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Developing Story: Foreigner Drugs and Gambling “Ring”

UPDATE: We got an audio interview with several of the main players, along with some pretty disturbing descriptions of police misconduct, coercion of testimony, and even alleged lying to the Canadian embassy when asked if media were present — the officer communicating said they weren’t, although the picture taken by one of the suspects shows a different story.

ORIGINAL STORY:
Expect some kind of story, with accompanying video, about a “ring” of foreigners involved in drugs and gambling, from tonight on the national news.

From a tip to Korean Media Watch, a group of Americans/Canadians were having a poker game that was raided. Apparently, someone called in a tip. There were 8 members at the raid, one of whom was female but was not asked to come down to the station to pose for the cameras today. 6 others NOT present at the poker game but had been players before were “asked to come down and make a statement” at which time they were told to take urine drug tests. The original 8 had already done so. Apparently, two of the original 8 tested positive, although no drugs were apparently found. This morning at the station, it was a press field day, with cameras called in and set up around a makeshift poker table IN the station. They were even asked by the Korean press to re-enact the game around the table for the cameras, which they refused to do. They also refused to grant any interviews.

Photo090702 004
From the station.

One reporter, who seemed a bit disappointed or confused about what was actually going down, informed a member of the group that they had been called by the police, who had claimed to have busted a “drugs and gambling ring.” This is apparently how the police want things to go appear, as this is the context under which the press was called. A few things seem obvious — that the police are primed to turn anything involving foreigners into a “big story” and are directly involved in calling the media down to the station, as well as spinning the story. No matter what particular trouble any members of the group might be in, it is certainly a stretch to call a poker game a drug and gambling “ring,” or to link this story to other “foreigners acting wild” yellow journalism already out there. Considering the pattern of media vilification of foreigners, expect lurid closeup shots of a poker table (provided by the police), exaggerated unnecessary implications about other crime “rings” being conducted by foreigners, and most importantly, linkage of this story to other bad journalism already out there.

We will do our best to get their side of the story out there, at least, and to keep things in context. However, it must be expected that the media will follow the general pattern: wildly exaggerate the facts of the story, generalize that story to the greater population, and pose this generalized population as a “threat” to the Korean public, especially to children.

In the beginning and end, all from a poker game. No drugs on the premises or the persons in question, no reasonable evidence for a gambling “ring.” But that’s how the police are spinning it.

One suggestion from this writer and others: watch your Facebook accounts and updates. There is a lot of suspicion that certain interested parties are now watching Facebook, for various reasons related to the specifics of how this and related events went down, and that calls are being made, tips being given, one suspects, from status updates and event announcements. From the appearance of this story, it seemed like an easy setup and tipoff, with the police ready and prepared to spin a finished story, poker table included.

This pattern of foriegner vilification has institutional momentum, from an over-eager police force ready to make a poker game into a criminal drug and gambling “ring,” to a media equally ready to run any lurid story involving foreigners, whether illegal acts are involved or not. With a police force working hand-in-hand with the media for “the next big scandal,” the results should not be surprising.

About the author: Michael Hurt is a writer and photographer who first came to Seoul in after graduating from Brown University in 1994 and coming to Korea as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. After a 2-year stint as a teacher on Cheju Island in two Korean middle schools, he attended UC Berkeley in the Department of Comparative Ethnic Studies and returned to Korea in 2002 for dissertation research. After having been seriously distracted by writing and street/fashion photography, his dissertation remains in continued limbo. His current work includes projects related to fashion photography, new media, and finally finishing his dissertation.

  • foobat

    fucking WOW.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Yeah, but what I want to know — and I imagine the press, too — is whether any of the accused has sex with Korean women.

    BTW, how reliable is this tip? Or in other words, Mike, am I going to have apologize to a state institution for posting false allegations?

  • colontos

    You ever notice that whenever you read a Metro post, you start to feel like it’s Germany in 1938?

    A flair for exaggeration, he has. Not a whole lot different than the “bad journalism” we’re all having a great time deriding.

  • johnnyonthespot

    So this is ridiculous bullshit to say the least. I know all the people who got busted, and what they were doing was playing a weekly high stakes poker game. A game that was between only friends. The police came in arrested them and then trumped up the entire thing as if it was the worst thing in the world. The person who hosted the game took no rake, i.e. no money off the table for personal gain, and is a respected English teacher, along with several others there. Moral of the story is disconnect from the South Korea network on Facebook and reset your privacy settings because this just goes to show the lengths at which Koreans will take a which hunt.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Not to mention it might be nice first to let the press do what you say they’ll do before accusing them.

  • colontos

    “respected English teacher”

    Careful, you might draw some snickers talkin’ like that.

    “a which hunt”

    Heh. Heh.

  • Dram_man

    I always wondered when these poker games were going to get greater police scrutiny, especially when buy-ins went to over 100K and bars started hosting players. Frankly if you asked me, this was a long time coming. Too many of these games vividly flouted Korean gambling laws.

  • http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com Brian D

    This was on “The Ruby Canary” blog last night, so that’s probably related to this tip. She was one of the quarantined bloggers, you might remember.

    I don’t have much to add here, but Mike, this is an interesting tangent to your earlier posts—on Facebook—about how that site has grown among Korean users. You mentioned that we’d be getting more friend requests from random Koreans—I’ve had a few—that I mentioned that I only accept them if we have mutual friends or if they’re hot. I cautioned on the TRC post that people should really be more careful about the party pics they post to Facebook . . . should we also be careful about these random friend requests? No, no, no, I’m not here saying every Korean out to practice English is a narc . . . but teachers, especially those with recognizable names, might want to be extra careful. A picture of a white guy at a party with Korean girls is enough to make national news, you know.

  • Mr. Myxlplyx

    Weird. I know of many poker groups in Seoul, all Korean, some even played with a few high profile entertainment types. Buy-ins well beyond my means (although that is not saying much). I wonder if there have been any crackdowns on those games, too. Certainly I have not heard anything.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but, isn’t it illegal in South Korea for police to enter a private home without the permission of the tenants?

  • R. Elgin

    I wonder, generally what legal recourse these guys have, in Korea, if they were indeed playing a private game.

    Can Korean police simply walk into any place and make claims against anyone with impunity?

  • ScottieB

    Someguy: curious about the entering thing as well. From the story I’ve heard, the occupants asked for a warrant but were told by the police that they didn’t need one.

    Also, how does the drug test thing work? Is there such thing as probable cause in Korea? It seems to me like a poker game and doing dope are two completely different beasts…

  • tab

    Heh! Here I was thinking the Metropolitician’s bouts of paraniod hyperbole were amusing, but Brian arrived and added to the hilarity.

    “Teachers, especially those with recognizable names, might want to be extra careful.” Brilliant! Would those be names like John or Peter? Or are you, oh so subtly, referring to yourself?

    I have a serious question though. Are either of you worried that you might fall off those mighty high horses you have climbed upon? Doesn’t the self-righteous indignation get tiresome as you strain over your creative outlet each morning?

  • vince

    Get over it.
    아쭈마 get busted for high stakes 고스톱 games on a routine basis. And get hauled off to jail. The news media loves it. Although these high rolling moms and aunts probably aren’t asked to pee in a cup.

  • exit86

    While reading this story, I was convinced that this was an article from “The Onion”–
    because of the absurdity of it all, as well as the sensationalist writing style of the author.
    I still think it is a joke. . . this can’t be real. Really!
    Are cops gonna start raiding and arresting the old folks down by the Han River playing 100 won “Go-Stop”? The law is the law–gambling is gambling.
    This must be a joke. Someone please tell me it is a joke.

  • ScottieB

    As someone acquainted with several of the principals in the case, I can assure you it’s not a joke.

  • http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com Brian D

    Thanks “tab,” but yeah, people do know my name, and send me messages on Facebook based on reading the blog.

  • http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com Brian D

    And since people do post work info, addresses, personal details, and pictures on their site, they should probably be careful about who they add as a friend . . . or at least about the stuff they make public. If the Anti-English Spectrum (so are they against the language or against the website?) were looking for more material, they could just go through the pics people make public on Facebook or myspace.

  • seoulmilk

    Interesting. I know several Korean, Korean-American and non-Korean lawyers who hold monthly poker nights. Of course, they don’t announce it to the world on Facebook.

    In any event, Koreans get busted all the time for gambling so this is nothing new. Of course, how the foreigners will be portrayed by the media will be pretty… sad.

  • http://sungnyemun.org/downloads/no.php dda

    아쭈마?!?

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #5 — This story is solid, as I just finished an audio interview with several of the principals, know one a couple personally, and was getting beamed pictures and videos from the station as the entire thing went down. They have the names and contact info of all the officers, as well as several media contacts. The fact of the bust and the peril in which these people find themselves in isn’t in question.

    Also, there were no “accusations” made against the media, but given the pattern of the Korean media in exaggerating the facts and then making sweeping generalizations about an entire population, it constitutes a warning that this is very likely to happen in this case as well. And given just how eager the police was to construct everything as a “gambling and drug ring” and called down the media under such pretenses, it is reasonable to also see such an outcome, given the clear intent of the authorities.

    And as for the gambling question, technically, gambling is illegal, but holds no jail time and a monetary fine. RUNNING an illegal gambling operation for profit is FAR more serious, which is what the police are trying to pin on them. That means 3 years in jail and a 20 million won fine. What’s more ironic is that there’s not much reason for foreigners to run underground gambling operations, since it’s LEGAL for foreigners to walk into any casino in Korea.

    On another note, yes, their narrative includes the assertion that the police entered their house without a warrant, did not produce one when asked, and said they didn’t need one. They were not in uniform, and a member had initially refused to let them in — which is wise, since they produced no ID, nor did they possess a warrant. They forced the door open, threw her down, and continued roughing her up for not cooperating with them.

    Later, they were told they HAD to give the media interviews, at which time one of the camerapeople whispered to them that not only did they not have to give interviews, but they had not even requested them. If that is true, looks like someone has a conscience in the Korean press corps, as they were being so obviously railroaded.

    In addition, one of the members has a separate complaint that her written testimony, when translated, sent the main officer into a rage, he ripped it up and gave her a new one, and made sure no unflattering complaints about police conduct was included. She felt physically threatened, especially after another member had had a steel baton of some type thrust into his chest several times. The final question on the statement is “Were you coerced into making this statement?” She answered yes, but finally was so scared that she wrote what was dictated to her, and claimed her translator was even afraid to convey her frank answers.

    Their narrative is just that — their narrative — but they were smart and documented a lot with their electronic doodads, and personally sent me a lot of electronic backup to their story. I plan to follow up with the press who was there and monitor the reporting of this case as it progresses.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    UPDATE: We got an audio interview with several of the main players, along with some pretty disturbing descriptions of police misconduct, coercion of testimony, and even alleged lying to the Canadian embassy when asked if media were present — the officer communicating said they weren’t, although the picture taken by one of the suspects shows a different story.

  • foobat

    Still having trouble getting beyond my first response. Everyone I’ve ever known has gotten together for a friendly game once in a while here. Obaeks and quarters kind of stuff.

    I hope this pans out very poorly for whatever stupid crackhead thought this would be a great idea. I also want to see some heads roll for this, but I know that will never happen.

  • NetizenKim

    I don’t know how you do it, Mike.

    Don’t you have a fetish photo magazine to run or something? Where do you get this energy from? It’s like you deliberately look for trouble or drama.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    Well, BlueJives/NetizenKim,

    Yep, I’ve got a “fetish photo magazine” or something that resulted in a book and a pretty strong following of non-”fetish” people that has so far gotten me in front of Korea’s top designers and a lot of great connections with creative folks, as well as produced content that somebody thought was worth nominating me to the 국가브랜드위원회, which I’m trying to make result in something more than just a committee report, but something that will actually help the country. And yes, I’m doing my damndest to try and make the Korean media more responsible, or at least accountable, while doing various other projects, such as preparing an exhibition, prepping for another book, and finish my dissertation by the next academic year.

    You asked. The energy? To leave my little part of the world a bit better than I left it, by criticizing, by stepping up to the plate and creating the shit I complain about not being there, and otherwise constructively using my time.

    And yes, I established this Korean Media Watch site, and got a tip. Haters like you see it as “looking for drama or trouble” — I see it as trying to improve the world I live in.

    And don’t you like live in New Jersey or something? I always wanted to ask why you care so much about what I do here, as if I care about what you do there. As if you ever really lived in Korea, anyway. At least I’m just trying to live a better life in Korea because I’m HERE. It’s where I live, affects my life.

    You think I’m looking for drama, but you’re a troll on a site about life half a world away from you that you’ve never really lived — why do you care so much about what I do?

    Who’s out deliberately looking for something, again?

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    Your audio interview? It doesn’t build much sympathy for these folks? They sound really whiny? Don’t they know what police are supposed to do? Which is catch suspected criminals? And their “up-talking”? It drives me crazy?

    I don’t think the “professional poker player” was smart to state that his profession is playing poker for money, which he does in Korea. I’m sure there’s no work visa for “professional poker player”.

  • madar

    As to the police entering without a warrant they may be covered by Article 12 #3 of the Korean constitution:

    Warrants issued by a judge through due procedures upon the request of a prosecutor shall be presented in case of arrest, detention, seizure or search: Provided, That in a case where a criminal suspect is an apprehended flagrante delicto, or where there is danger that a person suspected of committing a crime punishable by imprisonment of three years or more may escape or destroy evidence, investigative authorities may request an ex post facto warrant.

    http://english.ccourt.go.kr/home/english/welcome/republic.jsp

    Basically it sounds to me that police can enter your home and worry about the warrant later most of the time. If The Metropolitician is right about the police trying to stick a 3 year stint for running an illegal gambling operation, then I think they are screwed as far as a lack of a warrant being issued is concerned. However if the police can’t make the charge stick, one would hope all other charges would disappear. (I hope none of them signed any confessions to that effect.)

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  • CaptBBQ

    I liked the Korean National Police better when they were lazy and reluctant to go after criminals.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    OK, here’s my impression post-audio interview:

    Busting guys for a home poker game seems rather petty, but I really could have used less of the whole “Oh, the Koreans don’t understand Texas Holdem/concept of a tournament/poker is a game of skill” stuff. They don’t have to understand — it’s the accused that need to “understand” whether or not Korean law regards poker as gambling.

    I’d also say they made some pretty major accusations against the police. Would like to hear what the police have to say about it.

  • James Hersh

    Where did this happen anyway?

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    Actually it sounded to me that the interrogators were rather slyly drawing out admissions from the self-professed professional gamblers which will be used to demonstrate that the game in question was not an innocent home game.

  • seouldout

    Will there be some sort of protest of this injustice?

    Will it involve a petition?

    Will this petition be delivered several months later?

    If this is the plan I’ve got someone who can accomplish it all. Even record it for posterity too.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Robert,

    Yeah, I could have done without listening to the last 15 minutes or so.

    Brendon,
    Yeah, I can’t bring myself to understand why they talked so much. I would have kept my mouth shut for 48 hours and returned with a lawyer.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    The police supposedly told these people “If you don’t sign these statements we’ve prepared for you and which aren’t accurate, we’ll put you in jail.” That’s what’s supposed to happen. When you’re arrested, you might spend a few hours (or days) in jail. But it sure beats signing a false confession — at least in my book.

    And the up-talking girl? The one who has a plane ticket leaving in two weeks? She needs an attitude adjustment? As if the Korean justice system needs to arrange itself around her needs?

    When arrested, say nothing. You’ll be interrogated again anyway, at the prosecutor’s office. Ask for a lawyer and call your Embassy. If you don’t speak Korean, ask for an interpreter. If the interpretation is bad, stop talking until a good one is found.

    Yes, you will endure inconveniences as a result. The police may even shout and frown at you, or push you around. That’s life.

  • Benicio74

    Fact- they were gambling, which is illegal in Korea. Korean gambling rings get busted all the time. I was certain that the Kcops were gonna start busting in on these poker rings sooner or later.

    The real issue I am, am I’m sure most others, is the ridiculous exaggerations, distortions, and outright lies by the police about what was really happening.

    This reminds me of 2 incidents here in Busan:
    1) the 2002 pot bust of about 12 foreigners & Koreans- yes, they were all guilty, they knowingly broke the law.
    2) the Babopalooza scandal where an amateur comedy troupe put on a play that poked fun at life in Korea- they were not supposed to be “performing” or charging for tickets on their work visas.

    In both cases, both groups violated laws. I knew most in both groups, so I know all about what really happened.
    The unbelievable part was what we read in the media about both stories. These were some of the most ridiculous exaggerations, distortions, outright lies that I had come across- the North Korean propaganda department would have been envious!

    I really wondered how “reporters” could come up with such ridiculous nonsense, as if they invented it- maybe they were the ones on drugs!
    Now, I’m starting to see that the police are instrumental in spreading the disinformation.
    Why? I guess to make it look like they are doing a good job of cleaning up the streets.

    When it comes to reporting on foreigner crime & misbehavior, I believe nothing!!!

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    When arrested, say nothing.

    This is about the US, but I imagine can be applied in many places:

    Don’t talk to cops:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08fZQWjDVKE

  • pbowers

    If you don’t sign these statements we’ve prepared for you and which aren’t accurate, we’ll put you in jail.” That’s what’s supposed to happen.

    Right. That’s what the police should be doing. Trumping up charges and seeking false confessions under the threat of further imprisonment. A testament to law enforcement if I’ve ever seen one…

  • http://vegametals.com KrZ

    I think these people fell victim to the same tactics police use in almost every country. Their goal is to get you to talk without a lawyer present and they will use every means at their disposal short of actually beating the crap out of you. They may have implied a threat of violence with the batons but these idiots should have kept their mouths shut and repeated the mantra of “I’d like to speak to an attorney.” Not like they’re going to actually beat you to a pulp for not talking.

  • pbowers

    The police may even shout and frown at you, or push you around. That’s life.

    Sounds all perfectly reasonable. Police push you around. That’s life. And if you push them back, I’m sure they’ll just shrug if off the same way, right?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    “The police may even shout and frown at you, or push you around. That’s life.”

    If that happens, give them shit for it. Threaten them with a lawsuit (yes, it can be done nowadays). Be adamant about it in a Korean TV drama sort of way, too.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    KrZ,

    If that’s what you want to do…

    Here’s an old trick I learned in basic training so I wouldn’t crack up laughing every time my sergeant would scream at me while I was standing at attention:

    Find a spot on the wall, concentrate on that spot, and tune everything else out.

    It sounds stupid, but it works.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #36,

    That was very entertaining. Thanks for sharing.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    ” If you don’t speak Korean, ask for an interpreter. If the interpretation is bad, stop talking until a good one is found.”

    And remember, the interpreter doesn’t work for you, he or she works for the police.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Not like they’re going to actually beat you to a pulp for not talking

    Uh huh. They have in the past. I’m sure Ali Khan and his friends can tell you a few stories, and it only been a 5 years since his arrest.

  • seouldout

    Gotta give credit when credit’s due.

    Nitwitizen Kim, this one cracked me up:

    Don’t you have a fetish photo magazine to run or something?

  • NetizenKim

    #25

    And don’t you like live in New Jersey or something? I always wanted to ask why you care so much about what I do here, as if I care about what you do there. As if you ever really lived in Korea, anyway. At least I’m just trying to live a better life in Korea because I’m HERE. It’s where I live, affects my life.

    You think I’m looking for drama, but you’re a troll on a site about life half a world away from you that you’ve never really lived — why do you care so much about what I do?

    Who’s out deliberately looking for something, again?

    I dunno, man. I think you’re stalking me on Facebook now because I ‘m suddenly seeing your profile pic popping up on my radar (the one where you’re holding a big-ass camera in front of your face).

    You need to lighten up some. I think what you’re doing is admirable (the artsy-fartsy stuff, I mean) but this unsolicited Rambo of Political Correctness activist schtick is getting ridiculous to the point of resembling self-parody. I mean couldn’t you find a better cause than trying to rescue a bunch of waegooks being suspected of gambling that may or may not have been illegal?

    In the immortal words of that famous 20th century philosopher Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    # 46 – I’m not stalking you, dude, and I’ve never seen your Facebook page. I remember your blog from back when you were Bluejives and screaming and ranting on my blog about how I was a racist in my post in which I called out a Korean American for calling interracial kids “disgusting.” That’s how I know you. You brought it up.

    And sure, I’d lighten up if every time you mentioned my name is wasn’t a sarcastic snipe. So, don’t be suprised I don’t think too much of you. And as for the waegooks and rights, I’ve been predicting this bullshit would translate into discriminatory laws from 4 years ago, but people said I was just alarmist. Then the imigration regulations, and now that bitch Choi Young-hee is trying to push a whole bunch of this into law.

    And even Ban Ki-moon weighed in on the HIV checks as clear human rights violations (and they are, according to both Korean law and signed treaties), and has urged this bullshit to stop. And by the time the precedent is set, it’s a downhill slope for foreigners, and a bad direction to head in terms of treatment of not just English teachers this time, but whomever NEXT time. And I’d rather not see racism from ignorance and lack of exposure translate into something more hardneded and harder to excise, as in Japan or the US. One could call discriminatory attitudes towards foreigners somewhat benign in Korea — but now it is solidifying into something else.

    Again — you live in New Jersey. As if you have any stake in the issue — why hate on someone who actually DOES? Enjoy your life of shopping malls and the suburbs. At least it makes sense for me to worry about life in kKorea, as well as give a shit about the direction in which this country goes.

    I never understood people who don’t understand that simple answer. If you don’t give a shit about rights, or Korean society, or whatever — fine. I just don’t see the need to shit on the people who do and are trying to improve the situation.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    As for the POINT of putting this post up, as well as their narratives — it wasn’t to show they were angels, or personable enough to be your best friends. It WAS an attempt to show another side of the story, show that police procedures were bullshit, and to show how they ackowledged they were probably guilty of the first, minor offense of gambling at home — but they are being railroaded into being demonstrated to be a drug and gambling RING, which they clearly are NOT.

    Guilty of a minor gambling offense? They GET that.

    Guilty of running an underground gambling operation? Of using and distributing drugs in an ORGANIZED manner? Hell, no. And no one deserves to go to jail for 3 or more years for playing a game of poker at home.

    And the collaboration between the police and the media is also worrisome in this case, as is the deliberate ways in which they manipulated evidence for the chief’s vainglory and riding the wave of anti-foreigner sentiment in the media. As mentioned in the story, even one of the Korean press corps was turned off by them and advised them that they didn’t have to do interviews and it was not legally required, as the police was telling them.

    Again, tracking stories such as these is important not because we need to show pure innocence or that foreigners are actually angels, but because they get blown so far out of proportion, they harm the individuals in the case, as well as the greater community of us out there being included in these smears.

  • Charles Tilly

    Metropolitician writes that:

    “…there’s not much reason for foreigners to run underground gambling operations, since it’s LEGAL for foreigners to walk into any casino in Korea.”

    This is a good point albeit one that raises another question: if there are legally sanctioned zones within Korea in which foreigners can go to gamble, then why did these individuals feel it necessary to carry out such an activity in their private domicile? To be sure these individuals attest that what they were doing was in the spirit of a pastime amongst friends and acquaintances, but this still leaves unanswered the question why they would engage in the sort of activity that would draw the suspicion of their neighbors and law enforcement when far more hassle-free options were available.

    Moreover, I found some of the assertions made by the apprehended individuals to be rather dubious at best. One, I don’t believe Koreans sensationalize or exaggerate gambling culture anymore than other countries throughout the world. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if anything Americans do far more to glorify, dramatize, and sensationalize such an act. From movies about MIT card counters to ESPN airing poker tournaments as if it were a match up between Federer and Nadal, I fail to see how Korean are the ones being singled out as having some strange relationship to gambling.

    Second, what the hell are they talking about when they say Koreans don’t understand that gambling is “skill”? In the wonderful movie “Tazza” and the other comic books associated with it, both go to great lengths to detail the intricate tactics and strategems of high stakes card games. Given that millions of Koreans have watched the movie and read the comics, this particular comment reeks of ignorance. Just because a couple of gumshoes within the police department didn’t understand the finer points of Texas Hold’em hardly makes the rest of Korean society ignorant of card playing and gambling.

    Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with what Brendan said: these individuals should have just kept their mouths shut until this whole process was completed. It’s strange that they were smart enough not to comment to the self-serving Korean press, yet such acumen eluded them when they jumped at the chance to spill their beans to the equally self-serving Michael “The Metropolitician” Hurt. Something tells me that they should get in touch with Madoffs so as to learn how to comport oneself during a legal ordeal.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    Point was to get their narrative out there, so at least there’s another part of the story being told. Especially if/when the press runs with it and starts exaggerating to all holy hell.

    And we plan to start filing complaints with the Press Arbitration Committee when we get our bilingual interns up and running, and our legal support partner is ready to file and move on this stuff. We’re trying to construct 10 or so of the most egregious press cases and get them tied up in the very annoying process of having to present their sources and have their methods investigated, which they are bound by law to cooperate with. Even if the only effect is irritating the writers of these stories with PAC filings, it should make the papers more wary about filing them and having to deal with the BS that flimsy stories bring. And if they find in our favor, which the legal guy thinks is very likely, then that’s all the more powerful PR in our favor and ammunition to fire at the papers who still want to continue to pull publishing these crappy stories and dragging random people into these attempts to create intrigue and scandal.

    Anyway, we have a plan. And you can call this “self-serving” if you want, Chuck. But if we succeed at all in reducing the nastiness or changing the media atmosphere around here — you’re welcome. And if we fail, then the community’s no worse off than if one of you spectators could actually convince everyone that sitting around and snickering while doing NOTHING is actually a good plan. If it results in some of the bullshit stopping, then even my “self-serving” actions might even be seen as something that benefits the community.

    And what is it that YOU do, Chuck?

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    And as for the explanation about poker in the interview, if you actually listened to what they were saying, the police’s lack of understanding about poker was DIRECTLY relevant to their intention to bring charges against them for running a gambling RING. I’m not a poker player, but the differences between the tournament and normal styles speaks to the chips having intrinsic monetary value and how much that value was. And considering the cops had zero understanding about the game they were playing, yet they were trying to calculate the average stakes and assuming it was the bet-big-each-round-all-the-time kind of private gambling that goes on with Korean flower cards, it’s pretty pertinent, Chuck.

  • http://roboseyo.blogspot.com roboseyo

    http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?t=159614&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight= did anybody see this: a warning about Anti-English spectrum being in Haebangchon… that’s where the card game was, right? Would AES’s presence explain how the press suddenly showed up, and how it was made out to be much worse than it really was? That seems to be their MO.

  • Charles Tilly

    A lot of interesting thing said in comment #50. Let’s address them one by one:

    1) “…we plan to start filing complaints with the Press Arbitration Committee…We’re trying to construct 10 or so of the most egregious press cases and get them tied up in the very annoying process of having to present their sources and have their methods investigated, which they are bound by law to cooperate with. Even if the only effect is irritating the writers of these stories with PAC filings, it should make the papers more wary about filing them and having to deal with the BS that flimsy stories bring.”

    I have to say that this is a rather interesting battle plan that you’ve concocted here. Having read some your past musings about free speech and press freedoms, it’s clear to me that you definitively come down on the side of letting individuals speak their minds openly and freely and having media organs publish accounts unencumbered by state authorities. Yet when it comes to the issues of foreigners and the way they’re treated in the press, a vociferous free speech advocate such as yourself doesn’t even bat and eyelash to manipulate the levers of the Korean state to advance your own agenda. Let’s get this straight: because of the fact of some stories that weren’t to your liking in the Korean press regarding foreigners, you have no problem whatsoever to petition an institutional body to force reporters and editors to reveal sources and methods.

    I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the Press Arbitration Committee,-while the intent behind it is noble,-has a rather controversial history of having been used in the service of powerful interests that seek to stifle any and all criticism. In saying this, I am by no means suggesting that you’re in the same league (to say so, frankly, would be an insult to the mendacious elite of Korea believe it or not). That being said, however, I can’t help but see an eerie and disturbing parallel. It is true that when someone brings a knife to fight that their opponent should bring a gun in response. However, for an individual who revels over how righteous and principled he acts, it is indeed a strange tack you are pursuing. I guess it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that in battling so-called monsters you’ve become one yourself.

    To better make my point to you consider a recent case: In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, writer Todd S. Perdum wrote a scathing insider account of how truly down right rotten Sarah Palin was during the 2008 presidential campaign. I won’t get bogged down in what was specifically said. But the interesting aspect was that many of Perdum’s sources were granted anonymity to speak frankly about what the saw and experienced in regards to Sarah Palin. Now, clearly a piece that was rather unflattering to Palin would not make die-hard Palin supporters happy. In fact, seeing as how it rested on the testimony of unnamed sources, some might even say that the whole thing was “flimsy” to use a phrase of yours. Given that, do you think that certain Republican operatives and Palin supporters should go to some arbitrations committee-if it existed in the States-to force Perdum and the editors and Vanity Fair to divulge how they reported their story?

    2) “Point was to get their narrative out there, so at least there’s another part of the story being told. Especially if/when the press runs with it and starts exaggerating to all holy hell.”

    Getting your (or rather their) side of the story out there is all good and well. But in doing so, doesn’t it behoove you to try and put out a narrative that is conducive to the individuals whose cause your trying to champion? Didn’t it ever pass your mind to at least try and make the individuals in your pet project appear somewhat sympathetic? From the serious accusations made against the police with only their words to go by to the condescending demeanor put on display, I wonder if your “narrative” did any good at all. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the interview provides ammunition to those in the Korean press who have these individuals in their sights.

    As to the question of what it is I do, what does it matter? Stick to addressing the criticisms made against you and quite groping for rhetorical cop-outs.

  • Charles Tilly

    @ Comment #51:

    Chalk it up to laziness Mr. Hurt, but I’ll merely crib from what Robert said in comment #29.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    roboseyo,

    It they really had 3 million won on the table, then the friendly, small stakes game argument kinda goes out the window…not that it matters. A 100 won game of go-stop would have been just as illegal.

  • seoulmilk

    our family gets mbc, kbs, sbs here in the states and this was just reported on mbc morning news. it basically said some english teachers were gambling. a police representative was interviewed saying something about cultural differences. the news also stated two of the guys had used hashish before. it also showed one guy at the poker table asking for a warrant. the police brought a cameraman in the raid? i didn’t think the media portrayed the guys too harshly but when they showed clips of foreigners all pixelated, it looks more sinister than reality.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    So, the cops mentioned cultural differences…That’s actually a good thing.

  • http://www.cafepress.com/fans_kill jd

    @Mr. Carr

    Good advice.

    Do Korean police give the “one phone call” I always see in movies?

    And what is “up-talking”?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, congrats, Mike — it has finally made the news:

    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2009/07/03/2009070300244.html

    Now, what I find interesting is this part:

    또 유명 영어학원의 교재 연구원인 D씨와 경기도의 한 초등학교 영어강사인 A(30)씨는 서울 홍대 및 이태원동 일대에서 구입한 해시시(대마수지, 마약류의 일종)를 100여 차례 흡연한 혐의를 받고 있다고 경찰은 밝혔다.

    So… what’s up with that?

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    Metropolitician writes that:

    “…there’s not much reason for foreigners to run underground gambling operations, since it’s LEGAL for foreigners to walk into any casino in Korea.”

    This is a good point albeit one that raises another question: if there are legally sanctioned zones within Korea in which foreigners can go to gamble, then why did these individuals feel it necessary to carry out such an activity in their private domicile? To be sure these individuals attest that what they were doing was in the spirit of a pastime amongst friends and acquaintances, but this still leaves unanswered the question why they would engage in the sort of activity that would draw the suspicion of their neighbors and law enforcement when far more hassle-free options were available.

    The whole line of argument is absurd anyway. If it’s legal there but not here, go do it there.

    Let me offer an example using their line of argument: If it’s lawful for me to masturbate in my own home, should I be allowed to masturbate on the subway? (Burberry Man says Yes!)

  • http://throughwhiteyseyes.blogspot.com whitey

    Metro checklist:

    1. Use of “paranoid hyperbole” (great descriptive phrase by an early poster). Check.
    2. A long, breathless, unedited post…followed by comments that are longer than anyone else’s. Check.
    3. Use of capital letters to express IMPORTANCE. Check.
    4. Use of the folksy “folks” to show what a down-to-earth guy he is. Check.
    5. Dismissive name calling of those with whom he disagrees, e.g. “Chuck.” Check.
    6. Mention of his book. Check.
    7. Use of the royal “We.” Check.

    Shockingly, some things are missing:

    1. Mention of his Fulbright.
    2. Mention of his Korean language skills.

    There’s still time.

  • ScottieB

    Re: Robert’s post #59, the two guys that were arrested for drugs were only arrested as a result of the tests they were given as a condition of release. Their situation has nothing to do with the poker game that was going on, except that they were at it. Unfortunate that the two illegal acts are being conflated.

  • Dram_man

    What I find amusing is OF COURSE they are going to break up home games, even when it is legal in casinos. The government gets lots of money from the casino action here, not so the home game. Also you fail to account for the Korean casino in Kangwon-do, there is no way foreigners should be *special* in this regard.

    I love how the cops played dumb to dupe these guys into explaining everything, and then the kiddies show how smart they are. “Well I am a professional gambler, and so are a couple of other guys here. Let me explain the game.”

    That all said, unlike most you, I think Mike is doing an admirable job at chronicling and criticizing the situation. I always find it depressing when some, and even I myself many times, shrug their shoulders and say “well its Korea”, or “we are not Korean”. Some things are just wrong, and I find nothing wrong with airing the problems when encountered.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    If the suspects’ accusations are true, the story most certainly deserves the attention Metro is giving it. Everyone loses when a suspect’s rights are abused, regardless of guilty or innocence.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #53 — It’s a tool. It can be used for good or bad. Right now, it’s hardly used. Like Korean libel laws, they can be used to stifle. But sometimes, people are actually libeled. Sure, Koreans sue each other to prevent embarrassing facts about themselves from leaking, but that doesn’t mean if I’m ACTUALLY libeled, I’m playing the same game when I sue someone for it. A PAC filing to have someone reveal sources and methods in a story that is in the realm of patently UNTRUE or grossly exagaggerated is exactly what the PAC was created for.

    As for explaining their story, or being my responsibility to make them look good, or for you all to like them — I just wanted the narrative out there. I’m not their lawyer or PR rep.

    #60 – Well, it seems to me that they’re enthusiastic about their hobby, to say the least. So, playing games amongst their friends is something they seem to like to do, and they said it was good practice without the high stakes. Not all of our behavior can be explained in logical or legal syllogisms. Apparently, they just like playing poker, but not always in the casino. I don’t know — just because I have a kickass home theater, is it some kind of contradiction that I like to go to the IMAX? And even if it were illegal to gather lots of people to watch with me privately, does its being illegal make much difference to most people? If I split money with my friends for pizza, does that make me liable under that FBI warning? Just saying. Seems those guys just like poker.

    #61 — Whitey, the only time you ever say anything is to try and point out what a dick I apparently am for constantly bragging about my academic background. Which I didn’t even do. Dude asked about what I was doing, where I got my energy, and I said I was trying to promote the book I helped write (surprise — an author trying to sell his own book — what a dick!) and the fact that I’m working on my dissertation (what an arrogant ass — he mentioned that he is still working on his dissertation after 7 years!).

    The only person constantly mentioning my Fulbright — is this like the 2nd or 3rd time? — is YOU. Or my Korean language skills — umm, YOU. I hardly ever talk about either, except on my OWN blog, in a couple posts in which I pull them out for something aimed at Korean netizens, who actually give a shit about that sort of…shit. And it was all mentioned in the course of trying to change minds about those discriminatory visa regs. If you don’t like the strategy I used, fine. But the only one with a hard-on about my academic record, to the point of mentioning these things every time you see my name, in specifics, is YOU, dude. You’re the only one that needs to get over it.

  • Benicio74

    As for the legal in casinos, but not legal in your home issue, I see
    it like the issue of alcohol in the U.A.E.
    I didn’t live there, but my friend did. He told me that you are only allowed
    to purchase and consume alcohol in the special tourism zones- where the big hotels
    are.
    Outside of those zones, where you live, it is illegal to both possess/consume alcohol.
    The police regularly bust people- foreigners- for simply drinking in their own domicile.

    In Korea, we can gamble in the casino. We can’t anywhere else.

    The cops and media are still completely full of sh*t, though!!!

  • chrisrock

    “Apparently, someone called in a tip”
    -Well, you get a bunch of foreign English teachers together (and buzzed with alcohol) it’s not that difficult to get attention to themselves.

    “6 others NOT present at the poker game but had been players before were “asked to come down and make a statement” at which time they were told to take urine drug tests.”
    -Somebody snitched under pressure.
    -If it is illegal (to gamble) why not test them? Do one illegal thing – assume they are doing other illegal things.

    “Apparently, two of the original 8 tested positive, although no drugs were apparently found”
    -no drugs need to be found to already being tested positive

    “…as well as spinning the story”
    -have you watched Fox news or any other American media sponsered show?

    “yellow journalism”
    -love the racial slur (and if you don’t think so, it actually is)

    “…our best to get their side of the story out there, at least, and to keep things in context”
    -sure, right, umm, a little bias anyone?

    “This pattern of foriegner vilification…”
    -when you fuel the fire over and over. Have you seen any group (2 or more) foriegners act/talk/proceed? It’s easy to see why. *Think about this, are there any Koreans critical of them Mormons walking around Korea? Didn’t think so.

    Anyways, “When in Rome” right?

  • a-letheia

    They didn’t build a foreigner prison for nothing.

  • colontos

    LOL!

    Metro should really get some counseling for his obvious pathological paranoia. The poor guy’s obviously mentally ill. But of course, the Metro will never be at home anywhere. Even if he went to Hawaii, where he’d fit right in with Brudda Iz (PBUH), he’d find some way to be “persecuted” and could use his PhD (?) writing skills to whine about about it like the big fat baby he is. Break out some hardcore Ethnic Studies on our ass.

    When Metro dies, he’ll be reborn as a Jew in 1938 Berlin. But for Metro that won’t be hell, it will be heaven. He will finally receive persecution commensurate with his racial paranoia. Maybe we could fulfill Metro’s #1 fantasy here and just nail him to a wooden cross. A true virgin sacrifice. The color of the cross. Because you’re our savior, aren’t you, Metro? You’re gonna make the world a better place, right? Please, Metro! Save me! Save me like you saved So-yeon! Save me by taking pictures of my feet!

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #68 — Wow. I love how it always gets down to this level here. I guess I have a way of bringing it out of certain folks. I don’t think of myself as “saving” anyone, and I don’t even see how Soyeon even fits into that whole me-as-sellf-appointed-savior metaphor, but OK. I think the only person engaging in hyperbole and paranoia is the writer in question. Myself, I’m just sick and tired of this media bias bullshit and want to do something about it. So sue me.

    And the feet thing, again? That the best you can do? I made the name of the site FEETmanseoul.com. I GET it. I’m a weirdo for liking FEET. Especially since I make fun of the idea and myself with the cheesy name, talk about it openly, and even play up on the joke myself. Is this really the best you can do? The Metropolitician likes FEET? Or another fat joke? Or a “he looks like a Hawaiian” jab? It’s obvious that you’re reaching, really reaching.

    Ah, The Marmot’s Hole. Talk about something serious, you get feet and fat jokes. I guess it’s appropriate for me, since I produced both the sites Fatmanseoul.com and Feetmanseoul.com. Whoops! Shameless plugs! Man, I really AM an asshole…

  • colontos

    I like your style, Metro. The word “feet” occurred once in my post, and there was one fat joke. But 66% of your post dealt with those. Good job! Focus on the easy shit and ignore the hard shit, like your paranoia, persecution complex, your whininess, and your stalking of Soyeon. Written like a true bullshit studies major. Just keep COMMENTING ON BLOGS ON THE INTERNET, Metro, and maybe someday the world will change! You can do it!

    But of course, I’m reaching, really reaching. Because I’m trying to give the Metro a hug.

  • CactusMcHarris

    #68,

    Last sentence – ‘Save me by taking pictures of my feet!’ – I’ve got to find a situation to use that phrase, but only after a pedicure.

    #69,

    Last sentence – ‘Man, I really AM an asshole…’ – well, you’ve got a ‘following’ that sure thinks so, but I reckon they’re wrong, mostly.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #71 — Thanks, Cactus.

    #70 — “Hard shit?” I dismissed your calling me paranoid, having a persecution complex, being akin to Christ on the cross as hyperbole. You know that word? HY-PER-BO-LEE? Say it with me. “Hyperbole.” Goooooood. That’s what I called it. Maybe you missed it up there?

    You may not like my politics or deeds, but I don’t think trying to call out the Korean media on their obvious bias puts anyone in the realm of having a Christ complex. And your description of Soyeon is typical — how am I a “stalker?” We were friends from grad school. After coming to Korea, and she entered this contest, we made the first interview on a lark. Who knew she was actually gonna make it? After she got really close to the final two, we made a second. And just after she was a final selectee, we made a third. I just call it good luck and I’m happy to have gotten to know her, completely by chance, as a fellow student. And after she had been chosen, I was the only one with pre- and post- videos. Kind of a coup, I’d say. So I put ‘em up. How is that stalking, again?

    And yes — by both CREATING and commenting on blogs, by getting bigger and better opportunities through the many people I’ve met by doing so, by getting to give talks and even get teaching jobs through my writing and photography, by getting a book out there on my own, and by this fall by a major publisher, and getting access to free shows, performances, and major industry events — I’m having a GREAT time, and I do think it’s important to speak out, educate, and work to change minds. Through my videos, podcasts, blogging, photographing, and writing, I’ve met a lot of great people and have made some powerful connections, some of which I’m starting to take more advantage of now.

    So, thanks for the words of encouragement, Colontos! I, too, believe that by doing this stuff, maybe “the world will change!” Yes, “I can do it!”

    But keep the hug. I’m not a hugga.

  • Mizar5

    That all said, unlike most you, I think Mike is doing an admirable job at chronicling and criticizing the situation. I always find it depressing when some, and even I myself many times, shrug their shoulders and say “well its Korea”, or “we are not Korean”. Some things are just wrong, and I find nothing wrong with airing the problems when encountered.

    I am a big fan of Mike, and unlike the critics here understand that his criticisms are indicative of openmindedness and humanitarianism. His refusal to be placed into a mental box as the subhuman”foreigner” shows that he is fighting the good fight – he is standing up for humanity, the humanity in all of us. It’s a noble motive.

    Noble this form of engagement is, in reality it seldom lasts more than a few years because, ironically, the more a person becomes steeped in the language and culture of Korea, the more painfully aware he is that he will never be accepted. That is to say, his humanity will never be fully validated and the concept that he asserts his humanity in Korea will be viewed as absurd. This is why Korea has few long-term residents or immigrants.

    As for those who do linger 10 years or so, we can observe that they have managed to be secure enough within themselves to overcome the effects of the denial of their humanity. These are people like the Marmot and Metropolititian, who are engaged enough in their own personal pursuits to be able to overcome the dehumanizing conditions of Korean society at large. Those who are scholars of history, Buddhism, language, etc. or who have a professional pursuit that occupies them sufficiently can continue to reside for a relatively long period of time.

    A second reason for lengthy residence is inertia. Long term residence results in a loss of self esteem that dis-empowers a person to the extent that he is too consumed with self-doubt to believe with confidence that he can uproot himself and start his life over again in his own native country.

    People finally pick up and leave once they come to the point that they understand that there is no further hope for personal progress or to further their human potential. The glass ceiling is set extremely low, and it’s only a matter of time before people just get tired of banging their heads against that wall.

    Mike hasn’t yet reached that point. Therefore his criticism is filled with optimism, audacity, humanity and respect. I admire this in him, and understand that his unique background and personal qualities have enabled him to pull that off. Like a beautiful flower, it is something to watch, to enjoy and to celebrate while it lasts, and before it inevitably fades.

    he unhealthy phenomenon that is Korean culture

  • Mizar5

    that last sentence fragment was cut from paragraph 3, sentence 2 and was meant to be deleted.

  • NetizenKim

    #72 Yes, “I can do it!”

    Actually, now that I see you’ve aped it from the Obama campaign, I’ve always felt that slogan was a bit unfortunate. It sounds like something that a mother would repeat to a child who is being slow on the potty-training uptake.

    #71 Last sentence – ‘Man, I really AM an asshole…’ – well, you’ve got a ‘following’ that sure thinks so, but I reckon they’re wrong, mostly.

    Cactus, this blog’s been hungering for someone to pick on for sometime now and Metro seems to fit that bill rather nicely. Metro is the new Shelton Bumgardner.

  • Mizar5

    Be careful, NK, your blatent insecurity is showing again. It’s not the “blog” that has been hungering – the blog is not a sentient being – I’m afraid you are projecting again.

  • Mizar5

    So, thanks for the words of encouragement, Colontos! I, too, believe that by doing this stuff, maybe “the world will change!” Yes, “I can do it!”

    Yes the world can change, not the Hermit Kingdom, which lies outside the world, and which you are powerless to influence as an outsider. However, I hope you dispute this statement, as I would not want to dishearten you or dampen your noble spirit – it is a good fiction to have. In Buddhism this is called bodhichitta.

    Bodhichitta is expressed as the goal of sacrificing one’s own welfare to save all sentient beings. Now, Buddhist practitioners, grounded in reality, are fully aware that this is realistically an impossible goal. However, it is undertaken as a practice because it is ennobling, a mental technique that aims at accomplishing the following:

    * the arising of spontaneous and limitless compassion for all sentient beings;
    * the falling away of attachment to the illusion of an inherently existent self.

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #75 — Ah, NetizenKim’s being slow on the uptake again. Yes, the slogan has become trite after the Obama campaign’s end, but if you pay CLOSE attention, I was aping Colontos in comment #70, calling HIM out for being trite. Ya missed that, I guess.

    And as for being “the new Shelton Bumgardner” (sic), I’m afraid it’s been tried, but it failed. Without getting into beating up on Shelton, I’ll just suggest that the reason people don’t like me is because of my politics, long-windedness, or the haughty image I project on my Metropolitician blog, which certain people carry over to here.

    But I would also point out that most of the time people try to pick a fight with me here, it’s in reference to something completely off topic, something I did on my own blog, or or some other project. Here, I keep it relatively concise and informational — I keep my rantings and musings to my own blog, or to comments, but certain player haters constantly forget that, e.g. bringing up references to my Fulbright, blackness, being fat, or now, wanting to resurrect the ghost of Marmot’s Hole whipping boy Shelton. Come on, guys.

    I’ll have to agree with comment #76, NK — you’re being nostalgic and projecting a bit too much. Your first comment in this thread to me is a case in point: “Don’t you have a fetish photo magazine to run or something?” Sure, but what does that have to do with the price of fresh halibut in Nebraska? That’s typical troll behavior, something you were quite good at in the past, since you KEEP bringing up the good ole days. For people like you guys, staying on topic — no matter how tangentially so — just ain’t no fun, is it?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    You mean well, which is more than I can say for a lot of people.

  • guitard

    Just to pass on a very close friend’s experience in dealing with the Korean police as it relates to getting busted for marijuana possession based on the results of a urinalysis…

    Scenario: Around 9:30pm one evening, approximately 30 American teenagers were at a restaurant in Hannam-dong. All of them were students at Seoul American High School (located at the military base). Supposedly, the police had a tip that a foreigner (American) in the restaurant was in possession of marijuana – so they raided the place. All 30 kids were rounded up – none of the Koreans present were touched, even though some of them were with the American kids.

    The kids were hauled off to the police station and the interrogations (and threats) began. Some of the kids protested and said they wanted to call their parents – but no one was allowed to do that until 2:30am. The kids were coerced into taking urinalysis tests – being told they couldn’t contact anyone or leave until they had done so.

    Two of the kids had positive urinalysis test results. They were interrogated further, and one kid admitted that he had purchased a bag of marijuana some time in the past. Based on its description, the police determined it to be ten gram’s worth.

    The only physical evidence the police had were the urinalysis test results. In spite of that, they were both charged with possession (“It was in your urine, so you were ‘in possession’ right?”). And the boy who admitted to having bought a bag was also prosecuted for trafficking because he said it was mailed to him by someone in America. He steadfastly refused to reveal the person from whom he received the bag – and I think that just really made the police that much more angry.

    As best I could learn about the police’s investigative procedures – you can lie, coerce, intimidate, threaten violence or do whatever it takes to get someone to take a urinalysis (and of course, never tell the truth and say it’s not mandatory) – and if the result is positive – no matter how flimsy (or non-existent) the original evidence – you will not find a single prosecutor in Korea who will throw out the case.

    And based simply on your statement that you possessed (but no longer have in your possession) XX grams of marijuana – that’s what you’re busted for: XX grams of marijuana.

    By the way – the police never found any marijuana in the restaurant…because one of the Korean kids was the one carrying it.

  • pbowers

    The whole line of argument is absurd anyway. If it’s legal there but not here, go do it there.

    Let me offer an example using their line of argument: If it’s lawful for me to masturbate in my own home, should I be allowed to masturbate on the subway? (Burberry Man says Yes!)

    doesn’t reasoning play some role in being a “good” lawyer? i would think a lawyer would know how to draw an accurate analogy as well. maybe i’m starting to understand why you aren’t practicing in the states any longer.

    let’s take the example you presented of “their” (who are “they”, btw) line of thinking. let’s say someone called the police and reported a man masturbating on the subway. the police respond to find people running off the train and the man indeed is caught red-fisted. in this case there’s no reason to try to rationalize this behavior, because many people saw the man doing it and so did the police.

    however, what if the police don’t catch the man in the act? what if the woman calls to report it the police arrive to find the man with his hand near his crotch with his back to the passengers. do they have the right to arrest him on suspicion? what’s the evidence, exactly? that’s what needs to be unearthed. is their clear evidence that people were betting money? how would they prove that? a confession maybe?

    sorry, but from the sounds of it their basing everything on hearsay and circumstantial evidence. maybe in korea that good enough to put you in jail, but it paints an awfully disparaging picture of the legal system, IMO.

  • pbowers

    i’m wondering how people in korea generally react to this type of story being national news. i told my wife about it and she shrugged and said “stupid”. are there people out there just flabbergasted, calling their friends and family to tell them to get their kids out of the english hakwons? could anyone imaging this being national news in the states? what i’m asking is, does anyone really give a f**k!?

  • Charles Tilly

    @pbowers:

    Your question is a very perceptive. To answer: NO. I have numerous friends and colleagues in Seoul and not once can I recall having a conversation with them about the real or imagined travails of an expat.

    Your wife’s reactions is a typical one and an appropriate one when these types of stories surface.

  • Dram_man

    I still do not follow this, what does Mike’s personal photo habits have to do with this issue?

    pbowers> I nominate you to write versus for Chicago. (Does anybody really know what time it is…)

  • Mizar5

    Can someone help me understand this: in a nation as rife with victimed crime, theivery,
    corruption as Korea, how can a raid on a victimless crime in an insular community that has no potential to harm society be justified as an ethical use of public funds?

    A similar thing happened in Texas a couple of years ago when a phoney phone call led to a raid on a renegade Mormon compound and children were taken from their parents. It was big news for a while due to the sensationalist nature of the charges, but in the end, it was discredited and the charges retracted.

    Similarly, approximately 4 million are arrested each year in the US for victimless crimes. Were it not for entrenched political and economic interests that feed on societal biases, such mindlessness would not be allowed to happen.

  • Mizar5

    Oops, I originally posted this on the wrong thread!

    I saw this report on TV. A shaky camera entered the room, focusing on the craps table and blurring out the faces of the people who were most likely Korean nationals to make it appear as if a bust were being shown.

    In the next shot, wads of money suddenly appeared on the table with no explanation of how it happened to be placed there between shots as the announcer made claims of huge amounts of money having been confiscated ( a likely story).

    Finally a knife with burn marks was show as evidence of a drug ring.

    Sad.

  • Wedge

    pbowers: We might as well ask: What is reality? If we can’t answer that, then everyone goes free, right?

    Maybe you didn’t read all the crap above, but the accused admit they played poker, and not at Seven Luck casino, either. It’s illegal. They know it. End of story.

  • Wedge

    And Dram: “verses,” fer chrissakes.

  • pbowers

    wedge, is playing poker a crime or is gambling a crime? i can’t really see how playing a card game constitutes a crime, but given the rationality of some things that go on here, i may be mistaken. i think part of the definition of gambling includes money or assets of some sort being a stake, no?

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    No, Wedge, and for the clarification of others, it’s as simple as this:

    Playing a private game with money is a minor offense. A fine and that’s it.

    The fuzz is trying to say that the host was running a house of gambling, that the HOUSE was profiting from the game, that he was running a gambling business. For all the evidence that yes, a game was played, there is NO evidence that the guy was involved in racketeering. The same is true for 2/8 who tested positive for cannabis. It proves nothing more than those two had consumed cannabis within a month. It doesn’t even prove a crime, since it doesn’t PROVE that they did it in Korea, depending on when their last trip out was (which is why immigration no longer includes it as a part of the visa requirements. And even if they did smoke out, it doesn’t prove they either sold or even BOUGHT drugs — they could have had a toke from a friend or a pot brownie at a party. But it doesn’t make them drug dealers or distribution kingpins.

    Last I remembered, crimes involved evidence. And in Korean law, there’s a difference between a minor gambling infraction and running an underground gambling “ring” which is what the police is saying. It’s one thing to be caught with a prostitute, either as a john or the hooker; it’s quite another to be accused of running a brothel. One is a violation involving no one else, the other is what gangsters do. No matter how much or little you like these guys, that’s not the point — their whole beef with the police not knowing the rules of that game, or knowing how to calculate the stakes, or how popular and common the game is in the US, and all the stuff they’re talking about is about JUST that point: it was a private game, and such things are pretty common for Americans, e.g. the Thursday-night poker game with the buds with cigars while the host’s wife takes an evening out with her girls. The point is that they’re not Korean thugs, but mostly guys who love poker who got caught.

    To make this point AGAIN, to bounce off what a person mentioned above — if they were a group of foreigners who had bought liquor in Dubai and took it home and had a party, getting drunk and watching the Super Bowl, they’d be guilty of the infraction of drinking alcohol. But to say they were running a business selling it on the black market would require PROOF of that, not just “they seem like the kind of guys who would” or “I don’t like the way they talk” or “they’re arrogant and not accepting of Korean culture” or whatever nonsense. Yet, without a shred of evidence, the police is pushing this as a “drug and gambling ring” with the help of an all-too-willing media.

    Is it clear now what their beef is?

  • Mizar5

    It’s illegal. They know it. End of story.

    The world is black and white to a childish mind.

  • Dram_man

    Metro is right. The big difference if your running a brothel is you get off scott free because you have “paid” the proper authorities.

    Could this be as simple as a ward police chief not getting his envelope?

  • Mizar5

    Prejudice is self perpetuating. It need not be based on substance; the substance is invented to justify the case. What goes on behind people’s closed doors is a privacy issue that is erroneously presented as a public morality issue by the bigots in our societies, whether it takes the form of enforcement of archaic laws against sodomy to persecute homosexuals, or focusing on black communities to enforce silly anti-drug laws.

    Anti foreign attitudes are bound to be rampant in a status-oriented society in which people are seeking safe targets to demean, and in an insecure society in which the national identity is defined in contrast to others. An outsider is needed in Korean society be play the rold of the Omega dog.
    Decry it; debate the morality of it all you want; you cannot change it. It is a fact that you must appreciate. It is a dead end discussion. The legality of the act itself is irrelevent when the crime committed here was the crime of RWN (residing while nonKorean).

  • Mizar5

    Mike, I have had numerous Koreans, knowing my background, query me about why American soldiers misbehave. I’m sure today I’d be asked why Western English teachers misbehave. They have asked why Americans are violent sex offenders, why US military personnel are not tried for crimes against Korean people, etc. If I were to attempt to educate each of these misinformed people of the actual facts, I’d only be wasting my breath, and would simply be percieved as partisan and defensive.

    The facts don’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Certain beliefs are ingrained in the social psyche. Maybe it feels good to bang your head against a wall, optimistic that it will weaken the fabric of the wall, and I’m pleased that you’re fighting on the side of honesty and truth, but have no illusions about it. It is merely an exercise.

  • dry

    #95: I haven’t been following the tales of mizar5 recently, so to clarify…is your background still Korean or has your ethnicity changed to something else? Since Koreans generally don’t take nationality into consideration, with it being us or the waegooks. *fingers crossed for mizar5 being a Mexican immigrant living in Cali*

  • Arghaeri

    “aped it from the Obama campaign”

    bollocks Obama cribbed from his favourite TV star “Bob the Builder”

    “Can he fix it, Yes he can”

  • Arghaeri

    ”It was in your urine, so you were ‘in possession’ right?”

    Right, Absolutely.

    Are you going to argue next that a murder is not murder if the evidence wasn’t uncovered until after the crime.

  • alexwon

    Metro said
    “And yes — by both CREATING and commenting on blogs, by getting bigger and better opportunities through the many people I’ve met by doing so, by getting to give talks and even get teaching jobs through my writing and photography, by getting a book out there on my own, and by this fall by a major publisher, and getting access to free shows, performances, and major industry events — I’m having a GREAT time, and I do think it’s important to speak out, educate, and work to change minds. Through my videos, podcasts, blogging, photographing, and writing, I’ve met a lot of great people and have made some powerful connections, some of which I’m starting to take more advantage of now.”

    You seem to be doing so well for yourself, climbing up your career path in Korea. Thats kind of strange. I mean, if Korea is as you say, shouldn’t people like you be held back? Shouldn’t the evil powers of Korean institutional racism rear it’s ugly head and put you in your place? I guess you are getting around that somehow?

  • inkevitch

    Actually Arghaeri there a UDS is a truly unreliable drug screen. It only indicates types of drugs eg. Benzos, opoids, amphetamines, canabinoids.

    An example is that you could come up positive for opoids after taking codeine and positive for amphetamines after taking some cold tablets (pseudoephidrine). In some countries you could get several years for possession or even hung. I don’t think they would do that after a urine screen.

    Likewise a perfectly reasonable defence would be, No I have never smoked marijuana, I ate some suspicious cakes a few weeks ago, it is possible they had marijuana in them. Or I was out with some mates and they could have been smoking, maybe I passively inhaled the weed.

  • inkevitch

    “there a UDS” should be “a UDS”

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    #99 — This is not my “career path.” I do this in my spare time, for no money, and apparently, no respect. Whatever — I certainly don’t do it for the approval of hatas such as yourself.

    “You seem to be doing so well for yourself, climbing up your career path in Korea. Thats kind of strange. I mean, if Korea is as you say, shouldn’t people like you be held back? Shouldn’t the evil powers of Korean institutional racism rear it’s ugly head and put you in your place? I guess you are getting around that somehow?”

    Yep. Getting around, getting on, getting along.

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  • mjw

    Robert, how beneficial is it to your blog stats to have metroP post and reposte?

  • dogbertt

    I still do not follow this, what does Mike’s personal photo habits have to do with this issue?

    If Christopher Paul Neil were a persuasive arguer, would it make any difference to you what his personal photo habits were?

  • http://www.metropolitician.com The Metropolitician

    Yeah, I’m the same as CPN. Screw you, Dogbertt. This is why the Hole’s comments section are like this — raise a legitimate issue, and you get compared to a child molester. So since you’ve taken it that way, I’d really like to hear on what basis you compare anything I do to the rape of children and distribution of child pornography?

    You said it, Dogbertt. Man up. You tell the world why I deserve such a comparison.

  • dogbertt

    Foot fetishism (pedophilia) is a serious psycho-sexual derangement.

  • seouldout

    Foot fetishism is podophilia. The prefix pedo (actually paedo) is child. Paediatrician is a child’s doctor. A foot doctor is a podiatrist.

  • dogbertt

    That explains why he likes to do so many “pod”casts, then.

  • tambe

    That interview was really stupid. They admitted their guilt.

    In a foreign nation you have to obey the laws. Final answer. I have sympathy for these ‘teachers’ as they’ve been caught up in a soft-pogram against esl types but you all need to know that there is an element of the society that absolutely hates you and wants you out. Be extremely law-abiding. And if you get caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing, or accused of it, just shut the hell up. Lawyer up and shut up.

    Best, go home. Life is better here. I promise.

  • http://www.korealawblog.com Brendon Carr (Korea Law Blog)

    Foot fetishism (pedophilia) is a serious psycho-sexual derangement.

    It is? Come on now. You’re just saying that to get a rise out of the guy. Liking feet, a predilection I do not happen to share, would only qualify to be termed “derangement” if it prompted a whole host of other deranged behavior — for example, stalking or compulsive behavior.

    Asking girls to pose in ways which show off their feet and footwear isn’t weird behavior at all. It’s polite. It’s different from the norm, but don’t overstate things.

    Next thing you know you’ll be trying to say my wearing a rubber suit under my work clothes is strange.

  • Mizar5

    dry:#95: I haven’t been following the tales of mizar5 recently, so to clarify…is your background still Korean or has your ethnicity changed to something else? Since Koreans generally don’t take nationality into consideration, with it being us or the waegooks. *fingers crossed for mizar5 being a Mexican immigrant living in Cali*

    Oh, the nationality thing again. How jejune.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sock_puppet

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  • Anonymous_Joe

    Whatever happened to the Poker 8?

    I can’t find how their situation was resolved. Did they just drop off the face of the earth? Did they disappear into a Korean gulag? Were the charges dropped? Did they plea out, and as part of the plea agreement promise not to speak on the matter?

    For that matter, what happened to Korea Media Watch? Did they just stop with this story?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    This thread got referenced by another MH thread concerning gambling, this time for Koreans busted in The Philippines.

    As I referenced (see comment above) seven months ago, this inquiring mind still wants to know: Whatever happened to the Poker 8?