Crap I read today

– It’s amazing nobody’s been charged with murder for this yet:

The death in April of a young Army conscript who allegedly suffered constant physical abuse by his fellow soldiers was directly caused by a particularly brutal assault incident by his peers, a human rights official said yesterday, urging the military to charge the suspects with murder.

According to Lim Tae-hun, the head of the Center for Military Human Rights, the 23-year-old private, surnamed Yun, died not from choking, as previously stated, but because he lost consciousness after being severely beaten.

Lim also claimed that Yun, who served in the Army’s 28th Infantry Division, was already dead by the time he arrived at the hospital that day, not a day later as reported.

Abuse doesn’t even begin to explain what happened to this kid:

Four of the alleged assailants were indicted three days after his death on manslaughter charges, with the others — a staff sergeant and a private first class — charged with assault.

“We decided to modify the indictment to bring sexual harassment charges against a sergeant surnamed Lee,” said the senior Army officer said, requesting anonymity.

“On the day of the incident, Lee allegedly forced Yoon to apply ointment to his sexual organ. Lee told the prosecution he did it because Yoon responded to him in a nasty way,” he added.

The prosecution has also been mulling whether to apply “murder charges against the four suspects rather than manslaughter, and will make a final decision within a week,” according to the officer.

For more than a month after being dispatched to the 28th Infantry Division, Yoon allegedly had been beaten almost 100 times per day, according to the prosecution. The suspects also often forced him to stay awake until 3 a.m., hold a horse-riding stance for hours during the night and lick their spit from the ground.

I’ve heard a lot of folk ask why they should send their children to the military when this is the kind of shit that awaits them.

– Well, this is embarrassing. I’m sure Yu-na doesn’t approve, either.

– K-pop isn’t hypersexual, eh? Obviously, John Power doesn’t agree.

North Korean planes are falling out of the sky and Pyongyang’s latest military hardware is decades old. How much longer can the regime last? Being a pessimist when it comes to North Korea, I’d have to say, “Pretty long.” UPDATE: And experts seem to be saying “10–20 years” (HT to Jonathan Cheng)

– The US is concerned about South Korean espionage? Shocking.

Seven urban wastelands in Seoul.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    They should be court marshaled and if found guilty, and guilty they look, executed. Put them before a firing squad. They committed murder against an ROK soldier and are no different than North Koreans who would do the same. In other words they are enemy combatants and should be dealt with appropriately.

  • redwhitedude

    They should be tried for murder. Frankly the military needs to open up more about its treatment of soldiers as well.

    As to NK it looks like the DMZ is more than just a political border it must be like crossing into another time period.

  • PEIGUY

    So apparently military officials confirmed that the Thai Massage place that Yuna’s boy toy went to wasn’t offering “sexual services” What they determine to be sexual services is beyond me.. maybe a happy ending isn’t considered to be a sexual services?…. I’m curious what’ll happen to him after he’s discharged 50 bucks says they put them all back on the national team.

  • bumfromkorea

    Robert, I think the link to John Power’s opinion is broken.

  • jfpower

    It is a link to my Facebook profile, which is private. My point was simply, K-pop is plenty “hypersexual,” as demonstrated by Hyuna’s latest video.

  • redwhitedude

    Very little originality in Kpop in going “sexy”.

  • Phil Phakename

    Hypersexual while being strangely a-sensual.

  • wangkon936

    K-pop is not overly hypersexual compared to Euro, ‘Murican or J-pop. Look at J-pop. Their most popular girl group (AKB48) overtly plays to male fantasies of teenage sexualization. In their videos AKB48 members are routinely in school girl uniforms, French maid uniforms or (despite their underdeveloped bodies) bikinis. I don’t think we need to mention ‘Murica with its twerking and such. K-pop in contrast is less overtly sexual.

    There are elements of hypersexuality in K-pop, but it’s not the dominant theme. The most popular K-pop acts (Big Bang, SNSD, 2NE1, Crayon Pop, etc.) are not overtly sexualized. Other acts are more in the middle like Kara, Orange Caramel and 4Minute are something in the middle. When Hyuna goes solo, she does slide more into the “hypersexualized” range. So I would say that K-pop is certainly sexualized, but I wouldn’t say that the overall theme is one of hypersexuality.

    I haven’t read Mr. Power’s write-up, but if he’s transposing Hyuna’s act into the entirety of K-pop, then that wouldn’t be the best approach IMHO. K-pop is bigger and more diverse then that.

  • wangkon936

    John,

    If you feel comfortable enough with it, why don’t you post the entire write-up as a comment in this thread? I am curious to read it.

  • redwhitedude

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Weird Al parodied Kpop?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq7Eki5EZ8o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

    I notice that there is repetitious “sexy” concept. A lot of girl groups just going for that it seems.

    I think Hyuna would do well if she was put in a pikachu costume.

    AKB48 is bad. Really bad. It’s an earsore and eyesore just looking at their music videos.

  • wangkon936

    Weird Al is late to the game:

    http://seoulbeats.com/2012/08/being-white-in-k-pop-chad-futures-hello-mv/

    The sad thing is that I don’t think Chad Futures tried to parody K-pop, but the results somehow ended up looking like a parody.

  • redwhitedude

    I think weird Al has somewhat of a more mainstream following. His stuff now seems to fly well with all the stuff that has come along since the 80s with stuff like facebook, twitter and so forth. I’d be curious on how he parodies certain Kpop videos.

    I wouldn’t call AKB48 music. It’s just junk.
    Most of Kpop is annoyingly manufactured.

  • wangkon936

    “Most of Kpop is annoyingly manufactured.”

    But sounds much better than AKB48’s screechy and scratchy minstrelizations that they call “music” but are really poor excuses for grown men to see girls with the bodies of 14 year olds in bikinis and school girl uniforms.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEVq_Bx7_KY

  • redwhitedude

    Lol, I guess the fandom of AKB48 are pedophiles. Let’s not forget who these people buy multiple copies of the records.

  • redwhitedude

    Look at China is doing. Not surprising. They are all about information monopoly. Only info acceptable is the one that comes from the CCP. They just were looking for an excuse.
    http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2993220&cloc=joongangdaily|home|newslist1

  • AsiaNewsWeekly

    Currently, four of the men in the case are charged with manslaughter and one with assault. Friday, the defense ministry formally made the recommendation to charge all five with murder; however, it is a non-binding recommendation, as the Army has the final say.

  • jfpower

    There is no write-up. It was literally just a sentence written as a Facebook post.

  • jfpower

    There is a lot of “cutesy” stuff, but frankly I think that operates under the hypocritical facade that sex isn’t being sold — when it very much is.

    But, anyway, the likes of Hyuna are as crudely sexual as anything in the West. Kara has a video based entirely around ass shaking. MissA has a video based almost entirely around pelvic movements. Twerking exists in K-pop, too.

    These videos below, meanwhile, resemble soft porn more than anything to do with music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCQpzHPYRUc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRD-U_kGC0k

    Kpop is as cynical as it gets when it comes to selling sex.

  • redwhitedude

    And it is pretty unoriginal in a lot of cases. it is the same old.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    This type of thing happens everyday – even in the US military. Bad apples happen to gather at a unit and they do evil things. The officer and senior enlisted personnel should be canned for allowing this to go on. SK newspapers are accentuating these things to shame military. But military is huge. Something can always go wrong. People should understand SK military is vital for national defense. They should not weaken it. Otherwise, they will become slaves to NK and China.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I’ve written this many times before. The difference is that Korean government ministries export and sell K-pop as part of the Korean wave and the image of Korea that they are projecting overseas.

    Much like Britney Spears, who started with her “I’m just a girl” in a plaid school girl’s skirt, and the other pop-tarts, K-pop was on the road well-traveled from teasing who me? sexuality to strumpetville.

    The US doesn’t project the twerking wrecking ball that is Miley Cyrus as its image. …at least not officially.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    The torturers should be slowly tortured to death. The commanding officers should be imprisoned for allowing this to happen on their watch. Daily beatings? Torture positions at night? Surely people knew this was going on. How about the conscript a few years ago that was hospitalized after being forced to eat feces? The military shrugs their shoulders at all of this until one day – oh shit! – someone dies. Only then is it time for punishment. Korea’s bully culture (yep, the C word) is pervasive and disgusting. Beatings, humiliation, insults, criticisms, extra work, sexual harassment, contract violations, forced drinking, and reckless driving. It permeates every office, classroom, sidewalk, restaurant, and home. How long will this “I’m the big dog because I shit on others” mentality persist? How long until society has had enough? Until respect is mutual between ranks and ages? Until younger people stop acting like little bitches at the feet of someone born one year prior? Until kindness is expected and bullying is shameful and punished?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Aside from your first sentence, which I suspect you were being facetious and wrote out of frustration, I agree. Unfortunately, Korea has a culture of bullying, by which I mean some level of bullying is acceptable by Korean institutions from military to business to educational and the acceptance gets reflected in Korea’s laws (or lack thereof) and judiciary.

    To raise the c-word, is there something in Korea’s hierarchical culture that leads to (to put it more mildly) initiation and hazing? For example, I played in a sports culture where the freshmen got initiated onto sports teams from singing songs to carrying the teams’ equipment. I had never personally witnessed, either on the giving or receiving end, anything strong enough to compel me to upset what got sold as traditions. I don’t understand, however, how someone who experienced and is now in a position to affect such bully culture in Korea fails to act or do or say.

    I am hopeful that all the recent attention will bring about reconsideration and change. I know that these stories aren’t new or even new in the news media. The difference, however, is that there’s condemnation.

  • bumfromkorea

    See, this is what I mean.

    “Korean society has a pervasive bullying problem that is literally killing its own people.”

    vs

    “Korea has a culture of bullying, by which I mean some level of bullying is acceptable by Korean institutions…”

    Must I pull out the endless list of bullying, initiation and hazings in all aspects of American society to demonstrate that “Korea has a bullying problem” rather than “Korea has a Korean Culture problem, which includes bullying”? Why can’t a Korean society have a critical societal problem without someone going to “Well, that’s what their culture is like”?

  • bumfromkorea

    So, when the Bully Project made that one movie about bullying, it was really about Korean Culture (yep, the C word)? Maybe the words “bullying”, “hazing”, “initiation”, etc. are loanwords from the Korean language? Could it be that the ubiquitous paddle with the Greek letters on them was actually invented in Korea?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Fair enough, bum. I have personally experienced and witnessed situations in Korea that I have seen people in not only authoritative but also ostensibly protective positions openly say that “(this) is an accepted part of Korean culture.” That quote is literal, and I left the meeting telling a colleague that any (position title) in the US would be fired for making such a statement.

    I understand your frustration, and I will rethink my language, but the difference between what I saw in the US (certainly in the last 20 years) and what I see now in Korea, is the institutional response to such incidents.

    I am aware such incidents happen in the US, but look at the difference in response when such incidents 1) get reported, and 2) get reported and are not appropriately dealt with by those in ethical or professional positions to do so.

  • bumfromkorea

    Then that would be the institutional immaturity/incompetence on the parts of the Korean society, which, again, cannot be attributed to culture primarily.

    Aside from the institutional incompetence at the incidences of bullying, I see no difference in the reactions of either society. It incites outrage, anger, and sympathy for the victim from the general public of both societies. And with Korea, you have the additional frustration and anger at the incompetence of its public officials – in fact, one of the biggest aspects of this story in the Korean media was that the military received the reports months before the story hit the news (thus implying that the military was trying to cover it up).

    If the Korean culture was indeed accepting of such bullying, then what’s with the public outrage over this incident? Why would the Koreans, whose culture supposedly accepts this as part of it, be so angry about it?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    That’s the part (reportage, outrage, and sense of “we are not going to take this anymore”) that I think is changing. In my comparatively short time here, I see a difference. Two years ago, I reached the nadir of my overall impressions of the present of and future for Korea. Now, I am hopeful.

    Despite in many ways Korea’s most difficult year, the zeitgeist is different here.

  • bumfromkorea

    2 years is way too short for such massive societal changes. There are definite direction of change that Korea has been experiencing, mainly (at least in my opinion) driven by the generational shift (especially in the upper managerial/decision-making jobs) and amplified by the generational gap widened by the rapid modernization of the country. But the outrage and “we’re not gonna take it” attitude has been present in Korea for a while. The Mad Cow protests, horribly misguided and uninformed as it were, wouldn’t have happened without those components. The IT over-saturation + population density probably accelerated that change, but that’s a shift that started way long before 2011/2012.

    Maybe the major thing that changed between those two years are the width and depth of your observation of the Korean society? My father’s impression of the Americans during his first 2 years and his impression afterwards were vastly (and often hilariously) different.

  • bumfromkorea

    I dunno, Wangkon. Every time I hear the term “삼촌팬”, I get the creeps. I break out in goosebumps when I hear the explanation that they like the idols like an uncle would to his niece.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    For some reason I can’t reply using my phone…

    @bum: Referring to it as a part of culture is somewhat semantic. We’d have to agree on a definition for “culture.” The bullying that I most often see is soft bullying in the workplace. It is treating others unfairly because of age (but also things such as gender and marital status). It’s a lack of basic decency just for the sake of showing who’s higher ranking (or just plain older).

    The worst I ever saw was a 35 year old HS teacher berated to tears by a department head. It started (ostensibly) about work performance, but by the end it was criticizing her for being too ugly to find a boyfriend. When the teacher began crying, the dept head yelled at her for crying in the office. This was in front of 5 other female teachers, all of whom kept their eyes down during the 15 minute rant.

    Usually it’s less direct, such as unneccesary and unreasonable work tasks simply given for the sake of giving tasks. Or everyday barbs about weight, looks, or being single.

    Sure, some of this happens in the West. But American employees don’t hesitate to file a report with HR, or even take it to court.

    Bullying is certainly not endemic to SK. Bullying occurs to some extent in mozt cultures. Student hazing in the US sickens me as well. It may be human nature for some to want to be “alpha.” But the lack of reportage and punitive/preventative measures in SK has allowed it to remain at reprehesible levels.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    I’ve spent a few weeks working on a matter where we’re giving a Korean CEO the sack for sexual harassment and he, too, justifies his harassment of young female employees (many of whom were left tearful) as a “fatherly” or “avuncular” behavior.

  • jfpower

    It’s utterly dishonest nonsense. The main thing K-pop is selling, including the cutesy variety, is sex.

  • jfpower

    There is a convenient, and all too often indulged, lie in Korea that older men are interested in homely relationships with young beautiful women, rather than what men everywhere are generally interested in when it comes to close contact with young beautiful women.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    @ Joe: The soldiers involved systematically tortured another soldier until he died… And they did it just for fun. What if a civilian did this same stuff to another civilian? Beatings, sexual abuse, inhumane acts, and eventually murder. Maybe life sentences would be kind.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    It’s very possible that I’m different, but I think societal awakenings, particularly with more obvious right and wrong positions (anyone care to defend bullying?) happen much faster today with the anonymity and decentralized nature of the internet. As a more concrete example, I see it in changes in Korean legislation and laws. It’s not just the bullying issue.

    **********
    I think, nonetheless, that your “mad cow” protests example does not illustrate your point (and if you think about it might even be more illustrative of my position). Those protests of six years ago, with their external enemy and mass media manipulation, seem less likely to me today, and that’s part of my sense of change here.

  • bumfromkorea

    Yes, but the anonymity and decentralized nature of the internet has existed in Korea for quite a while now. Certainly longer than 2 years.

    Both ‘external enemy’ and ‘mass media manipulation’ factors have nothing to do with what we’re discussing (outrage against injustice, refusal to accept the fucked up norm, etc). Remember that the protests were against the government for a perceived injustice that was being done to the public against the public’s will. Without the ‘outrage’/’refusal’ factors, the protests wouldn’t have happened – it would be the “나랏님이 알아서 하시겠지” response.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I think those who do not live and work in Korea understand how commonplace, pervasive, and blatant the incidents you witnessed are here.

    The account you relayed makes me wonder whether these victims have husbands, brothers, fathers, or adult sons because I can’t imagine anyone berating an American wife, sister, daughter, or mother that way. Or at least doing so and still having teeth.

    American law is much tougher on such behavior and I wonder whether it’s a chicken and egg conundrum. Do Americans take less crap because of American husbands, brothers, fathers, and adult sons or are American laws tougher because of American husbands, et al.?

    …Ok, that’s not the chicken and egg thing, but I mean what you know.

  • bumfromkorea

    “But American employees don’t hesitate to file a report with HR, or even take it to court.”

    Which suggests that it’s a structural problem. Actually, in my opinion, it’s an economic problem – because of the job scarcity + high cost/challenge of a legal action, the repercussion for refusing to take the shit from your boss is far, far too high. It’s not exactly worker’s paradise over here either, but the difference in cost is shockingly high because of systemic inefficiency and shortcomings.

    Such things are due to many, many different factors. When you bring in the word “culture”, it brings both “inherent” and “unique” with it – otherwise, why would it be described as a particularly “Korean” culture? Just because it’s widespread in a society doesn’t mean it’s part of the society’s culture. Nor do systemic problems imply that the problems itself is part of the society’s cultures.

    Otherwise, the American culture would be that of a bunch of lying, heartless, thieving obese frauds with serious recreational drugs, gun violence, and drinking and driving issues. But only two of my friends smoke marijuana (one legally now, since he lives in Denver), and only one is an obese gun nut who has a court-ordered breathalyzer in his car.

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  • MikeinGyeonggi

    @bum: I agree that it’s perhaps a structural problem in Korea. Maybe this will get sorted out over time (as it did in the West). There definitely is a sense of helplessness among victims. If you defy your superior, there will be consequences. If you appeal, there could be worst consequences. Even if you win, you may be an outcast for not going with the flow. Is it culture? Again, it’s depends how we define that. But either way, it is what it is. Whatever the reason, bullying is pervasive on levels and in age groups that are truly saddening.

    America definitely has a gun culture. As a whole, we’re obsessed with them. It’s really f*cked up. As are the levels of violent crime, considering the US is a developed country. We have a culture of standing up for ourselves (Don’t tread on me!!) even if it means f*cking up the wrong guy (Iraq) or arming teachers so they can shoot the next guy who tries to shoot up a school. (And my family asks me why I live abroad.)

    BTW – America has serious bullying issues among students (doesn’t every place?). But I wouldn’t consider frat “hazing” to be bullying. Pledges willingly participate in inane and violent behavior to join some idiotic club. It’s consensual. If it becomes unconsensual, cops can be called and charges pressed.

  • bumfromkorea

    I would disagree with that characterization of America, even as a whole. Even within Arizona, the “meth-lab of democracy” as Jon Stewart once put it, there is a huge, all out fight about the gun issue. Like many political issues in America, the fucked up gun culture appears to be pervasive because of the perfect storm of gerrymandering + primary election structure. In truth, only 1/3 of the Americans possess firearms – and it would be very unfair to characterize the “gun culture” as “American culture”, given that the Americans are internally conflicted about the “gun culture”.

    The “standing up for ourselves” can be considered an American culture, but it is far too complicated for it to be simply applied to the Iraq War or the gun debate.

    With bullying, I was incredibly lucky to not have experienced it myself (though I must have been an obvious target, as I didn’t speak English well at first). But the stories I have heard is jaw-dropping. However, this has much more to do with parenting fuckup and institutional incompetence. It’s not that American culture is particularly prone to bullying – if anything, I’d say all kids has the tendency to bully everywhere that is being suppressed to varying degrees by the institutions in place. It is the type of institutional failure that causes the difference between bullying in Korea (utter helplessness caused by institutional failure to properly protect the “complainers”) and bullying in America (more of a back to “natural state” caused by parents who don’t give a fuck and schools trying not to get sued/reported).

    I guess what I’ve been trying to say here is that “culture” is too simplistic and very often the wrong way to approach the issue. There’s always a better way of understanding a societal ill if you just take a closer look.