The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Quincy Black gets 2 years, 6 months in the can / blogging vacation over

Seoul Central District Court handed former American English teacher and would-be porn star Quincy Black (stage name, I’m assuming) a two year, six month prison sentence on July 18.

Coming to Korea in 2009 to teach English, Mr. Black brought a 15-year-old girl (that’s 15 Korean age, meaning she was actually 14) he met on a chatting site in 2010 back to his place and had sex with her, recording the experience with three previously installed cameras and one hand-held camera.

He later did the same to a woman in her 30s.

In its ruling the court said Black’s crime was very bad—the victim was a minor and the offender was a native speaking teacher tasked with teaching English to elementary school students who forgot his duty to foster good sexual values in children and youth and to protect and lead.

The bench also noted the victims had suffered considerable psychological distress due to the release of the videos—the minor left for abroad after experiencing difficulties in her daily life, while the adult victim had yet to forgive Mr. Black.

The court did lessen his sentence, though, taking into consideration the fact that he’d deposited some KRW 9 million for the victims and had no criminal record during his stay in Korea.

Mr. Black will be deported after his prison sentence is up.

ABOUT MY PERSONAL LACK OF BLOGGING…

As a friend recently pointed out to me, it’s been something like a month since I’ve posted anything of substance here.

I apologize for that, but to be perfectly honest, I needed a break.

I’ve been maintaining this blog since 2003, and rest assured, I have no intention of shutting it down anytime soon. I enjoy doing it, and I’m very grateful to the readers, commenters and especially the co-bloggers who have made this little piece of cyberspace into something moderately entertaining at times and, on rare occasions, even mildly informative.

That said, it does feel like work at times, and like with work, you sometimes need a vacation to recharge. This is doubly so when your actual work-work includes being the editor-in-chief of two magazines, translating one book and writing another. Simultaneously.

It’s also no secret that I’ve been spending a considerable amount of effort on my photoblog, where I’ve been in the midst of a 365 project.

Anyway, I’m rested and ready now, so back to blogging I go.

I want to thank once again my co-bloggers for keeping the ship afloat (probably a bad analogy, considering recent events) while I went on an unannounced vacation. WIthout your help, this blog would have died long ago.

The Man Rotting in the Weeds

When I picked up The New York Sunday Times from the dirt driveway this morn, there front and center was this story about the man rotting in the weeds. Yes, I know some people still think a conspiracy exists and the man rotting in the weeds was another man despite fingerprints and DNA and what the JoongAng reported but I think they have the right man who was rotting in the weeds to the point where he was mostly rotten. As in life so in death.

nyt

The leader of the Salvationists got his salvation in an apricot orchard where maggots feasted on him like he had society for most of his 73 years. Of little surprise, The Times points out that he turned his followers into investors early on:

Money for investment was hard to come by, so by using church members as a source of capital, he was able to build factories and companies at the same time that Samsung and Hyundai rose to prominence, though he never matched their size.

Later, in the late 80s, when one of his many companies ran the Han River tourist boats, the man rotting in the weeds showed what he thought about safety in the face of profit, a philosophy that would lead to the Sewol tragedy:

Even then, Mr. Yoo’s vessels faced criticism for overloading. Once, when his company tried to board more than twice one vessel’s maximum limit of 200 passengers during a busy holiday season, irate passengers almost rioted, said Lee Cheong, a former Salvationist who worked as a crewman on the boat. He said Mr. Yoo watched the melee impassively from the pier.

The man rotting in the weeds will provide a great case study in moral bankruptcy, megalomania, and how to buy your own exhibitions at the Louvre and Versailles in case your godly reputation has suffered from a mass suicide and four years in prison for defrauding your own flock:

Hoping to reinvent him as a Zen-like artistic genius, a family business donated $1.5 million to the Louvre, which then etched his new identity — the pseudonym Ahae — in gold on a marble wall at the museum. The family inaugurated a worldwide tour of his photos at Grand Central Terminal in New York and spent nearly $1 million to rent space as part of a deal to exhibit his work for months at Versailles…

Perhaps turning your back for a million to allow a megalomaniac to hold an exhibition with his pictures can be forgiven, but willfully avoiding responsibilities for the safety of human lives cannot. The sheer negligence of officials and human beings in the marine industry goes beyond sinister. As is laid out in the article, the Korean Register of Shipping, the Coast Guard, the Korean Shipping Association and local government officials all failed to carry out their duties, which led directly to an insanely overloaded, top-heavy, ballast-light Sewol on April 16.  Red flags that had been raised four years earlier and just last year about such overloading were ignored, and in January of this year, the following incident prompted company officials to call for the sale of the ship.

[T]he ship’s trouble with balance became glaringly obvious during a port stop in Jeju. Hit by gusts, the ship’s oversize superstructure acted like a huge sail, pinning the vessel to the dock and preventing it from departing. The episode was worrisome enough to company officials in Jeju that they sent a report to their management warning of the ship’s instability, prosecutors say.

Yet the man rotting in the weeds vetoed a request to sell the ship and, instead, called for more cargo perhaps knowing that no one would notice or care—until more than 300 lives, most of them high school students, came to an end in the cold dark seas off Donggeochado. Someday maybe we’ll learn what the man rotting in the weeds thought about all this but, at least for me, it is enough to know that as April turned to May, with June and justice around the corner, the man who had for so long put profit over people decided it was best that he go rot in the weeds.

Open Thread: July 27, 2014

Enjoy the remainder of your weekend!

Random Crap…

…Uncle Marmot might have found interesting if he had had the time.

A Ewha University student, Kim Seo-Yeon, won the Miss Korea 2014 pageant and will represent the Korea in the Miss World 2014 scheduled for December in London.  The Korea Herald noted that “Kim boasts her Western-style figure ― she is 172.8 centimeters tall and weighs 52.4 kilograms.”  Directly quoting and referencing the Korea Herald statement, US based Cosmopolitan wrote about 7 Things That Happen in a Korean Pageant That Would NEVER Happen in an American Pageant  including “contestants’ weights as well as their chest, waist, and hip measurements are posted on the official Miss Korea website…. Which legitimate news outlets later discuss.” 

Gusts of Popular Feeling commented on a report in the JoongAng Ilbo that the Seoul Central District Court had sentenced former NET Quincy Black to two years and six months in prison for “contravening the Law for the protection of children and youth by producing and distributing pornography.”  According to Gusts, “if Quincy Black’s sentence seems light, the Kyunghyang Sinmun states that one reason for the relatively lax sentence is that he deposited 9 million won for his victims.”

The JoongAng Ilbo reported that prosecutors indicted Seoul Metropolitan Councilman Kim Hyung-sik for arranging the murder of a “wealthy 67-year-old businessman and landowner who allegedly paid him kickbacks for political favors and was threatening to expose him.” Wealthy businessman Song allegedly paid Kim W520,000,000 (approx. USD 500,000) for Kim’s “help with the rezoning of Naebalsan-dong from residential to commercial use. …In fact, the area was not eligible for rezoning, which Kim knew but did not reveal to Song.”  …Oh, the double duplicity.

A South Korea-born former Iowa State university scientist, Han, pleaded not guilty to charges alleging that he falsified research for an AIDS vaccine to secure millions of dollars in federal funding. “According to the indictment, Han’s misconduct caused colleagues to make false statements in a federal grant application and progress reports to NIH. The NIH paid out $5 million under that grant as of last month. …Experts say it is extremely rare for criminal charges to be brought in cases of scientific fraud, but that Han’s alleged wrongdoing was extraordinary.” Han seems to have also imported another peculiarity, the wheelchair strategy. “I’m sorry to hear about your car accident and I‘m glad you’re out of the hospital,‘’ Magistrate Judge Celeste Bremer said.

Will the farmer who stumbled upon Yoo Byeong-Eon’s remains collect the W500 million bounty for reporting the discovery?  “…many legal experts believe the man, identified as Park, will not be able to get entire W500 million because he reported to the police without knowing that the body was Yoo’s.  …Police directives stipulate that reward money can be paid to anyone who contributes to the capture of a criminal. A prosecution official said, ‘The criminal does not have to be alive for the person who reported it to get a reward, but in this case he will be able to get it only if he suspected that the body was Yoo’s and gave meaningful help to investigators.’”

Compounding a compounded matter for authorities, a leaked photo (do you really need a warning?) of Yoo’s heavily decomposed body went “viral through portal websites and mobile instant messengers, prompting the police to launch an investigation into the person who leaked the photo.  ‘The leaked photo is part of the investigative filings by police,’ admitted an official of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, who requested anonymity. ‘The cyber crime division of the Seoul Police Agency is going after the leaker.’ ”

The Sewol Ferry Tragedy/Yoo Byeong-Eon investigation claimed more casualties and has dominated the news.  On Tuesday, Suncheon (site where Yoo’s body was found in a plum field) police chief Woo Hyung-Ho got sacked by his superiors who did not appreciate his frankness for comping to a botched investigation.  Following Woo’s dismissal, the head of Jeonnam Provincial Police Agency Jeong Soon-do was relieved from his position Wednesday.

Thursday (yesterday) Choi Jae-kyung, chief of the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office and the senior prosecutor leading the investigations into Yoo and the ferry’s sinking, tendered his resignation  for bungling both to Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae.  “Choi, 51, is a veteran prosecutor who built a reputation by leading a series of high-profile corruption cases. He handled slush fund cases involving Hyundai Motors in 2006 and the Lone Star tax evasion case in 2007, which earned him the nickname ‘the Best Blade.’ He also led investigations into bribery cases involving the elder brother of late President Roh Moo-hyun and Park Yeon-cha, chairman of Taekwang Industry Co.”

The Korea Herald reported today that Choi’s superiors, the justice minister and chiefs of the two major law enforcement agencies, have been pressured to step down from their posts.  “Lawmakers say that Choi’s superiors should also be held accountable. Among the targeted officials are Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae and National Police Agency Commissioner General Lee Sung-han.”  All this on top of the prime minister who had resigned only to be asked to stay on “because the presidential office [couldn't] find a qualified third candidate for the job”, leading frequent MH poster bumfromkorea to exasperate “don’t tell me they didn’t have anyone else left after they filtered the ‘corruption’ and ‘Pro-Empire’ categories out.”  

Today, Korean authorities took the extraordinary step and held a nationally televised press conference to announce the findings of Yoo Byeong-Eon’s autopsy in finally an effort to appear transparent.

All this makes me wonder what the gift that keeps on giving… or taking… will bring tomorrow?

It’s been a rough week.

Virginian congressional candidate panders to Korean voters

Meet John Foust, Democratic congressional candidate for Virginia’s 10th congressional district.  The 10th congressional district covers suburban areas of Fairfax, WinchesterMcLean and Manassas.

The areas of Fairfax and McLean have a particularly large Korean population.  Believe it or not, the third most common language in Virginia is Korean.  The Korean Americans in Virginia have succeeded in establishing a significant voting block.  So much so that the present governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, made a campaign promise (which he kept) to have the state’s textbooks teach the East Sea, concurrently with the Sea of Japan.  

Any ways, Mr. Foust appears to be mindful of the demographics of his district and has been actively courting the Korean vote.  There’s even a Korean language television commercial:

A commercial depicting an American political candidate pressing Korean flesh and eating food samples at the local Korean supermarket (complete with a saccharin, and exaggerated, “it’s delicious” expression).  I never thought I’d see the day.

Update:

Apologies to our readers of the more GOP persuasion.  Didn’t mean to leave you fellas out.  Looks like GOP candidate for the 10th district, Barbara Comstock, isn’t surrendering the Korean American vote without a fight.  According to the WaPo:

… Comstock, who is facing Democrat John Foust in the Nov. 4 general election, has also made sure to advertise her appearances before Korean and Indian audiences. She touts her legislative efforts on their behalf even as advocates say she has supported measures that are anti-immigrant.

[...]

The newsletter also highlighted the first celebration of the Korean Bell Garden in Vienna, a new attraction she said she was “thrilled” to have in her district when she spoke to the gathering of Korean Americans in Tysons earlier this month.

Sponsored by the RNC, the event — held at Woo Lae Oak, a restaurant that is a pillar of Northern Virginia’s Korean community — is the kind of grass-roots affair the party is seeking to host around the country.

“Good to see you,” Comstock said repeatedly as she visited tables while an aide shot photos of her with Korean guests that were later posted on Twitter and Facebook. At one point, the candidate conferred with Harold Pyon, a Korean civic leader who could be heard teaching Comstock to say “How are you?” in Korean.

Interesting.  I never knew there was a Korean bell and garden in Annandale, VA.

Paris Baguette goes to… Paris?

In a move that can be determined as either the height of hubris or the proverbial roll of the dice, the parent company of Paris Baguette has decided to open up its newest location in the heart of Paris, France.

(Photo from Korean Herald)

Ah, notice the “Boulangerie” (French for “bakery”) sign a bit more prominently displayed than the “PB” or “Paris Baguette” signage.  Personally, I question the attempt to bring croissants infused with hot dogs to a population as finicky with their pastries as the French.  Then again, it couldn’t have been more offensive as opening up a Taco Bell in Mexico or a Pizza Hut in Italy.  Wait, there are no Pizza Huts in Italy.  Good thing too as it might create some anti-American backlash.

Asia observer Donald Kirk pens an interesting article over at Forbes with his take:

[SPC Group is]… opening a Paris Baguette, mais oui, in the heart of the city that provides its name.  Along with French restaurants that are truly French, Paris Baguette decided to compete where it’s likely to attract the most scrutiny and appraisal by knowledgeable customers.

[...]

The idea is to go beyond the chain’s Korean roots, to show it’s truly French, to match the most sophisticated, subtlest tastes of any French restaurant. In keeping with that approach, Paris Baguette is a little reluctant to publicize its history as a Korean company in the hands of a Korean billionaire, Hur Young-in,  chairman of  SPC

So, to “show it’s truly French” to French people in Paris, huh?  Okay, good luck with that Mr. Hur.

Dancing and Parody Power

dancing

The PRC wants soft power; wants Kung Fu Panda – can’t get their heavy, bloody hands on it, however some Chinese do parody pretty well and much to North Korea’s discomfort.

Let the Conspiracy Theories Begin

Police announced today that they had found Yoo Byeong-Eon’s badly decomposed body on June 12, nearly six weeks ago:

The chief of police in Suncheon, Yoo Hyung-ho, told reporters that the body was 80% decomposed when an autopsy was started June 13, a day after the body was found. Yonhap said the body was found in a plum field in the city of Suncheon, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Seoul.

He said authorities were able to match DNA from the body to the billionaire and also used a fingerprint from the right index finger.

Water cooler talk has centered around the timing.  Just yesterday, I spoke to several who noted that this coming Thursday would mark the 100-day anniversary since the Sewol Ferry tragedy.  At least one had intended to attend a planned candlelight march and demonstration in Seoul.  Today she expressed incredulity at the timing of the announcement with the upcoming July 30 elections, the farmers’ rice protests, and again the 100-day anniversary and planned candlelight march.

Others expressed dismay with the wasted effort and resources in searching for a dead body six weeks in police possession.  Lest readers forget that Korea had conducted a nationwide (and international) manhunt for Yoo Byeon-Eon, I have been by the Evangelical Baptist Church’s Geumsuwon compound in Anseong at least twice since June 12, and police searched every vehicle that passed on Rte. 38, backing up traffic for a kilometer.  Police had a considerable and convincing show of uniformed officers at that location.

I note that the linked article stated that Korean authorities had identified Yoo Byeong-Eon’s badly decomposed body by his DNA and a fingerprint from his right index finger.  I understand the toxicology reports can take up to six weeks and even that DNA test results, however long they take, might not be immediate, but six weeks?

I can come up with no reasonable explanation for the delay in announcing the results of the fingerprint match.

Finally, I understand (in my admittedly limited understanding of Korean culture) that inquiries into fault and wrong-doing of those who commit suicide come to a halt.  I remember RMH’s suicide, which in effect ended the investigations into his alleged dealings.  I wonder whether Yoo Byeong-Eon (if he indeed committed suicide) will be afforded the same courtesy.

UPDATE:  Suncheon police chief Woo Hyung-Ho (identified as “Yoo Hyung-ho” in the cited article above) admitted to a botched investigation:

“Woo acknowledged that investigators had also been slow in connecting the body with the fugitive businessman.

It was found just a few kilometres from a villa Yoo was known to have used, and next to the corpse was a bag containing an autobiography Yoo wrote in prison in the 1990s.

“We admit that … the investigations on his belongings were imperfect,” Woo said.

“We could have identified him far earlier if we had worked more actively,” he added.

“Woo’s frankness was apparently not appreciated by his superiors and shortly after the press briefing it was announced that he had been removed from his post as police chief.”  Ouch.

State-owned Arirang news reported that the DNA tests took so long because the badly decomposed body necessitated that DNA be sampled from his bones.   Arirang also reported that Yoo’s body was found wearing a “high-priced” Italian made winter jacket, a hat, and no shoes and lying near a bag etched with “Love like a Dream” (the title of his authored book), alcohol (Yoo was said to be a non-drinker),  parts of a copy of his book, and a brand of bottled water owned by Yoo’s company and that he drank exclusively.

The Korea Herald reported that “insiders raised the possibility that investigators may have regarded the body as that of an elderly resident from the provincial district.  Investigators had reportedly told the plum farm owner” who had found the body “that the body ‘seemed to be an ordinary homeless person.’ ”  I find investigators reactions, delays, inaction, and unwillingness to at least consider that the body could be Yoo’s given the circumstantial evidence inexplicable.

Members of Yoo’s Evangelical Baptist Church remain non-believers:

Despite the forensic evidence gathered by the police, the church’s followers refused to believe the body found in Suncheon was Yoo’s.

“The body was too decomposed to be his,” said church spokesman Lee Tae-Jong, who was also suspicious about the alcohol found at the scene.

“Chairman Yoo seldom drinks,” Lee told the YTN news channel.

“I suspect this is a trap laid by police in their efforts to capture him,” he added.

Open Thread: July 18th, 2014

Hey, fellas.  I figured since the last few Open Threads came out a bit late, that we would at least be a little early with this weekend’s edition.  Mr. Marmot has told me that normal blogging will commence next week.

Korean beer consumers voting with their feet

Many foreign beer drinkers complain that Korean beers suck.  Comments range from donkey piss to kinda drinkable if really, really cold.  Personally, I like Korean beer with spicy Korean food and have never really thought of Korean beers as terrible.  However, there is nothing like the free market to bring out a little objectivity to the debate.

According to data from the Korea Customs Service consumption of imported beer has risen sharply:

South Korea’s beer imports reached a record-high level in the first half of this year, exceeding the nation’s beer exports.

Beer imports to the country surged 28.5 percent on-year to US$50.8 million during the January-June period, the highest figure since comparable numbers were first made available in 2000…

[...]

Imported beer['s] tonnage has increased more than 15 times since 2000…

So, are the Koreans flocking to British stouts or American lagers?  No.

Imports of Japanese beer came to 13,818 tons, accounting for the largest portion of the figure at 25.8 percent. The list was trailed by the Netherlands, Germany, and China at 8,887 tons, 7,825 tons and 5,067 tons, respectively.

Nippon number one!  At least in beer imports.

Netherlands?  Would that mean Heinekens are popular in Korea?

A different kind of Chinese invasion

Tourists and RMB.  Yep, Korea is becoming awash in both.  Quartz article sums it up nicely:

Chinese tourists are heading to South Korea more than any other destination this year, according to travel agency Ctrip. That’s because political instability has turned many off Thailand, and China’s ties with South Korea have been warming.

Invasion central?  Jejudo.

But most of all there is the undeniable appeal of JejuThe resort island off the South Korean coast is drawing Chinese tourists with its subtropical climate, visa-free status, and attractions like casinos and an erotic-sculpture theme park known as Loveland.

[...]

In 2013, almost four million mainland Chinese tourists visited South Korea, and 1.8 million of them went to Jeju…If Ctrip’s predictions are correct, the number of mainland tourists visiting South Korea will rise to 5.6 million this year—equal to over 10% of South Korea’s population.

Chinese tourism for 2014 may equal 10% of the ROK’s population?  Holy cow!

 

Open Thread: July 14, 2014

Apologies to Uncle Marmot and all.

Names of Typhoons

The Typhoon in the region of Korea/Japan at the moment is called 너구리.

너구리 is the Korean word for Raccoon Dog (and not Raccoon, which are also called 아메리카 너구리 (America-noguri) in Korean)

I don’t remember the last time a typhoon was named after a Korean word (OK, maybe I have a vague recollection of Nabi 나비, but I was not sure if it came from the Korean word back then) so I decided to look up the convention of typhoon naming.

As expected there are some humorous comments on the internet related to how this typhoon is named after one of the most popular instant noodles in Korea. Incidentally, the reason why the instant noodles is named 너구리 is also interesting, as the *tenkasu (bits of tempura batter pieces)* which used to come in the 너구리’s 건더기스프 has disappeared, and the why たぬき udon/soba is named tanuki is also interesting, but I digress.
For those interested, this link in Korean explains a lot.

Back to the typhoon naming.

This Korean Meteorology webpage has information on how the names were provided -10 each from 14 countries which lie within the influence of Typhoon. These are placed in 5 different groups and every typhoon gets its name taken in turn from each group.

Since North Korea also submitted 10 entries, there are 20 Korean words floating around to be used. Say what you will about North Korea, looking at their entries and how they are spelled, they have the right idea about keeping the words sounding Korean.

Hereis the complete list of the 140 names from the 14 different countries and their meaning.

Apparently, the words submitted from South Korea carry the wish that it should not cause a large damage, and therefore the names are chosen from weaker and softer of the animal kingdom.

Finally, the piece of information I found most interesting is that every year, typhoons that caused a large damage in that year get their names replaced by new entries submitted from the same country.

From the article link :

우리나라가 제출한 태풍 ‘나비’의 경우 2005년 일본을 강타하며 엄청난 재해를 일으켜 ‘독수리’라는 이름으로 바뀌었다. 이 밖에도 ‘봉선화’가 ‘노을’로(2002년), ‘매미’가 ‘무지개’로(2003년), ‘수달’이 ‘미리내’로(2004년) 각각 대체됐다.

In the case of South Korea, 4 names have been replaced already.

너구리’s left South Korea but caused havoc in Nagiso in Nagano prefecture in Japan.

Here’s hoping that 너구리 goes away quietly in the night, and does not cause any more damage anywhere.

iPhone Security Problems in China?

According to Reuters, Chinese state media on Friday branded Apple Inc’s iPhone a threat to national security because of the smartphone’s ability to track and time-stamp user locations. Apple’s competitor, Samsung also has the means to track phones and log locations, however it is not made by the evil Americans.

I suppose the iPhone could really be a threat to state security if too many Chinese started using the ethics finder app . . . this is more a sign of insecurity than a lack of security!

Not The Role Model Hoped For

I remember reading of how Ahn Chang-ho help instill civil spirit, pride and honorable virtues in the Korean expatriate communities in California, Hawaii and Mexico.  I think he would be appalled to pick up the paper and read how one established and well-known Korean business in the US is now under investigation for enslaving Chinese-Koreans and hosting prostitution – Spa World in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Update:

It seems there is more of a back story to the events at Spa World – the spa owner and some clients reportedly were uncomfortable with at least one transgender customer and thought they could simply ban the LGBT crowd, however, this is a political and social issue (as demonstrated through this facebook page and has caused them trouble due to their misunderstanding of the issues involved. As a result of the backlash against the spa, Spa World has clarified its position, stating that they do not bar gays or transgenders and that they are welcomed.

Reading through the reports, it seems that some customers were uncomfortable being around one transgender customer and complained to Spa World management.  They asked her to leave, setting into motion a series of events that may or may not have lead up to the charges involving enslavement and prostitution.  The spa has every right to discourage people from having sex on the premises, as since it seems that some people think that Spa World is a great sex hookup spot!

One interesting result of all this is that since Fairfax County and Virginia have no laws prohibiting discrimination by businesses against members of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered community, this incidence may prompt political action to address this issue.

I should put Wangkon down as a direct contributor to this thread as well.  Thank you to everyone that added to this thread!

« Older posts

© 2014 The Marmot's Hole

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑