Monday, August 28, 2006

There is an old saying that states that "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones." Well I sure did not see this one comming.

On Saturday, I was talking to some of the retired US Air Force men outside of Osan Air Base and we were talking about what will happen in a few years if the USFK collapses. We all arrived at the same conclusion that this will be a very different Korea. It looks like we will see a very different Korea in a few years and I wonder what will become of this land that I live in now? I am so Happy that President Bush has called President Roth's bluff.

Do they actualy realize how much all of this will cost and do they have the will to do it. I wonder what our friends from the north are thinking about this and I wonder if JAPAN CAN NOT BELIEVE HER GOOD LUCK. It becomes very simple, if the USFK collapses, USFJ will become a hell of alot stronger and bigger.

What i have cut and pasted is GI Korea, Marmot and Brendon Carr's postings on this issue, once again this is another major issue that we will have to face.


Don't look for the White House or the Defense Department to do South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in favors and Mr. Rumsfeld has just confirmed what was speculated President Bush had already approved; the early transfer of war time command to South Korea:

U.S. Defense Secretary of Donald Rumsfeld recently told Seoul the U.S. wants to hand over wartime operational control of Korea's armed forces in 2009, it emerged Sunday. That signals tough negotiations ahead since Korea¿s proposed date is 2012.

Rumsfeld wrote to his Korean counterpart Yoon Kwang-ung on Aug. 17 saying Washington plans to hand over wartime operational control to South Korea in 2009, a government official said. It was the first time the U.S. defense chief has officially confirmed the open secret.

This confirms my earlier speculation that the Bush administration wants to make sure that President Roh reaps what he sows on his watch as President of Korea. The Korean government has been pushing for a 2012 date for the hand over which would mean that President Roh wouldn't be in office when the aftermath of his anti-US policies would really be felt. However, with the 2009 handover that means that probably next year further troop cuts and transformation of the US-ROK alliance would begin. That would mean that any effects a US draw down or complete pull out would have on the economy would begin on Roh's watch. Without a doubt it appears that Roh will go down as the most incompetent President in the history of the Republic of Korea. That's no small accomplishment because South Korea hasn't really hasn't been blessed with to many enlightened leaders since the founding of the Republic after World War II.

What I like even more is that the US government is even rubbing salt into President Roh's political wounds by demanding a more equitable defense cost sharing of the alliance:

In the letter, Rumsfeld also proposed that two allies divide the upkeep cost of the USFK at an "equitable" rate, which pundits say means 50:50. Korea currently shoulders slightly less than 40 percent of the cost. He also pressed for a new bombing range for the USFK to replace a facility in Maehyang-ri that was shut down, and expressed hope that the two sides can sort out their differences over who should pay for the environmental cleanup at bases the USFK is vacating.

It is going to be interesting to see what excuse the Roh's government is going to come up with, about why they can't share the cost of the alliance equitably when they have war time operational control, not the US. Roh has been talking about having a more equal alliance with the US since he took over as President in 2002, well guess what, let's see if his money is where his mouth is.

Just think of the cost this news is going to have on the South Korean tax payer. There is going to have to be a number of system that have to bough immediately to meet the hand over timeline plus if Korea is forced to pay 50% of the alliance costs that is just even more money the South Korean tax payer is going to have come up with. Is it any wonder why the Korean government rather sell apartments on the handed over Yongsan Garrison land instead of turning it all into a park?

Not only is the economic security of the peninsula being compromised by Roh's incompetence, but also the national security as well because even if the government purchases the needed systems in time there is no way they will have trained soldiers and leaders to operate and command those system in time for the turn over. The US government takes it's security commitments very seriously and initially were trying to approach the war time command issue in a rational manner to not compromise the security of the peninsula and still meet the US military's transformation plans, but with Roh and his minions politicizing the issue there is going to be serious national security issues on the peninsula, which will allow the North Koreans to really extort money from South Korea because his military threat to South Korea will be greatly enhanced by a US pull out or reduction.

That is what the lone big question is that is remaining for the US, will it be a complete US pull out or just a reduction? I don't even think the White House knows yet, but I do think they wouldn't be shy about pulling the trigger on a complete US pull out if they don't get what they want like equitable cost sharing, the speed up of the camp relocation issue, and a bombing range for the Air Force.

What about President Roh? Well look for him to try and cover his ass by continuing to make grand proclamations that the ROK Army is ready now for the hand over even though they aren't and he knows it, while the ROK Army turns to their retired brass and veterans to spearhead a drive to delay the hand over.

I think it would be best for the ROK military to cut their loses and do what they can to just keep whatever US presence on the peninsula that they can, but it is quite clear now that the hand over is going to be 2009 and it is no sure thing that a robust US presence is going to remain on the peninsula at all. To make things even worse there is so far no guarantee that the Yankee cavalry will come save South Korea with a massive deployment of forces in case of hostilities:

But abandoning OPLAN 5027, which guarantees automatic U.S. reinforcements, and replacing it with a piece of paper that will require congressional approval, however, is like swapping cash for a dubious promissory note. What's more, we will have to pour W620 trillion into our self-defense by 2020 to exercise sole operational control of our forces.

President Roh wanted an "independent" Korea, well it looks like he got it.

According to media reports today, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a letter to his South Korean counterpart earlier this month expressing the U.S. desire to transfer wartime operational command by 2009:

“Rumsfeld said in his letter to Yoon in mid-August that it is reasonable to hand over the operational control to South Korea in 2009 considering the timing of moving the USFK Seoul base to Pyeongtaek and the proposed dissolution of the command of U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces,” a Korean government source said on condition of anonymity.

It is first time that the U.S. secretary has suggested 2009 as the target year for the transfer of the wartime operational control.

Seoul is proposing a 2012 handover. The Chosun Ilbo, quoting a Korean source, reported early this month that the U.S. date might reflect Washington’s irritation with what it believes to be politically motivated demands for operational command.

Some Koreans, however, apparently believe the sooner the better, albeit they’d turn it right over to the North Koreans if they got the chance.

Even more interesting is that Rummy appears to have asked Seoul to put up 50 percent of the bill for keeping USFK around:

Rumsfeld called on Seoul to share an “equitable” amount of defense costs in keeping with South Korea’s growing economy, which is the 10th largest in the world, as well as the Korean military’s greater role in national defense, a diplomatic source said.

Read: Let’s see if you put your money where your “pride” is. Korea currently pays about 40 percent of the bill, and Korean experts believe “equitable,” in this case, means 50 percent.

Some, however, believe Rummy’s letter was a way of putting pressure on Seoul so that negotiations regarding a number of pending military issues—including cost sharing, cleaning up polluted former U.S. bases and the search for a new bombing range—go Washington’s way. In particular, one expert working for a government-funded institute said the United States was well aware of the debate within Korea about the transfer of operational command, and Washington may be trying to use those tensions to its advantage.

Anyway, with the Korea-U.S. summit coming up in September and military talks in October, some believe Korea urgently needs to work on its negotiating strategy. From the U.S. position, they say, the transfer of operational command could be very advantageous, as it would fit into the Global Posture Review, allow Washington to reduce costs to defend South Korea and boost arms sales as Seoul obtains what it needs to assume greater defense responsibility.

From Brendon Carr

This is the Rumsfeld Corollary to the Korean insistence on including Kaesong in the Korea-United States FTA discussions: Inclusion of a known non-starter as a baseline demand in order to undermine the success of the talks while looking “sincere.” How ready are the Koreans to accept a major increase in cost-sharing? Well, in last year’s talks Korea wangled a 9% reduction in its cost-sharing contribution.

That reduction took Korea’s share to less than a third of the notional “stationing cost”, but in actual fact Korea is only contributing about 0.2% or less of the actual total cost of 1/10 America’s total combat arms, which is what Korea has committed to its defense right now in the form of the 2d Infantry Division, 7th Air Force, and Marine and Navy components tied up here or on call to come rushing over from Japan, Okinawa, and Guam to throw their chests in front of North Korean artillery shells bought and paid for with South Korean Shoeshine Policy money. True equity would be at least a hundredfold increase, something so difficult as to be impossible. Yet these Korean clowns live in a Reality Distortion Field so powerful Steve Jobs would sell his very soul to control, so we can expect teeth-gnashing about how unfair the American demand for a few hundred million dollars is.

This year Korea is begrudingly offering to chip in W680 billion (US$708 million); skinflint Japan, by the way, throws in more than US$5 billion. Is it fair to call the Republic of Korea a “free rider” or even a “bloodsucking parasite“? Seven hundred million dollars is 0.16% of the Pentagon’s $416 billion budget request for 2006 (which admittedly is swollen by the costs of the Iraq war), but as noted, about 10% of total United States combat power is tied up in the defense of the Republic of Korea from its impoverished, starving neighbor. For this selfless, thankless (and then some) commitment the Yankee is generally reviled and identified as thief of national sovereignty — even, in some surveys, as Korea’s most likely future enemy. The Republic of Korea is one of the world’s largest economies and a rich country with a $20,000 per capita GDP (a fact they only stop crowing about when the Yankee raises the spectre of an end to the free ride); why can’t they pay for their own defense? America wants out of troop presence here (and has wanted out since 1972!), and we may expect a ratcheting up of demands for basic equity until things break down. Don’t think Yongsan will be vacated by 2008? Don’t bet on that. It happened in the Philippines tout suite. Pyongtaek land speculators ought to be anxious as well.

As I noted in comments to an earlier Marmot’s Hole thread, if there were any justice in the world (alas, there usually isn’t) mid-September’s visit to the White House should be an interesting experience for Roh Moo Hyun. Roh should have to cool his heels in the waiting room for a while as Dubya attends to more important business, like figuring out if he and Koizumi will wear matching shirts to the next G8 world leaders’ meeting. Then, after being ushered across a vast room to have a seat in a chair which has had its legs shortened in the fashion of Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” to match Roh’s dwarvish stature, bringing his eye level to Dubya’s elbows (watch that you don’t get that guy’s mascara on your sleeve, Mr. President!), the Malcolm Reynolds Make-a-Wish Foundation would announce to the world the independence of the Republic of Korea. Pay for it yerself, Mr. Monchhichi. Now git!

America gets nothing from the “alliance”. America used to have a strategic interest in opposing Communism. It was an existential crisis for the United States, one which made logic go out the window. Bear any burden, pay any price, and all that. That one-time strategic interest is now gone, worldwide Communism having been defeated (ironically, the Republic of Korea is now the only industrialized state in the world at risk of getting more Communist).

The Soviet Union is dead, Eastern Europe is free and prospering, China now works for Wal-Mart, and all that Communism has brought to its periphery is hardship and even starvation. So whereas in 1950 standing “shoulder-to-shoulder” to prevent a poor and wretched land from being gobbled up by worldwide Communism made sense, in 2006 when the erstwhile poor and wretched land is rich, fat, and lazy (just like us!) it doesn’t. In 2006 we have the luxury to look at the math.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The final cut

This one is a very long read but man was it worth it. He tell alot obout the Korean Education system from the inside and he pulls no punches.

I really do hate the hagwon system here in Korea, I have seen attempts of sexual harrasment done on my friends here and one boss knows that if he ever touches his foreign girls again, I will be visiting him. The lies and shit I saw stephanie and many others go through was and still is unreal and because we are foreigners, we seem to get the short end of the stick.

Please read this long one, I think you will like it.

The Phantom Menace

This post started a long time ago as a diatribe against the unethical, dishonest, and hateful Korean Teachers' Union, and I had filed this post because I thought that things would blow over and die down. But the recent ridiculousness about "foreign English teachers" has reached some pretty unbelievable proportions and it's time to post, from the mouth of one who knows.

The problems we are talking about are really a function of the formal economy, as well as a sexual economy that is largely created by America's long and problematic influence on Korean culture. If you also look at Korea's "do it by any means necessary and do it now!" way of doing many things, the excessive, excessive, excessive emphasis placed in learning English at any cost, and the huuuuuuuuuuge economy that has grown and depends on – much like America's diet industry – the inherent inability to actually deliver the product promised (if low-fat foods and diets actually worked, or English education in Korea were actually any good at teaching English, there'd be far less demand, wouldn't there?), this whole thing makes a whole lot more sense.

But this problem of obssession with English, sycophantic cultural deference to the West and whiteness and the "magic" of the English native speaker (a newer form of daycare), a sense of perceived inferiority to that West (a really strong 열등감), the ineffective education system's looming meltdown and problematic relationship with teaching-for-the-test that the private sector is doing a far better job than the public schools (and the 교육열 that creates Korea's insane sense of competitiveness) – all come together in hagwon owners, Kangnam and Pyeongchang-dong ajummas, and even the Korean government's "throw money first, ask questions never" way of hiring.

And the blacklist? Please. If Korean society is so worried about the condition of its foreign instructors, then perhaps it should worry more about the legions and legions and legions of hagwons, schools, and other organizations breaking or even completely ignoring contracts, withholding or not paying salaries, not paying overtime hours or providing housing – and yes, sexually harassing female teachers because of that exact same assumption "foreigners are "easy" or "have no sexual morals."

If foreigners were to start a master "blacklist" of Korean schools and orgs that have cheated or abused foreigners (many lists exist, but the job is too big), it would literally have to be a 100-pyeong office space with a full-time staff of 10 just to list the complaints, keep the database fresh, along with a full-time legal department that would have to exist to stop all these organizations from suing them or the individual complainants who would be attacked using Korea's far-too-aggressive libel laws that protect one's reputation even if the accusation is demonstrably true.

This is why the recent statements of the Korean Teachers' Union, the creation of this ridiculous and practically useless (not to mention illegal) blacklist, and the new conversation forming around Jon-Benet's alleged killer having had lived in Korea – have all made me bloggin' mad.

If I were to list even ONE institution who had consciously and viciously lied to me and hired me under contract stipulations they had no intention of upholding, I'd be sued to high heaven. I wouldn't last a minute in the courtroom. And I'm sure just about every foreign teacher in this country has a similar story or three.

And given how concerned Koreans seem to be about their country's image, it's surprising to me that more people don't care about the many, many more people who have come to have quite negative feelings while living in Korea because of hiring practices here, versus the far fewer foreigners who came to Korea and gotten a "good impression" because of the 2002 World Cup. My hunch is that far more foreigners leave Korea with a very negative impression because of having been fucked over by a hagwon or a school than ever come in as a tourist and leave with glowing, warm feelings.

All I have to say is – thank God I'm not an English teacher. I'm not saying this because I think the job itself is bad. I'm just saying that Korean society – in the media, on the news, at the water cooler – seems to have a new badguy. I think I'd rather introduce myself these days as the old "bad guy" – the American GI – than say I'm "an English teacher from Canada." Now, that's saying a lot.

Let me tell you where I'm coming from. Some may find my listing of my set of qualifications excessive; but given how easily any foreigner criticizing Korea is attacked – and given the xenophobic nature of this particular issue – I feel it's important to put all my chips on the table. And I'm going to be as raw as possible without actually getting to the point of rude. Sorry in advance to whomever this might offend.

I'm part of one of the first groups of foreign teachers to actually enter the Korean education system. Before 1992, there was only foreign missionaries and the Peace Corps, whose primary work in Korea was teaching English until the mid-1980's (my memory has it until 1986), until the U.S. government declared Korea too developed to receive further Peace Corps assistance.

Feeling the loss, the Korean government, under the auspices of the Korean American Educational Commission, formed the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Fellowship, which brought mostly fresh college graduates to Korea from 1992 to live and work in middle and high schools in small towns all over the peninsula.

When I came in 1994, the Japanese Yen was strong and Korea did not yet occupy a major place in the hearts and minds of Westerners. There was no "Korean wave" then, fine wine was still that red Majuang that tasted like cough syrup, and the most common Western dish was "hamburger steak" that cost you 13,000 won, which was, back then, about $16.50. Cable TV wasn't but about a year old, people still, as a rule, ate dried squid and sugared popcorn in movie theaters, and most people outside of Seoul had never even seen a black person in real life (as a case-in-point, my chubby ass was likened to Denzel Washington's several times back in the years of Ace of Base's pop chart dominance).

And most foreigners in Korea were alternatively some sort of missionary, military, or somehow specially motivated men. Most of the foreigners here were pretty sketchy, as the big money was in Japan. Barring being able to get into Japan, or having a strange, special interest in Korea, if you were teaching English back in those glory days, you were probably in Seoul. If you didn't quite have what it took to find a job in Seoul, a given foreigner living in Cheonju, Jinju, or Cheju was either somehow or another divinely inspired...or pretty much a bailjumper.

And in 1994, there were 27 of us Fulbright ETA's spread up and down the peninsula. In 1995 – after the Korean government had approached and been denied by the Fulbright program its wild and ill-advised proposal to expand it to reach "2000 by 2000" (yes, that meant 2000 Fulbright ETA's in Korean schools by the year 2000, to compete with, of course, Japan's JET foreign teacher program), then decided to whip up its own program, then called KORETA, now called EPIK (English Program in Korea) – there were around 250 of the EPIK peeps in Korea. And that wasn't a good thing.

Now, before some of you present-day EPIK people, friends, and alumni decide to get all medieval on my ass, please understand that I'm not trying to bag on the present state of the program, about which I know very little. But I do know something about the early history of that program and the Ministry of Education/Korean Educational Development Institute's plans at that time. So bear with me for a minute.

If my memory serves, they had aimed at around 250 spots the first year. It came down to me – straight from a closely connected insider at that time – that they accepted all but two people from the first round. Effectively, everyone who applied got in. And let me tell you, Korea at that time was a little tough to take for the purely materially-interested; you had to be either touched by a vision – whether personal or pious – or you had to be hard up. Or down on your luck. Or up the creek. Or something wasn't quite right.

There were five Fulbrighters and five EPIK people that first year. Without getting too much into it, let me just tell you that the American dude down in Seogwipo established a sovereign, English-speaking nation-state within his school as a teaching tool; of course, he was the President. The other American dude, who followed my lead by moving into the same building as me, dropped in unannounced on his first visit to my humble abode to ask if I had any porno tapes for him to use on the three Korean girls he had brought to his room and wanted some "Korean girls sex tips;" the Canadian dude whom I tried to avoid cornered me after bumping into him on a Sunday afternoon and brought me into a coffee shop to help him sexually proposition a nice university co-ed who had been unlucky and unwise enough to offer him directions; he later, during an official function where we all had to share the same physical space, went on and on about how much he wanted to "fuck his girls" in the all-girls commercial high school he taught at; the two Aussie women were much less offensive, even if all they did was constantly complain at these school board meeting as to how "cheap" Koreans were and "when are we getting paid again?" It was ugly. I was scared. And the experience of other Fulbrights, with their EPIK counterparts in small towns all across Korea, was disturbingly similar.

I had already written a letter of protest to the Ministry's proposed plan before it had even been implemented. After it had, and after having seen the pretty rotten fruits of their ill-thought labor, I wrote another letter to the then-head of KEDI to talk about the dangers of sexual predators lurking in their schools. Think I got an answer?

The point here is that it was the no-holds-barred, anything-goes, balls-to-the-walls way that the Ministry was trying to get foreigners into Korean schools – by any means necessary and because hey, if Japan has them, we must, too! – that was responsible for these freaks and fugitives working in Korean schools in 1995. In a nutshell, this reflects the overall attitude of native speakers and belief in their magical powers even today. Things have gotten better, the pool of applicants has gotten bigger, Korea has gotten more...ahem, famouser. Even given the fact that any white person without a major speech impediment – and this includes non-native speakers of English - can teach or tutor English and make money on par with the top of the income bracket of normal Korean people, there isn't really any pattern of really bad or highly illegal things with minors being committed by what is often still an eclectic and strange group of people. Yeah, you might get some knuckleheads out there acting a fool or doing stuff that I wouldn't in the view of people's cameraphones, but generally these acts are committed with other consenting adults. To each, his or her own.

So I'm arguing here that even the few bad apples that keep popping up 'round here – you know, the ones with dummy diplomas or axes to grind on English Spectrum – generally get here because market demand for them is so high. With Korean mommas in Kangnam throwing down duckets at the rate of 50,000 an hour to anyone who shows up in white skin – what middle school graduate from Podunk, America who hears about this great opportunity isn't gonna come?

But I digress. Big time, I guess. I was supposed to break down my qualifications for my attack on the KTU and it's xenophobic, erroneous, and purposefully dishonest statements and characterizations, right?

So this is more for the Korean folks who might have a problem with what I say, based on perceived notions of my concrete qualifications for saying them. For those of you who might be like many of the Americans I know, you might find this part kind of inane, offensive, and even inane. You might think I'm an asshole; but I do this because I want my criticisms to stick, and not be dismissed as the rantings of just another irritated foreigner. I want Koreans who read this to know that, for a person my age, I am probably one of the people with the most direct experience in and around the different parts of the Korean education system than most other foreigners, past, present, and future.

I'll just say it.

My mom's Korean. I have "Korean blood" pumping through my veins. I went to one of the most prestigious boarding schools in America. I then went to an Ivy League school. I was like Hines Ward, but without the tough life. Then I lived and taught in a small city for two years as a Fulbright ETA, where I learned Korean from esentially scratch. From there, I went on to write papers about the Korean education system, and this subject is a part of my Ph.D. dissertation at one of the best graduate schools in my country. I came back to Korea as a Fulbright research grantee to do dissertation work and also a documentary on the education system that was to come from the same body of research. I then did some consulting work for the Korean Education Development Institute, and also taught photography (in Korean) in two schools within the Seoul Alternative Learning Network (namely, The Haja Center and 스스로넷). I taught for a semester at Ewha Women's University and have been a lecturer in American Culture and history at the Hanguk University of Foreign Studies for two years, and will be returning to teach a course in "Korean Social Problems" there for my 4th year at their Korean Studies summer program. I also taught for one-and-half years at Daewon Foreign Language High School before quitting last year to go to HUFS' new elite extension high school, the Hanguk Academy of Foreign Studies (HAFS) – yes, that's the one with the uniforms designed by André Kim. I also work part-time for UNESCO, yes, have done my share of illegal tutoring.

In sum, I have worked, as part of the most elite group of foreign teachers in Korea, in two middle schools in Korea's heartland, as well as some of Korea's top, cutting-edge alternative schools and what are considered 2 out of the top 3 high schools in Korea. I have also worked and presently work in some of this country's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, and have talked, taught, and given presentations in both English and Korean.

So I know a lot about Korean education, and I have seen things in a variety of institutions that even most Korean people have never seen. I have personally witnessed a boy being beaten and kicked until he was on the ground bleeding. Harsh beatings were common in the middle school in which I taught. I personally know of one of several unpublicized incidents – relayed to me by a Fulbright ETA who was working in that school – in which a teacher's corporal punishment of directly student resulted in the death of a student (for those who want the details, a male high school student taught by an ETA in a town I won't mention was forced to run around the building all day long in the summer heat while being deprived of food or water, and on his way home, this otherwise healthy 18-year-old died of massive heart failure; the teacher was simply moved into an administrative position and the family bullied into silence).

My Korean co-teacher told me stories of the male teacher who, during night study hall, would force the girls he liked to come to the front of the classroom so he could feel them up, in full view of all the girls. He knew full well that he would never be reported, and he never was. I have a friend who right this very minute is planning to quit her job at her high school because of tensions that have come up from her complaining about male teachers on a school field trip bringing their female high school students into their motel rooms to do soju shots with them. When she complained that this was highly inappropriate, she was met with the anger and indignation of many of the teachers, who said that she "just didn't understand Korean culture."

It's no wonder so many Korean horror films take place in the vast darkness of high schools. And it's also no wonder so many sex comedies are made with young girls in high school being the sexual objects of fully-grown males. Because they are.

Not only have I been inside almost every level of the Korean education system – actually, the hagwon is one place with which I am the least familiar, something unusual for a foreign teacher – but I have been connected to a network of similar people who have all been doing similar work. For example, Fulbright has been the eyes and ears of American teachers in cities and towns from Seoul to Suncheon, Sokcho to Cheju. No Korean critic, journalist, nor KTU member can really say that I don't have some qualification to make intelligent, informed comments about the Korean education system.

That being said, I find the statements of the KTU factually dishonest, irresponsible, xenophobic, and guilty of plain old race-baiting – in addition to being simply counterproductive to solving the very problems it purports to be complaining about.

And let me make something else clear: I'm a union man. I support worker and trade unions; I support strikes when they're necessary; I participated twice in full-on strikes of the teaching assistants' union while at Berkeley. I think workers have rights, and being a schoolteacher is one of the most under-appreciated, important jobs in any society. I'm a teacher, too.

However, I find the Korean Teachers' Union to be one of the most self-interested, dirtiest, dishonest, and most despicable examples of a "progressive" organization I have ever come across or even heard about in my adult life, whether in the US or Korea. I know for a fact that they engineered anti-American hate campaigns using the public schools as their base in late 2002 (they were not, as they claimed "discussions" or "debates" to get children thinking, as they claimed).

Is Korea really so concerned about teachers molesting children? Then my recommendations are thus:

1) Do something about the by-any-means-necessary habits of hiring that make demand for anyone who speaks English natively able to inexplicably earn more than doctors in society. Stop the racist finger-pointing at the symptom of the problem and deal with the cause. Hagwons and schools who hire anyone white and with a pulse are the problem; if you don't have standards, then lower quality is the result.

2) Stop the bullshit argument that the root of the problem is cultural and foreigners have no sexual mores. I don't know about other countries, but in the US, there is a far clearer line between teacher and student than in Korea. And don't tell me I don't know because I'm a foreigner. I've worked in more types of schools than most Korean teachers – from middle to high to alternative schools and have taught at the university undergraduate and graduate levels. I have taught English as a Fulbright, US history and culture as a graduate student, and photography in the alternative schools. I know for a fact that American teachers would look at the blurry line between teacher and student in Korea as dangerously unprofessional in many cases, and I have seen with my own eyes teachers stroking students of the opposite sex, have heard of internal sexual harassment scandals within schools that were covered up, and actually know of Korean teachers who have have had sexual relationships with their students. And don't even get me started on the several sexual scandals I have read in Korean newspapers over the years, such as the teachers who raped two middle school girls in a noraebang, or the sex ring run by teachers in a Korean university recently. If I were to use the same "cultural" argument and paint Korea with a single brush, who would find it easier to say has a more "immoral" school culture? Let's start by drawing clearer lines between teacher and student in general, which would make these lines harder to cross by anyone, whether Korean or not. The fact that it's OK for popular romantic comedies to portray teachers falling in love with students – no matter what the bullshit particulars are in a given plot – should set off alarm bells; when I watched about 10 minutes of 어린이 신부 in a TV store, I felt like throwing up, or at least throwing something at the screen. Insipid, immature, irritating stuff. Sorry, but I'll have to go out on a limb and say that, from my observations, many more Korean teachers and professors and hagwon instructors fuck their students than any foreigners. And I don't mean this in terms of raw numbers, but in proportion.

3) Delink the unrelated issues of A) teachers who have illegal sexual relations with underage students, B) teachers who have inappropriate (but legal) sexual relations with adult students, and C) adult foreigners who have sexual relations with adult Koreans who are not even their students (wild Hongdae parties or stupid foreigners who go on TV and say they slept with 2,000 women are just sensationalist and ridiculous stories). If you separate A, B, and C, you'll quickly realize that what the newspapers are talking about is mostly B and C, but are trying to make it SEEM like there is a lot of A going on, when in fact, I haven't heard of any cases of A involving foreign teachers at all.

4) Admit that there are little to no cases of A going on. And the unethical and unprofessional Korean teachers' union needs to retract its ridiculous and racist statement that foreigners (read "white" and "Western") teachers have lower sexual mores than Koreans. Or, since they're making a sweeping generalization from the case in the English Village, since the alleged sexual molesters actually turned out to be Korean nationals, I guess they have to change their argument to "Koreans have lower sexual morals than foreigners." Since they won't do that, I assume they'll just say that the reason these Korean instructors allegedly molested those students was because they spent time in America or something. "Yeah, Americans are really that way – I saw so in the movies!"

5) Calm down and realize that the problem is structural, not cultural. To use the words of Bill Clinton – "It's the economy, stupid!" If Koreans could make $50–100 an hour teaching Korean in Norway, don't you think tickets to Norway would be bought up by a whole bunch of Korean 20-somethings who came out of 4-year universities but couldn't get a job in Korea's tight job market? And if, say, in Norway, people (especially girls) found Korean guys extra attractive because of decades of seeing hunky Korean stars in movies and television dramas, don't you think Korean men would be hopping on the plane in droves to make easy money and sleep with lots of blonde, blue-eyed girls with big mazoombas? Yeah, there'd also be some people truly interested in Norwegian culture and language, but not too many. And since Norwegian girls would see these average-Joe Korean guys as "looking like the stars I saw on TV!" and the Korean guys would be looking at these average blonde, blue-eyed Norwegian girls as the culmination of every boyhood fantasy of banging the girls they saw in Playboy Magazine – it would be a perfect linking of cultural power, sexual fantasy, and the politics of supply and demand. Sound familiar?

Jesus. Stop killing the messenger and start dealing with the structural causes of the problem, 대한민국! It may feel good to blame everything that goes wrong with Korea on outside causes (foreign invasion, foreign forces splitting the peninsula, neo-colonialism, IMF, sexually immoral foreigners, the FTA) and everything good in Korea on internal factors (5,000 years of history, racial and cultural purity, selfless sacrifice, and "하면 된다" determination), but in the end, the only victim is Korea and Korea's education system.

Why? What's really going to happen here?

A few foreign teachers will be blamed, shamed, and deported, the problem won't be solved, and business will go on as usual, except that xenophobia and irrational scapegoating will have increased. This will actually make the problems worse, since the already mostly-unethical hagwon owners and school principals will just mistreat, anger, and insult foreigners even more, which will make foreigners even more hostile to Korea, unprofessional in their behavior, and take themselves, their jobs, and this country much less seriously.

English education in Korea will still generally continue to suck, the elite will benefit from being able to get the fewer good teachers because of the premium rates they are willing and able to pay, and the everyday Korean salaryman trying to advance in his non-English related job by getting a higher TOEIC score, or the college student without the means to study overseas who is trying to improve her conversation skills for a (ridiculous) job interview conducted in English – they will both grumble about and focus their frustration on the phantom menace of the "immoral" or "unqualified" English teacher without looking at the real root causes of the problem.

And what, dear Korean friends, do you think makes many foreigners think of Korea as a sexual playground, or a place to make easy money, or as a country that is unprofessional and is not to be taken seriously?

In all these cases, I'll simply use that beautiful and apt phrase, "It takes two to tango."

And for those of you who think I'm full of shit, consider my qualifications, my experience, my knowledge of the culture and the language, and my many years spent living here; consider those things with the fact that I would still find it difficult to even get a job in a hagwon here, because I "look Filipino" or "they're afraid you'd speak in a black accent."

In a country in which a man with real degrees from America's most elite schools, multiple recipients of prestigious grants and fellowships, and with more experience in a broad range of educational institutions than even most Korean professional educators have would have little chance of getting the jobs that sheisters without high school diplomas but fair skin would get no questions asked – is the present state of thing surprising? I'll ask the honest question – does Korea really deserve any better?

And I'm not putting myself in there because of mere personal anger over this issue. I have looooong ago come to terms with the reality that my brown skin creates for me in terms of job prospects. What I am doing is making a bigger point, using myself as an obvious fulcrum in illustrating the fact that most of this "problem" is one that Korea has created for itself.

If the media and the people who blindly follow it continue this pattern of racist, nationalist scapegoating – the only people who suffer, in the end, are Koreans, albeit in small strokes. In toto, however, the effects are enormous and part of a larger pattern of mediocrity, pettiness, and the inability to be truly self-critical that keeps Korean schools uniform, boring, and ineffective, while keeping Korean universities out of the top 100 in the world.

It's far easier to metonymically blame the phantom specter of the "unqualified English teacher" or the "ugly American GI" for a host of frustrations and problems in Korean society than to look inherent flaws in the social structure or even in Korean identity itself.

Or maybe it might be easier to end this with the famous quip, "Don't blame me, man. I just work here." Ooh, ain't that the truth?

Posted by Michael Hurt on August 25, 2006

Now for some comments that people have left on this article

While the complaint about a lack of self-criticism is certainly valid, it is important to remember a somewhat overlooked facet of this story, one that might be missed if we should slip into thinking in terms of "'Koreans' are X."

Koreans are a whole damn lot of things. One thing they are doing is leaving the nation in droves to escape the same shit Michael rightfully bitches about. Unfortunately, we don't often hear the bitching because nobody in power dares bitch like this, nor do most Koreans ever bitch like this to foreigners. But to speak in over-generalizing terms effaces the fact that plenty of Koreans can see this shit and are plenty pissed off too. Their bitches rarely get heard or have any power to change anything.

I have Korean cousins who want desperately to "escape Korea" (their own words) before their two young girls reach middle school, such that they don't have to be socialized/terrorized by the education system. Michael's complaints would be recognized by them immediately.

Granted such folks are a minority, but a minority that should never be forgotten. To do so only adds insult to the injuries they already suffer from being silenced in their own nation.

Posted by: matty | August 25, 2006 at 11:15 AM

Plus --a few more comments: With Korea's regional (and perhaps global) hallyu wave of popularity, there is a frightening smugness emerging from Korea's elite.

Several big denials that Korean society has: One, denying that there is a problem that needs immediate attention and is rotten to the core. Two, denying that it is their responsibility to fix systemic problems OR that they have the power/capability to fix their problems. Three, (the worst form of denial) when victimized, they deny it is the offender's fault but rather the fault of the victim for being victimized! Is it any wonder that Koreans have an inferiority complex?! IMHO, however you want to explain, this inability to address serious problems prevents Korea from getting out of its rut. (Note: As an ethnic Korean, I am talking about my own heritage.)

Frankly, it will take a miracle for that to change and problems to be fixed but I'm optimistic in that Koreans tend to surprise the world. (Who knew that Samsung and LG would become such economic powerhouses, that South Korea would recover from its '97 currency crisis, that Kim Daejung and Kim Jongil would meet, that there would be several rounds of reunions for separated families, that Hallyu would be such a regional success?)

(Wrt Asia blogs being run by conservative males, IMHO there should be a heavy emphasis on "most" and NOT "all." IMHO this posting is commenting on an issue that transcends partisan and gender differences. I've heard plenty of women mention their dislikes as well as their likes while living in Korea.)

Posted by: Phantom | August 26, 2006 at 01:00 PM
The final cut

Well Gi Korea has touched on another Korea COMPLAINT WITH TEACHERS. Sad to say this is just too funny and when you read THE PHANTOM MENACE Post it will really blow your mind. Now being a Korea teacher and EX-gi, I can see both sides to this. Please read and enjoy and see what you are not going to believe.

I have been reading with amusement the current English teacher "scandal" in the Korean media reported at§ion=section3 and then translated by Robert here

The article mentioned in Mr. Carr’s Bravo Foxtrot has been posted at Yes, it’s a gem. And yes, of course I’ll translate it. Just not right now.

UPDATE 2: Just a couple of thoughts on this issue:

I think both Koreans and foreigners can agree that the English language education system in Korea is seriously broken. Yes, there are more than a few foreigners teaching in Korea who have no business being in a classroom. Yes, many a hagwon will hire any warm body as long as he or she is white. But the teachers are only part of the problem. The real problem is the people who hire them, and what I find most amusing is reading hagwon owners and recruiting agents bitch in the media about all the losses they’ve suffered because of bad English teachers. Why amusing? Because a) hagwon owners (and recruiters) own the dubious distinction of being one of the few groups in Korean society who are even shadier than foreign English teachers, and b) they’re only reaping the fruits of the system they built and run.

Ultimately, the real root of the problem is the overemphasis on learning English. Hey, learning English is good. Learning Farsi is probably good, too—it sounds nicer, albeit it’s less practical economically speaking. Having said that, companies and universities overemphasize English in their hiring, admission and promotion practices, and this leads to an overdemand for English education (resulting in abuses), unnecessary stress for ordinary office workers and students, and wasted resources that could be used more productively.

If you’re going to run a story on the “realities of foreign English teachers,” you might want to actually talk to a foreign English teacher. They are, after all, a concerned party. Even KBS took the time to get a quote from a Kiwi teacher today. And who knows, they might have something to say about the issue.

UPDATE 1: Here is the translation. Enjoy:

Affairs with High School Students, Spreading Nude Photos on the Internet

There is a growing stir from the issue of the “low-quality foreign English teacher blacklist,” reported in an exclusive in Issue 432 of Inside Story.

Broadcasters, “Y” news agency and major dailies ran stories on the “native English speaker blacklist” on Aug. 15 based on our report. In particular, with the U.S. media raising issue with the quality of native English speaking teachers in Korea and [other parts of] Asia and this paper running its report, there have been a string of reports on the realities of low-quality native speaking English teachers.

Prior to our report on the blacklist, we ran an in-depth report on the shocking debauchery of some low-quality foreign English teachers subtitled, “Low-quality foreign teachers absorbed in women, drugs.” This got a huge response.

Since the paper ran two exclusive investigative reports into the realities of low-quality foreign teachers, netizens have been flooding our Internet edition, “,” with comments and tips.

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten a shocking tip from Mr. Kim, who tipped this paper off to the “native speaking teacher blacklist.” The new tip from Mr. Kim includes:

—People being sued or personally threatened after they’ve lodged complaints against unqualified English teachers;

—Foreign teachers going around with high school girls;

—A famous English teacher openly posting pictures of nude Korean women on his homepage;

—English teachers who appear on TV illegally tutoring or asking outrageous prices.

Since we reported on the blacklist, composed based on acts of degree forgery, sexual assault, theft and other misdeeds by foreign English teachers, we’ve gotten a string of trips about native speaking English teachers from former and current English teachers and students. This is evidence that the problem isn’t limited to just a small minority of foreign teachers.

Posting naked women photos on his homepage

Of all the examples we’ve seen so far, the decadent behavior of American Mr. A, a well-known teacher at a famous foreign language hagwon, is the most shocking.

Mr. A is a native speaking instructor who is supposedly doing well, who in addition to his good looks is the main teacher at his hagwon. But on his personal homepage, Mr. A has shockingly posted nude photos of the Korean women with whom he has slept and is sharing them with other native speaking instructors.

When we visited the homepage address, provided us by tipster Mr. Kim, nude photos of Korean women—their faces visable—were openly posted. The photo were taken on a bed and sofa, while in the background, your attention is drawn to various articles that appear to be personal items.

In this place, presumed to be Mr. A’s home, it appears he naturally took nude photographs of Korean women wearing not even a stitch.

Kim explained, however, that there is room to debate whether the women were Mr. A’s students or paid models.

Mr. A, whose homepage contains an astonishing number of nude photos, is still working as an instructor at the well-known foreign language academy.

The Kim family, who run a restaurant in a neighborhood with many hagwons, tipped this paper to the following scenes they’ve witnessed in a Gyeonggi-do hagwon area:

—A foreigner and a Korean high school student in their restaurant. At first they thought they were teacher and student, but they caught them kissing in the bathroom;

—The girl paid for the food;

—In the car, the student and the foreigner shamelessly engaged in embarrassing acts of affection;

—You can witness many such scenes near the train station and throughout the hagwon area.

The Kim family pleaded to our paper, “If you have the power to help our youth study properly, please help.”

Partiality for high school girls

In an email tip to this reporter, Mr. Bae, who works as a hagwon English teacher, strongly criticized a) some teachers who joke around during their conversation classes; b) foreign teachers who think students should be grateful for their time even when they [the students] buy them meals, unlike Korean teachers who buy meals for their students; c) the attitudes of foreign teachers, who emphasize only time and bonuses.

Bae said, “Korean departments of education should try to cultivate Korean [English] teachers rather than insisting on native speakers only.”

He added, “With white loafers who can’t get jobs back home working as English teachers, we must sound the alarm again some instructors who joke around, waste time and act arrogantly.” He stressed, “More than anything else, what needs to change is the attitude of students who insist on learning from native speaker instructors only.”

Mr. Jeong, who recruits teachers for English hagwons, said, “When we place an advertisement for native English speaking instructors, there are numerous occasions when many of the native speaker applicants are unqualified. In particular, I was surprised to hear that among some of the foreign job seekers registered at, it’s the rage to engage in illegal tutoring.” He scolded the government for lacking measures to deal with low-quality native speaker instructors, saying, “We are virtually ridden by illegal native speaker instructors, but it seems the government has formulated no measures at all. In this situation, native speaker instructors must really look down upon the government and Korean people.”

He also said some of the people who appear on TV are openly working as English teachers. “I inquired about private tutoring and was introduced to a female actress who frequently appeared on a certain TV program. I turned her down, however, when she asked for 70,000 won an hour.

It’s absurd that someone would ask for several times more money just because they’re riding their fame from appearing on TV. This is clearly illegal, and we must awaken to how the broadcast companies and these individuals are being managed.”

Accuse me, and I’ll file charges

The inappropriate behavior of some foreign teachers has reached a dangerous level, but the reality is that there’s really no place to file complaints about the unethical behavior of low-quality English teachers. In fact, there are increasing instances of tipsters having their identity exposed or receiving threats.

Mr. Ahn, a tipster who complained of this, told of his experience when he protested the behavior of one foreign teacher whose behavior he could no longer tolerate. The teacher, who teaches in an English hagwon for young children, did not even graduate from college. In class, he swears at students to “shut the fuck up,” and when they play “the question game” (if you answer the question, you win), he lets students win by asking the other side, “Do you want to sleep with me?”

Ahn said, “I asked the teacher why the students were cursing in his class, and he said that since it was English class, it didn’t matter if they swore in English.” At this point he understood this wasn’t a person qualified to teach children.

According to Ahn, one of the teacher’s parents is Korean, so even though he’s an American citizen, he has an F-4 visa (permanent residency issued to North Americans of Korean descent), and using this, he conveniently acts Korean or American depending on the situation. Unable to graduate college, he drifted around without work and is now teaching kindergarten and elementary school students English at a hagwon in Gyeonggi-do.

Furious that the teacher was using swear words with the students, Ahn strongly protested to the hagwon, but outrageously, the hagwon arranged a meeting between him and the teacher, who in turn threatened to report Ahn to the police.

Ahn was dumbfounded. “If you protest to hagwon about an unqualified teacher, I naturally thought the school would take measures to get the teacher to wake up or fire him, but I never expected that a complaint could be lodged against me with the police.”

Mr. Lee, who experienced a similar instance, said he received several threatening text messages from the teacher. Feeling threatened, Lee asked the police and immigration bureau for help, but at the immigration office, he was told that all the teacher needed to do is say he didn’t do it. The police, meanwhile, told him they visited the hagwon and said he [Mr. Lee] had placed a tip, exposing his identity as the tipster.

The hagwon is standing with the problematic teacher. Lee bitterly complained, “I made a just complaint in my own country, but nobody will help, and an unqualified foreign teacher, from a position of superiority, is turning on me like a thief on a master.”

Meanwhile, most of the netizens who read this paper’s exclusive report on the “native speaker teacher blacklist” agreed that low-quality foreign teachers should be expelled from the country.

The following are netizen comments posted at “,” our Internet edition.

A netizen going by the name “Min So-hee” said, “I decided to learn English, but after watching the behavior of the foreign male teachers at the hagwon, I felt serious doubts, and now I have fundamental questions about why I must learn English.” She said, “Learning English is fine, but I hope this article become an opportunity to inform countless women like me that it’s not good to get close to English teachers.”

Another netizen wrote, “Frankly, for me it’s easy. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is an important problem that is entangled with Western fundamentalism, in which low-quality English teachers and other whites treat other races as inferior races, as well as other issues. After this article, I think there will be a lot of tips and information. There is still too much that needs to be put into article form.”

Another netizen drew attention with an essay exposing the realities of foreign English teachers.

Pointing out the problems of Korea’s English-learning craze and calling for improved screening of foreign teachers, he wrote:

There are 30,000 foreign teachers residing in Korea thanks to Korea’s English-learning craze, and for someone like me, who has thought the one issue we must overcome is that of the legal qualifications and unethical character of foreign teachers, it was very nice to see an article showing the realities of these low-quality English teachers.

Just because you speak English as a native language doesn’t mean you can be a teacher, and by the same token, if there’s a problem in the character of a teacher, there must be severe discipline for that person. In Korea, there are good foreign teachers combining legal credentials and proper character, low-quality teachers who are both unqualified and unethical, and low-quality teachers who are legal but unethical. With the current system, it’s hard to sort them out.

But this is something we must do. The fact is that anyone who has experienced English education has experienced low-quality teachers, and even if they’ve never experienced one directly, they’ve heard around them instances of harm. I’ve heard stories of people suffering from classes taught by bad teachers, and beyond the educational damage, there are everyday cases of female victims keeping silent about their experiences because they are of a personal and sexual nature.

So that more instances of harm caused by low-quality teachers do not occur, I think we must acknowledge the problems of the current situation and discuss the many views as to how to solve them.

Another netizen wrote, “In five years of teaching, I saw many kind of native speaker teachers. While working with them, there were many times when I had to quit because I felt dirty and ashamed due to their feelings of superiority and insincere class preparation, and native speakers lacking even morals are given full-service like a king, receiving money for their plane ticket, free apartments, cable, Internet and furniture. Now with even women satisfying them in bed, would native speakers return to their own countries to work in Walmart again?”

I say with amusement because it was all that long ago when US soldiers were looked down upon by the ex-pat English teacher crowd as giving them a bad image in Korea and aloe and be hold the tables have turned and the ex-pat English teacher crowd is giving us US soldiers a bad image. Especially with the latest "scandal" coming on the heels of last year's Spectrum-gate. I can remember a few years back during my first tour in Korea a Canadian English teacher I met, yes in Itaewon, asked me why US soldiers were so misbehaved in Korea giving everyone else a bad name. I of course had to explain to this person that if you put a bunch of horny 18-21 year olds in a over sexed environment like Korea combined with unlimited amounts of alcohol, plus being away from home for the first time, what do think is going to happen? Boot camp doesn't create asexual people who don't want to drink. It doesn't matter where you are from young people are more obnoxious and get in trouble, it doesn't matter if you are a GI, a English teacher, or a Korean for that fact.

Ex-pats in a bar focus on the same obnoxious 18-21 year olds in the bars they frequent every weekend and not the majority of soldiers minding their own business in local bars or back on post calling their families in the US they haven't seen in months and other people minding their own business in their room playing Playstation for example. USFK currently has about 28,000 soldiers in it so of course there are going to be a few bad apples that cause problems and when problems do occur the Korean media sensationalizes it and it wasn't to long ago that many ex-pats bought into the bad GI crap as well when in fact young GI's were acting very similar to young ex-pats; it was just back then nobody cared about ex-pats, now people do.

I don't know how many English teachers are in Korea but I'm sure there are thousands and of course within those thousands there are going to be a few bad apples that slip through the cracks. Should all English teachers be painted with the same brush because of the few bad apples? Of course not. Probably the best response I have read from this current "scandal" is from the Metropolitician that is a MUST READ(see today blog it will be added to it) if you are remotely interested in this topic. The Metropolitician I believe correctly believes that the real problem is with the Korean educational system that makes it easier for bad apple English teachers to enter the country, however it is easier to blame the foreigners instead of looking at the systematic problems within the country including sexual abuse of students by Korean teachers as well.

Believe it or not I actually have some English teaching experience. I taught English once every two weeks for nearly a year to elementary students near my camp. The school relied on US soldiers to teach accent and conversational skills to the students because they had no hired foreign English teachers at the school. Having US GI's come in allowed the school to save the money of hiring a foreign English teacher and it gave us a chance to hang out with the kids and interact with the community. I really enjoyed my time helping out there, but something I found interesting was the fact that the Korean teacher in charge of the English language instruction at the school with a university degree in English could hardly speak it. I was pretty much dependent on my KATUSA to translate what she wanted to tell me. In fact one of the 10 year old students had lived in America for a few years and spoke better English than her. She could read and write just fine, but talking and listening to English she had very minimal skills. If university educated teachers in Korea cannot speak English is it any wonder why the country is dependent on the same foreign English teachers that are now the subject of such ridiculous scorn by the Korean media?

With all the hoopla over the current English teacher "scandal" these ex-pats can at least take solace in the fact they don't have to worry about having curfews, off limits policies, lock down on post, no drinking, and other restrictions put on them whenever an incident happens, like what USFK does. So it could be worse if that makes anyone feel beter. But on the other hand USFK has proven that these restrictions work because behavior of US soldiers has improved greatly compared to as little as five years ago.

It is amazing to me that even after a year since Spectrum-gate the anti-foreigner focus is still on English teachers. I thought for sure it would shift back to US GI's or 3D workers or some other ethnic group. Anyway in the spirit of international cooperation, I still offer my friendly advice from last year of how to blend in as a GI for any English teacher out there on the run from the English teacher Gestapo. I said last year that I thought this all would blow over and it has yet to blow over so what do I know, but it is still amusing.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The sad thing here is that I agree with her on the GOP. We need to act more like the GOP and not the decepit driven congress that President Regan delt with in the 80's. I am still wating for a new Democrat idea also.

Shame about Joe being voted out in CT. All because he, supported the War. He Still voted against Bush the majority of the time and backed the Democrats all the way. Good luck on the Independent run in 2006, I would vote for you sir. Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why I vote G.O.P!

I love being a conservative. We conservatives are proud of our philosophy. Unlike our liberal friends, who are constantly looking for new words to conceal their true beliefs and are in a perpetual state of reinvention, we conservatives are unapologetic about our ideals.

* We are confident in our principles and energetic about openly advancing them. We believe in individual liberty, limited government, capitalism, the rule of law, faith, a color-blind society and national security.
* We support school choice, enterprise zones, tax cuts, welfare reform, faith-based initiatives, political speech, homeowner rights and the war on terrorism.
* And at our core we embrace and celebrate the most magnificent governing document ever ratified by any nation — the U.S. Constitution. Along with the Declaration of Independence, which recognizes our God-given natural right to be free, it is the foundation on which our government is built and has enabled us to flourish as a people.
* We conservatives are never stronger than when we are advancing our principles.

From American Conservatism: A Crackdown, Not a 'Crackup' Wall Street Journal op-ed October 17, 2005

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I like Baseball

One of the things that I love about Daejeon is that there is a baseball team here. They are called the Hanhwa Eagles. On a few weekends here I have gone to the games. My 40th Birthday party was there. To be honest it was one of my best bithday parties in my life. All of my friends in Korea were there and to be honest we had a blast, talking about sporting events in Canada, Australia, USA and New Zealand.

It was SATURDAY and I wanted to see a live baseball game. The cost at the game was 5,000 won and I sat on the 3rd base side near the outfield.

A few weks ago, my friend Nichole, took a few of her students to a basebal game and she asked me if I wanted to come along. I sat and watched the game with her students and they also got to see me dance with the Cheerleaders and we got a free pizza for it also. It was a great time that night by all of us. Nichole is cole on myspace, she may not be comming back to Korea.

I have always wondered why Yankee fans pick Red Soxs fans to be our friends, (I do it also with Dallas Cowboy fans since I cheer for the Washington Redskins.Its weird but I guess we just like it that way.)

I was at the game and I was seeing alot of the fathers and their sons there watching the game. i did the same thing with my dad and I was wishing like hell he could have been there, watching the game with me.

We lost dad to cancer 2 years ago. It still sucks! It looks like he was exposed to agent orange here in Korea when he served in the US Army. Me and him could talk about anything and everything, I do not have anybody like that here in Korea nor in my life. I so do miss that.

It was a bad game, it rained and the eagles lost 6-0, oh well. Better luck next time.

Hopefully next time I go, they will win.
This is my movie review for the Korea film, "The Host"

its a rather long one and I was angry when I saw the film.

Imdb Link.

Han Cinema link.

The incident which the director stated created the monster.

Today’s Korean Box Office
Host’ Breaks 6-Million-Viewer Mark.

The Korea Times Review.

How I saw it. CGV DLP

Plot: The film revolves around Park Hee-bong (played by Byun Hee-bong), a man in his late 60s. Park runs a small snack bar on the banks of the Seoul's Han River and lives with his two sons, one daughter and one granddaughter. The Parks seem to lead a quite ordinary and peaceful life, or maybe a tad bit poorer than the average Seoulite.

Hee-bong's elder son Gang-du (by Song Gang-ho) is an immature and incompetent man in his 40s, whose wife left home long ago. Nam-il (by Park Hye-il) is the youngest son, an unemployed grumbler, and daughter Nam-joo (by Bae Du-na) is an archery medalist and member of the national team. One day, an unidentified mutant suddenly appears from the depths of the Han River and spreads panic and death, and Gang-du's daughter Hyun-seo is carried off by the monster and disappears. (Korea Times)

One of my flaws as a film buff has always been my love of the “Monster Movie” I was a little child when I saw my first Godzilla film and I have loved the monster film ever since. I have no real explanation why I like these monster films but I just do. I try and collect these types of films so I can just watch them and love them, as I did when I was 7 years old and watching them on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
So when I heard that Korea was going to release a monster film, I was quite happy about it. I had only seen one Korean monster movie in my past. It was called, “ Yongary, Monster from the Deep” It was not that great of film, but I liked it because it was a monster flick. My opinion changed fast when this came up on GI Korea Blog.

USFK Bashing Movie Set to Debut in Korea
The long awaited USFK bashing Korean movie, The Host is about to begin screening in Korea:

Now the industry pins its hopes on "The Host," which opens on July 27. The film has been screened to high praise at the Cannes Film Festival, increasing the expectations of Korean audiences but leaving the film with a lot to live up to.
The first private sneak preview on Tuesday did not disappoint. A mutant creature created by toxins secretly dumped into the Han River by the U.S. Forces Korea now haunts the waterways. The creature makes off with a young woman, whose rather ordinary family then engages in a mortal struggle to rescue her. In "The Host," the traditional fun of a monster flick coexists with a twisted sense of humor. Sometimes being pursued and sometimes pursuing, the protagonists¿ situation is much the same as in every other creature movie. The film also borrows some tricks from the horror genre, for instance a scene where the monster's "snack" has escaped into a small space leaving it snarling at the entrance. The special effects used to depict the comings and goings of the monster are an astounding technical accomplishment that proves what Chungmuro can do.

I wouldn't put to much credence in the fact that this movie received high praise at the Cannes Film Festival when any US military bashing movie would screen well at the Cannes Film Festival. I'm a big fan of Korean movies especially this directors former movie, Memories of Murder, but it definitely reprehensible that USFK gets blamed for polluting the Han River when Koreans do a great job polluting it themselves. The river flowing through Seoul is full of garbage and refuse though I do have to concede that it has gotten better in recent years. It is too bad that the movie had to turn to typical America bashing instead of focusing attention on the real problem which is Koreans polluting Korea.

When I read this, I stated thinking, “Ok here we go again!” I call this the “Korean Inferiority Movie Complex.” It’s a very simple statement in which, Korea blames everyone else for their problems, but themselves. I saw it a few weeks ago with the film, “Hanbando” blaming Japan and being totally very anti-Japanese. “Welcome To Dongmakgol” was very anti-Us Army and blames everybody for the Korea War, except North Korea. Then we have this crap from, “The Host.”

Then I received this from our friends at the Korea Times, in their movie review of “The Host”

More interestingly, as the story unfolds, it also tackles current-day controversial issues. In the film's prologue, a high-ranking U.S. officer oversees the illegal dumping of toxic chemicals into the Han River, and it is not only a hint to how the mutant is born but also a criticism of the real accident in 2000. In the film, American scientists claim the mutant is spreading a deadly virus, which turns out not to be true in the end, and it can also be seen as criticism on the U.S.'s false accusation that Iraq possessed biological weapons, a claim that the U.S. used in part to justify its invasion of Iraq.

To be honest, I was not surprised by this article, what they have reported to be truthful news and having to admit that they have made another mistake, time and time again. I decided not to write them. I knew that I had to see this film.

It was opening day and there was a huge crowd at 1030 AM. I then watched the first 3 minutes of the film and, for the first time since Fahrenheit 9/11, I damn near threw my popcorn and coke at the movie screen! To blame the US for this, I thought, was a joke! This was one very stupid incident that happened, I noticed that the director did not show any dumping done by any Korean Companies nor did he mention the fines that they got for it.

Typical anti USFK (United States Forces Korea) crap!

I did not say anything but I was very ticked off after this scene. The film then went to show a very lazy man, who had a very nice daughter. When he gave her a Cass Beer to dink, I was laughing out loud. It just looked too funny. Then we get our first look at the monster and then I was pleased by what the director did, He showed an American and a Korean both being the heroes. The American died but he died trying to save lives. I thought that was a very honorable death.

The film then goes into a typical monster movie plot, a big monster has carried of a little girl, the girl call and the family goes out to rescue her. I was thinking, OK only this 1 stupid scene involving anti US, well once again the inferiority complex kicked in.

Near the end, they claim that it’s a virus, which the American, states that it’s a false virus and they do brain surgery on the father of this little girl. I, once again, damn near threw my popcorn and coke at the movie screen. What they showed was that the US was doing A Nazi type medical experiment on an innocent man.

The film ends as most monster films do, it was sad and people that you liked in the film died. I just really thought, “What a great film this would have been if they would not have stood on their soap box and just went anti-USA.”

Now, believe it or not, I actually liked the film, For an 11 million budget, they did a great job on the monster and Hollywood could learn a few ideas on how to direct a summer blockbuster. (At the time of this review 6 million tickets have been sold so far and this film has the highest screen showing in Korean with it being shown at 620 screens.)The film will be shown in the USA and Magnolia Pictures will distribute the film with a fall 2006 release date.

If you want a good film to see then please see this one, As an American and as a Vet who helped to defend this land, the anti USA B.S. should have never been included and should not be believed at all cost. Take that out of the film and you have a great plot, a very believable cast and one hell of a scary monster.
There is already talk of an USA remake of this film. It should be a very interesting film, if it ever gets made.

Grade. A

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A look back at the North Korean Missle fiasco.

Amen sir. Please read an article on my take on the Arab Cowards who are geting exactly what they deserve from Isreal.

At Large
Civilian Shields
By Christopher Orlet
Published 8/2/2006 12:08:02 AM

One question I have yet to see the Mainstream Media address is why there are still so many civilians in south Lebanon. The BBC says the stragglers are too old, sick and poor to leave. If Lebanese families are abandoning their sick and elderly as they flee the war zone, it speaks poorly of the Muslims, not the Jews.

If we go back to 1978, when Israel launched an offensive in southern Lebanon in retaliation for a PLO bus hijacking in Tel Aviv (35 Israelis killed, 100 injured) we find this story -- also from the BBC:

Civilians Flee Southern Lebanon

The large town of Nabatiya, only two miles from the Litani river, has been almost totally depopulated of its 30,000 inhabitants who have fled the shelling.

What's different this time? Certainly there are no more poor, sick and elderly than in that earlier conflict? Perhaps the difference is that Hizbullah has been schooled in the overarching importance PR, of sacrificing civilians as a means of winning the propaganda war, and the weight of world opinion in wartime.

Listening to the mainstream media one is unlikely to know that Lebanese civilians were warned to leave southern Lebanon before the fighting started. To quote Israeli Foreign Ministry official Gideon Meir: "The Israeli defense forces dropped leaflets and warned the civilian population to leave the place because the Hizbullah turned it into a war zone." In fact, the Israelis telephoned Lebanese civilians. Such courtesy is unprecedented in the annals of military history.

Nor are we likely to have heard the report from the Israeli military that Hizbullah has prevented civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon:

Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hizbullah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hizbullah have broken out.

Hizbullah, of course, knows that without its civilian shields to hide behind, the Israeli forces will wipe them out within days. Likewise, the only way to defeat a superior Israeli force is to turn world opinion against the Jews. And that can only happen if lots of Lebanese women and children are "martyred."

Have you noticed that when there are casualties, the media automatically assumes that all are civilians or noncombatants -- even though Hizbullah fighters don civilian clothes, fire rockets from civilian areas, and scramble into nearby buildings afterwards to hide among civilian populations -- and this before any legitimate investigation takes place?

As usual, the media is cooperating with the terrorists. A decade ago in the Bosnian War, Slobodan Milosevic happily invited television crews to broadcast the hostage U.N. peacekeepers' plight to the world. Saddam employed a similar device. Bomb us, and you murder your own people. Today, southern Lebanon is crawling with journalists interviewing every Lebanese civilian they can scare up, ordinary folks who have long tolerated the terrorists'

THE HUMAN SHIELD strategy is a relatively new tactic, first cooked up by Saddam in the First Gulf War. The Iraqi dictator, however, used Western civilians, not his own people, to discourage attacks. This strategy was soon copied by Milosevic in Bosnia and the Taliban in Afghanistan. American peace activists even picked up the trick, volunteering to be human shields prior to the Second Gulf War. What's new here is that Hizbullah has taken the criminal tactic one step further in cynically and cowardly using its own people as civilian shields.

This is not Clausewitz's brand of warfare. It bears no resemblance to traditional warfare among civilized nations, which was waged with honor and dignity. Rather we have non-state terrorist groups hiding behind the skirts of women and the bibs of babies. As we've seen in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and now Lebanon, civilians, particularly dead civilians, are more important to winning than rockets and guns. And it takes a lot of dead women and infants to win a war.

Another question needs addressing: Why does Hizbullah, which started this war, get a free pass from the media and human rights groups when it puts its civilians at risk and when its missiles kill Israeli civilians? Critics call Israel's response disproportionate. What is disproportionate is the anti-Israel coverage from the international media. Much of it, in my view, bordering on anti-Semitism.