the intercom and that, you know, we just have our experience of the woman casually looking around. She didn’t appear hurried or frantic in any way.

Which is why I immediately thought, ah this is minor, he’s just gotten, you know, he’s busted a knee and needs some stitches or something like that. Because she was so calm and she was like, she was telling us like “Balli balli, you need to hurry,” but she was not panicked. She was calm, she was not desperately looking for us. You know just a very casual glance around the room, saw us and called us over kind of thing.

Interviewer - well, what I’m going to do is on the Seoul Podcast website, I’m going to have links. I’m going to have links to the e-mail addresses and links to all the Facebook account and all the websites. So, if anyone wants to help out, come to if you don’t remember all the website addresses and the e-mail addresses and, goodness, Stephanie, we wish you the best.

[page 14]

Interviewer #2 - I just hope you get all the answers or as many answers as possible. It almost seems like you’ll need a miracle. Not to sound hopeless but…

Mother - In some ways, on a gut level, as a mother having a very strong bond with her child, on some levels I already have the answers that I need. I know what happened to my son. There was some type of conflict and he choked and lost consciousness and they allowed him to drown.

What my next thing is, will justice be served? Or is this all going to be swept under the bridge. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. But if they think that they’re going to keep me quiet, they’ve got another thing coming. They’ve never seen someone as stubborn as I am and this is not something that I’m just going to let go.

I was married for six years and I wanted a child, my husband didn’t. I got pregnant anyway and got divorced because my husband didn’t want children. Every step of the way I have fought for that child. I fought to have him, I fought to support him. I brought him here to Korea because I thought we would be in a safe environment. There would be no gangs, there would be nobody trying to hand him a crack pipe.

Everything I have done in the past decade and a half has been in service to my son. And anybody who ever saw us together knew we were two peas in a pod. We were best friends. We did so many things together. It’s like my twin is missing. Then there’s the thought that I’m never going to have grandkids. And so, no, I’m just not going to let it go. I can’t. It’s not possible.

Interviewer - Thank you Stephanie for coming on. I hope everyone just gets angry enough to actually finally change how the system works. And, I don’t know, just how society works and so many ways that it seems so mind-bogglingly cold.

Mother - I don’t know if we’re going to revolutionize the system but an idea is quite contagious. And if we can just spark the idea of human compassion then hopefully if we fan that spark that that would raise a level of awareness to the point where they can claim to be a global society.

Interviewer - Exactly.

Mother - OK. It’s hard to listen to and it’s hard to talk about. I’ve kind of reached my limit for the day.

Interviewer - Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with us.

Mother - I’d like to thank you guys and also want to thank everyone who’s already chipped in and helped, who’s already sent in a letter. Because if it weren’t for you guys, they would have, you know, quieted my voice a long time ago and it’s really important that we keep shouting out the message.

And not…we need to link Mike with Bill and we need to link both of them with Mathew. We need to keep linking all these people together and not let the fallen expats be forgotten. Because their testimony stands as a truth about what goes on over here.