Foreigners in Busan busted for ‘anti-Korean’ performance

Police in Busan have booked nine foreigners in Busan for putting on an unapproved performance that allegedly degraded Korean culture, reports the Kyunghyang Shinmun.

The paper noted that they were booked (but not detained) on procedural grounds (you must seek permission from authorities before holding a performance), but controversy was expected since it was possible police were more concerned about what was said during the performance than the paperwork before it.

All in all, nine foreigners, including a 37-year-old American English instructor at a Busan university, were booked on violations of Korea’s performance laws, while seven band members, including a 30-year-old Canadian, were told to leave the country for violating immigration laws.

The Busan Nine—all apparently English teachers—had formed a performance group called “Right Down” and staged a one-act play called “Oriental Story” on Dec. 1 and 2 at a small theater in Namcheon-dong.

According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun, the performance was made up of 10 short skits that lampooned or degraded aspects of Korean culture foreigners found repulsive. One of their targets, apparently, was Korean immigration officials. During the performance, they ridiculed the entry process, joking (?) that Korean immigration officials ask if you know the Dokdo islets or bosintang (dogmeat soup) or kimchi and claiming that Korean civil servants demand that foreigners adopt the Korean way of thinking (Marmot: Koreans expecting people to do things the Korean way in Korea? The horror! The horror!).

They also lampooned Korea’s “strange” (so the Kyunghyang quoted them) number culture, including Koreans’ insistence on doing things three times (“They even shit three times,” they are quoted as saying), the taboo on the number four, and the use of “18” as an obscenity. They also ridiculed Koreans’ “saucepan disposition” (naembi geunseong, the tendency of Korean society to boil over quickly about a particular issue but just as quickly simmer down), calling it a “steam iron” (Marmot: I fail to see the association). Finally, they chose to express Korea’s dogmeat culture by pretending to eat with tortured expressions, throwing up, and eating again.

Oh, they also referred to middle-aged women as “stubborn ajuma.” Or something like that. Or so the Kyunghyang Shinmun said.

At the police station, they foreigners in question said about the dogmeat routine that they were just trying to express their displeasure with some Koreans who “force” foreigners to eat bosintang.

Entry to the performance was 7,000 won. Four performances were held, with some 600 people attending in all.

Police said the busts were made because it was an illegal performance, not because of the content of said performance.

Actually, I got an email this morning about the performance, which was apparently called “Babo-palooza.” There are discussions going on about it at Busanweb and EFL-Law. Said one poster at ESL-Law:

Just walked in from Babo-Palooza! at Beach Town on Gwangalli — What a friggin’ joke. More down and out English teachers than you could poke a stick at mocking Korea and Koreans with purile humour barely fit for a mental (###) camp. The organiser “teaches” at a Dong university in Busan and can be seen propping up the bar at O’Briens on any night of the week) spent the night thinking he had a Konglish accent when instead he sounded like a Pakistani. The rest of the losers (including a big chested woman from down under with a gut to match and some gutter baboon who looked like he’d swallowed a sheep) were just pathetic. Ten thousand won to see these monkies performing their favourite hogwan routines with added venom? No friggin’ way! This debacle only confirms my suspicions that Busan is home to the dregs of ESL in Korea. Next time, maybe someone should invite immigration and get these fools shipped home.

Not everyone felt that way, however. This blogger said the show did a “wonderful job walking the impossibly thin line of being witty and occasionally sarcastic without being spiteful or mean towards the Koreans and their culture.” Then there is this blogger, who is apparently one of the Busan Nine. Lamenting his position, he writes:

There is a good possibility that I will be fucked off out of this country. This makes me sad. I don’t want to leave. I’m not done with this place. I’m on the cusp of becoming functionally fluent in the language. I love the food, and most of the folks who I met have been ace.

But this is a nation that disguises itself as a modern industrialized democracy. It is the tenth largest economy on Earth and is a miracle of sorts. But peel the onion and you will see that Korea is still a patriarchal Confucian society, one that tolerates little true dissent or satire, especially from a foreign tongue. We are finding this out now.

If anyone has a detailed account of what was said or—praise be to God—video footage, I’d love to read/see it.

This is usually the point when the comment section flamewar begins.

UPDATE: Here is the NoCut News version of what happened (in Korean). Not really different from the Kyunghyang Shinmun account. The police were quoted as saying, however, that while the show did look at Korean culture from a fairly negative angle, it didn’t really amount to “degrading Korea” and, at any rate, was covered under free speech and hence not subject to punishment. But they added that holding a performance without permission from the Korea Ratings Board and engaging in activities outside your visa status are another story.

UPDATE 2: PusanWeb has posted corrections to what it claims to be inaccuracies in the Kyunghyang Shinmun piece (as summarized here). Be sure to check them out. Also, I should note that I did make one mistake in the beginning of the summary—rather than “arrested,” it should read “booked.” The summary has now been corrected. I’d also like to suggest that it might be better—at least for the sake of accuracy—to write up a refutation based on a full translation of the piece rather than the abbreviated summary you see above.

UPDATE 3: Commenter “Spook,” who says he is “intimately connected to the story,” has some very interesting things to say in the comments. And this, if true, should make a lot of people nervous:

In addition to claims of violations of E-2 visas, these guys are being prosecuted (persecuted?) for putting on an illegal performance. This is an issue that affects everyone, including bloggers, since right now there appears to be some question as to what kinds of activities foreign workers can do other than work, defecate and sleep. When these guys went in to the police, the police also discussed the illegality of another local event–a regularly-held Poetry night at a local bar where foreigners and Koreans would get up on stage and read poetry and play music to an audience for free. Guess what? The police said that was illegal. Are you in a band that plays in Itaewon on the weekends, or a mix-master at a Shinchon dance club? Guess again! You’re breaking the law according to Pusan police. Talking to a small group of Korean friends on the street? Who the heck knows, right? Could be illegal. This has a HUGE chilling effect on what we foreigners can do in Korea. Frankly, I’m not really sure anymore we can do.

Chilling.

UPDATE 4: The Korea Herald has run a piece on the Pusan Nine (or is it 15?) that is much more sympathetic to their plight than the Kyunghyang Shinmun. You’ll definitely want to check it out.

Pusanweb, meanwhile, is working hard to put out the fact… and only the facts. You’ll want to keep checking over at their website to get the latest on this case.

  • dogbertt

    First!

  • mateomiguel

    which Korea do we live in again?

  • Haisan

    I have no idea if performing without permission from “authorities” is a big deal to the Korean government, however, taking money for a performance is definitely a major issue for immigration.

    A Japanese guy who has done more to help the Korean underground scene than anyone else I know got fined and kicked out of Korea for doing that — despite receiving some significant support from local newspapers and others (even the Ministry of Culture knew of his case and were trying to help). But the feeling at immigration was, a violation is a violation. At least they lightened the fine somewhat and allowed him back into Korea after a few months.

    Anyhow, point being, taking money for public performances in Korea, not a good idea. If you want to make a point or express yourself, you better do it for free.

  • http://www.zzoozzoo.net ZZOOzzoo

    How impertinent of South Korean government to arrest and deport a bunch of foreigners who broke the law!!!

    I see no problem with the contents of their performance, but it seems pretty clear that they did break laws by hosting a commercial performance illegally and should therefore be punished appropriately.

  • http://hojupjimong.wordpress.com/ JiMong

    Oh, no, not the “Foreigners busted” thing again!

    Robert,Your theme must be “Racism in Korea” rather than holiday seasons stuff for this December,huh?

  • gbevers

    People must get permission from “authorities” to perform a play in a theater? I could understand if it were done on a public sidewalk, but why would they need permission to perform in a theater? Is it due to the fact that they charged for it?

    Does that mean the people who perform anti-American skits on the streets during demonstrations have also gotten permission from authorities?

    I wonder if it is illegal to write about “an illegal performance” on the Internet? Marmot, did you check with your lawyer before posting on this?

  • Hugh

    Ordinarily I’d predict this to reach 150 comments, but the Sauna post & KBS post might have drained all our spleen…

  • Hugh

    Ordinarily I’d predict this to reach 150 comments, but the Sauna post & KBS post might have drained all our spleen… 150 is only possible if Pawi gives us a rant.

  • dogbertt

    Oh, no, not the “Foreigners busted” thing again!

    Robert,Your theme must be “Racism in Korea” rather than holiday seasons stuff for this December,huh?

    Sorry, but this is news to us. It is understandably of lesser importance to a Korean refugee in Canada.

    You know, there is a popular blog (run by a Korean) called “Angry Asian Man” that does nothing but highlight instances of anti-Asian racism he finds in the U.S. each day. He doesn’t seem to take a break for the holidays either.

    You ought to check it out; it might be more to your liking than “The Marmot’s Hole”.

  • cm

    People must get permission from “authorities” to perform a play in a theater?

    Yes, if they’re going to charge 7000 won for the performance. That’s a violation of the immigration law because they had no permit for extra work or running a business.

    Plus, how smart is it to tease and make fun of the Korean immigration? The Korean immigration didn’t have to go by the book and charge these guys because after all, it’s just harmless performance. But I’m not surprised at all that the immigration were eager to throw the book at them.

  • Maekchu

    I’d like to see B.Carr’s thoughts on this from a legal standpoint. I’m no legal expert, but it seems to me that if a small group puts on a performance without a permit, only the organizer(s) and perhaps theater manager would be facing any penalty. But for the authorities to bring all of the performers into the police station and then run checks on their immigration status seems to prove that they were personally targeted above and beyond what the situation would normally call for.

    Had a small group of Koreans done a performance (no matter the subject matter) without a permit, the worst that would have happened would be small fines or a couple of bribes. I don’t think the police would take the Korean actors to the police station and run checks on them. It’s pretty obvious the extreme response from the police was due to it involving foreigners and the subject matter of their play.

    If they’d been doing a play bashing Japan or defending the honor of Dokdo, they’d be heroes in the media. Instead they’ll probably be deported.

  • jonnyh

    As others have noted, it’s no surprise that foreigners get in trouble when they are making money illegally in an obvious way that almost rubs it in Immigration’s nose. The fact that they’re doing it criticizing Korean society is almost a side issue, but pretty dumb and asking for trouble. Look at what happened to the U.S. Ambassador’s wife over jewelry sales and the expat actorsthose expats in “The Host.” 600 people at 7000 won a ticket means these folks made upwards of 4 mil for some pretty silly-sounding crap. After reading some of the brief reviews here, if I’d paid money, I’d want to see justice done too.

  • cm

    Apprantly the show ran more than once, but 3 or 4 times. With sold out 600 tickets per show, that’s a nice rake in for three or four nights.

  • slim

    “We are finding this out now.”

    How insightful could they have been?

  • Haisan

    CM – Try re-reading what I wrote. The way the various stories have been written made it sound like there were two issues here: 1) Performing for money, and 2) Getting permission for to perform in public.

    Obviously point 1 is true (which was the point of my post). My question was whether people in general (or foreigners in particular) need to get permission from the government to hold any kind of public performance, even for free.

  • gbevers

    Cm,

    According to the article, they were not arrested because they charged for their performance, but because they did not get prior approval from the Korea Media Rating Board, which is a committee that screens the content of performances.

    By the way, apparently you also have to get permission from the Korea Media Rating Board to post video or music files on the Web (see here).

    Apparently, the play did not get its XXX rating from the board before its performance.

  • cm

    Well, if that’s the case gbevers, then what is the charge against the seven band members, including a 30-year-old Canadian, who were told to leave the country for violating immigration laws?

    What immigration laws did they break?

  • dtwSickboy

    Not sure if this is true, but here.

    The two foreigners producers are now being fined one million won each. The police say this is because they worked outside of their teaching contracts, which is untrue. None of the actors were paid for their participation. They did charge for admission, but this was only to recover the associated costs, and any profits made were to be given to a Korean orphanage. I hardly find this reprehensible. They ended up losing money in the end, which doubles my confusion on the issue.

  • a-letheia

    if a small group puts on a performance without a permit, only the organizer(s) and perhaps theater manager would be facing any penalty.

    But not if every one of them took some of the money.

    [3 or 4 shows] sold out, 600 tickets per show

    Even 600 in total would be impossible in Pusan [even Seoul] for an amateur show. Maybe they marketed it in their Hagwons…

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    JiMong: Robert,Your theme must be “Racism in Korea” rather than holiday seasons stuff for this December,huh?

    Keep talking like that, JiMong, and it’ll be back to photos of old Japanese buildings. Think I’m bluffing? I’ve got a whole bunch from Incheon on my sidebar I haven’t blogged about yet :)

    In due seriousness, JiMong, this isn’t a deliberate editorial decision—there’s just been a sudden, entirely coincidental spike in foreigner-related stupidity in the news (Beauty-Gate, Sauna-Gate, now Babo-Palooza-Gate), and being the weak-willed individual I am, I lack the self-control and ethical conviction NOT to blog them.

  • tharp42

    Howdy.

    I am one of the producers of the show. There are several inaccuracies the Marmot’s post. I figure he got a lot of it from a Korean article, so it’s no surprise.

    First off, we did TWO performances in a small theater that only fit 80 people. So only 160 people saw the show. NOT 600. I have no idea where they came up with that figure. We spent 1,500,000 won on the show. We took in less, so we LOST money. Do the math. We never tried to make money on this thing to begin with. It was for fun, and any profit made would be donated to an orphanage. There’s a reason we only charged 7,000 won.

    The name of the show was “Babo-Palooza!”, not “Oriental Story.” And I will withhold the band’s name, so as to avoid incrimination, but they are not called “Right Down.”

    And NOBODY has been punished yet. They have brought many of us in, questioned us, taken our urine samples and fingerprints, but no charges have been filed. They will take everything to the prosecutor, who will then make the decision.

    It is apparent that we broke the law by staging a production and charging an admission fee. As one of the producers I’ll take responsibility for that and accept whatever punishment is meted out. But the vigor in which the cops are going after us suggests a motivation deeper than just busting us for visa violations. They were offended by the content of the show (a lot of Koreans loved it, btw) and are using these other laws as a pretext to punish us for dare poking fun at some local sacred cows.

    This thing is taking on a life of its own in cyber-land, but please make sure your facts are correct before wagging your finger and blowing your horn.

    CT

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/tharp42

  • cm

    dtwSickboy, the site you quoted has some error in information or misinformation, I don’t know which.

    It says,

    most foreigners have AIDS
    many foreigners are gay
    many foreigners come from bad universities with poor qualifications
    many foreigners are irresponsible and untrustworthy
    foreigners do not care about Korean children
    foreigners just want to party

    But the school’s site:

    why they don’t hire ‘native speakers’, nowhere does it say ‘foreigners':

    http://www.cyjenglish.com/images/whynot.gif

    The people that they do hire according to them, are described here:

    http://www.cyjenglish.com/images/rules.gif

    The site doesn’t say “foreigners have AIDS” and “many are gay”.

    Rather the accurate translation is: “difficult to tell the background of the person and what kind of person he is, whether they be gay, have AIDS, take drugs, or have sexual harassment”.
    The meaning is totally different from “many foreigners are gay and have AIDS”

  • dtwSickboy

    Keep talking like that, JiMong, and it’ll be back to photos of old Japanese buildings.

    Please do.

  • dtwSickboy

    dtwSickboy, the site you quoted has some error in information or misinformation, I don’t know which.

    I’m just the messenger. I’d suggest you send your complaints to the person who wrote it.

  • dtwSickboy

    dtwSickboy, the site you quoted has some error in information or misinformation, I don’t know which.

    I’m just the messenger. I’d suggest you send your complaints to the person who wrote it.

    Back on topic.

  • dtwSickboy

    Besides, that’s not even what I was pointing out.

    Back on topic…

  • a-letheia

    …but please make sure your facts are correct before wagging your finger and blowing your horn.

    Boy, ripe accusations from a man that failed to do his own homework.

  • wjk

    i think it’s an acceptable form of entertainment.

  • tharp42

    “Boy, ripe accusations from a man that failed to do his own homework.”

    Nice snarky quip, but glaring inaccuracies are being published about this show, and I think that it’s only fair to point them out.

  • seouldout

    Having been here long enough to have my belief in Occom’s razor knocked out of my head, I’m convinced that these events are do to Ban Ki Moon becoming king of the world.

  • cm

    tharp42, stand corrected. I had the impression from the posts at the Pusanweb forum that it was shown multiple times, not twice.

    But are you surprised immigration is going above and beyond to nail you, after the content of the show making fun of immigration and Korean culture? But then again, no one has been charged, so the prosecution I predict, will probably drop the case.

  • wjk

    regarding the 3 thing, it’s true.

    Many apartments and buildings in South Korea don’t have a 4th floor, or it’s F.

    4 being same as Sa, or sounding the same as death in Chinese letters. About the only thing positive about #4 in South Korea maybe the number 4 hitter in baseball.

    I don’t think the obsession with 3, and the phobia of 4 is necessarily indicative of Korea being a backward nation.

    They probably do a ton of this in China.

    Japan. Abstaining from another comment that “it is all Japan’s fault”, the Japanese do have worshipping of numerous Shinto related gods for almost every situation. And they turn to Buddhism for more solemn situations, such as death.

    I hope I added more fuel for the discussion.

    Just kidding.

    I kind of always wondered why Koreans don’t have an idol of Yi Soon Shin at restaurants, whereas the Chinese have the Guan Yu, Guan Ping, and Zhou Cang. I thought at American Chinese restauarants, Guan Yu would scare away customers more than bring them in. I think the cat or the jolly fat guy is more appealing.

  • seouldout

    Expect more, Mr. Monkey.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I am one of the producers of the show. There are several inaccuracies the Marmot’s post. I figure he got a lot of it from a Korean article, so it’s no surprise.

    Yes, I did. The Kyunghyang Shinmun. As linked. And mentioned several times in the post.

    This thing is taking on a life of its own in cyber-land, but please make sure your facts are correct before wagging your finger and blowing your horn.

    On the off-chance you’re referring to me, I didn’t wag a finger (with the exception of the “한국 공무원은 한국적 사고방식과 지식을 요구한다” comment) or blow my horn. I just posted what I read in the Kyunghyang Shinmun. And followed it up with a couple of links, including one to your blog and another defending the production.

    PS: If you’d like me to publish a refutation of the Kyunghyang piece—I am very aware that the Korean press can butcher stories—I’d be more than happy to do so.

  • dogbertt

    But the school’s site:

    why they don’t hire ‘native speakers’, nowhere does it say ‘foreigners’:

    http://www.cyjenglish.com/images/whynot.gif

    In today’s Korea, people understand “원어민” to be non-Korean native English speakers. Few, if any Koreans, would consider a “원어민” to be anything _but_ a non-Korean and would exclude from that even those kyopos who are native speakers of English.

    Also, the “clarification” that Robert pointed out refers explicitly to “외국인”, so it is certain that cyenglish is using the terms interchangeably.

  • tharp42

    “On the off-chance you’re referring to me, I didn’t wag a finger (with the exception of the “한국 공무원은 한국적 사고방식과 지식을 요구한다” comment) or blow my horn. I just posted what I read in the Kyunghyang Shinmun. And followed it up with a couple of links, including one to your blog and another defending the production.”

    I think you’ve given us a fair treatment, actually. I just wanted to point out the inaccuracies I saw.

  • railwaycharm

    Ah… harkens me back to “Soju mamma” on youtube. They had to have known that it would cause a fuss…You guys have degree’s right?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Anyone who thinks that this case is simply about neutrally enforcing the law against people who clearly broke it is foolish. The police and prosecutors have a lot of discretion when it comes to enforcement. Consider the fact that it is against the law to ride a motorcycle on the sidewalk, a violation that is punishable by a fine of up to KRW700,000. This is conduct that is not only annoying and inconvenient, and a blight on Korea’s aspirations to be regarded as a first world country, but a dangerous menace to public and personal safety. But the law is almost never enforced. Why do the authorities waste limited public resources trying to intimidate a small group of harmless foreign pranksters – (who since they didn’t make, didn’t even set out to make, any money, technically didn’t violate their immigration status; failure to comply with the registration requirements for theatrical performances is another matter); why don’t they rather focus on eradicting a behaviour that seriously compromises public safety and quality of life? Another glaring example of how the intersection of overreaching govt interference (registration of theatrical performances) in general (that afflicts Korean too) and lingering anti-foreign sentiment in Korea renders Korea not yet ready for prime-time. If what these guys did is actionable, we all better start thinking – which is actually what Kun Hyung wants you do to so that you’ll compromise your own liberty through self-censorship — about the fact that this interpretation of the immigration laws makes one subject to deportation at any time you rattle the chains held by your Korean employer by doing anything other than obey, or otherwise doing anything not expressly authorized by your visa status, including having the temerity to maintain or comment on a blog. Sure, it ain’t Myanmar and SLORC, but a hub it isn’t.

  • montclaire

    Robert, I don’t think we needed that quote from ESL-Law about how ugly or fat the actors allegedly were. That’s just mean.

  • a-letheia

    Ah… harkens me back to “Soju mamma” on youtube

    railwaycharm: Soju Mama didn’t cause a stink beyond Marmot’s Hole comments section, did it?

  • taxman

    They did break the law and they haven’t even been charged yet….so how can the producer and others blame the immigration office yet?Even the US ambassadors wife case was as big as this in the media but i don’t think she made fun of koreans or their culture..

    If you break the law and it leaks in the papers,you are gonna pay for it. That is the case in any country , hub or not.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I tumbled to this one too late. Sperwer’s got it covered. The violations of law are to be found in not registering the performance (for the organizer), and in taking pay to perform (for the “actors”) without permission from immigration authorities. Too many things are violations of law here in Korea — it’s a deliberate web the powers-that-be have woven, so that everyone is out of compliance with something, at all times. All the better to have a convenient stick to beat them with when they get out of line! Whether uppity English teachers or foreign lawyerslaborers, newspaper publishers critical of the administration (watch out for that tax investigation), or businessmen late with this month’s apple box, everyone is always guilty of breaking some widely-disregarded law which may be enforced at a whim. This is what’s known in the trade as Rule by Law vice Rule of Law.

    I have no doubt the performers were fat and ugly. (Probably Canadian too. Which means the fat-and-ugliness is probably attributable to too much Kraft Dinner.) And in my mind, this should be reason enough to immediately deport them after completion of a six-year jail sentence.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I have no doubt the performers were fat and ugly. And in my mind, this should be reason enough to immediately deport them after completion of a six-year jail sentence.

    Damn, do I need to go into hiding now?

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    You’re not Canadian, are you?

  • railwaycharm

    Oh G-d, here comes the anti-Canadian thing raining down. I am a yank through and through but even I have time for our friends to the north.My word! You are not jewish, are you?

  • montclaire

    Rule by Law versus Rule of Law. Brilliant. This is how the government can remain as autocratic as it was in Park Chung Hee days, yet still be considered democratic, because in every instance the public will say (as we are saying of the Busan Nine) that the poor suckers should have known they were breaking the law.

  • montclaire

    I agree, Railway. I yield to no one in my conviction that Canada is the source of all evil in the world. But I’m starting to feel sorry for this ill-starred people.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    “Rule by Law” has a very long history in the East, having been formerly theoretically and institutionally elaborated thousands of years ago in China under the rubric of Legalism. Hitler and Mussolini on the “right” and various people’s democracies on the “left” were also experts at this dodge in modern times. Just enemies of liberty and tyrannies all.

  • railwaycharm

    a-letheia from Korea (South) your flag
    Posted December 15, 2006 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Ah… harkens me back to “Soju mamma” on youtube

    railwaycharm: Soju Mama didn’t cause a stink beyond Marmot’s Hole comments section, did it?
    It was a complete comedy of errors that it did not! The English teachers puking etc..
    I was shocked it did not raise the ire of someone.

  • jdog2050

    “But this is a nation that disguises itself as a modern industrialized democracy. It is the tenth largest economy on Earth and is a miracle of sorts. But peel the onion and you will see that Korea is still a patriarchal Confucian society, one that tolerates little true dissent or satire, especially from a foreign tongue.”

    Well, my hat is definitely off to these guys because they pretty much “took one for the team”. The team being those of us in Korean who find that, to paraphrase J. Scott Burgeson, writer of the old zine Korea Bug, ” culture is wierd”. All cultures.

    This show is a backlash of sorts against the PC assholes who think that you have to find every aspects of someone elses culture exciting and refreshing at all times. Fuck that…sometimes shit is aggravating and wierd. And *thats* what makes it great, not pretending like it’s all equal. I don’t find it funny that korea is patriarchal and stratified…I find it funny and annoying that koreans pretend it’s not on the global stage. They deserve and desperately *need* someone to shove that in their face

  • Haisan

    But I’m starting to feel sorry for this ill-starred people.

    That is how it begins… Soon you’ll be paying $500 million just so your president can meet with Canada’s all-powerful overlord prime minister.

  • globalvillageidiot

    Were these foreigners to have staged – or merely participated in – a performance critical of USFK or the Bush Administration, I doubt that Immigration would have chosen to act. Call it a hunch.

  • montclaire

    jdog: You’re right. Culture is just another word for how people do things. To say, as Koreans often do, “We do this because it is our culture” is like saying “We do this because we do this.” And there shouldn’t be any taboos against criticizing it.

  • Spook

    As someone intimately connected to this story, there are a couple of points in need of clarification:

    1. The show in question was not about making money. Never. Tickets were sold to defray production
    costs (renting the theater, costumes, etc.) AND to regulate the number of audience members
    (‘if it’s free, how can you keep people out’ sorta
    thing). It was a small theater (60 capacity that was stretched to 80 to accommodate the audience, some of whom were turned away. The ‘actors’ rehearsed nights after work for two months before the performance. No one got ‘paid’ and nobody made a dime on this. In fact, the show ended up costing the producers money. Who works a ‘job’ that is tremendously time-consuming and costs that person money (other than Gaeseong Industrial workers… oops, there’s a knock at the door. The police? Man, they’re fast!)

    2. The show was about building bridges between the
    foreigner and Korean communities by poking fun at both. If anyone is curious about the content, read this review (http://www.socius.or.kr/content/view/436/). It describes every sketch in great detail. You decide just how ‘offensive’ it was.

    3. In addition to claims of violations of E-2 visas, these guys are being prosecuted (persecuted?) for putting on an illegal performance. This is an issue that affects everyone, including bloggers, since right now there appears to be some question as to what kinds of activities foreign workers can do other than work, defecate and sleep. When these guys went in to the police, the police also discussed the illegality of another local event–a regularly-held Poetry night at a local bar where foreigners and Koreans would get up on stage and read poetry and play music to an audience for free. Guess what? The police said that was illegal. Are you in a band that plays in Itaewon on the weekends, or a mix-master at a Shinchon dance club? Guess again! You’re breaking the law according to Pusan police. Talking to a
    small group of Korean friends on the street? Who the
    heck knows, right? Could be illegal. This has a HUGE chilling effect on what we foreigners can do in Korea.
    Frankly, I’m not really sure anymore we can do.

    If the wider world started getting the facts straight,
    the foreigner community (and many Koreans, I might
    add, since technically they would be violating the
    performance law for their own band, fund-raiser, etc.
    activities) should be up in arms about this.

    4. The treatment of the ‘accused’ at the hands of the police. Most of those brought in for questioning were contacted at work (yes, police showing up at the university or institute) and then brought down to City Hall to the Criminal Investigations Division for 2+ hours of questioning on that same day (usually as soon as the person could get off work). Some were asked for urine tests for drugs, all were asked to sign statements saying they didn’t want their embassies informed, and during the interviews, the police frequently referenced the content of the show. Believe me, folks, this ain’t about an illegal performance or E-2 visa violations. It’s about content, so again I’ll recommend that you read the review linked above to make your own decision.

    5. The overall investigation. Earlier this year, these same group of kids put on a play and charged money (again to defray production costs). The authorities knew about it, referenced it in the current interrogations with the accused, but did nothing about it (the play had nothing to do with Korea). Between that play and this sketch comedy show, one of the producers contacted the Pusan city government to request funding for the sketch show. The producer (a foreigner) was turned down, but to my knowledge, was not told of the illegality of such performances.

    During the actual sketch show, a police woman attended the second (of only two) performances on Saturday night. She sat through the whole show and said nothing. Aren’t police supposed to stop crimes if they see them being committed? Shouldn’t she have shut down the performance and acted immediately? At the very least you would think she would have asked the organizers to see their ‘performance permit’, but she remained silent. My opinion is that she wanted to see the content first. Oh, how do I know a policewoman attended the show? She was one of the interrogating officers who interviewed a cast member who actually had spoken to her the night of the show. She was sitting in the front row and afterward he went up to her and asked if she liked it. Did she then identify herself as a policewoman? No. She said she found the show offensive and that was it.

  • dynamica

    Is there truly any surprise over this? Poke fun at Korea from within Korea and obviously there is going to be some form of backlash from the Korean people. Satire, comedy, and sarcasm are something Koreans have not yet developed in their 5000 year history.

    So, instead of doing the poking from within Korea, do it from the outside when you return to your home country.

    Daily I see Korean people engaged in “stupid people tricks” here in Australia, and I don’t hestiate to point it out and laugh when they do. Such non-sense should not go without recognition. VANK (Volunteers Against Non-Sense Koreans) collects daily tales of theses stupid things Koreans do within their homeland and abroad for all to enjoy and have a chuckle at. Congrats to the Chosun-Ilbo for providing much of this content.

    Overall the level of xenophobia and discrimiation experienced by foreigners living in Korea does not remain out of thought once they leave Korea. Korea is doing a great job at disposing of foreigners and returning to their previous state as a Hermit Kingdom (unwelcoming to all outsiders).

  • slim

    I’ve dropped my plans for a musical parody of the political-economy of Putin’s Russia.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    Didn’t read all the comments.

    Just wanted to commend the reference to “The Busan Nine” and wonder how many of us got it?

    And did Marmot use it from knowledge of the Chicago 7?

    If so, big kudo. Nice reference in many ways.

  • http://hojupjimong.wordpress.com/ JiMong

    In due seriousness, JiMong, this isn’t a deliberate editorial decision—there’s just been a sudden, entirely coincidental spike in foreigner-related stupidity in the news (Beauty-Gate, Sauna-Gate, now Babo-Palooza-Gate), and being the weak-willed individual I am, I lack the self-control and ethical conviction NOT to blog them.

    There’s no doubt that you are insightful about Korea today. And, I do know that discrimination and racism are part of rotten side of Korea. It’s out there so badly against foreigners and minors. The problems won’t be solving by hiding it. And all of these (Beauty-Gate, Sauna-Gate, now Babo-Palooza-Gate) news came up to the surface in a row. Yet, I did not see any suggestions on these issues from commentators. That’s why I was more than welcome to see Mr. Hurt’s post for “Demand for an Official Apology from KBS”. Maybe, I was bit tired of reading more and more bashing rather than criticizing comments. Maybe, I was tired to receive all the stupid emails from K netizens for my daum petition board on beauty-gate. It’s your blog and the show runs by you. My apology if I offend you by my comment.

    Sorry, but this is news to us. It is understandably of lesser importance to a Korean refugee in Canada.

    You know, there is a popular blog (run by a Korean) called “Angry Asian Man” that does nothing but highlight instances of anti-Asian racism he finds in the U.S. each day. He doesn’t seem to take a break for the holidays either.

    Thank you so much for remind me my status in Canada. I almost forgotdogbutt dogbertt! Definitely, I will check the “Angry-Asian man”site so I could see your distorted balancef views. Oh! please also accept my apology since I don’t know what your problem is,,,, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.

  • montclaire

    Very informative, Spook. And very depressing.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    My apology if I offend you by my comment.

    No apology needed—I wasn’t offended. Sorry if I came off as if I were. Actually, I was thinking the same thing you were—given the recent material posted, the Hole was starting to look like a blog dedicated to discussing Korean racism. Which it’s not.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Spook provides the perfect response to the inanity of the taxman’s “they haven’t even been charged yet”:

    The treatment of the ‘accused’ at the hands of the police. Most of those brought in for questioning were contacted at work (yes, police showing up at the university or institute) and then brought down to City Hall to the Criminal Investigations Division for 2+ hours of questioning on that same day (usually as soon as the person could get off work). Some were asked for urine tests for drugs, all were asked to sign statements saying they didn’t want their embassies informed, and during the interviews, the police frequently referenced the content of the show.

    Anyone who doesn’t appreciate that this sort of police conduct is intrusive and prejudicial – particularly in Korea – has, at best, been lulled into complacence by having mostly lived somewhere where you generally can’t get rousted simply for hanging around talking shit.

    “Chilling”, indeed – as I pointed out in #38 et al.

    And Robert, these people were in fact arrested – compelled to appear at police hdqtrs – and interrogated, intimidated into providing urine samples and waiving their right to consular advice; they just were not detained after they were booked.

    USINKOREA: Reminded me (for no particular reason but the form of the title) of the Harrisburg 7 rather than the Chicago 7 (who were really 8, if you include Bobby Seale, who was originally indicted with the 7 pieces of whitebread). Remember them? I knew Daniel Berrigan from a couple years before he and his brother and the others trashed the draft records at the Harrisburg Selective Service offices, including mine :)),when he was the Catholic chaplain at my undergrad uni.

  • http://www.bloglines.com/blog/KOTESOLenews Landros

    at least they weren’t tasered.

  • http://www.bloglines.com/blog/KOTESOLenews Landros
  • Benicio74

    Well, the media got the story all fouled up and riddled with inaccurate information- Big farkin’ surprise!

    These performers are being targetted for the content of their performance, plain and simple. The police/immigration explicitly state that they are not targetting this group for the content, but for visa violations. They are doing this to make you think that they are doing the exact opposite of what they are really doing. Well, I wasn’t fooled.

    They are being condemned by people who have no idea of the concept of satire. They do not understand lighthearted ribbing and think of it only as attack on Korea. They think of comedy as people dressing in funny costumes or school uniforms and calling each other “ugly” while slapping themselves on the forehead.

    Regardless of the what the foreign audience thought- the majority loved it- the most telling is the Korean audience reaction. Most everyone I saw were laughing just as hard as the foreigners. My friend’s husband- a rugged, Busan man, not known for any sense of humor- was howling! He thought it was hilarious!

    There is a minority who are so thin-skinned as to not understand that parts of the show were satirizing Korean behaviors, not Korean culture. There is a difference.

    Is it Korean culture to be rabidly fanatic about Dokdo? No, that’s a behavior.
    The skit about boshintang/dog soup was good in the fact that it showed how Korean people push Korean food and whatnot onto newcoming foreigners. Many times, the foreigner is disgusted at first- take kimchi, bondaegi, dog soup. It can even induce nausea, but, the foreigner can eventually learn to like it. This was all done to the “Green eggs & ham” theme with a little vomit humor.

    This show was pretty even in it’s satire. It parodied stupid foriegn teachers, foreigners who do nothing but drink and complain about Korea, loser foreigners who think they are bigshots in Korea- it got ’em all.
    The first skit about complaining foreigners broke out into a song and dance number about Americans’ obsession with guns- “What Korea really needs is guns!”. I thought it was great and I’m American. So is the main actor.

    The media story as well as the haters portray it as only an attack on sacred Korean culture- a real farce!

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Sperwer—They might very well have been arrested. I made the correction, however, for translation’s sake; wouldn’t want to put words in the Kyunghyang Shinmun‘s mouth.

  • Benicio74

    Keep in mind that even if the performers/producers are not deported, they will probably be fired from their jobs. There is that clause about “obeying the laws of Korea” in all of our contracts.

    This is a witch hunt!

    The sh1t storm got started at Pusanweb.com & ESL-Law by a few foreingers who are supreme loserse whohave nothing betterto do, but try and sully other people. They had a beef with this show and wanted to take it down along with everyone involved.
    If you read the “review”-if you can call it that- from ESL-Law in the original piece, you’ll see that the loser who wrote it had nothing intelligent to contribute. They only sought to destroy the performers by spreading lies about the organiser’s alleged drinking habits and comment that one of the female performers has large proportions as if that somehow lessens them as people and worsens the terribleness of their show.
    This should show you what kind of level this idiot “reviewer” is operating on.
    These idiots are nothing but haters who contribute nothing to our community and only seek to take down other people because they are such losers.

  • Maekchu

    A urinalysis test for failure to get a work permit to conduct a non-profit performance????

    This kimchi smells rotten. The Pusan police department are the ones who should be investigated. Korea as a whole should be ashamed.

  • Benicio74

    Also, the foreign “netizen” loser started a rumor on the ESL-Law & Pusanweb forums that drugs were being sold and consumed at the show.
    He, I know it was a he, did it for no other reason than to cause trouble for the people involved. It was probably the same loser who chose to disparage the female performer over the size/shape of her body!
    This guy should be deported from the planet!

  • Breaktrack

    I have no sympathy for people who break Korean law, none. However, shouldn’t the police do things that really matter? Things like enforcing basic traffic laws the violation of which ranks them at almost the top of the world in regards to traffic DEATHS.

  • Breaktrack

    Brendon:
    Although I’m Canadian, I find your comments about Canadians funny as hell!

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss LeoStrauss

    by any chance
    is anybody from the Busan Nine connected with The Yangpa?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Brendon might want to clarify the details, but I’ve heard it is now possible to sue Korean police officers if they have been rude to you. First thing I would have done if I was one of the performers was inform the cops that I knew of this new law.

  • Kunsanpcv

    “When you stick your head in the gorilla cage, don’t be surprised when he grabs a good handful of your neck” Flip Wilson

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    A urinalysis test for failure to get a work permit to conduct a non-profit performance????

    Seems overreaching, but nope — there is a legal concept known as “reasonable suspicion”. English teachers with maple-leaf flags on their backpacks are almost certain to be hopheads. Jack ’em all up, I say.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    What gets me about this, and again, I haven’t had time to read all the comments, is how these expats can be rounded up for offending Korean sensibility, and when Koreans read about it in the papers, the mildest form of reaction will be simple agreement that the police did the right thing and the expats should be deported and fined, but a typical reaction would be to off-handedly say the teachers should be roughed up or something.

    Yet, this same society can’t get much energy flowing across the masses when it is reported that a Nazi bar is doing business in one of its major cities – that the waiters and waitresses wear brown uniforms akaa Hitler’s fanatically political supports/intemidation troops – complete with swastika armbands.

    Something like that comes out, and the expat community reacting to it just doesn’t understand Korean culture – it really isn’t meant the way it looks, its just a concept, yada yada yada…

    But I guess they are making progress…

    Judging by the limited amount of attention I was able to give to the TV foreign beauties posts here and elsewhere, it seems a fair number of Koreans were upset at what happened there.

    Give it another 100 years……and you’ll see….

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  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    P.S.

    Robert,

    Did you have the Chicago 7 in mind when you wrote that phrase?

    I did a report on them and Abby Hoffman the year Abby Hoffman killed himself before he killed himself.

    I don’t think the two were related……….

  • http://www.efl-law.com Gollum

    I am curious what would happen if some people with F2s staged such an event, but didn’t charge?

    How much is the fine for an illegal performance?

  • pabsthooligan

    I’d like to point out that the Busan police are certainly providing an incentive for expats to spend all their time in bars or just stay home and smoke weed. What else are they going to do, anyway?

    But a thought occurs to me: if we really wanted to end prostitution in this country, maybe we could organize a “Take Your Foriegner to Work, and then Room Salon” night. Spread the love. Set some busts in motion. You know the drill. After that, maybe we could start riding our motorcycles down the sidewalk.

  • http://www.efl-law.com Gollum

    What would be funny is a free “Bagopalooza” (yes, Bago) where foreigners wear bags over their heads, or masks….

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Why, yes, usinkorea, I did have the Chicago 7 in mind, although I believe the “City-Number” construction is used rather frequently nowadays.

  • montclaire

    Working Notes for a Romantic Comedy Play that Won’t Get Me Deported:
    He’s a Japanese scientist measuring the ocean floor, she’s a Korean reporter covering a story on Dokdo, and – no, scratch that. He’s a handsome chaeobol scion in the first class compartment of the KTX, and they’re three Western beauties en route to Busan, Jewel of the East. Humor ensues as the beauties all vie to win the chaebol scion’s favors…

  • BusanAjossi

    When will foreigners learn? You are not supposed to make fun of Korean culture. You must marvel at the temples, relish your kimchi, delight in the music, and get wet/hard over the hallyu star of the moment. This is the appropriate response.

    Satire? Come back in another 5000 years.

  • iwshim

    beautiful

  • iwshim

    all of it

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Strauss LeoStrauss

    yes right

    satire won’t work here in Korea

    you should go to Thailand or the Philippines

  • michael

    Sperwer, my sister-in-law was hit by a motorcycle-driving asshole on the sidewalk last week, and almost every day the assclowns pass within centimeters of me on the sidewalk. All of which is illegal. But yeah, an amateur performance by ESL teachers gets more attention by the authorities. Hub of Asia.

  • stan

    1. I wonder if this means the Royal Asiatic Society Korea will have to shut down? They do performances.

    2. Also the government quite often uses those without the correct permit to do work for there ministries (side jobs, level testing, etc.)

    3. The timing is suspicious, http://www.eslcafe.com/jobs/korea/index.cgi?read=21920 think about it Dong University would have just finished marking final grades. The teacher can NOW be deported without a disruption in the teaching schedule or student marking(minor a few embarrassments). They have already started hiring and the corpse aint even cold yet. Something is rotten about this.

  • montclaire

    Police sure wouldn’t pull a stunt like that during PIFF either.

  • http://eflgeek.com EFL Geek

    3. In addition to claims of violations of E-2 visas, these guys are being prosecuted (persecuted?) for putting on an illegal performance. This is an issue that affects everyone, including bloggers, since right now there appears to be some question as to what kinds of activities foreign workers can do other than work, defecate and sleep. When these guys went in to the police, the police also discussed the illegality of another local event–a regularly-held Poetry night at a local bar where foreigners and Koreans would get up on stage and read poetry and play music to an audience for free. Guess what? The police said that was illegal. Are you in a band that plays in Itaewon on the weekends, or a mix-master at a Shinchon dance club? Guess again! You’re breaking the law according to Pusan police. Talking to a
    small group of Korean friends on the street? Who the
    heck knows, right? Could be illegal. This has a HUGE chilling effect on what we foreigners can do in Korea.
    Frankly, I’m not really sure anymore we can do.
    Could it get more Orwellian. Pretty soon we won’t be able to gather in groups larger than 2 or 3 without being deported.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    although I believe the “City-Number” construction is used rather frequently nowadays.

    That’s why I asked.

    The reference struck a chord with me as being rather brilliant. Not sure exactly why – that the two situations fit or not.

    The Chicago 8 (reduced to 7) were leading packs of people into violating laws on the books.

    They were taken care of by a corrupt mayor who ruled his domain like Park Chung Hee.

    They were also convicted in court by a judge notorious for his verdicts – thus convicted by a broken system.

    To me, the reference just rung an interesting bell.

  • slim

    I can’t see how they could have put all the time they did into preparing the skits and failed to look into those registration/visa issues that are being used to mask this move. I also question the wisdom of inviting natives to the gig, since it takes no more than 24 hours in country to realise one is in an irony-free zone of world-beating xenophobia.

    I see more scrapes like this as Korea moves into unification mode.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    They should get the proper permits and stage another show, free admission.

  • jdog2050

    @slim: ahahahah, unification. Oh wait, you were serious.

    @someguyinkorea’s last comment: I don’t know what to say. I’d honestly rather them not put the show on at all, than go scraping for some fucking permit for a semi-impromptu charity show. This is exactly why art and music and design in Korea is mostly, at best, pale imitations of *something* in the west. Satire moves art forward, and as long as that doesn’t exist in Korea, the *scene* is going to stay stuck in rip-off mode.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    It will be satire if they send invitations to the police investigators.

  • slim

    Unification mode, as distinct from actual unification, is already apparent in many of the statements and actions by Roh & company, as well as, for instance, in that recent North-South “journalists” confab. My point, illustrated nicely by this Pusan flap, is that harmonization of North-South societies is happening, but not in the direction most of us hope for and expect.

  • http://yankabroad.blogspot.com yankabroad

    Maybe the Koreans are getting back at you Americans the only way they can.

    Did you ever consider that?

  • montclaire

    So they get back at Canadians? Yeah, that’ll show Uncle Sam!

  • slim

    I think a piss test of yankabroad would give us a better handle on his worldview.

  • Sonagi

    Yankabroad said:

    Maybe the Koreans are getting back at you Americans the only way they can.

    YOU Americans?

  • montclaire

    It’s easy for us to sit back and say the Busan 9 should have known better, but the same could happen to anyone who gives the authorities a reason to dislike him/her. They will “lone-star” you until they find some evidence of law-breaking or undesirable behavior.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    YOU Americans?

    For 20 points, anyone want to note the cultural/historic reference this alludes too?

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    Here are some other nuggets.

    The Priest calls out his minions — you know, the ones who are members of that openly illegal social club called Hanchongryon — to storm the fence line at the Koon-ni bombing range and sucessfully breach it, but the judge throws it out, because the group was calling attention to an important social issue in Korean society.

    Similar findings have been given by the courts for other base and embassy breaches.

    A couple dozen of the minions with an unidentified middle aged male storm the US Chamber of Commerce, break out a window on a high floor of a tall building (not smart considering people could have been showered with high velocity falling glass below) and they get a suspended sentence with their record wiped clean in 2 years if they behave.

    Or how about this beauty — 3 US soldiers are attacked by a mob of the minions led by a former National Assembly member who had been kicked out of office for illegal visits to Pyongyang and other pro-NK activity.

    The police end up stating for the record, so the press quoted, that they came to the conclusion the ex-lawmaker started the fight by striking 1 of the soldiers – which then was a greenlight to the minions to pounce —

    but no charges are brought against the ex-lawmaker or minions — I guess the police thought simply dropping the charges against the soldier who was eventually held captive by the minions and forced to write out statements against himself and USFK was such a big deal, they didn’t need to apply justice. USFK and the expats should have just thanked them profusely for not convicting the GIs for getting mobbed….

    And so on — along with the yearly stories of GIs really doing stupid and at times horrible crap and going to jail for it, there are one or two cases like the above each year.

    Group of some 50 Irish expats get the crap beat out of them and shot in the head by security guards with air guns, and the police take 3 whopping reports – 2 of which were the owner of Helios and a security guy…

    And so on —-

    but a group of expats puts on a play saying bad things about Korea have to be deported for not having a permit….

    Sounds about right….

  • SomeguyinKorea

    The funny thing is that Koreans have done this sort of comedy before. Am I the only one who saw Bruno Bruni play the clown on TV by hiding that he’s fluent in Korean by misprouncing the easiest of Korean words, grimacing after tasting kimchi, and asking for bread? (To his credit, Mr. Bruni openly criticized Korean TV producers and left Korea shortly after realizing that this would never change).

  • montclaire

    You can grimace after eating kimchi, they kind of like thinking it’s too strong for foreigners. But do not grimace after eating dog-meat, which due to international criticism is a far more sensitive issue. A foreigner should not even bring up the fact of Korean dog-eating to other foreigners, as this automatically means he is “distorting”(왜곡) the issue or denigrating (비하) Korean culture.

  • http://www.pusanweb.com Pusanweb

    Pusanweb has spoken to cast members and in an attempt to clear up some of the misinformation out there has published “Just the Facts”.

    Pusanweb.com

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    The police end up stating for the record, so the press quoted, that they came to the conclusion the ex-lawmaker started the fight by striking 1 of the soldiers – which then was a greenlight to the minions to pounce —

    but no charges are brought against the ex-lawmaker or minions — I guess the police thought simply dropping the charges against the soldier who was eventually held captive by the minions and forced to write out statements against himself and USFK was such a big deal, they didn’t need to apply justice. USFK and the expats should have just thanked them profusely for not convicting the GIs for getting mobbed…

    In Korea, for most cases of violent crime the police do not “bring charges” — the victim does. Without the victim’s express complaint, there are no charges. Americans generally do not know this, and the Korean police operate on the expectation that everybody knows what to do if they are a victim of a crime. So each side waits fruitlessly for the other side to “do the right thing”. Language also plays a role — since they don’t speak English (and the foreigner doesn’t speak Korean) the cops generally can’t tell the foreigner “We can’t take any action without your complaint. Would you like to file charges?” I’ve been present when the police “interpreter” would ask, “Do you want to sue?” — which to English speakers conveys the idea of a civil complaint, something possibly to be taken up after the bastard criminal is prosecuted. Plus, due to overall prejudice, sometimes the police do actively discourage the foreigner who does insist on making a complaint.

    It doesn’t help that the complaint and statement must be made in Korean, either. Advanced countries have reliable interpretation services available to the criminal justice system for contingencies, but Korea is not an advanced country.

    Still, the onus falls on USFK. It’s not like they don’t know Korea’s mickey-mouse criminal justice system is stacked against them. TRAIN the soldiers and SOFA representatives to make counter-complaints!

  • BusanAjossi

    …harmonization of North-South societies is happening, but not in the direction most of us hope for and expect.

    Great point, and one that often strikes me living in “free” “democratic” South Korea. In both North and South, it is striking how quickly they circle the wagons and go on the warpath in defense of Planet Korea when confronted with critical foreign voices.

    It is interesting to note that the Korean woman who appeared in the “Boshintang” sketch (one of two sketches deemed most offensive by the authorities) was treated as a foreign tool by police when she surrendered herself for questioning. The assumption belied here is one of innocence: the age-old story of noble Korea duped into betraying itself by crafty foreign influence.

    It’s also interesting to note that the authorities involved are quick to point out that it is not a “content” issue, and that free speech lives and breathes in this bastion of human rights and individual liberty. Why then, would they ignore a larger production, held a few months before, produced and performed by the same people? Here’s a hint: the play (“The Accidental Death of an Anarchist”) was set in Italy, concerned police brutality and official lies, and was tweaked and updated to include contemporary political references, including a few jabs at the current U.S. administration. It was not about Korea directly, rather, it was about Korea only insofar as Koreans participate in the human condition. And there were of course no boshintang jokes. If we are to believe the police that their interest in Babopalooza was strictly legally motivated, how do we explain their total disinterest in the “Anarchist” production, if it’s not a content issue, as they claim? (Also note that tickets to “Anarchist” were priced higher, and it was held in a larger venue, for a longer run (4 shows)).

    If this thing reeks, it is for good reason. It’s rotten: A crappy story about pettiness, self-importance, xenophobia, paranoia, distortion, and insecurity, brought to you free of charge by Busan City Hall.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    montclaire comment 104 — excellent point.

    Even my wife bristles if dog-eating is mentioned….

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Concerning comment 104…People can eat dirt for all I care as long as they stay away from human babies and endangered species.

  • cm

    montclaire comment 104 — excellent point.

    Even my wife bristles if dog-eating is mentioned….

    Is there any surprise? Korea-dog eating is often used as a weapon to bash Koreans with. It’s a defensive reaction.

    There were even widely reported stories of Koreans in New York with their dog restaurants stealing and abusing pet dogs in American city neighborhoods.

  • robert neff

    Probably a stupid question but….

    Why are the police investigating an immigration issue? Isn’t that immigration’s responsibility?

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  • SomeguyinKorea

    Robert, I think they are just being investigated for having staged an ‘illegal’ public presentation.

  • R. Elgin

    The police must be acting because someone complained about the performance.

    If one were to record a CD for distribution, here in Korea, it must pass a censorship board and, yes, they will want to submit the lyrics for review, however, according to one Korean producer of staged shows, here in Korea, there is no real board of censorship that a producer of shows must apply to for approval to put on a show. There are are some obvious guidelines involving nudity, profanity, etc.

    As Brendon pointed out, if someone complains to the police, then they move. The “someone” complaining in this case must have connections with or must be working for Busan City. The teachers should file a counter complaint against the police or city since there is no real violation of law here, if my understanding of this nonsense is correct.

  • railwaycharm

    Mr Carr,

    Is the Maple leaf on the backpack a red badge of courage or tantamount to Star of David in this jack-boot society. I love the sarcasm BTW. Jack them all indeed! I would loose ¾ of my staff! Great chuckle on this snowy Sunday.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    The teachers should file a counter complaint against the police or city since there is no real violation of law here, if my understanding of this nonsense is correct.

    I wouldn’t be so quick to state “no real violation of law here”. As our dear friend Sperwer and I have noted (two titanic legal minds, these), Korean law is such that there is always a violation of law to be found. All the better to punish you with, my dear, once you step out of line. But in this case, I suspect no entrapment in the tangled web, just stupidity. This is no Orwellian nightmare, friends.

    Let’s start with some safe assumptions: The performers were a group of random fat-and-ugly English teachers in Pusan. English teachers, for the most part, are on E-2 visas. And for the sake of fun, let’s assume they are Canadian. On top of that, let’s take what the Babopalooza organizers have stated to be the truth about what they did. In order of seriousness and easy-to-proveishness:

    Real Violation of Law #1: Immigration law requires a person holding a visa to undertake only those activities permitted by the visa. E-2 allows the teaching of English — not the staging of musical or theatrical performances, nor the exhibition of art. You can pretty easily get permission to do things other than originally authorized by your visa, by application for an endorsement to the visa; woe betide ye if ye din’t. We discussed this a lot here on the Marmot’s Hole during the Lisa Vershbow jewelry-show caper.

    Real Violation of Law #2: The Value Added Tax Act requires the collection of 10% value added tax on all sales; to facilitate supervision of that tax collection, businesses (including sole proprietors) must register with their local district tax office to obtain a taxpayer identification number. Regardless of their profit or loss, VAT is owed. If you didn’t get that taxpayer ID number to report VAT, you’re in trouble, dumbass.

    Real Violation of Law #3: We are given to understand that regardless of content, public performances are required to register with their local police station. You might say that’s to control speech (which it might very well be), but there’s a valid public-policy reason as well: Fire Safety. Recall how the Babopalooza organizers said they squeezed 80 people into a space meant for 60? There’s a good reason to report where public performances will be held, and that’s so the authorities can come over to see if there’s a hazard to life and limb (and, in Chicago or any city in Korea, pick up their bribe to ignore it). Don’t tell me no license is needed in the advanced West; that’s nonsense. Any performance hall has to have some kind of license, and to report when it’s to be occupied. And in London, sidewalk and Underground buskers have to get a license just to sit there and strum.

    Real Violation of Law #4: Sale of liquor requires a license — at a bar, at a supermarket, from a vending machine, wherever. Babopalooza sold cans of beer for W2000 each. Since the performance hall was not a supermarket, it probably falls under regulation of bars and restaurants. Are we now saying that sale of beer is completely unregulated in the advanced West?

    Real Violation of Law #5: I’m just guessing here, but to promote their show I’d bet dollars to doughnuts (loonies v. Tim Horton’s, of course!) that to promote their show the organizers posted handbills. In Seattle that would have gotten you a stiff fine when I was in law school, and Seattle is the home of the posted handbill.

    So, we have at least four, and probably five, “real violations of law” — without even touching upon the content of the show. Add the fact that the performers were Canadian, and you’ve got a crime spree: We all know that in any assemblage of five Canadian English teachers, you’re bound to have one B.C. pothead and probably a bail-jumper from New Brunswick as well. Given that, I consider it appropriate for the fuzz to administer the lot of these lawbreakers a whiz quiz. Maybe they were impaired when they decided the local audience would appreciate their show.

    Now, the content of the show, which according to the reviews was both obnoxious and unfunny, would not be unlawful if not obscene. This is, believe it or not (accepting for the moment the electrified-rail topics of dogmeat, kimchi, and Dokdo), a free-speech country. You can say what you want. But be a dick about it (or let’s just say babo, as in Babopalooza), and you’re inviting official scrutiny into what other violations of yours they might find. And in this regard, despite the undeniable thin skins of its denizens, Korea is no more oppressive than America: Don’t lip off to the highway-patrol trooper if you have outstanding warrants, expired plates or driver’s license, or lapsed motorist’s insurance.

    In sum, the Pusan Nine ought to be served a nice hot cup of STFU.

    Speaking of fat and ugly, have you seen this month’s Costco membership magazine? Egad.

  • Remort

    The Dirty Nine. Haha. This is the most important thing the police have to do in Korea is bust a few bad actors?

    –Remort

  • R. Elgin

    I didn’t realize these boobs sold beer and tickets too. Those guys are idiots then and for the reasons you listed Brendon.

    Forget about the posting of handbills though; I get illegal postings in the neighborhood from loan sharks, movers, LG Telecom and HCN cable all the time and no one does anything about that either.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Whether a law is actively enforced or not, to violate said law leaves one exposed to a sudden interest in enforcement.

    I am sure that the Babopalooza fools were selected for a jacking-up because the content of their show offended the police officer in the front row. That’s just common sense. But for them to snivel “freedom of speech!” and “anti-foreigner hysteria!” is a bit much when there exists a passel of obvious violations of law. Get your house in order, Lenny Bruce, then test the limits of tolerance.

  • cm

    And for the sake of fun, let’s assume they are Canadian.

    The head honcho of the organization was an American. As everything is in business, the CEO should take the fall.

    Other then that, Mr.Carr just summarized my own mixed feelings on this.

    And I may just want to add, it’s really amusing the level of reaction, over what it amounts to be a speeding ticket. And they haven’t been prosecuted yet. All of a sudden the over the top uproar is “we’re being shut up because we’re foreigners” and “we’re going to be deported because they hate foreigners”. Uh.. yeah.. OK.

  • Sonagi

    Real Violation of Law #5: I’m just guessing here, but to promote their show I’d bet dollars to doughnuts (loonies v. Tim Horton’s, of course!) that to promote their show the organizers posted handbills. In Seattle that would have gotten you a stiff fine when I was in law school, and Seattle is the home of the posted handbill.

    I suppose posting handbills on utility poles is less trashy than littering them all over the sidewalk, a favorite advertisement strategy of Shinchon clubs. Seoul ain’t Seattle!

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I suppose posting handbills on utility poles is less trashy than littering them all over the sidewalk, a favorite advertisement strategy of Shinchon clubs.

    Once again, it matters not what everyone else is doing. If you’re in violation of the law, you’re fair game.

  • gbevers

    A few questions and comments about Brendon’s violations of the law:

    Violation #1: I assume an E2 visa holder can act in a play or exhibit art as long as he or she does not charge for it. Would an E2-visa holder be breaking the law by receiving interest payments on his or her savings deposits in a Korean bank?

    Violation #2: I wonder how many Korean businesses actually collect value-added tax?
    My local super market uses a hand calculator and an open cash drawer to transact sales. Also, a realtor recently bragged to me that she made a 27 million won commission off a real estate deal. When I asked how much of that she had to pay in taxes, she laughed and said that realtors do not pay taxes on their commissions. I guess that is why the threat of a tax audit is so effective in Korea?

    Violation #3: They must register the content of their play because it might be a “fire hazard”? That’s funny.

    Violation #4: Selling beer was dumb, but it made me wonder if Korea’s universities get liquor licenses for the beer and soju they sell at their annual festivals? I also wonder how much VAT they collect and if they register their stage performances with the local police?

    Violation #5: You’re kidding, right? Are handbills illegal in Korea? Everyday I come home from school I have to peel at least two or three handbills off my apartment door.

    The selective enforcement of laws in Korea is what really stinks, and there is probably nothing the foreigners could have done to legally get permission to put on a play that satirizes problems in Korean society. As Brendon said, the laws seemed to be designed to get you no matter what you do.

    By the way, let me slip a legal question in here. Am I entitled to severance pay if I am working at a 2-year college, not a 4-year college, and paying into the National Pension system, even though my contract says that no severance pay will be paid? Also, if the first contract was only for eleven months, but was renewed with the same school the following year with a one-month gap in pay, though officially still under contract with the school, would that one-month gap in pay prevent me from getting severance pay for the first eleven months?

    Brendon’s a lawyer, and I know it is inappropriate to ask him for free legal advise, but maybe others here who have been in a similar situation can answer my questions? If I do have a right to severence pay under the National Pension Plan, how much can I expect to pay in legal fees if I am forced to take the issue to court? I have been with my college for six years and paid into the national pension system for at least four of those years, so for me that is a big chunk of change. Anyway, any information or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • cm

    Again, I suggest you read his points carefully.
    Doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, it’s your fault if you open yourself up to selective enforcement of law.

    Here it is again.

    Whether a law is actively enforced or not, to violate said law leaves one exposed to a sudden interest in enforcement.

    If you’re in violation of the law, you’re fair game.

    Don’t lip off to the highway-patrol trooper if you have outstanding warrants, expired plates or driver’s license, or lapsed motorist’s insurance.

    In sum, the Pusan Nine ought to be served a nice hot cup of STFU.

  • gbevers

    CM,

    Do you really think that if you were nice to a highway patrol officer in the US, he would ignore outstanding warrants, expired license and plates, and lapsed motorist’s insurance?

    That is a bad analogy. A better one would be using racial stereotyping for traffic stops.

  • Spook

    While I was writing this, gbevers posed some of these questions, but here goes anyway…

    First of all, a big thanks to Mr. Carr for his detailed examination of the legal issues involved. Much appreciated. I was wondering if he might indulge me and offer a little more legal advice. I was about to order a pizza and I wasn’t sure if that was covered under my visa. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the opportunity to match sarcasm with sarcasm).

    Real Violation of Law #1: Immigration law requires a person holding a visa to undertake only those activities permitted by the visa. E-2 allows the teaching of English — not the staging of musical or theatrical performances, nor the exhibition of art.

    How does one find out what ‘specific’ activities are not covered under different visas? I guess we all know that any kind of activity for which a person is compensated would be illegal under various education visas, but what about those activities for which a person does not receive compensation? If getting paid isn’t the issue, am I breaking the law if I sing out loud as I walk down a busy street? Could this be construed under the law as a ‘musical performance’? What other activities should I run by the authorities? Going fishing? Playing beach volleyball? Scratching my backside?

    Yes, the intention is to be flippant since many have basically said, “Those guys should have known better?” A play was put on earlier in the year and the authorities said nothing (though they knew about it). The organizers of the current production went to the city government and asked for funding and no one happened to mention that putting on a show was illegal. How many of you out there knew that playing music for free in a bar was illegal? I didn’t. What else don’t I and everybody else know? Korea’s kinda a tough country to figure out when it comes to the law, wouldn’t you say? Everywhere I look people (foreigners and Koreans) are ‘performing’, so I might reasonably assume that it was legal.

    Violation #2: How is a ‘business’ defined? If I sell my television set to a friend, do I need to register as the sole proprietor of a business? If trick-or-treaters come to my door on Halloween and I give them candy, should I have registered first as a business (though one that operates for a net loss)?

    Frankly, I’m surprised more foreigners AND Koreans aren’t concerned about this. I am a law-abiding person, just let me know what the law is. I’m not asking Korea to change its laws, just let me and everybody else know what they are. And if the authorities have an opportunity to correct my misbehavior before it becomes a habit, boy it sure would be nice if they extended a kindness I told me about the law before I break it again (as the BPD could’ve done in this case).

    “Gee, Mr./Ms. English teacher, didn’t you know it was against Korean law to wear a yellow shirt?”

    “No I didn’t, but now that I do I won’t be wearing any in the future. Thanks!”

    I know teaching privates is illegal, which is why I don’t do it (yes, really). But if compensation isn’t a central legal concept defining what activities I can do under my visa, then am I breaking the law by speaking English to a Korean? Could this be construed as teaching outside my visa, since ‘technically’ I am helping them practice their English? The list goes on and on and ….

  • cm

    A better one would be using racial stereotyping for traffic stops.

    It’s interesting you bring that up. Actually, I fully understand and support racial profiling in law enforcement. More often then not, the police in US and Canada are usually right than wrong with their haunches. The conventional political correctness say we shouldn’t stereotype black people as criminals. But statistically speaking they do commit more crime than other races. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

    Plus, if there are stereotypes of Koreans as A B and C, why shouldn’t there be stereotypes of Koreans toward foreigners as A B and C? Does the old adage that there are some truths in every stereotypes apply only to Koreans?

    As for private tutoring. Most of the time, the Korean police does nothing and many go about it without problems. But at times that you do get caught, it’s lame to say you’re being prosecuted because you’re a foreigner. You took your chances, you lost, STFU and take your punishment like a man. It’s nauseating to see the over blowing of something like this into a ‘free speech’ or ‘racism’ issue.

  • Spook

    And while I’m up here on my high horse let me carry through on this whole “ignorance of the law is no excuse” thing. Korea (my Korean employer) ‘invited’ me to this country. I didn’t sneak in here under the cover of darkness. Korea ‘asked’ me to come work here. I say ‘asked’ because my employer advertised for a native English speaker. I applied and the employer accepted and took steps to guarantee my legal status to live and work in this country.

    Once here, I would agree that to a certain extent it is my responsibility to know and follow the law, which is made difficult because a reasonable person cannot always tell what is legal and illegal based on what people actually do (honestly, it was a year before somebody told me that driving a motorcycle on a busy sidewalk was illegal… Yes, I ‘reasonably’ assumed it was legal based on what I saw).

    Now knowing this, which I believe the authorities do, they might be inclined to help a brother out, right? Especially when it concerns ‘idiosyncratic’ areas of the law that I might not ‘reasonably’ be expected to know. Since Korea ‘invited’ me to come work here, the authorities could ‘warn’ me about potential violations of those idiosyncratic areas of the law when I do, in fact, violate them (I say idiosyncratic not as a swipe against Korea, only to point out that all countries have areas of law that are unique to their societies). The police attended the show undercover. At that time they could have asked to see a permit, informed the organizers that they were in violation of the law, shut down the production, etc. There were so many options available other than the one that came to fruition, a ‘criminal’ investigation (not to the prosecution stage yet, but that seems to only be a matter of time) where those involved could receive large fines, lose their jobs and homes, and get deported. In light of the actual offenses involved (and all these other things I’ve discussed), the punishment does not, in my view, fit the crime.

    Okay, so let’s go off the board, Alex, and use a hypothetical to hammer this point home. Imagine you are invited to a host country to work. Upon leaving the plane you pop a stick of red bubble gun in your mouth. A police officer notices this and begins to follow you. Over the course of several months he observes you chewing your red bubble gun. As you go about your new life in your host country, you observe people everywhere chewing bubble gun. The fateful day arrives and you are arrested, tried, and sentenced to death. Turns out that chewing a pack of bubble gun is against the law in our imaginary country, and the penalty is death. Tough luck and adios, Charlie. I wonder how many of you haters out there would not feel a twinge of righteous indignation as the blade falls. I also wonder how many are going to be signing a different tune when the man comes round for you.

  • cm

    Violation #2: How is a ‘business’ defined? If I sell my television set to a friend, do I need to register as the sole proprietor of a business? If trick-or-treaters come to my door on Halloween and I give them candy, should I have registered first as a business (though one that operates for a net loss)?

    Oh give me a break. The law in ROK is very simple to understand, despite your attempt at twisting it into a drama. If you want to stage a public performance, sell tickets, alcohol, souvinirs or whatever, get a permit.

    I’m not asking Korea to change its laws, just let me and everybody else know what they are.

    It’s not up to Korea to let you know what the laws are, it’s up to you to find out what the laws are. This is true, not just in Korea, it’s anywhere you go in the world. I have just as much sympathy for those who claim ignorance, as the Korean violators in Canada who claim ignorance of the law – none whatsoever. Book em.

  • cm

    Over the course of several months he observes you chewing your red bubble gun. As you go about your new life in your host country, you observe people everywhere chewing bubble gun. The fateful day arrives and you are arrested, tried, and sentenced to death.

    Please.. It’s not that bad. I dare say it’s not against the ROK law for chewing your bubble gum. Even those terrible dangerous criminals (the Pusan 9)– all they’re probably facing are some minor fines (if even that) – not 20 years to life, as many try to lead you to believe.

  • Spook

    Well cm, I’m not sure how well you were able to follow my postings, but fair enough. I agree, sometimes I use outrageous hypotheticals to make a point, though I’d argue that the point was still valid. But again, fair enough.

    So if you will, allow me to pose you one question: did you know it was against the law to play a guitar for free in a bar in Korea (Violation #1, Violation #3) I’ve been asking my Korean friends and they didn’t know.

  • gbevers

    CM,

    The problem with many of the laws in Korea is that they are very often vaguely written, which gives authorities all kinds of freedom to interpret them as they like. That makes it hard to know if you are in compliance with the law or not. Another problem is that Korean officials often do not know how to deal with foreigners.

    When I registered my apartment contract with my local “Dong” office for the protection it offers, they were shocked to hear that I knew about the law. One guy even tried to tell me that it did not apply to foreigners. After I continued to insist that it did, he finally called the district office for confirmation. So it is not only foreigners who are ignorant of the law, but even some Korean government officials.

  • Spook

    Oh, and yes I agree that no one is facing a death sentence for this. But this I do know, one of the Busan 9 has lived in Korea for a substantial amount of time (close to 20 years). That person not only faces a fine but also deportation. I would say that losing your job and your home is pretty serious punishment for committing the crime of making an ass of yourself in front of your friends. (I say ‘friends’ because the audience, with the exception of the police, was made up entirely of that community of foreigners and Koreans that interact on a regular basis here in Pusan. This wasn’t advertised on local TV or in the newspaper for the general public (though no one, I believe, would have been turned away) because, if I understand what I’ve read correctly, the show wasn’t about milking the locals out of their hard-earned money. Just those people who all basically know each other.

  • cm

    gbevers, I don’t think I’ve argued that there are some serious flaws to the Korean law enforcement.

    I agree that Korean law enforcement is subjective and sometimes very racist, but not in a way you think. I’m in the tiny minority of people outside of Korea who believe that the Korean law is so opened to subjective interpretation of the law that allows foreigners to get away with a lot. A lot.

    Do Koreans get to spend few days in jail then get deported if they were in possession? In Canada, if Korean national was found guilty of drug possession, he would get his ass stuffed into a maximum security prison for few years before being deported.

    I highly agree that Korea needs to eliminate the preferential treatment that it gives to foreigners just because Korea is afraid of bringing bad international publicity to itself from ‘white’ countries. It’s one form of racism that nobody complains about – just like hardly anybody complains the fact that racism in Korea only hires white faces to teach English (while discriminating against non-whites including Koreans themselves) – but everybody goes bonkers when one school puts out a web site saying “we don’t hire native speakers”.

    Korea definitely needs to ignore all the foreigner whinings for preferential treatments, and apply the law equally all across the board objectively before it’ll be taken seriously by the world.

  • cm

    But this I do know, one of the Busan 9 has lived in Korea for a substantial amount of time (close to 20 years). That person not only faces a fine but also deportation.

    Before you think I’m some cold hearted boob, I sympathize with that person. I really do. But I think you’re counting the eggs before they hatched, they’ve not been prosecuted yet. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to be, but it sounds like the maximum punishment is deportation, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what they’ll get. Let’s just wait and see.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    gbevers, for a few months after limits on employment were lifted for F5 visa holders, school districts continued refusing to issue them tutoring permits, arguing that it was against immigration law.

  • Spook

    But I think you’re counting the eggs before they hatched, they’ve not been prosecuted yet.

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this one, cm. I am counting the eggs before they hatch. An egg’s an egg. Maybe it’s the chickens you’re thinking of.

    Can I assume that your answer to my question is no, you didn’t know that it was illegal to play guitar in a bar for free?

  • cm

    No, I didn’t know it was illegal. But if I was fined for it, then I wouldn’t be complaining about racism. Just give me my punishment and I’ll deal with it.

  • cm

    And just wanted to add further, it doesn’t mean I agree with the draconian law.

  • Spook

    No, I didn’t know it was illegal. But if I was fined for it, then I wouldn’t be complaining about racism.

    I’m not quite sure where I was complaining of racism, either. I thought I’d laid out a well-reasoned argument for why this particular case should be handled differently than the way it has been thus far. While much of it applies specifically to foreigner workers in Korea (violations of visa issues), some of it also can be applied to Koreans (illegal performances). By that I mean that both foreigners and Koreans should be concerned here. If the Pusan authorities were staffed by my clones, I don’t think I’d change my argument one iota.

  • Sonagi

    Do Koreans get to spend few days in jail then get deported if they were in possession?

    Brendon, aren’t many foreign residents of Korean prisons in there for drug offenses?

    Besides, cm, the United States does sometimes deport foreign nationals convicted of crimes, especially drug offenses.

  • http://jetiranger.tripod.com/BLOG/ GI Korea

    I sure wish they would have arrested Cindy Sheehan when she was here and deported her.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    One of the Pusan Nine (I can only presume Spook Larsen is one of them) commenting in this thread keeps bleating (I paraphrase) “Why did the jackbooted thugs of the National Police Agency allow the show to go on, if they knew we had all these violations of law?”

    To stop the show before it’s staged, they only get the satisfaction of scuttling the show, and possibly the opportunity to charge the organizers with “attempted” whatever.

    The Korea Herald this morning has a key detail overlooked previously. The police report that they attended Babopalooza because the organizers had been under investigation “for some time”. This implies either the cops got wind of the last unlicensed public performance of the Canuckistan Fat-and-Ugly Players after the fact, and had been waiting for a return engagement — or (more likely, because of the role of Canadians in this drama) the cops had been working at rolling up a chain of pothead English teachers when this bonus enforcement opportunity fell into their laps.

    Originally I mused that the laws on visa status, business registration, liquor sales, and performance registration were probably being enforced because of the content of the show. Now I’m not so sure. It could simply be that these performers were on a drug-offense watch list (due to connections to other persons arrested for drug violations) and were caught in these other, easy-to-prove violations before the police could nab them with a big fat blunt. Yeah, the cops didn’t think it was funny — but that doesn’t necessarily mean unfunniness was the reason you got jacked.

    Lesson for the day: If you find out a “friend” is a user here in Korea, or is Canadian, disassociate yourself immediately. Oh yeah, and it’s not all about you. (It is, however, all about me.)

  • Herod

    “For some time” can mean anything. And we foreigners’re all in some way under observation, aren’t we?

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    “For some time” can mean anything. And we foreigners’re all in some way under observation, aren’t we?

    Yes. Especially you. Be careful!

  • Spook

    …(I paraphrase) “Why did the jackbooted thugs of the National Police Agency allow the show to go on, if they knew we had all these violations of law?”

    I’d say ‘distort’

    Oh, and thanks for helping to revive the unsubstantiated drug rumor, just when the truth was beginning to lay the issue to rest.

    But, your comments have been very insightful, I will say. For a moment there I’d forgotten that foreigner lawyers must, to a certain extent, get fat-and-ugly off the misfortune of foreigners.

    Perhaps you could track back my url and notify the authorities, though I’ll tell you now that I’ll probably seek representation elsewhere.

  • gbevers

    Spook,

    I am not sure about ugly, but I do not think foreign lawyers in Korea get fat off the misfortune of foreigners. From what I understand, Brendon may be a lawyer, but he is not an attorney, at least not in Korea.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, Brendon, but aren’t foreign lawyers in Korea essentially just glorified proofreaders? You cannot actually represent someone, can you?

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    The potential loss of Spook Larsen’s business worries me not. Spook, believe it or not, the English-teacher community is not one which can keep a foreign lawyer fed. There isn’t enough free cash flow there, nor is there much sophistication about the issues (“Can I order a pizza or scratch my ass on this E-2 visa?”) — which is why nobody will give you guys the time of day. I’m the only one who routinely dispenses free advice here on the Marmot’s Hole. And all of it is well-reasoned and usually backed by research I’ve forced an associate to do — including my advice to the Pusan Nine to have a big cup of STFU.

    From time to time we will take on a criminal case if the issues or personalities are interesting enough. But that’s as a diversion, or public service. Not as a moneymaker. ‘Cause it most certainly is not. Being in a small firm gives me and my colleagues the freedom to choose what we want to do.

    Some foreign lawyers, especially at the beginning of their careers here when they know nothing, may aptly be described as “glorified proofreaders”. That goes for lawyers in the United States too, at larger firms. Most of the new associates at so-called Biglaw start off pawing through mountains of documents. And throughout one’s career, the required attention to detail means that everyone must be a proofreader.

    If one wants to stay a glorified proofreader at a Korean law firm, the opportunities are good. Lord knows there are a ton of insecure Korean associates hoping to keep the foreign lawyer in that role. Just don’t learn to speak or read Korean, and local law will remain a mystery. I’m in my 10th year of it here — if it were only proofreading I would have decamped long ago already. Just as I would have bailed out of a Biglaw if all there was to do was proofreading.

    If by “represent” a client one means appear in a Korean court to defend that client against criminal charges, or handle that client’s civil litigation, the answer is No — I can’t. But to be frank, it would be quite stupid for me (or any other foreign lawyer) to do so since even with a license to appear in court I would be one of the poorer Korean advocates (if not the worst) — language skills make it so. I’m a counselor to foreign clients; I give advice to businesses which require advice in English. A lot of people think I’m pretty good at it.

    The returns haven’t enabled me to balloon up to 400 lbs. yet (still 6′ 1″, 165 lbs. of useless flab), but fortuitously I started off with a good dose of ugly. Just lucky genes, I guess.

  • judge judy

    someone get that pipin’ hot cup of STFU for spook.

    when in rome, do as the romans do only after first understanding the laws of your host country. ignorance is not an accepted plea in any country.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Here’s an example of why the other foreign lawyers in town hang up the phone on English teachers. I’m a soft touch, so I usually give these guys a short (15-30 minute) telephone consult and help them find their local labor office or point out the small-claims division of their local district court. Over the phone it’s hard to get paid, so I don’t usually badger them about this being my job. Quite often, I am rewarded with endless follow-up questions — which I’m expected to also answer for free — like this gem I got on Saturday:

    I need to learn the total/complete balance of what they owe me at 20% interest +. KLAC told me I/we should submit a court document to the court asking them the total court costs/fees/translations/interpretations, since I have already paid substantially more than my past employer. Do you know the name of the court document which I would have to submit to the court asking for the total amount of my Court costs which the Court ruled my past employer must pay 50%?

    In my past employers plea to the Court while paying almost 50% of what they owe me to the Court depository, they provided their calculated figures which did not include the Court costs. My past employer hopes/thinks/prays the Court will simply subract/minus the two figures. KLAC told me before my past employer paid some of my money and I was to go to court to receive almost 50% of my money, that the court doesn’t simply minus/subtract what I owe the Kims from what they owe me.

    KLAC once called me telling me to “hurry” and go get my money(with help of Interpreter) at the court depository but they failed to tell me that I needed to fill out a document, so when I got their I was unable to get my money. Now, I have learned my money will be there 10 years and that there is not a “hurry” like KLAC said. I will wait a while until the court makes a ruling about the 1.000.000 Won monthly payments I hope the Court will make my past employer pay me until balance is paid. I think that if I went to collect some of my money the Court would think I receive enough and make a ruling against me by simply minus/subtracting. What do you think?

    KLAC told me I do not have to pay my past employer what the court ordered me to pay since I do not have any registered/owned property. The only exception is the 1.500.000(approx. 1/3 of what I’m suppose to pay them) Won key money/deposit on my rented house/room, which KLAC told me my past employer could/would have to file suit against my landlord at which point I could just not pay my rent for a number of months so that my landlord has the key money to pay at the end of my lease.

    Later, after KLAC told me that I am suppose to go the the court depository and receive some of my money(almost 50%) from the 강제집행, they told me I am suppose to wait for another decision by the court which informs me if I’ll receive 1.000.000 Won monthly payments until the balance is paid(KLAC didn’t seem very confident that the court would force my past employer to pay me since they claim they don’t have the money, and that I also owe them money).

    Now, I think KLAC is retreating from what was told to me earlier. Or, they do not want me to think I’m going to get my money, hence, making me sweat.

    The “Attorney at Law” there who does speak English and who had been helping me does not talk/communicate with me anymore(I may have gotten on his nerve after I complained when they F’ed it up more than once waisting my time by telling me to go to their office, submit court documents, this/that would happen, take only a few minutes, not giving me the required documents needed to submit etc…During my case I did not have an Atttorney, I had some control, now I not only have little control I have nearly nil understanding.

    When I first saw/met him he came out from hiding in the back office after many months and visits by me to the KLAC office, only after the Civil case was over and the appeals process complete. That was only after the old front line worker at KLAC who had been helping me fill out documents moved to Jeju island. He now refuses to answer my e-mails which was the previous norm. Now, I must try to get a Korean speaker to go to the office with me or call the new front line worker there which is not reliable to say the very least. I basically have very little understanding of what is happening in the process, which is basicall why I’m contacting you. Can you help me understand in some way?

    The English speaking “Attorney at Law” told me the name of the “real” Attorney at KLAC(Jin, XXXXX-XXX) and that he had been forwarding all my e-mails to Mr. Jin. He also gave me Mr. Jin’s e-mail address but mentioned Mr. Jin may not correspond to me by e-mail. I have yet to meet or speak with Mr. Jin.

    I had to force my past employer to pay me via the 강제집행, should I expect the Court to make my past employer also file a 강제집행 in hopes to receive any of my money the court ordered me to pay?

    I am afraid the Court or KLAC will disregard the law and make things easy on my past KOREAN employer by simply subtracting the 2 figures. What do you think?

    Do you know the name of the Civil “Salary” Law which states the Court will not simply minus/subtract what I owe them from what they owe me?

    What do I think? I think this is my job. All of this is within my competence and I can definitely get you sorted out. But you gotta pay for my time. My rate is W400,000 per hour. I can work and not get paid, or not work and not get paid. Maybe I’ll blog on this for free one day on the Marmot’s Hole and you can get your answer without charge. But if you want it today in clear and understandable English, served up with a sense of humor — FEED ME, SEYMOUR!

  • gbevers

    Brendon,

    By “represent,” I mean can you legally represent them in anyway? For example, can you prepare and sign legal documents on behalf your clients? I would assume not since you admitted that you are not licensed to practice law in Korea.

    I once worked at the Korean Ministry of Finance in the Foreign Investment Information Center, where I helped explain Korea’s foreign investment laws to potential foreign investors. I was working as a proofreader/translator, but I liked to think of myself as a consultant.

    By the way, as I am sure you can tell, I am not a lawyer.

  • Zonath

    Quite often, I am rewarded with endless follow-up questions — which I’m expected to also answer for free — like this gem I got on Saturday

    Don’cha just hate it when people use 400 words to say what they could easily have expressed in 40? If this is the sort of thing you have to deal with commonly, I can see why you have a low opinion of English teachers. 😛

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    A legal representative for civil acts is an “attorney-in-fact”. Can I or another foreign lawyer be appointed attorney-in-fact for a client and execute documents based on that delegated authority? Sure.

    The Attorneys’ Act restricts non-attorneys from charging fees for interfacing with government agencies (“representing” someone before the agency), but attorneys can delegate their authority to non-attorney (including foreign lawyers) in their employ. So provided he or she is employed at a Korean law firm, yes — the foreign lawyer may lawfully interface with government agencies just like any other employee. (And anyone can do it, if no fee is charged.)

    But there are a lot of people (Korean lawyers mostly, but also some government officials) ready to tell you that a foreign lawyer ought to be locked in the basement.

  • gbevers

    Brendon,

    I can certainly sympathize with you. I am frequently brothered by Korean professors at my university who want me to translate something for them or proofread something for them, and after one or two hours of work, the most I can usually expect is the promise of a free meal.

    I think 400,000 won an hour for legal consultation seems quite reasonable, especially if the lawyer already knows the law. Of course, if the lawyer does not know the law, I would feel less comfortable about paying him that amount to educate him- or herself. Does 400,000 won an hour mean 100,000 for a fifteen minute consultation?

  • gbevers

    Brendon,

    If you can charge 100,000 won for a 15-minute consultation, I am willing to pay that much for fifteen minutes of your time to discuss the legal aspects of Korea’s National Pension Law. If you are willing, just send me your phone number and a bank account, and I will prepay for fifteen minutes of your time.

    Gerry Bevers

  • tharp42

    For Brendon Carr.

    It seems obvious that you would love to see them throw the book at us, as would a segment of the expat community here. Most folks have been very supportive, but there are many haters, as well as the arrogant and snide, such as yourself.

    I’m not so concerned with the legal issues at this point. What chafes my sack is your hostile attitude towards the quality (or lack thereof) of a show which you did not see. Perhaps you’re trying to be funny by continually disrespecting us, but you have yet to even elicit a chuckle from me.

    1. This thing was organized by Americans, not Canadians. In fact, there was only ONE Canadian in the cast of 9 people. The rest were Yanks, Irish, and one Brit.

    2. As for fat and ugly, only one cast member is truly fat. Ugly? Well for an ugly guy, I’ve pulled a lot of tail in my life.

    3. The reviews were not “negative,” like you claim. It was not “obnoxious and unfunny.” Most people really liked the show. Most people laugh. It was a big success, joke to joke. I’ve been doing comedy for much of my life and I can honesty say that the show killed. The most detailed review available is linked in the main post above. She loved the show. There are a few vocal haters out there, but they are in the minority.

    Stick to your legal pontifications, but shut the f**k up about your artistic opinion of a show that you DID NOT SEE.

  • tharp42

    And…

    This IS about free speech. You can list all of the technical violations that we may be guilty of, but the fact remains is that the cops are coming after us because of the CONTENT of our show. They’ve pretty much admitted it themselves.

    End of story.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I’m not so concerned with the legal issues at this point. What chafes my sack is your hostile attitude towards the quality (or lack thereof) of a show which you did not see. Perhaps you’re trying to be funny by continually disrespecting us, but you have yet to even elicit a chuckle from me.

    Mr. Tharp, sorry to hear about your sack. Glad to hear you’ve pulled a lot of tail despite your ugliness. Here’s hoping the sack-chafing is only a short-term impediment to the party at Hef’s that is your life.

    Comedy is hard, to be sure, but any show which has walkouts loudly declaiming it to be “shite” can hardly be said to have killed.

    You should be concerned about the legal issues.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    It should hardly be a surprise that your content leaves you exposed to harassment. Have you not noticed that happens to oh, let’s say everybody who tweaks official sensibilities here?

    Don’t leave yourself exposed, dopey. All violations of law are “technical”.

  • dogbertt

    Sounds like the Michael Richards method of handling hecklers is gaining converts.

  • judge judy

    just waiting for the “your momma’s so fat…” jokes to start flying on this thread.

  • Zonath

    This IS about free speech. You can list all of the technical violations that we may be guilty of, but the fact remains is that the cops are coming after us because of the CONTENT of our show. They’ve pretty much admitted it themselves.

    I suppose my only question to you is this: If you were doing a show people were likely to take offense to (rightfully or wrongfully), why in the world wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure you were in full compliance with the law before putting on said show? You can’t seriously expect any of us to believe that none of those involved with the show had any inkling that there might be a few laws you all should have paid attention to. So basically, you’re saying that you all chose to remain willfully ignorant of the law, but that shouldn’t matter because the underlying motives of the people enforcing the law might not be pure? What a load of crap. The fact remains that the people involved in this show knew (or should have known) of the risk they were taking, and yet did nothing to mitigate that risk.

    You can cry free speech all you want, but the fact remains it won’t (nor should it) insulate you from being called on your other violations of law. End of story.

  • gbevers

    Tharp42,

    I generally consider lawyers to be cold, greedy b**tards, but Brendon seems pretty descent for a lawyer. Yes, he is probably still a greedy b**tard, but he is also funny. Much of what he writes is tongue-in-cheek, I think, so keep that in mind.

    Brendon,

    As I have said, I can live with paying 400,000 won an hour for consultation with a lawyer who knows the law, but what would piss me off would be to pay that kind of money to a lawyer who only pretends to know the law and who relies on providing legal advice through what essentially are form letters.

    Yes, I could pay 400,000 won an hour for an hour of legal consultation, but why pay for an hour’s worth of work if a lawyer spends only five minutes to customize a form letter?

  • gbevers

    Correction: That should be “decent,” not “descent” in my post above.

  • LBecco

    Mr. Carr,

    For somebody who works so hard at sounding smart you sure do a kickass job of missing the point!

    Let me then frame it for you: nobody, including yourself, believes the Busan Nine would have gotten busted had they NOT lampooned some of Korea’s sacred cows.

    Ergo, this is about freedom of speech.

    Do you (and the other naysayers out there) happen to read Korean? If yes, then check out how our Korean friends are responding online to this. ALL of the more than 20 comments I checked out:

    1) framed this as a police infringement on free speech, and

    2) sided with the Busan Nine.

    Your detour into violations number this-through-that is obfuscating the point in a major way. Those “violations” are red herrings all.

    As is “race”. I am convinced, as you must be, that had Koreans decided to put on a comedy show lampooning their own sacred cows, they’d be in hot water, too. (Minus, of course, the visa-violations headaches.)

    Then there are the drugs. This is an issue onto itself, and – interestingly enough – one that never made it into the Korean media. Why did it not?

    Could the fact that the test results were ALL negative have something to do with it?… (Why make the cops look bad and the dissenters look good, right?)

    What you might want to start considering is the notion that the Busan Nine are now blazing a trail on this issue of free speech in Korea. When all is said and done they may well get the book thrown at them, but one thing is for sure: they will have helped clarify many things for us all (Koreans included).

    And on the drugs… It is rumored, and highly likely, that one or several of our Busan haters fed the cops anonymous tips, roughly to the effect that the wild pot parties were going on, both before and after the show. Of course this is b.s. of the worst kind: hey, they ALL pissed clean!

    This could well end up being yet ANOTHER way that the Busan Nine are taking one for the team: maybe the Keystone cops will start to rethink this testing-on-anonymous-tip bullshit. (One can only hope.)

    Here’s an idea: don’t test anyone unless your informant has the sack to identify himself, and then do the following:

    a) fine and/or jail those tested if they are guilty, or

    b) fine and/or jail the bonehead who made the groundless complaint if the test results are negative.

    I don’t know about the part of Korea where you live, but here in Busan these anti-foreigner foreigners are becoming an increasing source of headaches for the community at large.

    Hey, all you Uncle Toms out there ragging on the Busan Nine for going to bat for you: that nice hot cup of STFU has your name on it.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    “Nevermind the bloody corpse in the boot of my car, officer. You never would have pulled me over if my music had not been so loud! Shame on you, sir, shame on you.”

  • LBecco

    Oh, and here’s a quickie about the Korean press: what did they teach you guys in school???

    I never thought anybody could get so many facts wrong on such a short piece.

    Other than the broad idea (“Foreigners questioned for putting a show lampooning Korea”) they missed everything:

    – the name of the show (“Oriental Story”: where did they get that? Sounds to me like they just made it up);

    – the name of the band (“Right Down”??? Is that Konglish for, Down with your rights?);

    – the number of shows (they multiplied it by 2); and

    – the size of the audience (they apparently decided to multiply that by 4).

    And of course they left out the drugs, which (we’ll never know) this might have been all about to begin with.

    And, if you do check out what Koreans are writing online, you’ll see that they are none too shy about calling the journalists “idiots” and such. At the very least, I would agree with those brave netizens that a little more journalistic integrity/competence might be in order…

  • Zonath

    nobody, including yourself, believes the Busan Nine would have gotten busted had they NOT lampooned some of Korea’s sacred cows.

    …nor would the ‘Busan Nine’ (nice propagandizing name, BTW) have been busted had they, you know, followed the law.

    Ergo, this is about freedom of speech.

    Ergo, this is about people being too lazy (or simply not caring enough) to dot all their ‘i’s and cross all their ‘t’s.

  • http://parkatcircle.com patrick

    How about someone doing something useful and finding out if the following things are legal on an E-2 visa? I asked 2 officials at Immigration and got 5 different answers.

    1. Playing guitar in a crappy bar for free.
    2. Volunteering at an orphanage.
    3. Taking a Korean class.
    4. Talking to students after the workday is over.

    Brendon, if you chose to answer, please keep in mind that, since I’m not Canadian, fat, or ugly, you’ll have to improvise a new insult.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    I’m a libertarian, in favor of legalizing drugs, prostitution and gambling (awesome party at my house the day that happens!), as well as unfunny and insulting sketch “comedy”. By no means do I think the Pusan Nine ought to be punished for the content of their show. But by the same token, I wish they’d climb down off of that cross — the Pusan Nine aren’t “taking one for the team”, they just made some administrative errors.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Brendon, if you chose to answer, please keep in mind that, since I’m not Canadian, fat, or ugly, you’ll have to improvise a new insult.

    Ah, then I’ll have to take a pass.

  • LBecco

    On the whole “When in Rome” thing:

    The Busan Nine did exactly what Koreans all over the peninsula are doing:

    – they put on a show without telling authorities;

    – they sold beer without a permit;

    – they didn’t declare themselves as a “business” (which, incidentally, they’re not); and

    – they did not pay taxes.

    And here they were, thinking they were finally getting integrated into this society! (From my understanding, though, they still haven’t mastered the going-through-red-lights thing. But, hey, they’re trying!)

  • http://parkatcircle.com patrick

    Ah, then I’ll have to take a pass.

    Ok Brendon, let’s say that I’m fat and ugly Canadian…

  • Nappunsaram

    Let me start off by saying, I saw the show (how many of the people writing here can truthfully say that?). Let me follow up by saying that I wrote a review of the show that you can view above. Let me follow that up even more by saying that I posted it BEFORE any of this nastiness went down. I wrote what I wrote based on my opinion of the show, not as a reaction to current events.
    I have yet to hear any of the involved individuals say that they are not willing to pay for any illegal activities that they commited (sale of alcohol comes to mind). While I understand that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it, it is folly to assume that the law is being applied equally to all individuals under the law in this situation. For example:
    1) If this is a visa issue, why is city hall handling it, not immigration?
    2) Why is it illegal for them to do something unpaid outside of their jobs when I’ve been asked to and have done work FOR city hall (proofreading translations) for free?
    3) Why were they asked for a copy of the script if this is an immigration issue?
    4) Why were only three individuals, not all nine AND the Korean national involved, asked for a drug test if this isn’t a reach for something to nail them on? What does the drug test have to do with their performance, if that is the issue?
    5) While ignorance of the law is no excuse, the participants have stated that they staged a performance before, with police knowledge (I may be wrong here, though) and no action was taken. Why would they think otherwise? If the previous show was also illegal, why aren’t they being booked for that as well?
    6) Some government authority knew of their performance when they applied for a grant. Nothing was said about its illegality at that time. I’m sure the name and the white face would have given the applicant away as a non-Korean immediately.
    7) If content is the issue and they’re worried about offending people, why is it ok to crack a joke about moving Jewish people in boxcars and not ok to portray a Korean asking a foreigner about fan death?
    8) While undercover police are not supposed to reveal themselves as police officers (hence the term), why is that degree of effort necessary to nail people on “visa violations?” As a side note, it’s great to know that this is the biggest problem the Busan police have to deal with…
    9) And most importantly, why were they asked to sign waivers saying they did not want the police to inform their respective embassies? I find this to be the strongest evidence that something is not right.
    The participants have cooperated with the police thus far because they have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. It would be nice to see other commentators remember that these are real people involved, and by talking in front of people for free their lives have been turned upside down. I’m not saying boo-hoo for them, I’m just saying it’s very easy to form opinions without being informed, and even easier to form an opinion based on misinformation and other people’s reactions.
    Again, I stress that although the “Busan 9″ have violated some laws, some of what they have been charged and threatened with is unrelated and disproportionate. There is obviously something inappropriate being done on the side of the police. This is especially unfortunate if Korea really wants to be “dynamic” and a “hub of Asia.”

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    The Koreans have a colorful expression for this: “똥 묻은개가 겨 묻은개는 나무란다.” It can be translated as pot calling the kettle black, but it’s more expansive and appropriate to this situation.

  • Zonath

    Some government authority knew of their performance when they applied for a grant. Nothing was said about its illegality at that time.

    Just because I’ve applied for a business license with city hall doesn’t mean the IRS will let me off the hook when I fail to pay business taxes. Maybe the official who handles grant applications is different from the official who handles license applications?

    And most importantly, why were they asked to sign waivers saying they did not want the police to inform their respective embassies? I find this to be the strongest evidence that something is not right.

    …or the strongest evidence that the whole informing the embassy thing is a hoop the Korean police would just as soon not jump through, especially for relatively minor violations.

    “Busan 9″ have violated some laws, some of what they have been charged and threatened with is unrelated and disproportionate.

    Has this gone to formal charges already? Or are we speaking in a dramatic, non-literal sense of ‘charges’ against the Babopalloozans? I also have to ask what ‘threats’ have been made. All I’ve read about is people being questioned, not threatened. So have there been literal threats made, or are we just being ‘dramatic’ again?

  • gbevers

    Brendon: “똥 묻은개가 겨 묻은개는 나무란다.”

    I think that expression describes quite well what is happening in Busan, except that in this case I think it is the foreigners who are covered with the “chaff,” not the “dung.”

    I think what people are upset about, Brendon, is the discriminatory enforcement of the laws. As a lawyer in Korea, I think you probably, at least, suspect that foreigners are held to a much higher legal standard than Koreans are.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    As a lawyer in Korea, I think you probably, at least, suspect that foreigners are held to a much higher legal standard than Koreans are.

    Absolutely. Better make sure your house is in order, Lenny Bruce, then test the limits of tolerance.

  • Herod

    Brendon, just curious, do you think the authorities would have given the foreigners clear and consistent statements had they asked about permits etc before the show? My experience is that it’s hard getting two Korean civil servants to say the same thing on any issue, particularly on foreigner-related issues.

  • Herod

    I don’t think the cops think “They’re foreigners, so let’s find something to get them on.” But if a Korean and a foreigner both break the same law, it will automatically be assumed that the foreigner acted in a cynical premeditated fashion while the Korean was simply uninformed, acted in the heat of the moment, deserves a second chance, etc.
    See Alford (Think No Evil), who talks about the Korean reluctance to ascribe evil to other Koreans no matter what heinous crimes they commit.
    We saw evidence of this in the farcical leniance shown the violent anti-FTA demonstrators the other day. (In Busan too of course, the Korean actor was let off the hook, and treated as a well-meaning dupe of the foreigners.)

  • hardyandtiny

    Korea Sex Rating Board! Open up the door up right now! We know you have her in there!

  • LBecco

    Nappunsaram,

    Great comments. Nice to see from someone who actually SAW the show. (And I KNOW you saw it, seeing as we talked afterwards.)

    Aaah, Mr. Carr, I don’t know how they do it in Seattle, but the three universities I went to to get them degrees were all of them, let’s say, pretty much sticklers about students actually SEEING a show before they could comment on how “funny” or “offensive” it was.

    Ah, those crazy Canucks! (Neither fat nor ugly here, so piss off!)

    I must say, I am rather flabbergasted at the lack of support from some of the “smarter” members of the community on this one. My take is, if it were Koreans in this pickle, with all the same facts, those Uncle Toms would be up in arms.

  • hardyandtiny

    You don’t get to come out as a foreigner in Korea, it’s kind of like being a black person in America; everybody can see who you are just by looking at you. At first I was led to believe I was different simply because I looked different, but now I realize I’m special and it doesn’t matter what I look like. I fell in love with a Korean man……..

    wooooo

    (second scene after the sex police arrive, this is where Judge Judy begins to masturbate under the desk on the video screen.)

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    Wow, I read all 180-whatever comments. As usual, it breaks down like this:

    Comments 1-20: Great, insightful, funny comments. Some real corkers in there, especially when Dogbert, the Party Pooper guy, the Iceberg, Montclaire, SomeGuyinKorea, and others too numerous to mention get involved. The Nomad adds a self-effacing comment that refers to fishing or something on base.

    Comments 21-40: Self-importance starts to rear its ugly head. Also Pawi and Bluejives have usually entered the scene. Their comments are inane. Other posters needlessly try to rebut their comments. We’re entering a war zone now.
    Also, the Japanese have definitely been blamed by this point.

    Comments 41-60: People are starting to repeat themselves, post too much, get into private battles that should be taken outside. But someone like Baduk will post something full of hilarious hyperbole, and we can still find things worth reading. Jodi has entered the scene, with a coy hint of something important that she heard firsthand, or a mention of how things are going EXTREMELY well with her boyfriend.

    Comments 61-80: We can still find some nuggets, but they are getting few and far between. Someone writes a way-too long rebuttal to something that someone else wrote. Too many of the posts are referring to previous posts, with only a few providing fresh, firsthand information.

    Comments 81-100: If you are still reading here, you are probably a lawyer with too much time on your hands, or a blogger who can’t stop writing about Korea. You should probably limit yourself to one or two comments.

    Comments 100+: Your really taking your sanity into your own hands now. If you are still around, you must be putting off some Korean homework and/or class prep.

    Comments 150+: You are in hell.

  • LBecco

    whitey might have a point. When folks start to discuss the comments instead of the issue at hand, it does indeed take the discussion into “hell” territory.

    Here are some facts that might be worth a gander – regardless of the number it shows up under.

    Months before the show was held, the organizers applied for a grant at Busan City Hall (which grant was eventually denied).

    The City Hall office where the show organizers applied is one building over from where the police (the “International Crimes Division”) questioned the cast members.

    On the FIRST night of the show, an undercover cop sat in on it. Remember, this is prior to any morons posting wild unsubstantiated rumors of drug use (the cops later questioned some cast members about a “post-show pot party” that allegedly happenned at one bar, whereas the cast actually met at another bar after the show, where of course there was no pot or anything of the kind).

    On the first day of questioning, two cast members were questioned and lectured about the content of the show, but they were not piss-tested.

    On the second day, three cast members came in and they were all drug-tested (all clean). They were also lectured about the inappropriate content of the show.

    Subsequently, four more cast members were questioned, and lectured about the content of the show, but not drug-tested.

    Also, EVERY ONE of the cast members questioned was asked – and the police apparently insisted on this – to sign a form letter stating that they did not wish their embassies to be notified about the questioning.

    Detect a pattern?

    It would seem, would it not, that the drug issue was a reach, and NOT the primary issue?

    Why would the cops lecture ALL the cast members – most of whom did not write the sketches – about content, and then ask ALL of them to waive their right to inform their embassies about the questioning?

    To the media, the police were adamant that this had NOTHING to do with content. Okay, so we all know cops are not above lying. But…

    Here’s an interesting question: who tipped off the “International Crimes Division” and made them interested enough to send an undercover cop to the show?

    Remember, at that point no foreigner-hating foreigner had posted any comments online.

    Was it the City Hall people who took the organizers’ grant application file one door down, to the “International Crimes Division”? (And why would they? Political, perhaps?) And what’s this story, straight from the cops’ spokesperson mouth – talking to the Korea Herald – about the police having kept tabs on cast members “for some time” before the show was held?

    Where would police have picked up that kind of interest? None of the cast members were arrested or indeed in any trouble with the law before the show happenned.

    Maybe it’s just me – and I sure as heck am not a knee-jerk conspiracy theorist – but doesn’t all of this seem strange to YOU?

    My two cents’ worth: City Hall passed the file on to the cops next door, who were under standing instructions to ferret out Foreigner Trouble, and Voila!

    Anyone failing to see this as a politically motivated witch hunt just isn’t trying very hard.

    Oh, and yeah: they didn’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s. (How many people do, in the Land of Morning Calm?)

  • seouldout

    Though I’m not a teacher, lawyer or performer, and I haven’t seen the performance, I’ve followed this case with interest. I empathize. My initial reaction was, “These guys are screwed, and they’ll be deported.” And nothing I’ve read since has changed this.

    Being on the receiving end of Mr. Carr’s words ain’t pleasant, but there’s 10 years of knowledge behind them. Granted he isn’t a civil right lawyer, but I think he’s right telling you the free speech card is not the one to play. I reckon he knows that repeatedly explaining the content of your performance to those who haven’t seen it, i.e. prosecutors & judges, is only going to dig you deeper into the shit. No one likes being called a hypocrite, even when the hypocrisy is quite evident. I also suspect that Mr. Carr knows you’ll have a hard time finding a Korean civil rights attorney to represent you. Many of them sharpened their claws representing those whose views are, charitably put, “anti-American”. I doubt they’ll see you as a follow traveller. You’ve mentioned that you’ve received words of support from Koreans. Have you found out if any of them are lawyers who are willing to defend to your cause? Has any lawyer contacted you?

    From what I’ve read of your more recent posts I suspect you’re tempted to pursue the free speech fight. It’s a good fight. But you’re not fighting it well. You’re competing for limited print space and air time with those whose tactics are more for interesting than posting in cyberspace. Koreans do it better than most. Heck, I remember those South Asian 3D workers who chained themselves to Myoung-dong Cathedral for weeks, and their case was viewed with a great deal of sympathy, yet South Asian workers are marginally better off than before. But their plight is now recognized. But keep in mind, they didn’t do anything that offended the sensibilities/pride of the Koreans. You have, it’s a pungent stink that can’t be easily spun in your favor, and it won’t be met with much public sympathy. You need advocates in both the local and international press, a visible and vocal NGO or two, a capable civil right lawyer, and statements from embassies whose nationals are involved that they’re watching this case. And even with that I still think your fight is all uphill. It’ll be long. And what employer wants the notoriety and aggravation?

    Mr. Carr’s approach, if I understand it correctly, is to get/keep the prosecutors’ focus off the content. Play ball with them, admit that you made some unintentional mistakes regarding licenses and taxes, and work to resolve this. Heck, you’re naïve actors, not wiley businessmen. You even lost money.

    Good luck to you.

  • Zonath

    My initial reaction was, “These guys are screwed, and they’ll be deported.”

    Really? My initial reaction was, “These guys are probably going to get off with a stiff fine. They’re just playing for sympathy at this point.” After all, the three that were tested for drugs tested negative, and the other potential charges probably don’t amount to a whole lot. If they did, these guys would probably be sitting in a jail cell right now.

    Sure, the added publicity might cause some trouble @ their respective jobs, but I’m sure they considered that possibility far in advance of their performance, and all have viable contingency plans. After all, they’d be fools not to.

  • seouldout

    Been quite a few of these arty types who’ve been deported for unlicensed performances–which weren’t perceived as “anti-Korean”, btw–so that’s why feel it’ll be their fate too.

    And you’re spot on about those contingency plans.

  • cm

    Comments 21-40: Self-importance starts to rear its ugly head. Also Pawi and Bluejives have usually entered the scene. Their comments are inane. Other posters needlessly try to rebut their comments. We’re entering a war zone now.
    Also, the Japanese have definitely been blamed by this point.

    Not true. The first poster who brought up the Japanese was Mr. Carr. Then “Breaktrack” chipped in with his usual Korean imitation. Both of them, as far as I can tell, are not Korean posters. I might add, bluejives and Pawi are not the only offensive and useless posters around here (I’m not picking on anybody).

    As far as this subject goes, it’s getting to be a round and round repeat, so I’m signing off on it for now.

  • Mandalynn

    I have to say that if a similar performance was held in the USA (imigrants mocking American culture- much food for fodor Im sure), there would be a similar outbreak by many angry Americans and anti-immigrant groups. Although me and my friends would support and enjoy it, not everyone would share our sentiments. The same is probably true in Korea.

    People who don’t travel tend to have alot of tunnel vision, antionalism. Its a truth the world around.

  • LBecco

    Thanks, Seouldout. Food for thought (at last).

  • slim

    I just want to do my part …..

  • slim

    … to get this one over 200 comments,

  • slim

    because for man behind the Pusan 9, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  • http://www.icebergkorea.com Iceberg

    Mandalynn: I have to say that if a similar performance was held in the USA (imigrants mocking American culture- much food for fodor Im sure), there would be a similar outbreak by many angry Americans and anti-immigrant groups.

    You mean like, for example, the movie “Borat”? It’s currently earned over US $120,000,000 and counting.

  • judge judy

    I fell in love with a Korean man……..

    wooooo

    (second scene after the sex police arrive, this is where Judge Judy begins to masturbate under the desk on the video screen.)

    i have no idea WTF that means…

    Here’s an interesting question: who tipped off the “International Crimes Division” and made them interested enough to send an undercover cop to the show?

    two words-jaded lover.

  • Herod

    Judge Judy –
    “jaded lover”
    Bet you’re right about that. Hell hath no fury.

  • railwaycharm

    I have to say I am surprised by the naiveté of these performers. Go back to Canada or the U.S. if you can’t figure out that you don’t have the same freedoms of those nations! What was your first clue? You guys are beating up the Lawyer because deep down you know you are a bunch of uncle f*ckers without a clue or a leg to stand on. Buy a vowel! Don’t you understand how thin skinned Koreans are when it comes to national pride? You stupid F*CKS! You are neither brave nor funny. Go back to teaching or whatever you claim you do. You are a bunch of losers with passports. I hope they deport the lot of you. Oh, and take a bath.

  • gbevers

    Getting cursed at for beating up on a lawyer? For Christ’s sake, what is the world coming to?

    Even the lawyer admitted that foreigners in Korea are held to a much higher legal standard than Koreans. Afterall, how many Korean actors are forced to pee in cup for an unapproved performance? That is discrimination, and it is not right. It is not right in the US; it is not right in Canada; it is not right in Japan; and it is not right in Korea.

    It is very easy to sit back and make fun of the people in Busan for their ignorance of the law, but probably most of the people making fun of them is just as ignorant, and I hope they also get your asses bitten one day by Korea’s “you-should-have-known-better” criminal justice system.

  • railwaycharm

    gbevers,

    It is common sense. These morons probably read lonely planet and thought they were off to a soju soaked utopia. I don’t feel sorry for stupid people. It is arrogant to think you can stage an anti-Korean play, sell alcohol, and not draw negative attention to yourself. Forget about the fact that what happens to waygooks is held to a higher standard; they should have had the street smarts not to try a stupid stunt like this. You guys with your ACLU mentalities need to stop drinking the kool-aid and wake up to the real world. Of course it’s not nice to make these fools pee in a cup; the real misfortune was the introduction of their parents.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    None of these fellows would come due for mockery had they not sought to dress up their legal entanglement in a free speech/civil rights guise. Even if their performance had not been offensive to the delicate sensibilities of Korean nationalists, they would have had the legal exposure I describe in my list of five real legal problems. Probably, but not definitely, these were problems which were waiting to come home to roost at some point in the near future. Being unpopular merely hastened the ripening of these issues.

    By the way, when demanded to pee in the cup, you always have the right to refuse.

  • LBecco

    The “International Crimes Division” in Busan was asked point-blank today if according to them it is in fact illegal for anyone on an E-2 visa to strum a guitar for free in public – a bar, a park, whatever – and they replied “Yes, absolutley. Totally ilegal. Any artistic activity.”

    For someone with the mental proclivities of railwaycharm, the impossibility of creating/performing art is understandably not a concern – he sounds like he may even relish it. But some of us like art. We feel it enriches our lives. And we’re not even asking the rest of you to agree with us, either. Just tolerate us, the same way we put up with you.

    FYI: I am NOT a member of the ill-starred Busan Nine, and sure, like everyone else (including those guys themselves) I give them no points for organizing their show the way they did. But I do know them, I did see – and greatly enjoyed – their show, and what I would really like to see happen to them now is proportionate justice. Not necessarily less trouble than they got themselves into, but certainly no more.

    Look, Stalin never pretended he was for free speech, and I wouldn’t have gone to his country if I had been alive then and could have helped it. The Busan police, however, have been professing their devotion to free speech all week, and even their wish to see it extended to everyone – everyone, that is, who isn’t here on a work visa. I’m not here on a work visa myself, so this doesn’t even touch me. But I disagree with the police’s approach, and am voicing my opinion (I think I’m still allowed to do that, right?).

    Now here’s a legal question for Mr. Carr: even though the police is voicing this opinion so strongly – about E-2 holders being in violation of their visa by performing art for free – is there not a chance that a judge would see it differently, as long as a performer on an E-2 was not making money from his/her art? Am I correct in thinking that the police’s job here isn’t to interpret laws but merely to enforce them when they think they might have gotten violated? Does a judge not in fact have the final word?

  • railwaycharm

    LBecco,

    You are missing the point completely! I love art and enjoy it daily. What you fail to understand is the rights of this country were not brought into the fray for foreigners to come shit on. Someone brought up the fact that collage kids stage festivals/performances and sell beer all the time, so be it! They are KOREANS. These fools are in Korea as guests of the Republic and should not think they can cause a fracas as if they were in Vancouver, Dublin, or San Francisco. This land was NOT made for you and me!
    Now pull out, you are getting oxygen starved!

  • stan

    One more time, what did that German DJ get busted for a while ago? Oh yea no visa; not for playing un-korean music.

    I think there is a post about that.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    The best legal advice I can give is: Don’t take your legal advice from yourself, from Lonely Planet, or from other English teachers! Or from the Marmot’s Hole! And if you have even the slightest suspicion you have a legal problem, you probably do.

    If you end up before a judge, you’re already screwed. The best advice is to make sure you don’t end up in front of a judge. And in the case of E-2 visa, the easiest way to stay out of trouble is to seek an endorsement to the visa to authorize the additional activity. Yes, of course it’s a pain to go over to the immigration bureau, and it’s possible they will give you three different answers when you ask the question twice — but better to ask than to assume.

  • railwaycharm

    You fools should listen hard to Mr. Carr. Oh and by the way, do not try to interpret the law for the Koreans. The ambiguity is theirs to play with, not yours. I have seen it before, Waygooks try to tell the regulators what their law means…it don’t work! If you don’t want to pee or acknowledge that you are not in Kansas anymore, you’d best call Mommy and Daddy for the ticket home. One problem here is the Busan nine has drawn negative attention to ex-pats. Most of us are hard working and don’t ROK the boat. Then the great un-washed come in smelling of Patchouli oil, B.O. and upset the apple cart. When you have jobs and something to loose come back and try again to waste our time.

    You kids need to grow up, life is not a collage campus, and there are consequences for your actions.

  • judge judy

    It is very easy to sit back and make fun of the people in Busan for their ignorance of the law, but probably most of the people making fun of them is just as ignorant, and I hope they also get your asses bitten one day by Korea’s “you-should-have-known-better” criminal justice system.

    ignorance of the law is ignorance of the law. pretty simple, pretty clear and exactly the same in the U.S. you cannot plead ignorance of the law-no “ifs,” ands” or “buts.” and certainly not “but it’s in the name of art.” this is not about tolerance. this is about the laws of your host country.

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  • gbevers

    The “International Crimes Division” in Busan was asked point-blank today if according to them it is in fact illegal for anyone on an E-2 visa to strum a guitar for free in public – a bar, a park, whatever – and they replied “Yes, absolutley. Totally ilegal. Any artistic activity.”

    So a person with an E-2 visa cannot strum a guitar in a park? That’s simply ridiculous!

    Well, at least when you are dragged to a singing room by coworkers and are urged to sing a song, you can decline by saying, “I’m sorry, but my visa doesn’t allow it.”

    So, Brendon, if you go before a judge in Korea, “you’re already screwed”? I assume that means that you have already been judged before you have had a chance to present your case “to the judge”? That sucks, too.

    Brendon: “The best advice is to make sure you don’t end up in front of a judge.”

    Wow, thanks for that free piece of wimpy legal advice, Brendon. In other words, don’t get in trouble, and if you do, don’t fight it; just bend over and take it up the backside, right?

    What is your problem, Railwaycharm? “Don’t ROK the boat?” When were your balls cut off?

    Even if someone breaks the law, they can still protest that law. Not all laws are good. Some pretty famous people in history have used civil disobediance to make important changes in society. There are too many foreign sheep roaming around here, and Railwaycharm seems to be bleating the loudest.

  • Zonath

    Some pretty famous people in history have used civil disobediance to make important changes in society.

    And plenty of them have ended up in jail, in exile, or on the gallows before the changes they were advocating came to pass. I suppose if you’re really willing to go through that rather than the inconvenience of checking out the relevant laws and getting the proper permits, then that’s fine. But on the other hand, if those proper permits are easy to get, then what’s the point of the civil disobedience? Just to prove that the system could use a tweak? Heck, if the Babopalloozers even tried getting the permits but were denied, I’d probably have a lot more sympathy for them. But they didn’t, so I don’t.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Brendon: “The best advice is to make sure you don’t end up in front of a judge.”

    Wow, thanks for that free piece of wimpy legal advice, Brendon. In other words, don’t get in trouble, and if you do, don’t fight it; just bend over and take it up the backside, right?

    Even if someone breaks the law, they can still protest that law. Not all laws are good. Some pretty famous people in history have used civil disobediance to make important changes in society. There are too many foreign sheep roaming around here, and Railwaycharm seems to be bleating the loudest.

    Pick your fights. Not every fight has the same value. There is a huge cost to litigation, so the recommended course is to avoid it if you can. And that’s why you’re screwed if you end up in front of a judge. Even if you’re right, it costs you hard cash to prove it.

    Gerry, you’re a smart man so I’ll lay it out in terms of economics:

    It costs a law office office a minimum of W15,000,000 in cash to keep our most junior associate (i.e., the cheapest lawyer) paid W6,000,000 every month. Minimum. At a lower salary the office cannot attract talented people, and that means we can’t serve clients. There is rent, support staff overhead, and tax to pay. And I and my partner do not work for W6,000,000 per month. The reasonable time cost of a not-simple, but by no means very complex, lawsuit with comparative-law issues (so we can try to convince the judge that your law should apply instead of Korea’s) is probably three to four man-months, or 480-640 hours — a minimum of W45,000,000 to W60,000,000 in hard cash out of the law firm’s pockets to have its B-team defend you without a nickel in profit.

    We try to charge more than that so that the owners of the firm can eat dinner and pay their bills.

    As much as I’d love to be a public-interest avenger, there isn’t much call for it and the pay is not enough — most Koreans think W3,500,000 a month is a kick-ass salary, and wildly extravagant for a public servant. But I have a mortgage of W1,500,000 a month, plus it costs W3,500,000-4,000,000 per month for me to send my two kids to foreign school where I can be confident they’re not bullied mercilessly for being different-looking. So that’s at least W5,000,000 a month in after-tax income that flies out of my pockets before I even get to eat. I like eating. Sure, I could live in a 12-pyong hovel, or send my children to live in an orphanage so that we could charge less, but I choose not to. Selfish, selfish lawyer.

    Drug-possession cases are a lot simpler so we can handle them for less, if they’re amusing. And we do, from time to time, defend some foreigners without charge or a greatly reduced cost, if the issues are important enough (i.e., Kenzi Snider). For example, in my office we’ve already discussed whether or not we could assist Mr. Gerry Bevers in case his Dokdo provocations got him fired from the university where he works, because in that hypothetical case it clearly is a free-speech issue.

    So here’s a question for ya: Is the case of the Pusan Nine important enough for me to talk my partners into handling for free? In other words, to take W45,000,000 to W60,000,000 in cash, at minimum, out of our bank account and hand it over to the Pusan Nine? From my perspective, Hell No. That means we would need to get paid. Is this principle here important enough for you to use your own cashnot mine — to pay for litigation over what’s probably a W1,000,000 administrative fine? If it’s not, I suggest that hot cup of STFU.

    But if so, we’d suggest that you and the other brave trailblazers take up a collection, raise at least W100,000,000 for legal costs to try to change society, and bring it to the lawyers of your choice. Gerry, I know you have no direct connection to the case, but your passion in denouncing me as proxy for The Man says that it’s important principle to you too — man up, and put your money in the pot! Spook Larsen has already disqualified me, so you’ll have to find some other English-speaking lawyers to do it. Together with foreign legal consultants, there are probably 350 qualified professionals nationwide to choose from (150 at Kim & Chang and the rest at all the other law firms) — that’s one for every 150,000 population.

    If it’s not worth that to you, then it might be a good idea to seek to avoid unnecessary entanglements. In the case of the Pusan Nine, if they had done the slightest due diligence before putting on their show, and gotten the necessary visa endorsements, a taxpayer ID number, a liquor license, and reported their show to the police, they would be golden regardless of the content of the show. Or at least then the issue would be easy to distill down to a focused and clean free-speech issue.

  • Herod

    “Well, at least when you are dragged to a singing room by coworkers and are urged to sing a song, you can decline by saying, “I’m sorry, but my visa doesn’t allow it.”

    Sweet!!

  • Haisan

    This is hardly the only case of foreigners getting in trouble for performing live without proper authorization. A bunch of guys who did English plays for children around Korea got in trouble a couple of years back for the same reason. A well-known Japanese performer got in trouble a couple of years ago for organizing shows in Hongdae.

    Did they cry about their human rights? No, they paid their fines, left Korea, then re-entered soon after. Sure, getting fined sucked, but since then, they have fixed their legal statuses, and now are back to performing live in Korea without any problems.

  • gbevers

    If so, we’d suggest that you and the other brave trailblazers take up a collection, raise at least W100,000,000 for legal costs to try to change society, and bring it to the lawyers. Gerry, I know you have no direct connection to the case, but your passion in denouncing me as proxy for The Man says that it’s important principle to you too — man up, and put your money in the pot!

    100 million won? Well, maybe taking it up the backside wouldn’t be so bad if they are gentle.

    Great post, Brendon, but it still does not seem right that an English teacher must get special permission to strum a guitar in a park, especially if Koreans can do it without getting special permission. That kind of law can be abused so easily. For example, if the law includes “any artistic activity,” couldn’t a man singing or reading aloud poetry to his girlfriend in a park also be arrested?

    In my case, I was not fired, but it is very likely that my contract will not be renewed because my department head told me, when I pressed her, that all the administrators at my school and many of the professors are angry about my discussions of “Dokdo” on the Internet.

    As far as I know, there is nothing illegal about my university not renewing my contract, but it just makes me angry that educated people, who have chosen a career that involves searching for truth and expanding knowledge, would not renew my contract because my views on “Dokdo” differ from theirs. It is no longer an issue of my posting my views on the Internet since I have agreed to stop; the issue is that I have the views, which is something I cannot change as long as I believe them to be true.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Yes, it’s illegal to “not renew” the contract for that reason, if you have been working there for several years on a term contract which has ordinarily been renewed as a matter of course. Basically, a one-year agreement which has been renewed at least twice without much discussion may not lawfully be non-renewed except for reasons of job performance or misconduct. You’re in a stronger position if they’ve been renewing you as a matter of course for a longer period of time.

    You should march back to the department head’s office to discuss again this issue of why you’re getting “not renewed”. Wear a hidden recording device (secret taping is lawful if one party to the conversation knows about it) and bait her into plainly stating that unpopularity of the Dokdo research — better yet, discomfort with your thought crimes — is the sole reason for the university’s non-renewal. Your cell phone is a good recording device too — figure out how to tape cell phone conversations and do it by phone. It’s best if you have the discussion in the Korean language.

    It would be helpful if you could find examples of other professors at the same university who hold and espouse crackpot ideas, for comparative purposes.

    Then you’ve got a case. Boy, do you have a case. A real live free speech case, unlike the Babopalooza nonsense. (Good thing you’re so openly hostile to lawyers. That, plus the fact the case is about Dokdo which means there is a strong chance an angry mob will break down the door of the firm representing you, should help you find good counsel.) There are no punitive damages under Korean law, and no juries to award wild amounts. But with the right facts a decent lawyer could twist an extra year’s salary out of them for you. You’ll need the money now that you’re radioactive and unemployable.

  • railwaycharm

    gbevers

    My balls are intact, thank you very much. Where do you think you are? You are a guest in a foreign country with a different set of values and rules. At one point in time I thought you were naïve, now I am convinced your disease is much worst. I am not a sheep, I am smart enough to know where I stand in the pecking order of Korean society, you however have not clue one. You have been watching too much television and listening to too many bleeding heart collage professors. When are you going to join the rest of the real world and earn your way? You are not entitled to the same rights as your home country, you are a guest.
    To quote the great John Wayne “The Duke” “life is tough, it is even tougher when you are stupid”.

    Gbevers, you suffer from the very ailment Mr. Wayne so aptly points out.

    Grow up!

  • judge judy

    from my limited understanding of korean labor laws, you would have more security here than in the U.S. where employment-at-will continues to be a cornerstone of labor relations. even the just cause exception is rarely adopted by courts at home. here, at least, you’re afforded a bit more protection.

    the upside to learning a bit about the law here is that you can indeed use it to your advantage.

  • judge judy

    great heads-up on the wiretapping law, brendon. loose lips sink ships and get sued to boot here…

  • Spook

    Railwaycharm: As someone who actually went there, I’d like to point out that ‘college’ is spelled with an ‘e’. Once is a typo, twice might be a stuck key, but three times … ? Although, perhaps you got your education from a picture made up of a pasted scraps of other pictures. I can only hope that this English lesson doesn’t land me in hot water, seeing as how Mr. Carr is fond of outing people by name on this board. I can only hope that gbevers is not in trouble now that he has been referred to by his full name on this board, after he’s promised his boss that he wouldn’t post his views on the Internet.

    I had been sipping on my cup of STFU, but Mr. Carr feels compelled to bring me back in. My particular slant on this issue has never been about free speech. I’ve taken issue with the way the authorities have handled this particular case. Although I am not a member of the Busan 9, I know them and am deeply concerned for their well-being. But it’s not only their well-being, it’s everybody’s.

    It was mentioned that this has happened before; other ‘performers’ have been hit by this. I didn’t know this, and I’m not familiar with the specifics of their cases … and cases are, indeed, regularly decided by the specifics. Circumstances are taken into account when police officials and officers of the court make decisions concerning the law. Perhaps those other violators received money, as did Mrs. Vershbow and the English teacher-actor.

    From my contacts with some of the Pusan 9, I know for a fact that the authorities have spoken to them about a regular poetry night that has been held at the same venue for nearly six years. Hundreds of English teachers have violated their visas and broken the law by participating. At no time did the authorities give anyone a head’s up about this. As ‘invited’ guests of this country, one might consider it something of a public service to inform those guest of instances when they regularly violate Korean immigration law, especially if that law is not readily available for view by E-2 visa holders. Again, can anybody tell me where we can find the specifics of what we can and cannot do under different visas?

    Mr. Carr mentioned the legal costs of bringing a case like this before the courts as a reason to drop it. But legal issues often are decided by the court of public opinion. I think this issue presents an opportunity for the foreigner and Korean communities to try to push for change. I say both communities because both foreigners and Koreans benefit from the free music and entertainment that talented foreigners might willingly showcase to their hosts (again, for free).

    Okay, so maybe some of you are ready to jump back on the ‘But the show wasn’t free!’ bandwagon. Again, the circumstances of this particular case are relevant. The Pusan 9 showed receipts to the authorities to demonstrate that no money was made. Yes, I understand that under the law operating at a loss is not necessarily an excuse, but it can be a mitigating circumstance, which I would hope is a legal concept that is not alien to this, or any, country.

    Anyone who gave this issue more than the most cursory of glances would see that no one was out to make money, and this was not a business enterprise. The Pusan 9 made the mistake of coining a name for the troupe, thus giving the impression that it was some kind of business.

    If you are untalented and spend your free time in front of the idiot box, this is not your issue. I understand that. But if you enjoy live music and entertainment put on for free, then I would hope this would be of some concern. If you are an English teacher with an E-2 visa, it should also be of great concern because, based on this case, many of us are wondering just exactly what we can do. We all know that doing a job for compensation is not covered by the visa, but what about other activities? Or, to boil it down to the most basic issue: what else? Tell me where I can find the law and I’ll read it and follow it.

    I will say, though, that I am happy now to have an excuse not sing at the noraebang.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Spook, I got the name “Spook Larsen” from some other page — maybe your own — referring to this matter. I didn’t know it was a secret. If you would like, I will scrub your family name and this comment from the comment trail.

    As for Gerry, that’s not and has never been a secret.

  • uhoooooo

    위에 글 읽기 싫은데…. 제 관심사가 아님.

    어쨋든, 여기 참고하시길. http://cafe.naver.com/ArticleRead.nhn?clubid=10956094&menuid=&boardtype=L&page=&articleid=6391

    *이 곳은 한국어 사용이 금지되는 곳인가요?
    그렇다면 (이 곳의 규정에 따르지 않은)제 글은 (저의 사과와 함께)마음대로 삭제하셔도 됩니다.
    *재미난 세상이야. ^^

  • Herod

    Spook – Good points.
    But the Korean government has always – always – tried to keep the cultural influence of foreigners on Korea to an absolute minimum. (See, for example, the dictatorships’ constant whinging about the perfidious effects of AFKN on public morals.) Maybe even this whole trend towards English Towns is a subconscious effort to keep teachers in isolated foreign-culture zones.
    Don’t expect the government to want to make it easier for foreigners to grab a microphone, any microphone.

  • railwaycharm

    Ah Mr. Spook, Thank you for dragging me from the depths. I went to college as well by the way. I would also venture to say I have probably forgotten more in my life experiences than have learned in your pedantic college career. That is gauged only by your naiveté,diluted theories and expectations of ex-pat life and fairy tale entitlements.

    Spell check, stuck keys, or righteous indignity driven typing does not take away from the fact that the Busan 9 are plain wrong. If poor spelling is the only argument of merit you can bring to the show you are as feeble as the idiots who thought they could shit on the Koreans and get away with it. Free speech? Pull your head out of your ass. Do you really think you are free in Korea? The Koreans are not, why should you or any other foreigner be different? You don’t get it.

  • gbevers

    Brendon is right. I do not mind my name being posted on the Internet. In fact, I post under my real name because I want to take responsibility for what I write, including my postings on “Dokdo.” Netizens may call my school to complain, and my school may take actions against me, but I seriously doubt that, at least in Korea, masked men will hunt me down and break into my apartment some night for what I post on the Internet. Anyway, I am willing to take that slight risk for the right to post under my real name.

    South Koreans can be extremely closed-minded about some things, but they are generally not physically violent. That is one of the best things about living here.

    Brendon, thanks for the suggestion about the wire, but I do not think it will work now that the secret is out. Besides, even if I did win the right to stay at my school, I think the cold-shoulder treatment I am getting from the professors in the hallways and cafeterias would only get worse.

  • dogbertt

    어쨋든, 여기 참고하시길. http://cafe.naver.com/ArticleRead.nhn?clubid=10956094&menuid=&boardtyp e=L&page=&articleid=6391

    동감! 그리고 쓸데없는 한국사람들을 미국에서 구축합시다!

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Winning the right to stay at the school is, as you note, not really desirable. But winning an unfair-dismissal case entitles the employee to his/her wages which would have been earned during the pendency of the case (four to nine months, in the case of labor tribunal; twelve to eighteen in the case of civil litigation), plus reinstatement. Since reinstatement means a loss of face for the management, usually the employer then wants to come to a compromise settlement for the employee to leave voluntarily. Plus it costs them money to pay their own lawyers, as well as management time. That’s why a decent lawyer would be able to bully a year’s extra pay for any wrongfully terminated employee — especially at lower salary levels, it’s far cheaper just to pay off the employee than to defend the employer’s rights (especially so when the employer is wrong).

  • Nappunsaram

    For all of those who keep attacking the Babopalooza participants personally for whatever, I wish the attacks would stop. Several of the people involved have come forward, and I have yet to hear them crying about their situation. Did they post this topic? No. The Marmot’s Hole did, as did I and other interested parties. Have they gone out protesting in the streets? No. Have they been uncooperative witht he police in any way? No. Have they jumped on here to defend themselves against misinformation at the hands of the media and gossip? Yes. They have (for the most part) calmly presented information about their situation as it develops so that the foreign community at large may benefit from knowing about this situation. Lord knows the Korean press wasn’t even-handed or accurate. They have never asked for sympathy or to be excused. Citing reasons for ignorance of the law is very different from citing that ignorance as something that would get them off the hook.
    Please keep in mind that people commenting, myself included, do not speak for anyone involved in this situation. We are private individuals expressing our own personal opinions on a subject that is obviously of value to some people. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be 200+ comments on this, now would there? Again, since we’re all educated people who are at least marginally worldly, surely we can understand that the people involved in this are real individuals and not some sterotype that makes our view of the world easier to organize.

    Most of that comment was inspired by railwaycharm. What’s your damage, man? You didn’t see the show, you obviously didn’t read any reviews of it, and you’re up on your high “I told you so” horse. They did not “shit all over Korea” and saying such things without any point of reference in addition to your extensive grammatical, syntactic, and punctuation errors makes you look like a fool. What you write is the only impression we can have of you. Calling names and offering advice of “pull your head out of your ass” is not productive or useful criticism. Do you have anything of worth to contribute to this discussion, or is this the last place that will let you textually masturbate by reading your own type? Get rid of the belligerence. As a college educated person and someone who obviously thinks very highly of himself, I would expect you to express yourself with at least a minimal amount of eloquence.

    *I’m sorry to anyone else reading this. I would have sent that last part privately if I knew how…*

    dogbertt: I tried to go to that site but got some kind of error message

    Brendon: Thanks for all the info. You learn something new every day…

    Does anyone else have any constructive advice or experience for this kind of situation? I have some friends acting in movies and I’ve been writing a hack weekly column for about a year and a half. I know I don’t want to get dragged into the police station over something like this.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Nappunsaram, you’re welcome. I try to be useful as well as acerbic and, hopefully, amusing.

    For your friends: Acting in movies is definitely outside the scope of an E-2 visa (as well as E-7 and D-7/D-8). Maybe they can get an endorsement allowing the E-6 activity, maybe not. A person with an F-2-1, F-4, or F-5 visa would not be so restricted — they can take outside employment without restriction, although that itself is a fairly new liberalization.

  • dogbertt

    @nappunsaram: sorry, shakuhachi and I are having a separate debate in this thread with a poster who advocates the expulsion of foreigners from Korea. It’s not directly related to this Pusan thing.

  • LBecco

    Mr. Carr,

    About that “new liberalization” of visa regulations – which incidentally dates back to Sept. 26, 2005 (to be precise):

    How did that come about, again???

    Was it:

    a) because waygooks sat on their hands, cowing and praying that The Man would be nice to them

    b) because, in the wake of the crackdown on illegal teaching that englishspectrumgate spurred, angry foreigners – backed by their Korean SPOUSES – protested vehemently the injustice of a law that severely limited their ability to support their families

    Take your time on this one. Wouldn’t want to get it wrong…

    Full marks to Spook, once again: the court of public opinion will decide this one. We can only be glad there aren’t too many railwaycharms out there pushing for us, or we’d all be pickin’ cotton. Yessum!

  • LBecco

    The inclusion of a single word in the current work visa regulation could solve a lot of problems – and make the law closer to the spirit in which (I hope) it was written.

    Instead of “activities not covered under the present visa”, why not push for a change to: “professional activities not covered under the present visa”? Or maybe change “professional” to “remunerated” or the like.

    As it is, “activities” is WAY too wide-open to nefarious interpretation. It potentially criminalizes the pursuit of hobbies – and what else, again? Are eating, sleeping, washing, NOT “activities”?

    Let’s clarify this mess. It’s getting Orwellian.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Guess you showed us (and the Koreans): It is all about you!

  • LBecco

    Huh?

    That’s your answer? Wow.

  • http://gopkorea.blogs.com/flyingyangban/ Andy Jackson

    comment #226:

    Acting in movies is definitely outside the scope of an E-2 visa (as well as E-7 and D-7/D-8). Maybe they can get an endorsement allowing the E-6 activity, maybe not. A person with an F-2-1, F-4, or F-5 visa would not be so restricted — they can take outside employment without restriction, although that itself is a fairly new liberalization.

    Outstanding. I will have to call my agent.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Tell me about it. Next stop, the Spice Channel!

  • railwaycharm

    Ok English teachers, I apologize for going over the top and misspelling a word here or there. Using the wrong syntax, I may even have ended a sentence in a preposition? Oh dear! Yes I was vitriolic, abrasive and maybe even acerbic. Let me pull the fly sh*t out of the pepper for you….

    • You can not go to a foreign country and act as if you have special rights
    • If you disparage Korean culture publicly, the government will smite you
    • Nappunsaram, you are absolutely correct. I did go over the top. The bodily references were gratuitous and unneeded. I will say this. This forum affords people the license to go a bit nuts at times and a little trash talk is fun to read.
    • Lastly, use better arguments for the facts than how people articulate their postings, we are sick to death of writing memos,this is not an English exam, let’s have a bit of fun!

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  • Haisan

    we are sick to death of writing memos,this is not an English exam, let’s have a bit of fun!

    I cannot disagree more. “Proper” writing is about expressing yourself clearly. There is nothing wrong with breaking the rules (and lord knows I hate the grammar Nazis, preferring to jump on every error rather than argue the points). But when your poor writing muddies your ideas, then I think you are on the wrong track.

    I also think that flame wars are not entertaining in the least. Good, honest arguments are entertaining.

  • railwaycharm

    • The last word is yours.

  • iwshim

    Bredon points to some very big problems in Korea. Too few laywers. Also Bredon has not done himself justice, Korean laywers live in self imposed jails for three years to study to pass the bar.
    After gaduating there is little interest in gaining a speciality in law. After three years every lawyer wants to make money to recoup that investment of time.

    I am quite mistified by the ingnorance of law that exist in this country AND this goes so true to the people who do the hiring. They have a legal resposnilbilty to make sure they not hiring molesters and other crackpots.

    The law in Korea is a tighlty controlled supply demand monopoly that Korean bar keeps a tight lid on.

    Things take time, and if there were more Brendons and less foolhardy challenges to the law (this is not the stuff of MLK)things would develop better.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Brendon’s not a Korean-admitted lawyer. For the time being, your Uncle B is an unregulated foreign legal consultant. He did not lock himself in a jail for three years to prepare for the Korean bar examination. Brendon went to the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, attended a lot of Husky basketball games, and locked himself in a jail for a month to pass the Washington State bar examination. But he’s a smart guy.

    There is only one Brendon Carr, as ever it shall be. Accept no substitutes.

  • LBecco

    Today’s Korea Times has an article on this silliness (“Pusan Performers Still Like Korea”), the final paragraph of which goes:

    “The police told her that a poetry-reading group she belongs to is not allowed to perform and that volunteering at an orphanage was also forbidden.”

    The headline to the immediate right reads, “New [foreigner-run] Magazine ROKs Seoul”, and the one to the right of that, “Haebangchon Bar Hosts Expat Art”.

  • robert neff

    hmmm,

    I can not believe how long this thread has gone on. A lot of important information – a lot of it put out by Carr, and some good questions all around. With the recent ruling that poetry reading in the bar or what-not can be considered illegal – then one must also consider the Blog – what is its legal status?

    While this may not relate – the Free Masons in Seoul in the 1910s had a great deal of problem with the Japanese because their organization is/was considered a “secret organization” and they managed to get around it by claiming to be an open club. The early Christians also faced these early problems and many were arrested for their subversive sermons (some actually were quite subversive). This has been happening for a long time, and will continue to do so for a long time.

  • R. Elgin

    Here is the link to the Korea Times article for all to read.
    The article does appear to show the Pusan police in a bad light, regarding their motivation to perform the inquiry. If someone connected with all this has the nerve, they should definitely file a complaint against the newspapers that printed false information regarding themselves.

    The guys that put on this play should not have stepped into areas of activity that are handled by professionals (theatrical production) and involve any kind of money transactions. That is just pure stupidity on their part (foreigners please take note). Had they taken part, “pro bono”, in a play and under the aegis of a Korean representative, things could have been much different.

    The Pusan police informing one woman that “volunteering at an orphanage” is not allowed is an extremely petty thing to say that only makes the police look bad. The whole matter does suggest to me that the Pusan police should be electronically tagged so that they do not stray into areas of censorship and immigration where they are clearly outside of their jurisdiction. I believe there is just enough time to insert such a provision into the current electronic tagging bill that is in the assembly just now.

  • http://x85130c4.spaces.live.com/ Mark

    What is the record for most comments on a single string at Marmot’s? I see several references to pouring one’s self a nice hot cup here…this is a good thing.

  • judge judy

    i think we may have a winner for being offered the most cups of the boilin’ brew.

    if i may take a crack at pushing it over 300, i’d like to say that the korea times author is obviously a pusan9 sympathizer and hardly a “journalist.”

  • hardyandtiny

    “In my case, I was not fired, but it is very likely that my contract will not be renewed because my department head told me, when I pressed her, that all the administrators at my school and many of the professors are angry about my discussions of “Dokdo” on the Internet. ”

    That’s depressing. Good luck Gerry.

  • hardyandtiny

    “secret taping is lawful if one party to the conversation knows about it”

    Brendon is that also true in the USA or is up to the state?

  • tharp42

    Ah… is anyone still reading?

    Well there’s alot of babble going on here, but I will stand by Spook in that this case has chilling effects for the expat community at large here. We may be taken to the pillories by some of you high horsers for doing a show and charging admission, but the fact that they’re coming after and have even deemed orphanage volunteering illegal should make all of you take not, even you haters.

    As for Mr. Carr, thanks for the legal-advice, I guess, but what you say will make no impact on what goes on in this case. We have already taken a lot of advice from people who choose not to cloak their words in snideness and some sort of self-perceived intellectual superiority. UW Law school, eh? Well, as a Seattlelite myself, I understand it to be one of the nation’s best. Well on you. I hope you’ve stapled your diploma to your ample forehead. Again, as for your comments on the so-called arstisic merits of the show? You didn’t see it, you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about it, so you shouldn’t, okay? I understand that lawyers are prone to dysentary of the mouth – or fingertips in this case – but the fact is that we played to two packed houses who LOVED it. Yeah, ONE guy got up and walked out while proclaiming it “shite.” He’s a good friend of mine, by the way, and for the record, he hates EVERYTHING. He’s a miserable bastard.

    And railwaycharm? After reading your litany of poo-slinging and vitriol, “charm” is the last thing that comes to mind. You can count yourself among one of legions of anonymous haters out there who never saw the show, but feel the need to make up shit, vent, and condemn us on the public internets. Feel better now, sir? Is all that stored up passive-agressive bile that was backed up in your gullet now released? Are you at peace with yourself now that you’ve had your peace?

    You have no idea who were and you really have no idea what we did? The fact that you accuse us of “shitting on Korea” is shit to begin with. It’s wrong and way outta line. So please do us all a favor and stop it, now, Mr. Railway, or do us all a favor and go to an actual railway and throw yourself in front of a train, you rancid piece of cat dung.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    H&T:

    There are federal and 40 individual state laws that prohibit the intentional interception of wire, electronic, and oral communications and make it illegal for a person to willfully disclose the contents of a communication if the person knows or has reason to know the communication was illegally obtained. There a limited judicially created exceptions for the publication by news media of such illegally obtained information in cases where the media thgemselves did not participate in the illegal interception and the information disclosed was of substantial public interest, e.g., evidence of bribery of public officials.

  • railwaycharm

    tharp42

    My musings have spoken to you, and that pleases me. You are obviously personally damaged by my rejection of the foolhardy idea that you can fight Korean City Hall. I also want to thank you for the public service that you have provided to all of us unsuspecting ex-pats. We are grateful that you have warned us of the perils of busking in Korea, we will all be careful. Rancid piece of cat dung… Now that shows ingenuity and probably more intelligent than your idea that the Busan 9 are victims of their craft?

    Throw myself under a train? Wow, talk about vitriol… I never wished you harm and still don’t. I had a nice laugh. Chill-out young man, you have bigger windmills to chase.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Chris Tharp is a 35 year-old Peter Pan, saying outrageous things and mocking my forehead (but check the photo of his forehead on his blog) — whereas I was recently named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”. I leave it to the reader to decide which of us is more accomplished, and whose hairline is more appalling.

    As for the University of Washington School of Law, it is indeed the very best law school in the city of Seattle. For now. I did see some very entertaining basketball games while I was there — the Todd MacCulloch era — and had very good seats (3rd row, center court) for which I didn’t pay anything.

  • uhoooooo

    Sorry to say,

    @Brendon Carr

    University of Washington School of Law? Haha.
    I know a graduate from there.
    He WAS at my MSN, blocked me and of course I deleted him. I see the tint of compassionate-ish-with-the-labor-but-somewhat-noble-ish-tasted tangerine-like orange in him. Anyway, he may have something intangibliy enviable as himself; most women seem to like him. I think highly of him, too.

    My best friend and he made a heavy online quarrel; what a chilling experience to see them! Well, I sometimes hate my character like this. :(
    You may meet into him at my site( http://www.law4u.net )as a blurred guest, I’m not sure.

  • railwaycharm

    Mr. Carr,
    A Peter Pan indeed! He is a “metal jock-strap”. I would not waste too much more time on this douchebag, he is a zero.

  • Herod

    Seoul expats versus Busan expats. It’s like the West Coast-East Coast rappers’ feud. Just not as interesting.

  • http://x85130c4.spaces.live.com/ Mark

    The nice hot cup is a brewin’ again….

  • Arghaeri

    @Spook

    “From my contacts with some of the Pusan 9, I know for a fact”.

    How can you know it by fact, you’ve just admitted you know it by “hearsay” NOT fact.

  • Wedge

    Obviously, I’m bored enough in the States to have actually read most of this.

    One thing I’ll say, this Tharp dude is a trip. I was punching around his blog and noticed “anti-globalization” as an interest. Here’s a guy who makes money overseas–even mentions he has a sweet gig–and rails against anti-foreign behavior exhibited by Pusan’s finest, but apparently doesn’t see the irony in being a globophobe.

    That said, good luck to these people. If Korea accepted globablization wholeheartedly, they wouldn’t be in this mess.

  • michael

    “Babopalooza” indeed, and I’m as bored as Wedge to have read so much of this. Railway’s comment: “Do you really think you are free in Korea? The Koreans are not, why should you or any other foreigner be different? You don’t get it” about sums it up. There are unstated rules of conduct that Koreans know implicitly, because they were raised with them. Add to that Mr. Carr’s evaluation that Korea is a Rule by Law™ society, and you have the fixin’s for just this kind of episode. If you’ve been here a while you’ll notice no scathing satire of Korean society (that’s not totally correct, some movies have been really biting in some regards, but I mean on regular TV and in the media), so if Koreans don’t do it, they aren’t going to understand or welcome foreigners in their midst doing it either.

    All the complaining that The Man is out to get foreign ESL teachers in Pusan (why?) overlooks that.

    Whitey: “Comments 150+: You are in hell.” Or it’s Sunday morning in Seoul — wait, could that be the same thing? :)

  • gbevers

    Below is the beginning of a December 26 Korea Times article, “Expats Risk Expulsion for Satire,” which talks about the expats who performed illegally in Busan.

    Foreigners may face deportation or fines if they volunteer at orphanages or organize performances without reporting them to the authorities.

    The interpretation came from Joo Jae-bong, an official at the Ministry of Justice. He said there should be no problem with joining a poetry club but that volunteer activites should be registered with the ministry.

    “If it ‘s just a gathering of friends, there should be no problem,’’ he said. “But if they are organizing performances, they need to register to do those things because they are changing the purpose of their stay here.’’

    He said the same rule applies to those who wish to volunteer in an orphanage. Foreigners need to register those activities with the ministry.

    I think Korean authorities look silly for making such a big deal out of this, and I think the following comment by a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official shows just how silly they are being:

    “If it’s just a gathering of friends, there should be no problem,”….

    “Should be no problem…”? The MOJ official hedges even when talking about a gathering of friends. That is ridiculous. Is the law some kind renant from the Japanese colonial period?

  • Herod

    gbevers: Just ask immigration before you get together with your friends. Then you will be okay. Sorry: should be okay.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Is the law some kind renant from the Japanese colonial period?

    Koreans no doubt will so characterize it if and when they ever get around to implementing a principled regime of civil rights based on natural law or some simulacrum thereof, but the fact is that the idea that nothing is permitted except precisely what the government expressly allows long predates the advent of the Japanese in Korea. Indeed, this notion – which only recently was substantially modified in regards to foreign investment in Korea – and which is the keystone of Rule by Law [TM 2006 / BC]- has been and still remains both the dominant theory of government in East Asia and the working mentalite of East Asian cultures, particularly the elites who wield it so effectively against everyone else and even in internecine conflict when they think they can get away with it.

  • http://www.slg.co.kr Brendon Carr

    Oh come on, you of all people know that I didn’t come up with “Rule By Law”!

  • MrChips

    This is ridiculous. The longer this post becomes the more of an impression one gets that the lives/actions of any foreigner, or perhaps even native Koreans (who knows?), are overseen and adjudicated by the almighty government which reserves complete discretionary privilege unto itself. Someone alluded to the idea above that given the complexity of law in Korea at any given point you are probably in violation of something. That is simply not true. The only reason I say that is that the nature of law is such that there must be a reasonable expectation for consistent acknowledgement of a law. That is what separates law from power. Without that reasonable expectation (which implies a foreknowledge) it is not law, no matter who passed it or how firmly impressed it is in legal documentation. It is power, to be summarily wielded at the whim of tyrants. Be it artistic performances, thoughts on Dokdo, or chewing bubble gum while in the company of the wrong colored woman, you are subject to the whim of tyrants, not to the law. So much for law, and so much for democracy…

  • railwaycharm

    Mr. Chips, Good points. Korea is in fact a Republic but even in that regard a perverted one at best.

  • railwaycharm

    Mr. Chips, I would venture to say 99% of the posters on this blog have managed to work and live in Korea without incidence. It’s when you act like a complete moron that you get into deep serious. While frustrating at times, I have been successful here and with a little help from your friends; reasonable people can do the same. Cheers!

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Mr. Chips, you’re onto something, but you’re missing the point. Some might argue otherwise, and in fact there is a lively literature in which legal philosophers – HLA Hart, Dworkin, etc. – make a lot of fine distinctions about these matters, but the fact is that even totalitarian regimes have laws – Hart e.g. used the term “positive law” to describe the laws of Hitler’s Germany, and the existence of laws in such states as pure instruments for the unfettered exercise of power by the state makes mush of your attempt to differentiate law and power. The mere fact that people go along doesn’t itself necessarily morally legitimate the laws of such a regime. The problem in Korea, which was much more apparent not so very long ago, is that it still has not established a firm basis for differentiating power and law. So while you and railway charm MAY not get punished, you – like the Busan bounders – could be, for any number of trangressions, and you wouldn’t really have any basis or means of redress (e.g., a Bill of Rights) other than an abject appeal for mercy. That is NOT what is understood to constitute liberty.

  • Gerno

    I have a question: What about being in a pool, dart or football league? These leagues collect dues, have bank accounts and give awards including cash. Is this against the VISA rules? How about a dart or pool tournament where there is an entry fee and the winners collect CASH for their efforts?

  • LBecco

    I hear tell that a drive is being planned to cover the legals costs of the Busan Nine, who may end up taking their case to court (after they receive notice of the prosecutor’s recommenddations for penalties).

    It has been suggested that facing a judge would be a futile undertaking on their part, and while that could very well be true, if clarity were to emerge from a court ruling on this I think the entire foreign community would benefit.

    gbevers is right to point out the MOJ’s iffy language (“should be no problem”) on foreigners’ right to gather as friends… If even THAT’s not a clear-cut right, well, you know…

    And railwaycharm, the fact that certain foreigners haven’t been busted by authoritites for engaging in “activities” in the past in no guarantees that they won’t be in the future. And this shouldn’t need to be explained to a college graduate, either. Oh, I forget: you went to collage. But you’re right about one thing: you ARE “frustrating at times”.

  • rambot

    In post 115 Brendon lists all the rules that were broken by the Busan 9. So how can it be that it appears they have been completely cleared by the Prosecutor’s office? Certainly the case against them (us) was an open and shut deal and yet they decided not to prosecute. WTF?

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  • corn2990

    The-dog-eating-rice-monkey-Korea

    Sincerely,
    Capt Sum Ting Wong