Thursday, October 31, 2013

"I don’t know if it’s appropriate for a foreigner to judge"

The Korea Times reported the other day that a foreign pastor was protesting homophobic textbooks:
Rev. Daniel Payne of Open Doors Community Church near Itaewon said they would deliver letters on Monday to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as well as relevant lawmakers, after the ministry recommended that two publishing companies — Kyohak Printing and Publishing and Chunjae Education — rewrite material teaching that homosexuals should not be discriminated against.

The move was made after an Oct. 4 meeting between the ministry and 20 Christian lawmakers and religious leaders who oppose same-sex marriage. They argue that the references are an affront to those who believe homosexuality is a sin.

Lee Seung-pyo, the education ministry’s senior supervisor of textbook planning, said the companies will likely be ordered to make the changes if they do not accept the recommendation. The Education Minister holds the authority to revoke the approval of these books for use at schools if publishers refuse to follow the ministry’s direction.
Those Christian lawmakers and religious leaders sure put the 'fun' in 'fundamentalist.' The government response is rather amusing, however.
But Lee of the education ministry wondered if Payne should be involving himself in the issue.[...]

“Every country has its own set of laws in evaluating and approving the education material for books. I don’t know if it’s appropriate for a foreigner to judge how we manage our education. You won’t see us commenting how other countries teach at schools.”
Right, like the ROK hasn't lodged, what, hundreds of protests against Japanese textbooks?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Makgeolli!

Someone - a farmer? - having makgeolli with Park Chung-hee, presumably in the 1960s. I found this on my computer the other day and don't know where it came from. I couldn't help noting that he's pouring with two hands.


I wondered if it might be someone like his father, but no, his father, Park Seong-bin, who was born in 1871 and took part in the Donghak Uprising, died in 1938. That link does reveal that Park Geun-hye's first cousin once removed was in the 90s band
Sechs Kies. The things you find out through Wikipedia. At any rate, one hopes that his drinking partner didn't imbibe too much, say something dumb, and get himself arrested.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Joongang Daily hopes Japan will "turn more proactive in banning racial discrimination"

So two weeks ago a Japanese court ordered the anti-Korean group Zaitoku-kai ["an association of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for Korean residents in Japan"] to stop a "hate speech" campaign and awarded damages in the case. As Agence France-Presse continues,
A civil court in Kyoto also ordered the group and its activists to pay some 12 million yen ($120,000) in damages to the elementary school run by affiliates of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
The Joongang Daily offered its suggestion to Japan in an editorial titled "Japan must act against hate."
A Japanese local court for the first time recognized hate speech as a crime, ordering an association of ultra-nationalist civilian groups campaigning against non-Japanese residents to pay damages to a school run by pro-North Korea residents in Japan. The court said the rallies and language used by Zaitokukai and its supporters, held near the school, were illegal because they go against an international treaty that bans racial discrimination. It is the first such case in Japanese judiciary history and will likely rein in activities that menace Korean residents in Japan as people can now file suit against hate speech and activities by anti-Korean groups.

Zaitokukai has recently been more blunt and aggressive in its protests and propaganda against non-Japanese residents, thanks to a passive response by the conservative government. Japan is a member of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and yet does not punish racial discrimination. The latest court ruling was a civil case, not criminal. It remains unclear if the Japanese government and legislature could revise the law in order to create the legal grounds to punish racial discrimination. Tokyo rebuffed advice by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in May to draw up an anti-discrimination law, saying it does not have any bigotry that demands a law.

The Seoul government issued a statement that it strongly wished the ruling would help stop racial discrimination and other activities against ethnic Koreans.[...]

We hope Japanese society will turn more proactive in banning racial discrimination and hate speech. The government must also act to rein in the improper activities of Zaitokukai and other similar groups. [Emphasis added.]
I'm not entirely sure why the Joongang Daily pointed out that "Japan is a member of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and yet does not punish racial discrimination," because Korea is also a member of CERD -  and  has done even less in regard to racial discrimination, particularly in regard to citing to CERD, and also lacks an anti-discrimination law.

This may be the first use of CERD in Japan to punish hate speech, but it certainly isn't the first use of CERD to punish racial discrimination. It was in fact a case in 1999 - Bortz v. Suzuki - which first cited to CERD. In the case, a Brazilian woman who was told to leave a jewelry store sued the owner and eventually won damages of 1.5 million yen ($12,500). As this translated opinion points out, Asians in Japan are more likely to "experience subtler, perhaps more deeply-rooted, forms of discrimination," while non-Asian foreigners are more likely to "experience more overt forms of discrimination" such as "ejection from a store, denial of entrance into a store, rejection on a housing application, being shooed away."
These acts clash with notions of fundamental fairness that westerners expect in society. For the westerner, the lawsuit is the preferred method of restoring persons injured by such behavior. The challenge for Bortz was where to find relevant law. The Japanese Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, but only for its own citizens. Bortz’s lawyer had the vision to invoke the U.N. Convention to End All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1996. Judge Soh Tetsuro likewise exhibited creativity in applying international law domestically, via tort law, to fashion a modest, but unprecedented, remedy for Bortz.
While the ROK has been a party to the ICERD since 1978 (18 years longer than Japan) and has declared that the treaty "has the same authority of domestic law and does not necessitate additional legislation," no court in Korea has ever cited to CERD, even when it has been brought to its attention (such as in this case). Japan, on the other hand, has had a handful of successful suits seeking damage for racial discrimination.

In addition, while Japan never signed the optional protocol which allows individuals to bring a case against the state itself, Korea did, but - again - it had never been used until the case of a foreign English teacher who lost her job for refusing to do an HIV test for contract renewal was accepted by the CERD committee last July. Not many people in Korea would know about this, of course since no media outlet - Joongang Ilbo included - reported on the case. And again, Korea responded to this case 9 months later - 6 months after the deadline. And as was noted here, in its reply
[t]he government neither denied that foreign teachers face mandatory HIV tests nor claimed the tests were necessary for public health reasons. In fact, it said nothing about the testing of foreign teachers upon entry, and countered that Education Ministry guidelines no longer require re-testing upon renewal of annual contracts.
Which is, to put it gently, completely untrue. But yeah, get your act together, Japan!


As Agence France-Presse notes,
In handing down the ruling, presiding judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the group’s actions "constituted racial discrimination as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination."

"The actions are deemed intended to arouse a sense of discrimination among the public toward Korean residents in Japan," he said.

Hate speech, per se, is not illegal in Japan. The civil court’s ruling turns on the racial element of the outbursts.
In the case of the teacher who lost her job for refusing HIV testing prior to bringing the case to the CERD committee, the CERD was cited in her complaint to the National Human Rights Commission and the Korean Commercial Arbitration Board, but was ignored by both. So, there is no way to appeal directly to the CERD Committee in Japan but courts will cite to it, whereas in Korea you can appeal to the Committee (and wait a long time for a response) but courts have never cited to it.

All of which makes the Joongang Daily urging "Japanese society [to] turn more proactive in banning racial discrimination and hate speech" rather hypocritical, to say the least, especially it makes very clear just whose 'human rights' it's concerned with:
It is the first such case in Japanese judiciary history and will likely rein in activities that menace Korean residents in Japan as people can now file suit against hate speech and activities by anti-Korean groups.
It might be more honest to say the paper - in very correct ethno-nationalist manner - is trying to promote 'Korean rights.'

Now, on the one hand, it could be argued that carrying out protests near a school where participants rant about wanting to kill all Koreans is more serious than passing discriminatory laws requiring drug and HIV testing, and it's certainly more threatening. The thing is, though, if xenophobes and racists get invited to contribute to immigration policy - as they have in Korea - why would they ever need to hold a vocal protest?

Back in early 2011, Anti-English Spectrum - which I will make clear no longer exists after its leader Lee Eun-ung left the website - posted a new introductory message at the top of their (or 'his,' really) site:
These are the goals of the Citizens for Upright English Education:

To realize English education completely taught by Korean English teachers.
The best method is to keep our children away from overheated private English education and throw out unfit native speaking instructors.

To realize a public education system in which the English teachers are all Korean, we must make an effort to compile a budget for Korean English teachers from the more than 300 trillion won of the English education budget wasted on keeping native speaking assistant teachers.

The way public education is now with native speaking instructors simply using their native tongue must disappear.

Also, to provide safe English education for our children, continual monitoring of unfit native speaking instructors should be implemented.

We will inform citizens of misunderstandings caused by native speaking instructors who create distortions, and will also inform about the existence of honest, hard working native speaking instructors.
Moving from depicting foreign teachers as AIDS-infected, drug-addicted, morally unfit child molesters in order to justify demands for ever-stricter health and criminal record checks (which were ultimately granted), by early 2011 they wanted "only domestic English teachers" in public schools, to "keep our children away" from foreign instructors in English hagwons ("overheated private English education"), and to "throw out unfit native speaking instructors" (ie. all of them), thereby ethnically cleansing the sphere of English education in Korea. You can't say they were being unclear about what they wanted, or that they were unambitious.

And if it seemed like they were thinking big, well, why not? They had already accomplished all of their other goals, like continued (and ever stricter) drug and AIDS tests for foreign teachers, demonization of foreign teachers by the media and politicians, and their influence of public opinion in regard to foreign teachers. They complained about 'drinking parties' at GEPIK orientations, got New Daily to report on it, and GEPIK changed its policy. By the end of 2011, the budget issue had already gained traction with enough provincial or city council politicians for GEPIK to dramatically slash its native speaking teacher budget and for Seoul to plan to do the same. So when Lee Eun-ung left the group in 2011, he could do so rest assured that the had accomplished most of his goals, and that to that point attempts to undo them had failed.

I have to wonder how many similar groups in Japan would be able to say that.

[Hat tip to Benjamin Wagner.]

[On a similar topic, Michael Hurt reminded me of this on Facebook last week.]

Friday, October 18, 2013

A “Cash” Transaction in Korea

Foreign correspondents in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War 

Part 1: From Japan to Korea
Part 2: In Seoul and Chemulpo
Part 3: Along the coast of Korea
Part 4: R.L. Dunn: Jack London knows not fear

I hope to return to this at some point - discovering that Collier's Magazine can be read online has lead me to find several new articles, especially those by the photographer R.L. Dunn, who accompanied Jack London and Frederick McKenzie as the first foreign correspondents in Seoul in 1904. Below is one of the more interesting photos and stories associated with Robert Dunn from that time, as published in the June 4, 1904 issue of Colliers.


A “Cash” Transaction in Korea

R. L. Dunn, Collier's special war photographer in Korea, wrestled with many hardships and obstacles in his march from Seoul to Ping-Yang. Some of them he expected and tried to forestall. Others he met as they befell. He had not reckoned with having too much money as one of the troubles of campaigning in Korea or anywhere else. The photograph, which shows Mr. Dunn in the middle background, does not explain itself, because it conveys the impression that he is examining a huge heap of sausage, possibly procured as an addition to his field commissary.

As a matter of fact, however, the photographer helplessly surveying a mountain of money three feet high and sixty feet around the base. It is Korean currency, copper coins, in strings of a thousand each, the kind of disk, with a square hole punched out of the middle, which was first used in China, and a few hundred or thousand years later borrowed for the fiscal system of the Hermit Kingdom. From fifteen to thirty of these "cash" are required to equal the value of an American cent. A string of a thousand will weigh several pounds, a dollar's worth will make a load for a strong man.

Mr. Dunn had no intention of stripping Seoul of its small change when he gave the fatal order to Kurita, his interpreter. He was making ready his outfit for the advance, and it occurred to him that a supply of native money would be indispensable, inasmuch as a good deal of forage and other supplies must be obtained along the way. In addition, Kurita assured his master that many necessaries on their list could be had only in districts further north, and that "plenty of money" must be packed along. “Plenty of money” meant at least two or three hundred dollars to the American bound on a campaign of weeks. But he told Kurita to go out and find change for one hundred and fifty dollars, and be quick about it.

The forenoon passed and no Kurita returned. He was needed for a dozen urgent errands, and the afternoon was nearly spent, before Mr. Dunn became uneasy, impatient, then alarmed. The interpreter must have absconded, and all the foreign correspondents in sight were rounded up as a searching party. It was useless to notify the native police, and the photographer and his friends did not delay for official justice to be awakened from its slumbers. Just as the expedition was starting forth, one of the hotel boys came running up the street, beckoning to Mr. Dunn, shouting breathlessly: "Come, look, see, master. Kurita no can do. Have got, but no can do."

The boy led the way to a courtyard in the rear of the hotel, where the hapless Kurita yelled for joy as he sighted the party:

"Plenty money, got him cheap," was the interpreter’s greeting. "What you wanchee me do now?"

In the words of Mr. Dunn, as he wrote about it in a letter to the office:

"It took me only an instant to realize that I was the proud owner of what looked like a whole city block of real money-money enough to sink a ship, money piled in heaps and heaps, money enough, you would think, to last a spendthrift a million years."

Kurita had filled the order, and the coolies had been staggering under their burdens of “cash” from every corner of Seoul to the courtyard since morning, while the native money changers had put up their shutters until they could renew their stock.
“I had the money all right,” says Mr. Dunn, “but what could I do with it? I could not carry it, and nothing short of an army could move it. We paced around the edge of the heap and measured sixty-odd feet of circumference, while the average height was at least three feet. Kurita insisted that twenty men were needed to guard my wealth, night and day, until I should be ready to move it.”

Mr. Dunn was ready and eager to take the field, so nothing else could be done than to take a few strings of “cash” for immediate wants, and leave the mountain where it lay until its owner should come again to Seoul. Kurita was authorized to employ a guard of worthy and brave men, of strictest integrity, and a score of them, standing watches in relays, hovered around the concentrated opulence when collier’s photographer and his interpreter hurried away to the front.

They returned two weeks later, to find that many strings of “cash” had evaporated, although the guards swore by a million-odd saints and devils of the Korean mythology that not one copper coin was lacking. However, when it came to paying the wages of the guards for two weeks, on top of the singular depreciation noted, the mountain of cash had melted almost to nothing. It was a fact that the heap of money had eaten itself up, and the only beneficiaries were the sentinels, who shuffled away, doubled over with the weight of installments of their wages, and later came back with carts to collect the remainder.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Robert Capa Exhibition

I was reminded the other day that the Robert Capa exhibition is still on at the Sejong Cultural Center near Gwanghwamun and continues until October 28. The exhibition celebrates the 100th anniversary of Capa's birth and displays original prints of his war photography. More information can be found here (and in Korean here).

Here's a good documentary about his life:



I should note, though, that there's a continuity glitch in the video on youtube. At 29:50 (the sudden 'gambler' speech) you need to jump to 44:50 and watch until 59:50, at which point you need to jump back to 29:50 and watch to 44:50, and then jump to 59:50. Not really that confusing - jump 15 minutes ahead, watch for 15 minutes, jump 30 minutes back, watch for 15, and jump 15 minutes ahead. Or maybe it is confusing. Anyways, it's worth watching, even with a bit of myth making added in (though Capa himself cultivated his own myth throughout his life).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stolen gold

The 1988 Seoul Olympics

Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3:  Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4:  Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5:  An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6:  Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7:  No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8:  KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9:  Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America
Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control
Part 15: Heaven on Earth
Part 16: Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race 

Part 17: Stolen gold

Boxing had already seen its fair share of controversy at the 1988 Olympics, what with a New Zealand referee being attacked by a Korean coach and other boxing staff for 'favouring' and allowing a Bulgarian boxer to win, which led to an explosion of media-driven anti-Americanism as newspapers lashed out at NBC for daring to do what they paid hundreds of millions of dollars to do - televise the Olympics.

As the final boxing matches drew closer, controversy began to draw a little to closer to home, as a September 29 AP article published in Stars and Stripes noted:
Three South Korean fighters also won by decision, including a 3-2 win at 156 pounds by Park Si-hun over Vincenso Nardiello of ltaly.

The win so enraged the Italian fighter that he kicked the ringpost and then charged toward the official scoring desk near ringside. Nardiello had to be restrained by his coach from attacking the officials.

Korean fighters have won a string of close decisions in front of a highly partisan crowd at the Chamshil Student Gymnasium since several Korean officials attacked a referee last week after Korean fighters lost a pair of decisions.

The quarterfinal victories assured the fighters bronze medals at the worst going into the Thursday semifinals[.]
There was more than a bronze medal assured for Park. As the Guardian describes it,
The final, on the last day of boxing at the Games, was a rout, Jones, barely bothering to raise his guard, landed 86 punches to Park's 32. The Korean took two standing eight counts and was twice warned by the referee. NBC's Count-A-Punch recorder scored the rounds 20-3, 30-15 and 36-14 in Jones's favour. [...]

The three judges didn't think so. Bob Kasule of Uganda, Uruguay's Alberto Durán and Hiouad Larbi of Morocco gave Park the fight, two others giving it to Jones. As the referee, Aldo Leoni, raises Park's hand, the Korean fighter looks entirely embarrassed. Leoni himself looks disgusted. "I can't believe they're doing this to you," he whispered to the distraught American.
I thought Park looked embarrassed and shocked:


The Stars and Stripes article continues:
"It's the worst judging in boxing since I've been in it," said Elmo Adolph, an American referee and judge who has been in amateur boxing for 24 years. "I'm extremely disappointed almost to the point of being incensed."

Anwar Chowdhry, president of the International Amateur Boxing Association, said the scoring was bad and that it had been a frequent problem at other tournaments. With that, AIBA made Jones its most outstanding boxer of the Olympics.

"Outrageous," U.S. Coach Ken Adams declared. "He clearly won the bout. It's a political thing, and that's what's bad about it."
He would take things further than that (via another AP article in Stars and Stripes):


The other Stars and Stripes AP article continues:
"I thought I had beaten him to a point I couldn't get robbed," Jones said. "Unfortunately I was."

Jones' father,-Roy Sr., a former prize fighter, said his son was crushed by the decision. "I've never seen him shed a tear before and he was shedding tears," the father said. "It's every athlete's dream to win a gold medal, and they took it away from him."
The fight and its outcome is described here:



As the Guardian quotes Jones,
"When I had that problem in South Korea. I went with an interpreter to face the guy I fought," he said in 2004. "I asked him 'Did you win that fight?' He shook his head and said 'No'. And then I was cool with it. If you tell me the truth, I'm cool."
Well, he may have been cool with Park, who really wasn't responsible, but he certainly wasn't cool with what happened. Park did grab his hand during the medal ceremony - he clearly feels bad...


But it's pretty clear in the video of the medal ceremony how distraught Jones is.



The Stars and Stripes AP article did note that "Even some of the Koreans in the crowd booed when the decision was announced." In this documentary, it's said that "50 Korean monks arrived to personally express their shame and sorrow" to Jones, who said, "They were so sorry about what had happened to me and what their country did to me." In fact, the Hankyoreh published an article the next day titled "Korea's stained 'insisted-upon medal'" which stated that the paper had received many calls criticizing the result of the match, and apparently many had said that the medal should be returned. So while organizers might have been pushing for this kind of thing, it's clear that not everyone was buying it or thought that 'gold at any cost' was something to strive for.

Mind you, as the Stars and Stripes AP article points out, some were true believers:
Kim Seung-youn, who resigned Sunday as head of the Korean Amateur Boxing Federation over an earlier controversy, said, "Today's decision is very, very fair. There is no scandal today. It cannot happen. I cannot understand why foreigners have such prejudice against Korea."
That would be the boxing ring assault incident that he was finally resigning over. And yes, when coaches assault referees, it's the network showing it who is to blame, and when medals are stolen, such beliefs are due to "prejudice against Korea."

Or not. As the Orlando Sentinel reported,
For his 1996 book, The New Lords of the Rings, [Andrew] Jennings discovered police documents that offered the most damning evidence that bribes were made in Seoul. Records from the files of the Stasi -- the defunct East German secret police -- showed more than $15,000 changed hands among boxing officials in Seoul.
The the Guardian elaborates:
Karl-Heinz Wuhr, the general secretary of AIBA, was mixing his boxing duties with work as a Stasi agent. When the Stasi's secret files were released following the collapse of the Soviet Union the investigative journalist and author Andrew Jennings found allegations of outright bribery. "They did not miss a chance to try to corrupt or influence me," Wuhr wrote. "They [the host nation] repeatedly attempted to persuade me to take back my decisions punishing judges they seemed to have an interest in. There were always judges prepared to declare a South Korean boxer victor, even if this was completely ludicrous." He alleged bribes had been paid to several unnamed judges, including three from Africa and one from South America and felt the "manipulation" went high up into the executive of AIBA. The referee Leoni supported the claims, saying an Argentinian colleague had been offered an envelope stuffed with cash by the Korean boxing authorities.
Oh, and the icing on the case is this:


Recognize the man congratulating Park on his 'victory'?


Wait, wasn't he suspended?

Well, yes, but as the LA Times reports:
After the melee, a seething AIBA president, Anwar Chowdhry of Pakistan, suspended five South Koreans for their role in the melee for the duration of the Olympics.

But nearly a week later, the South Korean Amateur Boxing Federation is largely ignoring Chowdhry's ban. Lee Heung Soo, the Korean coach-trainer who was suspended, has attended every South Korean bout since the riot, coaching from an arena floor-level seat or, as was the case Tuesday night, from the press section.

Although Lee no longer wears an Olympic credential, he has been seen daily in the restricted athletes' zone in the building, freely walking past security check points, and sitting in the arena's floor-level ticketed sections.

Lee also has been seen shouting instructions to boxers from the spectator seats, the press section, and escorting South Korean boxers to and from the arena.

Chowdhry was asked if he had been aware that Lee was still coaching the South Korean boxers.

"That was brought to my attention, and I gave a written directive to SLOOC, asking that the credentials be pulled from all five of the people we suspended," he said. "I am unhappy that those people are even in this building."

The next day, however, Lee was still acting very much like a coach.

And the South Korean boxing federation has yet to issue a public apology for the incident. Kim Seung Youn made a clumsy attempt to do so several days ago. He had about 150 gift boxes passed out to reporters. The boxes, with his name on them, contained after-shave and skin lotion, a razor and two blades.

Of the failure of the South Koreans to apologize publicly for the melee, Chowdhry said: "That has surprised me more than anything, that they have said nothing. All they have done is to assure me there will be a police investigation, after the Olympics."
Well, yes, there's a certain irony in 'the side that demand apologies' not making them, but when you're morally in the right, there's no need to apologize. So I guess the Donga Ilbo's assertion that the Olympics were Korea's way of showing its "moral and ethical supremacy" turned out to be correct. Because when you're morally and ethically supreme, you never need to say your sorry, because it's someone else's fault. The problem is, while being the eternal victim (of 'prejudice' in this case) gives you the moral high ground, it doesn't give you any agency, which leaves nationalists in a bit of a confusing situation. The way out of that will be the topic of the final post in this series (or posts, who knows how long it might get!).

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

RAS lecture tonight: 'Imagining the Dual City in Colonial Korea'

Tonight Professor Michael Kim will be giving a lecture titled "Imagining the Dual City in Colonial Korea (1910-1945)" for the Royal Asiatic Society:
This presentation will focus on key aspects of the everyday life experiences within the colonial city. One of the central features of colonial Seoul was its division into a Korean district and a Japanese district that had considerable disparity in terms of urban development. This dual transformation of Seoul led its residents to redefine their urban spaces and collective identities according to ethnic lines. Colonial Seoul is a particularly important site for exploration, because this was the location where many Koreans encountered both a colonial reality and a nascent capitalist modernity in their most palpable forms. Koreans living in the countryside could live their entire lives with little evidence of the Japanese presence. Many parts of Korea remained isolated from development and experienced hardly any changes throughout the Japanese occupation. However, the Korean residents of Seoul were acutely aware of the transformations that took place within the capital city, which was a major showcase of the Japanese empire, and the shifting urban landscape influenced their collective identities as colonized subjects. 
Through images and various Korean voices from the colonial past, this presentation will attempt to contextualize the colonial transformation of Seoul.
The lecture will be held at 7:30 pm tonight (Tuesday) in the Residents' Lounge on the 2nd floor of the Somerset Palace in Seoul, which is behind Jogyesa Temple, and is 7,000 won for non-members and free for members. More information can be found here.

Anyone wanting to read more about the colonial development of Korean cities can do so at this issue of Korea Journal, which features articles about the development of Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and Mokpo during the colonial period. Even today Mokpo is, as Robert Koehler described it, 'an outdoor museum of colonial Korea.'

Monday, October 07, 2013

Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race

The 1988 Seoul Olympics
Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3:  Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4:  Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5:  An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6:  Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7:  No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8:  KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9:  Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America
Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control
Part 15: Heaven on Earth

Part 16: Hustler magazine tramples the purity of the Korean race

In a September 19, 1988 Joongang Ilbo article titled "Women’s Organizations give 'final warning': we can’t take any more sexual abuse," it was reported that the day before the Olympics began, the United Korea Women's Association gave a statement denouncing the attack by US military teens against a pregnant Korean woman (mentioned here) and criticized the "special privileges" of the US military, citing a government statistic that out of 15,000 crimes committed by US soldiers in the past decade, the Korean government had exercised jurisdiction in less than one percent of the cases. As well, they called for the perpetrators' parents and the US Ambassador to publicly apologize to Korea citizens, a speedy and fair investigation and punishment by government authorities, and "revision of the unequal SOFA." They also declared that it "wasn’t simply an assault, but a reflection of Americans' tendency to look down on Koreans." Another such example was given by the association:
As well, they condemned and announced they were considering countermeasures against an article in the most recent issue of the American pornographic magazine Hustler titled "Olympic-goers guide to Korean sex," which insultingly portrayed many Korean women as cheap prostitutes who entice men on the streets.

The article stated that because there were fears that Korean women might be infected with AIDS from the millions of foreigners visiting Korea during the Olympics, some groups argued that foreigners entering the country should carry AIDS test certificates, but were silenced by the government's plan to distribute free condoms in the athletes' village.
That's right, the October 1988 issue of Hustler did indeed feature a 'Korean sex-scene guide':


Introducing the article is a two-page not-safe-for-work illustration, and as the article begins, the title 'Guide to Korean sex' is followed by the subtitle 'The casual Western visitor to Seoul will be astonished to find armies of big-titted, strapping young whores.' While one could understand that offense would be taken at a description of the prostitution available to visitors during the Olympics (again, "the unspoken rule that [journalists] should only look at what Koreans chose to show them"), and at NBC itself broadcasting reports about prostitution in Korea, the article was quite a bit more offensive than that. Here's the opening (click to enlarge):


 
The writer, Jun Kanda, maker of sex tapes shot in Asia, offers up some howlers as well, such as describing a “culture dominated by women” (because “Even today, a Korean bride keeps her family name after marriage”) and asserting that “The real power in the country is concentrated between the dewy thighs of Korea’s proud vagina owners." He also tells us, "I was cruising Itaewon, the red-light district of Seoul." Right. Kind of like how Myeongdong is the shopping district of Seoul. It gets more offensive, however, as he describes the tutelage of the US military and the nature of Korean women:


At this point, it should be remembered that, like everywhere outside of Europe and America, Korea had been the object of many 'studies' and travelogues in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some of which were written to justify Japanese occupation of the peninsula, others which were written to make the superiority of western culture stand out in relief. The following paragraph (which I first posted here) from George Kennan's October 8, 1904 Outlook article, "The Land of the Morning Calm":
American friends who have spent in the peninsula more years than I have weeks tell me that the Korean, as a man, is intelligent, courteous, teachable, kind-hearted and superior in many ways to the Japanese; but in the first place, he impresses me as lacking in virility, and, in the second place, he is so abominably dirty in his personal habits and his environment that I find it almost impossible to credit him with a spark of self-respect. His apologists say that he has been crushed and disheartened by centuries of bad government. This is undoubtedly true, and it accounts for many of his weaknesses and defects; but bad government does not prevent him from cleansing his premises, nor a body of citizens from cleaning up their neighborhood. So far as my limited observation qualifies me to judge, the average town Korean spends more than half his time in idleness, and instead of cleaning up the premises in his long intervals of leisure, he sits contentedly on his threshold and smokes, or lies on the ground and sleeps, with his nose over an open drain from which a turkey-buzzard would fly and a decent pig would turn away in disgust.
Even when writers were trying to say nice things, it could come out laced with a large amount of condescension, or worse, as this paragraph from the 1950 book 'The Epic of Korea' (looked at here) reveals:
Korea is a land of gooks ; the Korean is a gook. He is incomprehensible because his thought processes are different, his philosophy not of the earth but of the air. He belongs to another world. But just when we think that we can never understand the Korean, the light of comprehension shows in his dark eyes and in his ready smile and laughter, and we call him gook with foolish tenderness. Almost unwittingly we find ourselves so fond of him that we want to shelter him from all harm.  
And while nowhere near as offensive as the Hustler article, his comments on Korean women are rather objectifying and condescending:
The Korean woman, like all Asiatics, is small, but she is much better proportioned than other Asiatics. Unlike the Japanese, in whom the torso is normal in size, the hips larger than normal, and the rest of the body diminutive, the contours of the Korean woman are superbly regular. Her body is almost rigidly erect, largely because of the burdens she has borne on her head. Unlike the breasts of the Japanese woman, those of the Korean woman are well developed and sometimes even bulging. But, with a kind of winding-sheet, she binds her breasts, outward and downward, to her body. And the Korean woman, although very modest, has no squeamishness or childishly sensual attitude toward the various parts of her body. They were created with her soul and are to be treated with dignity, not laughed at by people with a sudden awareness that the human body has members. By way of example, a young American officer said to a barmaid in Seoul in his broken Japanese, Anata wa, chichi ga arimasen ka? ("But haven't you any breasts?") The barmaid, a very pretty young woman, said, "Yes." With complete aplomb, she reached into her tunic, opened her red flannel undershirt, unwound her winding-sheet, and produced a white-gold orb, which she held in the palm of her hand and said, "See!" Even amid American guffaws she retained her native impassibility. Only complete chastity such as most Korean women possess can produce such perfect self-composure.
The illustration which accompanied the Hustler article can also be connected to images like this (from halfway through Michael Hurt's photo essay here) or to more ribald photos taken by G.I.s I won't link to here.

Needless to say, and no doubt with the type of writing above in mind (at least for some of them), the Hustler article certainly made an impact upon university students. The following was published in a regular column in the Donga Ilbo titled 'Hyujitong,' or 'garbage can' on September 23:
Students from Suwon area universities such as Gyeonggi University and Hansin University are carrying out a signature campaign in opposition to a seven page feature article published in the most recent issue of the American-published lewd magazine Hustler, titled 'Hustler's Korean sex for Olympic tourists,' which provides information about prostitutes to foreigners coming to Seoul to see the Olympic games.

The problematic article in the most recent issue of Hustler says that "Itaewon, an area crowded with apartments and shopping beneath Namsan in Seoul, is a mecca for enjoying Korean sex" and goes as far as introducing hotels where one can easily meet Korean women and how much money to pay for sex. It also insults Korean women, saying "Because some women who tend to prefer foreigners spend lots of money, you don't need any special preparations to enjoy Korean sex."

Regarding the article in the American magazine with distortions and fabrications which sexually degraded Korean women and said they preferred foreigners, students are carrying out a "Signature campaign to prevent sex Olympics and stop AIDS and the commercialization of women" to demand the government formulate measures.
The article gained a wide audience after it was photocopied, translated, and posted up at universities, as the September 30 Miami Herald article titled "Korean Students Fuel Anti-U.S. Sentiment" makes clear:
Come to Korea, where the women are all sluts: so says the latest issue of Hustler magazine. The article has been taped to a wall at Seoul's Yonsei University for all to read, labeled a typical example of American journalism.

Illustrated by a drawing of naked Oriental women frolicking in the basin of the Olympic flame, the magazine piece, titled "Hustler's Olympic Goer's Guide to Korean Sex," is an imaginary and pornographic description of Korean women, who are portrayed as so eager to please visiting Americans that even prostitutes among them will entertain Yanks for free.

Reading the article, which has been translated into Korean, are scores of students of both sexes, their faces intent, sober, controlled. The article is unremittingly vile, vividly insulting.

Just the ticket to incite an anti-American demonstration, which is what a young man with a microphone nearby is trying to do.

"You see? The Olympic Games are just an excuse for Americans to come to Korea and pollute our country with AIDS!" he shouts. "Yankees out of Korea!"

"Yankees out of Korea!" echoes the crowd of about 50 students. Across the front of the building are four huge posters proclaiming: "Yonsei University students curse American barbarism."

Across town at Korea University, about 15 miles from the Olympic stadiums, a group of 1,000 students charged police and hurled firebombs, shouting, "Down with the dictator's Olympics!" and "Yankee go home!" But even this rally, wild by Western standards, is just an afternoon's drill for students here. They used to do this every other day before the Olympics began.
The connection between the Hustler article, AIDS, and America would be made more than once. On September 28, the Hankyoreh published a letter from Seoul resident Jin Jeong-mi, in which she used the term minjok (nation/race/ethnicity) a number of times:
In holding the Olympics, Korean women are mocked
Low American magazine 'Hustler' says they are "traditionally gisaengs"

If you are a Korean woman, or no, if you are citizen of this country, I believe all of you should know about this, and I write these words unable to calm my indignation. A few days ago I saw a poster at school with an image and article which appeared in the pornographic American magazine Hustler. The image had semi-nude Korean women lying in the Olympic torch with a set of giant chopsticks next to them. The picture has the meaning that "Come to Seoul, where the Olympics are being held, and using chopsticks, help yourself to Korean women."

Furthermore, the article next to the image made me feel even more unbearable outrage and humiliation as a Korean. [...]

As I read the article, I was shocked at how the majority of foreigners coming to the Olympics may look at our country's women.  Our history of subordination, with 36 years of Japanese rule followed by the stationing of US military here, has shown our minjok to be the nothing but the plaything of foreigners, and if this country is seen as a den of kisaengs, what in the world do many women, beginning with those volunteering for the Olympics, look like in the eyes of a foreigner.?

The government, meanwhile, hasn't taken any kind of measures against the main route for AIDS into this country, the US military, which is in various places across the country, and during the Olympics, instead of having AIDS tests for foreigners entering the country as they should, they're giving away condoms for free in the Olympic Village, something I really can't help but deplore. Beneath the splendid signs for the Olympics, Korean women are suffering mockery and the purity of the minjok is being trampled. How can this be "the Olympics, pride of the minjok"?

I think that denouncing and severely condemning America, which looks at this country's women as nothing but prostitutes, and the current government authorities who allow this is the least we can do to recover the pride of our minjok. I earnestly appeal as a woman to combine the power of all citizens in order to do this for the country.
As the Miami Herald article noted, the Hustler article had been "labeled a typical example of American journalism," and above we see the writer claim that "America... looks at this country's women as nothing but prostitutes." After the humiliation of seeing their own sporting officials assault a foreign referee in the ring suffering this mockery and trampling of their purity by America, students took further action. On September 30, the Donga Ilbo published the following article:
SNU Student Council Reps Visit US Embassy
Deliver letter protesting distorted media reports

Seoul National University Student Council president Park Jae-hyun (Astronomy and science, 3rd year) and 4 other student representatives went to the US embassy to deliver a open letter protesting a series of recent crimes committed by Americans and distorted news reports.

Seoul National University Student Council's letter claimed that, "The recent series of events involving NBC and US soldiers are more than accidents - we cannot but see the explicit expression of a trend showing implicit contempt for Korea and Koreans." "In regard to this we are also looking into the "88 Olympic Korean Sex Tour" article published by the American magazine Hustler.
And so the tale of the Hustler article ends... at least during the Olympics. It would be invoked in a very prescient article a few weeks later. That will have to wait, however.

[Note: I first learned of the Hustler article here, and it was, ironically, through the Hustler article that I learned about the government's plans to test foreign Olympic visitors for AIDS.]

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Korea Times calls out American for 'disparaging' Korea

In the Korea Times the other day was an article titled "Busker's Moore rapped for mocking Korea":
Bradley Ray Moore, a drummer of popular Korean indie band "Busker Busker" recently caused controversy for “disparaging” aspects of Korea in an interview with a U.S.-based music site.

In the interview with “NOISEY,” Moore pointed out the nation’s loose standards in hiring English-speaking teachers.
How the hell is that 'disparaging' Korea? (Someone needs to talk to a number of politicians for their anti-Korea crimes.) If this was Korea Times of 2009-2010, I'd get it, since at that time there was one writer there in particular who liked to manufacture negative quotes about foreign teachers in interviews with people involved in education (when he wasn't trying to get bloggers deported and succeeding in the case of a Canadian journalist), and who I could see declaring that "point[ing] out the nation’s loose standards in hiring English-speaking teachers" was the job of the Korea Times (or the Korean media in general). Also, I searched online and could only find the Korea Times talking about the English teacher thing.

The main criticism of the interview with Moore - here - is that he spoke openly about the Korean TV/recording/advertising/idol industry and painted it in less than sparkling colours, in particular his Superstar K experience, which sounded like an exercise in slave labour. Seriously, do go read the interview.

Of course, the ol' standby in explaining away foreigners who speak truths Korea Inc. would rather not have spoken is trotted out:
After the interview hit the Internet, CJ E&M, which owns multiple cable channels including Mnet, and Superstar K, explained his remarks were due to cultural misunderstanding.

Moore also posted a message on his Twitter, saying “When I was on Superstar K3, I didn’t know Korean and Korean culture well and misunderstood things. But now I’m studying Korean hard and happy doing music and broadcasting. I am very thankful for Superstar K3 for all their support and their contribution to my life.”
I guess he misunderstood the 'see nothing negative, hear nothing negative, and, especially, say nothing negative about Korea - especially to foreigners' part of Korean culture. So no talking about forced diets, taking away phones, being locked down, being kept up for days at a time, and making tons of won off their efforts with little in return. Oh, and no making comparisons to anything like this, because that would be 'disparaging Korean culture.'

In his essay on the 88 Olympics, Ian Baruma notes that
Tony Kornheiser, for example, writing in The Washington Post, pointed out that Koreans were hurt because American journalists refused to obey the unspoken rule that they should only look at what Koreans chose to show them. If press censorship, self- or government-inflicted, is a cultural value, then let us help change the value or shut up about democracy in South Korea.
Ouch.

Seriously though, kudos to Moore for turning the very sane idea of 'screw this, I'm taking time off to rest' into something advantageous.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Unqualified criminal foreign teachers taken on cultural excursions

'Tis the time of the year for parliamentary audits, which always leads to fun articles about foreign teachers being unqualified, potential child molesters, early-quitters who harm regional education, drug test evaders, or unqualified (again). This year is no different.

On October 2, NoCut News published the following article:
3 out of 10 Native speaking English assistant teachers have no qualifications
Only 10% have teaching certificates

It's come to light that three out of ten native speaking English assistant teachers introduced into Korean schools to strengthen public English education don't have teaching certificates or English teaching qualifications.
National assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee member Rep. Yun Gwan-seok of the Democratic Party (from Incheon) used data submitted by the Ministry of Education which said that of 7,916 native speaking English assistant teachers, 5,405 or 68.2% had teacher certification or English teaching certificates.

Only 817, or 10.3%, have teacher certification, while 61.1% have TESOL or TEFL certificates, and 2.1% have both.

From most to least, 20% of native speaking English assistant teachers (1,585) had social science degrees, 19.9%(1,578) had humanities degrees, 14.7% (1,166) had other degrees, and 14% (1,112) had English degrees.

Meanwhile over the last five years, of native speaking English assistant teachers 25 faced disciplinary action such as dismissal for crimes such as assault or drug use.

With eight arrests, drug crimes made up of most crimes committed by native speaking English assistant teachers, 3 cases of assault, 2 cases of theft, and one sex crime. By area, native speaking assistant teachers working in Gyeonggi-do schools committed the most crimes at 13.

Rep. Yun said, "Last month recruiting businesses and native speaking instructors were booked by police for introducing unqualified native speaking instructors to private customers via internet cafes or illegally introducing native speaking instructors recruited from overseas to Korean educational institutions." He stressed that "In order to correctly operate the native speaking English assistant teacher system established in 1995 according to its original purpose, we have to not only increase the percentage of those with qualifications but also strengthen the qualification requirements to determine if they have work experience or have committed crimes, and be more rigorous in our hiring."
In other news, the sun rose today, and a politician noted that in order for night to come in the correct manner, the sun should set according to the rules of science and astronomy.

What's fun is that a year ago there was a similar report (translated in this post):
On the 24th, National Assembly Education, Science and Technology committee member Min Byeong-ju (Saenuri Party) revealed that according to "The status of native speaking English assistant teachers in 2012", a document submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, out of 8,520 native speaking English assistant teachers, 3,671 or 43.1% do not have qualifications.

Among those with qualifications, those with TESOL, TEFL or CELTA made up 50% of the total number of teachers (4257), while those with teaching qualifications from their own countries made up only 8.7% (740).
In other words, last year 56.9% of teachers had qualifications, and a year later that number is 68.2%. Seems to me like some progress is being made.

At any rate, regarding this year's statistics, while the national news gave no break down of provincial numbers, the local press did.

In Gangwon-do, 201 out of 369 native speaking assistant teachers (54.5%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, and only 5 have both, according to the Gangwondomin Ilbo article "45% of native speaking assistant teachers are unqualified."

In Gyeongsangnam-do, 284 out of 445 native speaking assistant teachers (61.1%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, with 30 having teaching certificates, 248 having TESOL/TEFL certificates, and only 6 having both, according to the Gyeongnam Ilbo article "40% of native speaking teachers in the province have no qualifications."

In Gyeonggi-do, according to the Gyeonggi Ilbo article "20% of native speaking assistant teachers in the province are unqualified, 249 out of 1,312 native speaking assistant teachers (19%) do not have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates. The article focuses on the negative by continuing:
In particular, an investigation found that from 2009 until this year, 25 native speaking assistant teachers were disciplined or fired for committing crimes such as assault or drug crimes.

Among these, native speaking assistant teachers working in Gyeonggi-do schools made up over half of the total with 13 (52%), the highest in the country. Three were caught for drugs, and one for a sex crime.
In Jeju-do, 91 out of 170 native speaking assistant teachers (53.5%) have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates, according to the Jeju Ilbo article "Only half of native speaking assistant teachers possess qualifications." One Jeju online news site also published an editorial titled "Strengthen the management of native speaking assistant teachers."

According to a News1 article, in Chungcheongnam-do 81.4% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 553 teachers, 41 have teaching certificates, and 417 have TESOL/TEFL certificates), in Chungcheongbuk-do 59% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 376 teachers, 232 have teaching certificates or TESOL/TEFL certificates), in Daejeon 66% of NSETs have qualifications (out of 249 teachers, 16 have teaching certificates, and 153 have TESOL/TEFL certificates), and in Sejong 93.1% of NSETs have qualifications. It also notes that in 2009 there were two arrests of teachers for crimes such as drugs.

There were no reports about Gyeongsangbuk-do, the Jeolla provinces, or any of the cities except for Daejeon and Sejong.


Crime

Now as for the crime figures, the articles - and as it turned out, Rep. Yun as well - rehashed the news from a month ago about public school foreign teacher arrests brought up by a New Frontier Party politician (it's good to see that complaining about foreign teachers can bring the right and left together). What was interesting was that the NoCut News article said:
With eight arrests, drug crimes made up of most crimes committed by native speaking English assistant teachers, 3 cases of assault, 2 cases of theft, and one sex crime.
The original report from a month ago also mentioned that "There were also six cases of drunk driving." I can only surmise this was left out because drunk driving wasn't considered a serious crime.

What was interesting is that we now have the figures for the total number of foreign teachers in the country (as of earlier this year), and that number is 7,916. We do know that there were 7,997 in 2009 and 8,546 in 2010 and 8,520 in 2012 (it perhaps hit 9,000 in 2011), but for all the news of cuts, it's now apparent the increase in the number of teachers in the provinces has helped to balance out the cuts to some degree. But it also shows something else. As I mentioned in that last post:
In August 2010 the E-2 visa was split into the E-2-1 visa (for hagwons, etc) and the E-2-2 visa (public school native speaking teachers), but the default is E-2-1, so everyone working in a public school at that point was classified as E-2-1 by default - only teachers coming in after August 2010 were put into the new E-2-2 category. In recent years, the number in that category has grown, with 4,368 teachers on E-2-2 visas in December 2011, 5,068 in April 2012, 5,260 in August 2012, 5,158 in December 2012, 5,218 in April 2013, and 5,092 in July 2013.
What this means, then, is that there were just over 5,000 teachers on the E-2-2 visa in July, but there are about 2,800 who are not on that visa. So even if half that number were on F-visas (marriage or gyopo visas) - though I really have no idea whether that number is too high or too low -  that still would mean there are around 1,500 teachers who have - presumably - working as public school NSETs for over three years. But of course there's no article mentioning that perhaps 20% of NSETs have at least three years of experience in the Korean school system. And hell, if there was, it would never be 'enough' experience.

It gets better though, because not only does this give us a better idea of how to calculate the crime rate; this article also gives us a break down of crimes by year.
By year, native speaking teachers were punished for committing 10 crimes in 2009, 10 crimes in 2010, one crime in 2011, two crimes in 2012, and two crimes in 2013.*
So what you're saying is that, after two years of 10 crimes per year, over the past few years the number of crimes has dropped significantly and the crime rate hasn't gone above 25 crimes per 100,000, as compared to the 2011 Korean rate of criminality (listed here) of 3,692 per 100,000.

If you were wondering what Rep. Yun thought about this improvement, well, lucky us - this article also features his opinion on precisely this topic:
"Crime involving things like drugs, assault, and theft by native speaking assistant English teachers is never-ending."



If only they could increase their crime rate 147 times so as to match the criminality of the average Korean, right Rep. Yun?

The foreign teacher problem is this big. [Photo from here.]


*The crime statistics by year are slightly different from ones made public last year.

In other news, according to the Gyeonggi Sinmun, on September 24 50 native speaking teachers working in public schools in Goyang were taken on a cultural experience trip to the Haengju Sanseong and were taken to do some fun stuff:

From the Gyeonggi Sinmun.

 From the Gyeongin Ilbo.

I'm surprised people who are endlessly committing crimes were entrusted with such weapons. Hopefully they weren't so high that they killed anyone 'by accident'.

Might be more fun - or at least more original - than the ol' trip to Dokdo to help native speakers to "properly understand our land, Dokdo." Which of course 37 teachers from Chungcheongbuk-do did from September 28 to October 1.


At least the banner doesn't make any political statements (and as always, at least they get to spend some time on Ulleungdo (where that photo was taken)).

Friday, October 04, 2013

Heaven on Earth

The 1988 Seoul Olympics

Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3: Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4: Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5: An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6: Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7: No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8: KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9: Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America
Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control 

Part 15: Heaven on Earth

In the November 1988 issue of The New York Review of Books, Ian Baruma wrote a lengthy place about the Seoul Olympics titled 'Playing for Keeps' (which also appears in his book 'The Missionary and the Libertine'). In it he mentions one aspect of Korean culture he came across:
Perhaps the Korean belief in miracles is cultural. Korea is after all a nation of mass prayer meetings, new religions, the birthplace of the Reverend Moon, and a hospitable destination for the likes of Billy Graham. Russell Warren Howe, in his otherwise egregiously ill-written, misinformed book [reviewed here], is probably right to call Korean culture shamanistic. Filipinos often seem to be waiting for a national messiah, but Koreans have a tendency to take a messianic view of the nation itself. One of the more amusing spectacles at the Seoul games was the peddlers of many different sects and creeds lying in ambush outside the main entrances of sports arenas. I shall restrict my quotations to only two of the many pamphlets pressed into my hands by beaming proselytizers. One was from one Presbyter Park Tae-sun, of the Sun Kyung (Fairland) Development and Institution:
To All Mankind!—We proclaim that the Republic of Korea is the country where mankind was first created and civilization was cradled, and the parental country of all mankind. All mankind now participating in the '88 Olympic Games! We advise you to realize the fact that the Republic of Korea having about 5000 year [sic] long history, is your parental country."
 The Kingdom Gospel Evangelical Association had this to say:
The reason why the kingdom of God where our human body can live eternally comes true herein [sic] the Republic of Korea is that the Taegukki, Korea National Flag has the figure of glorious God, and the Republic of Korea has seen the Second Advent of Jesus Christ really coming to it. Now, all the world should recognize the fact that the Republic of Korea is the right place where the heaven of eternal life shall be realized.
One suspects something wrong happened on the way to modern nationhood in Korea. An unfortunate synthesis must have occurred between West and East. The West, usually via Japan in the 1920s and 1930s, gave Korea half-baked German notions of Blood and Soil; it also exported, mostly from America, the equally half-baked notions of vulgar evangelism. Korea contributed an emotional legacy of historical bitterness and a propensity for shamanistic rites. These are precisely some of the ingredients that went into Independence Hall, and were encouraged by the Olympic games. No doubt the sense of victimhood, of being ignored or worse by other powers throughout history, has contributed to the modern zeal to gain recognition, to win gold medals, to beat the Japanese, and ultimately, who knows, the Americans.
Up next we'll look at the lengths gone to to win one more medal for Korea by claiming victory over an American.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Politicians engage in damage control

The 1988 Seoul Olympics

Part 1:  The Seoul Olympics, 25 years later
Part 2:  The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 3: Americans and bad first impressions
Part 4: Reptilian Style: The 'live-or-die general war' against Hollywood
Part 5: An attack in a boxing ring
Part 6: Media responses to the boxing ring incident
Part 7: No more lion: US swimmers' 'prank' becomes 'diplomatic incident'
Part 8: KAIST catches Big Ben
Part 9: Hankyoreh interviews Korean witness to theft by swimmers
Part 10: Stop me if you've heard this one: Four GIs head to Itaewon in a taxi...
Part 11: Taxi-kicking US runner taken to Itaewon police box
Part 12: NBC uses the power of t-shirts to insult Korea... again
Part 13: Cultivating outrage toward America

Part 14: Politicians engage in damage control

Ever since NBC's coverage of the boxing incident, the Korean media had been castigating NBC, and after American swimmers were caught stealing a lion statue from a hotel, this negative media coverage extended to any perceived infractions by any Americans in Korea. By that point, even politicians were starting to jump on the bandwagon. As one Donga Ilbo article (in this post) noted on September 26,
A prominent member of Korea's ruling Democratic Justice Party expressed regret at NBC's coverage, warning that "If NBC continues with its distorted reports about Korea, it will further inflame the anti-American sentiment already spreading among the Korean people."
Three days later, a report by the LA Times on the swimmers included this:
On Wednesday, a leading South Korean opposition politician added his voice to the rising criticism of Americans after another U.S. athlete was arrested in an altercation with a Korean taxi driver.

Kim Young Sam, president of the Reunification Democratic Party, said conduct by American athletes here have given the Korean people the impression that Americans "ignore the feelings of Koreans or look down upon them."

Citing the undisciplined march into the Olympic Stadium by the U.S. delegation during the opening ceremony Sept. 17 and a series of altercations between Americans and Koreans since then, Kim said "there can be ebbs and flows in friendship," and declared: "We are in an ebb now."

"In the past, incidents (such as the ones that have occurred) would not even have been reported because of our comradeship," said Kim, who finished second in a four-way presidential election last December. "But those days are gone."

South Korea, he predicted, "will emerge from the Olympics as a nation too significant to ignore in the international arena."

"The United States should recognize Korea as an equal partner," he said.

"I don't know why, but Americans seem to be neglecting Korean feelings too much," he said.
By September 29 - the day that LA Times article was published - it had become clear to the government that things were going too far. President Roh Tae-woo even went so far as to go to the Olympic main press center and shake hands with foreign reporters (from the Korea Herald):


As AP reported that day,
President Roh Tae-woo said today that the news media of South Korea and the United States should show restraint and avoid reports that may provoke the sentiments of their people.

Roh made the remarks after receiving a briefing on growing anti-U.S. sentiment in South Korea during the Olympics now under way in Seoul.

"The news media of the two countries now should report in a way not to provoke the sentiments of each other's people," Roh said during a visit to the main Olympic press center.

The president commented on a raging controversy involving NBC, saying the American television network's reports of South Korea were "mostly affirmative."

"Even if the reports of NBC included something that hurt our self-esteem, we should put up with it, since most of the network's reports were affimative," he said.

Prime Minister Lee Hyun-jae also took up the issue today and said, "We should not let one-time feelings damage the traditionally friendly relations between the United States and our nation."

Governing and opposition politicians also expressed concern about rising anti-U.S. and pro-Soviet sentiment in South Korea and warned that the trend could hurt South Korea's national interest.

South Koreans enthusiastically backed the Soviet Union in its victorious semifinal basketball match with the United States on Wednesday.

Governing party officials said the Soviet Union, which has no diplomatic relations with Seoul, appeared to have won the favor of the South Korean people with extensive cultural programs even before the Olympic Games opened Sept. 17.

In an elaborate approach to South Korea, the Soviet Union sent to Seoul the a Bolshoi ballet contingent, a philharmonic orchestra and two choir groups plus a sports photo exhibition.
These overtures would eventually lead to increased trade followed by diplomatic relations being opened between Korea and Russia three years later, and as this AP article noted,  
In an unusual move, the Seoul government, eager to establish relations with East bloc countries, has announced it will not grant political asylum to any athletes who seek to defect.
On September 30 the Korea Herald published the following article which featured interviews with the heads of the political parties, including future presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung:


There are some choice quotations above that will be discussed in a concluding post (though there are still a few more to come before that). Needless to say, this media-led wave of grievance felt against the US must have seemed something that would fade quickly, but when it didn't, politicians and the government felt the need to try to put a stop to it. What they didn't understand was that this kind of unleashing of pent-up resentment against 'unfair treatment' by the US was going to become both a mainstream attitude and a fixture of politics in South Korea in the future.