The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Author: Anonymous_Joe (page 1 of 3)

Smoking Ban – April 1 No More Fooling Around

On January 1, 2015, South Korea by law completely banned smoking in all bars, restaurants, and cafes (including smoking rooms) regardless of size.  Starting tomorrow, April 1, they’re no longer fooling around:  the three-month grace period on enforcement ends.  Smokers could pay fines of 100,000 won and shop owners up to 5 million won for violating Korea’s anti-smoking law.

Korea has gotten serious about smoking.  In 2012, a World Health Organization (WHO) conference held in Seoul recommended South Korea change its lax laws on smoking and drinking, citing public health issues.  In December 2012, all restaurants and bars were issued one week’s warning that such establishments with a floor area greater than 150 square meters could no longer allow smoking. In 2013, Korean law banned taxi drivers from smoking  but did not specify whether their clients could smoke.   On June 8, 2013, PC bangs (PC rooms) became smoke-free zones,  On January 1, 2014, the smoking ban for restaurants and bars with an area exceeding 100 square meters became law. On December 12, 2014, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced the government planned to ban smoking in billiard halls and indoor golf driving ranges in 2015.  On January 1, 2015, the ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants, regardless of size, became law.

The backlash has begun.  On March 3, I Love Smoking, an online community representing the largest network of smokers in South Korea, filed at the Constitutional Court to review the constitutionality of the smoking ban in all restaurants, claiming the ban infringes on people’s rights to happiness, suppresses individuals’ rights to run a business, interferes with businesses’ freedom, and interferes with businesses’ rights to profit.  Good luck with that.  In 2011, 299 internet cafe operators filed a complaint against the smoking ban in Internet cafes, and the Constitutional Court upheld the ban.

Regardless and according to Yonhap News,

“The new ban has caused all kinds of conflicts between the restaurant staff and diners who smoke,” (I Love Smoking) said at a press conference held in front of the court in central Seoul. “It has also eaten into business owners’ profits, some to the point of considering closure.”

The group said as an alternative, the government could prohibit smoking at all restaurants during the day but allow bars and clubs to seat smokers in smoking sections in the evening.

…The government could use the extra taxes smokers pay toward subsidizing the costs of creating smoking sections at restaurants, which on average cost 10-30 million won (US$9,100-27,000), the group said.

“Independent restaurants can’t realistically afford the cost without subsidies,” it said.

Yeah, good luck with that too.

OECD Daily Smoking By Gender

South Korea remains among the smokingest nations in the OECD, ranking 13th in the world in cigarette consumption and second, behind Greece, among OECD nations .  Cigarette prices, prior to the tax increase, in South Korea were among the lowest in the world by PPP.  The much needed price increase reflecting the negative externality cost in cigarette consumption and proper use of zoning laws protecting non-smokers, brings Korea in line with laws, trends, and thinking in other OECD countries.  I’m a libertarian minded non-smoker who wonders how Korea’s ajeosshi-packed Constitutional Court will rule let alone why the Constitutional Court would even hear the case.

Open Thread: March 28, 2015

Spring has sprung.

R.I.P. IE

Microsoft has finally pulled the plug on Internet Explorer.  Used (outside of Korea) as a Windows bundled software application to facilitate the download of web browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is solely used in Seoul for online banking and retailing.  South Korea passed a law in 1999 requiring that banks and retailers use digital certificates created with Microsoft’s Active X and exclusively available on Internet Explorer.

IE has been in its death throes since shortly after the implementation of South Korea’s 1999 law.  Released in 1995 as an add-on to Windows 95 after Bill Gates had returned from vacation and recognized the threat Netscape’s Navigator® represented to Microsoft’s operating system, Microsoft changed course.  Microsoft’s later standard inclusion of IE in OEM packages and subsequent Windows operating systems sealed Netscape’s fate.

IE went on to command a healthy 95% market share becoming the web browser by fiat for many corporations and governments.  Microsoft and IE soon became fat (or in tech terms, bloated) and lazy (again in tech terms, slow and no innovation), ignoring the open source Firefox browser, which quickly became the browser of choice among the digerati.  Google entered the fray, and IE’s market share fell below 50% in 2010 and 20% in October.  Since then IE’s chart has looked like that of last century’s centenarian.

For those of you who feel maudlin for Microsoft IE’s demise or suffer from an unhealthy (as opposed to the healthy) necrophilia, IE will be around to haunt the rest of us for some time:  Korea will need to first legally declare IE dead and bury all entanglements.  Meanwhile IE’s rotting code will continue to plague us.

100 Years of Beauty: Korea

Following up their December 2014 viral video 100 Years of Beauty in 1 Minute:  USA , those clever folk at cut.com have released their fourth installment in the series, 100 Years of Beauty in 1 Minute:  Korea.

The videos show an actress/model in time-lapse motion undergoing a century of makeup, hairstyle, and attitude changes representative of the beauty standards and zeitgeist for each decade of the last 100 years for each depicted country and culture.

The first two videos in the series looked at American trends for both white and black women, which seemed like easy and natural choices.  The third video, released in February, intriguingly spotlighted Iran’s beauty trends for women.  In an equally intriguing choice, cut chose Korea’s for March.

Here is the first video, depicting white American female beauty, in the series:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOyVvpXRX6w&w=560&h=315]

Although the model of course ages no more than eight hours over the course of the video shoot, she seems to represent beauty representative of different aged women in the videos.  For example the representative look seemed late 20ish for the ’50’s and high school senior/late teens for the ’80’s.

Here is the video for 100 Years of Beauty – Korea:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SWHjWtykns&w=560&h=315]

I’m glad I wasn’t here in the ’90’s.

The Korea video splits in the ’50’s, depicting the political separation and split in beauty trends for the North and the South.  Immediate comments from my small, unscientific, not random sample include “Those Yalu girls really knock me out”, “they leave the South behind”, and “…that Pyeongyang is always on my mind”.  One stammered, “I want back in the DP, back in the DP, back in the DPRK.”

There is no word yet whether cut will feature beauty representative of males or transgenders in the series.

Pardon moi? (redux)

Pardon me for resurrecting a prior post.

Voices for imprisoned conglomerate owners’ paroles and even pardons are gaining volume in Park Geun-hye’s ministries.  Floating pardons over a long yuletide weekend, the Blue House seems to be taking a page from the White House’s old play book.

On Christmas Eve, ruling Saenuri Party leader Kim Moo-sung argued for paroles and even special pardons for businessmen behind bars. “As the nation’s economy is struggling, those who need to work should work. Investment is impossible without the owner’s decision,” Kim said.

The day after Christmas, Floor Leader Lee Wan-koo banged the parole drum. “If the government requests discussions about conditional release of business people, we can consult with the main opposition party.”  Party spokesman Park Dae-chul gave an official statement:  “The role of entrepreneurs is important in order for Korea to revive the economy that remains in the doldrums. We urge the government to deeply agonize over the issue given the two criteria of economy and law.”

Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Min Kyung-wook told reporters that he did not know whether the president’s office was considering granting parole to businessmen, adding the Justice Ministry, not Cheong Wa Dae, is the authority on the matter: “Entrepreneurial parole is the justice minister’s own right.

The Joongang Ilbo added, “although the Blue House did not officially endorse granting parole for the convicted executives”, deference to the Justice Ministry could be “interpreted as its tacit recognition of the need to allow company heads more leniency in the legal system.”  In an opinion piece, the Joongang Ilbo went so far as to say “the minister’s comments could well translate into his de facto consent.”

Those eligible for parole include SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and his younger brother Jae-won.  The older Chey has served 23 months of his four-year sentence for embezzling tens of billions of won of his company’s money.  LIG Group Chairman Koo Bong-sang is also eligible for parole, having served 26 months of his four-year sentence for defrauding 215 billion won ($198 million) from investors.

Serving less than one-third of their terms, other imprisoned chaebol leaders are ineligible for parole; a presidential pardon is their only opt out of prison. A rouges’ gallery sampling includes the following:

  • CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun –  Sentenced in September to a three-year prison term for embezzlement, breach of trust, and tax evasion totaling 165.7 billion won (US$159.5 million). Having served only four months, Lee has been granted temporary medical parole to remain in the hospital for treatment following a kidney transplant.
  • Taekwang Group Chairman Lee Ho-jin – Sentenced to 4 1/2 years for embezzlement and breach of trust.  Having served 63 days behind bars, Lee has been hospitalized for two years and waiting for a liver transplant.
  • Former STX Group Chairman Kang Duk-soo – Sentenced in October to six years for cooking the company’s books for 584.1 billion won ($556.2 million) and embezzlement (67.9 billion won).  To his credit, “the figures were much smaller than the charges raised by the prosecution, which had claimed Kang’s accounting fraud and embezzlement reached 2.3 trillion won and 340 billion won, respectively.”
  • Tongyang Group Chairman Hyun Jae-hyun -Sentenced in October to 12 years in prison for fraud.  Hyun ordered Tong Yang affiliates to issue 1.3 trillion won (US$1.2 billion) worth of virtually worthless corporate bonds and commercial paper. “The business tycoon systematically covered up the companies’ troubled finances by asking media to delete or tone down articles questioning their financial health,” the court added.

All news stories and opinion pieces seemed to omit that the heads of Korea’s ministries are appointed, not elected, and Korea’s is not a coalition government.  The Justice Minister, appointed by PGH, serves at the President’s pleasure and carries out the President’s policies.  If Chung Wa Dae were against granting paroles, all speculation would end with a simple no.

Complicating the Justice Ministry’s plans for paroles and pardons are candidate Park Geun-hye’s own words (“There will be no special pardons of tycoons“) and the recent nut-rage incident, which brought to the surface Koreans’ long suffering and ever broiling sense of Korean chaebols’ families’ perceived entitlement and privilege.

These handful of minority, though perhaps plurality, shareholders have successfully held their companies and other shareholders hostage and hoodwinked the Korean government and media into thinking that the whole of the Korean economy depends on their captaining of their companies …which they embezzled from and defrauded …which is the reason they are in prison.  The Joongang Ilbo opined against a “quid pro quo”, that “the government must not grant them parole in exchange for promises to increase investments. It should be a matter of principles, not a business transaction.”  Under what principle should an embezzler of nearly $200 million dollars be paroled from serving his four year sentence?

All this makes me wonder how Apple would fare if Steve Jobs were to die or what Microsoft would do if Bill Gates retired to pursue philanthropy.  Given Korea’s dependence on Samsung, the real elephant in the economy, what would happen if Lee Kun-hee suffered an incapacitating heart attack?

I handicap the paroles and perhaps some pardons happening between Korea’s New Years:  sometime after solar New Year, sometime before March 1, and with a probability density centered around Seollal.

Pardon my French, but ce qui la baise?

Why are we here?

No, I’m not experiencing some existential crisis;  I’ll resume that shortly after I hit send.

…and I’m not asking “why are you here?”  I know why you are here:  You are here because in my solipsistic universe, I imagine you here.

I’m asking “why are we, as in US – as in U. S., here?”

Korea’s Constitutional Court just issued its ruling that the opposition Unified Progressive Party, one of three parties fielding a candidate in Korea’s most recent presidential election and having popularly elected members in the Korean Parliament, should be disbanded.   The ruling took effect immediately, and the UPP no longer exists as a political entity.  As a result of the court’s ruling,  Lee Jung-hee the former presidential candidate and her fellow UPP representatives Kim Mi-hyui, Kim Jae-yeon, Lee Sang-kyu, Lee Seok-ki, and Oh Byung-yun lost their status as members of Korea’s parliament.

I can imagine the United States’ scathing response if the forced disbandment of an opposition political party happened in Russia, China, North Korea, or any other country that the US lacks internal influence in.  Yet I can’t imagine the White House’s response or the news that an American propped up pseudo-democracy grabbing as much American media attention if such happened in countries that lack any pretense.

For those friends and family back home who have difficulty distinguishing North from South Korea, explain to them that North Korea lies north of the 38th parallel while South Korea lies south.  Otherwise, both Koreas seem pretty much the same.

I need to hit publish before I imagine jackboots kicking in my door.

Keep Reaching for the Stars, Korea

The KT ran a link on its homepage to a piece, Olivia Hussey has half-Korean son.

For those of you who might not remember, Hussey is best known for her role as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet (an inverse-bowdlerization of that otherwise HS freshman English snooze fest, Romeo and Juliet), playing opposite the ageless Zac Efron‘s Romeo.  Thoughts of Hussey reminded me of the best (full disclosure: only) mammaries I had in high school.

According to the article in the venerable KT, “Academy Award-winning 1968 film ‘Romeo and Juliet’ Max Fusestar Olivia Hussey’s half-Korean son is receiving the nation’s spotlight.”

For those whose animal appetites have been whet to a frothy, rabid peak, “his name is Max Fuse, her 30-year-old son born from her second marriage with Japanese musician Akira Fuse who was a Korean descendent.”

And what, pray tell, you might ask has Max Fuse done, had done to him, had sex with, or in some other way accomplished to garner the nation’s spotlight?  “Max began to attract attentions (sic) following the recent news that shed lights (sic) on Hussey’s 20-year-old daughter from her third marriage India Eisley.”  (Note to KT copy editor:  “…Hussey’s 20-year old daughter, India Eisley, from her third marriage.”)

India Eisley appears to be in the doey-eyed ingénue business and positioning herself for a long, multi-decades run as such.

The KT performed a fine piece of investigative and research journalism to uncover Max Fuse’s “half-Korean” roots but has decided not to reveal its sources.  Max Fuse is as anonymous on the internet as any anonymous Joe, and googling “Max Fuse” summons a single hit (about his Japanese roots) and others about a line of Air Jordans.  His father’s Wikipedia page neglects to mention, if not conspiratorially covers up, Akira Fuse’s Korean roots and intimates that his biggest claim to fame is his defunct marriage to Hussey.  From the article’s first sentence:

Akira Fuse (布施 明 Fuse Akira?, born on December 18, 1947 in Tokyo) is a Japanese singer, who was once married to Olivia Hussey.

His Wikipedia page prominently displays the following warning:

The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia’s notability guideline for music. Please help to establish notability by adding reliable, secondary sources about the topic. If notability cannot be established, the article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted.

Phew.  …And to think all this started because I wanted to know how those KT math wizards calculated “half-Korean” for Olivia Hussey’s son.  At least I now know that the nationwide Beatles-esque frenzy Max Fuse inspires in Korea explains the traffic jam I sat hours in during Friday evening’s commute through Seoul.


As the KT continues in its mission to develop the local angle and guided by its credo that “all news is local”, my inside sources at the KT have leaked exclusively for TMH’s inquiring minds tomorrow’s piece on Leonardo DiCaprio’s half-sister, from his mother’s second marriage, overheard at a NoCal all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet saying how much she “loves this Korean sushi” while gorging herself on kimbap.

As Casey Kasem said signing off from America’s Top 40, “keep your head in the clouds and keep reaching for the stars”, Korea.

Open Thread: October 19, 2014

My whirlwind weekend tour of Korea’s October festivals continues.  Yesterday, I took Anonymous_Family to Yeonan University’s Fall Flower Festival.   Here’s the only pic that I could crop out Anonymous_Kids:

Cheonan Yeonan Flower Festival

For those interested in a literal breath of fresh air from Itaewon and Hongdae, the college’s campus is beautiful, the prettiest I’ve seen in Korea.  With red brown brick buildings and landscaped acreage, Yeonan’s reminded me of a small New England or mid-West college’s campus.  The drive (you will need a car) is just over the Pyeongtaek border in Chungcheongnamdo through amber fields of waving Asian grains.  We spent the afternoon, and the campus’s trees seemed to turn on us, showing their true colors by early evening.

 

Kakao Jumps Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire

As a measure to stem the flood of users leaving Kakao Talk, Daum Kakao CEO Lee Sirgoo announced today that the company would no longer comply with prosecutors’ requests for private Kakao Talk conversations.  The surprise announcement set the stage for a direct confrontation between the company and Korean authorities that will likely end in obstruction of justice charges brought against the company and its CEO.

Lee Sirgoo Apology

Lee Sirgoo, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

At a quickly arranged press conference on Monday, Lee bent his head in apology and said that he would personally bear the full legal consequences of the decision.  “If the decision means violating the law, I will abide by any punishment because I made the final call on this as CEO.  We did not talk with related government agencies about this, and we are not saying that warrants issued are flawed. But I believe the right way to handle our users’ criticism and disappointment is to strengthen protection of their privacy….  To do this, we stopped accepting prosecution warrants to monitor our users’ private conversions (sic) from Oct. 7, and we hereby announce that we will continue to do so.”   Daum Kakao officials characterized the measure as a matter of “survival” and not “optional”.

Lee stated that the decision was not personal and was made with the agreement of management, and vowed that the company would, according to the Korea Times, “continue to prioritize users’ privacy even if he is replaced by another person.”

In the first half of 2014, Korean authorities made 2,131 requests for users’ information with search warrants , and Kakao Talk cooperated with “more than three quarters” of those requests.  Korean authorities made an additional 61 court-approved requests  seeking to wiretap users’ conversations under suspicion of charges such as rebellion or violation of the National Security Law.  The company denied that authorities used the warrants to monitor users real time conversations and claimed that that the company was not technologically equipped to monitor real time conversations. Kakao Talk nonetheless “cooperated with nearly all the 61 requests by collecting messages that had been stored on its servers for between three and seven days.”

Lee announced that the company would introduce several measures to protect users’ privacy such as organizing an information security advisory committee, regularly publishing a transparency report, and implementing “end-to-end” encryption to remove the possibility that conversations could be monitored through Kakao’s servers. He conceded that the enhanced security features would necessarily make the application more difficult to use.  Lee stressed that the company had already cut the period that information gets stored on Kakao’s servers from seven to a maximum three days.

KT’s article concluded that at a September 16 cabinet meeting PGH complained “of insults about her and said online rumors have ‘gone too far and divided society,’ according to the Cheong Wa Dae website.”


The problem of course is that CEO Lee Sirgoo will not bear the full responsibility of the decision.  The security guards at the gates of Daum Kakao will have to permit entry to Korean authorities with warrants, and technicians served with such warrants will perforce offer up their wares or face obstruction charges themselves.  Lee Sirgoo’s stance has bought Kakao 15 minutes.  Daum Kakao needs a decision based on the constitutionality of the wiretaps for the future of Daum Kakao and free speech in Korea.

Aware of Korea’s legacy of lèse-majesté, which might play inside Korea but conflicts with the freedoms of a liberal democracy, I am continually surprised, though I no longer know why anymore, that Korean public figures are unaware that their protestations bring scrutiny and ridicule upon themselves.

PGH needs to grow a thick skin, by which I mean in addition to the lovely, perfectly complected thin skin that encases her now.

Seoul’s Mayor Comes Out In Favor of Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

Seoul’s mayor and popular pick among pundits for presidential candidate in 2017 Park Won-soon came out in support of legalizing gay marriage.  In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner published last Sunday, Park voiced his personal support for gay rights and hopes that Korea would become the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I personally agree with the rights of homosexuals,” Park said. “But the Protestant churches are very powerful in Korea. It isn’t easy for politicians. It’s in the hands of activists to expand the universal concept of human rights to include homosexuals. Once they persuade the people, the politicians will follow. It’s in process now.”

When asked whether Taiwan would be the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage since Taiwanese legislature currently has a bill under consideration, Park answered, “I hope Korea will be the first. Many homosexual couples in Korea are already together. They are not legally accepted yet, but I believe the Korean Constitution allows it. We are guaranteed the right to the pursuit of happiness. Of course, there may be different interpretations to what that pursuit means.”

If Park is indeed considering a run for the presidency, his support for same-sex marriage could prove politically risky.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “the vast majority of South Koreans have negative attitudes against gay people, let alone same-sex marriage….”   A poll conducted last year by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies showed that 21.5% of the 1,500 adults surveyed said “they had little or no objections to homosexuality, while only a quarter said they supported gay marriage.”  The results were polarized by age:  a majority of those over 50 said they had “negative views towards homosexuality”, a majority of those under 40 were supportive of gay rights, and respondents in their 40s were almost evenly split in their views of homosexuality.

Park Won-soon,  58, was expelled as a freshman from SNU for his participation in a pro-democracy demonstration and made his bones as a civil rights attorney.  When the subject of South Korea’s prosecution and jailing of Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse to perform compulsory military service came up, Park said “alternative civilian service for Jehovah’s Witnesses would be acceptable.”

According to an official at the mayor’s office, the interview took place during the mayor’s trip to California last month.

Open Thread: October 5, 2014

Festival Week, and I’m frequenting my favorites.

Finally, Happy in Seoul

Pharrell Williams’s infectious song that inspired videos around the world has finally inspired Seoul, and Happy videos taken in and around Seoul have sprung up on YouTube.

I first became aware of the song and the selvies (I’m looking to trademark the portmanteau self + video….  a little help BC, DLB?) during the international story that came of six Iranis, three men and three unveiled women (oh, the jackals),  who were arrested and sentenced to 91 lashes and jail for dancing to Happy.  (For those unaware of the story and video, be certain to view what people in parts of the world face prison for.)

Since then a spate of selvies™ has appeared on YouTube.  A notable project is 24 hours of Happy, which shows selvies™ stitched together in an hour loop taken at each hour of the day.

Seoul seems late to the Happy hour project party, but the Irani Happy story broke in May, around the time of the Sewol Ferry trajedy.  Korea wasn’t feeling Happy.

Here’s a Happy sampling of Seoul:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IOTR53ga8M&w=560&h=315]

–and–

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eB2YP6xSseU&w=560&h=315]

I like the song, and I like the videos.   Seoul looks great, and Seoul’s selvies™ are every bit as good as, if not better than, other cities’ selvies™.

Pardon moi?

Citing the downturn in the Korean economy, members of Park Geun-hye’s ministries have floated the possibility of special pardons to conglomerate owners and family members in prison on convictions of economic crimes such as embezzlement, breach of trust, and incurring losses to their companies.

On September 24, Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn hinted at the possibility of releasing or pardoning imprisoned businessmen by rhetorically asking, “Couldn’t they be given a chance if a national consensus is formed?”, and on September 25,  Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Choi Kyung-hwan supported  Hwang’s position:  “Punishing businessmen with excessively stringent penalties is no help when it comes to economic recovery.”

Candidate Park Geun-hye campaigned on a promise that President Park Geun-hye would have zero-tolerance for chaebol chiefs’ crimes.  Hwang had previously reiterated PGH’s stance for strict application of law regarding business irregularities, and a special amnesty in January did not include businessmen involved in financial crimes:  “The Justice Ministry last year declared that those in leadership positions in society and high-ranking government officials will not be given parole, as a matter of principle. It was in that spirit of nontolerance that Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of Taekwang, was denied parole even after approval was granted by the parole board.”

Chaebol Prisons Sentences

Now two high ranking members of PGH’s ministries have publicly voiced statements for some tolerance.  Given PGH’s bloodlines, Korea’s hierarchical culture, and PGH’s reputed imperial presidency, any remaining doubt whether PGH herself tested the proposal should be dispelled by Cheong Wa Dae’s failure to rebuke, deny, or distance itself from the proposal.  More so, two officials from two separate ministries making two such statements on two consecutive days feels like a toe in the water approach to ease the cold shock of an inevitable plunge.

The one positive, real difference that I had seen in PGH’s presidency was her stance on chaebol chiefs’ misconduct and the signal that got sent to Korea’s subculture of corruption.   Cheong Wa Dae’s seeking economic salvation from criminals convicted of accounting fraud, tax evasion, and embezzlement seems like bringing back the fox to shape up the hen house.

Pardon me, but are convicted criminals truly the best Korea can do?

The Asian Games Cluster F@ck Thread

Here’s the ask:

Can we have a thread on how much the Asian games has turned into a huge Korean style cluster fuck? My wife is embarrassed but she said, it’s typically Korean to fuck things up so well. Can’t wait for the Olympics now! Incheon is right next to Seoul and they couldn’t even get that right, how the hell are they going to manage in the middle of nowhere?

…and here’s the answer:

A clusterfuck.

1.Stadiums getting blackouts
2. Athlete’s lunch boxes found with salmonella
3. Volunteers asking for athletes signatures and making them late to their events – because they got 1 hour of training 1 week before the Games started.
4. 20% of interpreters quitting (because they had to pay for their own transport to and from the Games),
5. Athletes’ rooms not having fans or A/C,
6. Athletes’ rooms crammed with three beds and cramming athletes in them because they don’t have enough rooms
7. No mosquito screens for the rooms, subpar quality food for the athletes – partially caused by the fact that the majority of the cooks are college kids majoring in food science
8. Beach volleyball site doesn’t have changing rooms
9. Badminton stadium has A/C with strong wind that got the complaints of all athletes including Korean ones
10. Thailand baseball team had to practice in the dark because the lights weren’t on
11. Archery field was so shitty the Korean Archery association used their own funds to have the field meet the standards (including a whole new display)
12. The shooting field lacked lockers and seats for the athletes (forcing them to sit on the stairs with their stuff)
13. Plumbing trouble leaks urine at various stadium
14. The weightlifting stadium lacked curtains or other covers for the changing room – everyone saw the athletes change.
15. The Sepak Takraw (check it out, btw. It’s pretty epic) stadium leaked rainwater mid-event and the event was delayed for 20 minutes
16. No one informed the teams that the official basketball brand changed.
17. Critical shortage of medical staff at the basketball games, forcing the team trainers and other athletes to play doctor.
18. Organizers didn’t tell a Chinese fencer (A bronze medalist) that the shuttle bus stations changed locations. A Korean journalist had to give him a ride on the taxi, and the Organizers chastised the fencer for not getting on the earlier shuttles afterwards.
19. Organizers converted the Disabled Parking spots to VIP parking spots that can be bough at a fee. Yeah.
20. The broadcasters are not covering the events well – even the ones that Koreans would be interested in watching like badminton. The Koreans had to watch the badminton final using a Chinese TV station online.
21. Organizers selling most of the tickets to popular events to Chaebols, who of course doesn’t use them = empty stadiums even in events that are popular (baseball, basketball, etc)
22. It’s nice that the organizers had the ticket pre-sale available online with multiple languages. Too bad you need either a Korean ID number or foreigner registration number to buy one. Oh, and a Korean credit card. (Nice one, guys. Learn that move from Naver/Daum?)
23. The official Incheon Asian Games website was down until September 24th.
24. A shuttle bus driver, because he thought it was too bothersome to go through the entire route, decided to just skip the Field Hockey site (귀찮으니까…). What the fuck.
25. Organizers (read: Incheon city government) are forcing all school field trips in the city to go to the events because they have trouble keeping the seats filled (caused by the previous mentioned reasons.
26. Shuttle bus in general are either in critical shortage or arbitrarily changing/cancelling service. Disturbing amount of journalists/athletes are relying on taxis… except that the taxi drivers have no idea what any of the venues/buildings are.

And, of course, when the journalists asked the Organizers about these clusterfucks, the Organizers got into a verbal altercations with the journalists. Then they tried to issue a gag order on any articles critical of the Games. Then they flatly denied issuing any gag orders… to the journalists that they personally gave gag orders to.

A clusterfuck.

 Qatar women's basketball team walking off the court after withdrawing ahead of their women's preliminary round match against Mongolia. (AFP)

To the above list, I can add the row over the Qatari women’s basketball team forfeiting their final games and leaving the Asian games altogether over not being allowed to wear their hijab.  “The withdrawal of the Qatari team has tarnished the image of the Asian Games, which trumpets diversity and inclusiveness yet said it was powerless to help the players.   Competition at the Asiad is conducted under the regulations of the individual sports’ governing bodies, meaning organisers had to follow FIBA Article 4.4.2 prohibiting ‘headgear, hair accessories and jewellery’ for reasons of safety and uniformity.”  The Asian Games organizers and Qatari team should have addressed the Peng Yang of China, right, against Raja Norsharina Raja Shabuddin of Malaysia. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Imagesissue before the start of games.  Allowing the wearing of hijab seems  a reasonable accommodation unless someone can show that wearing hijab gives an advantage to the wearer, presents a disadvantage to the competition, or makes problems for the officials:

Indonesian archer Sri Ranti said she did not understand why she was allowed to wear an Islamic headscarf but other athletes in different sports were not.

“It’s about our religious freedom,” she added. “I don’t understand it.”

An archer on the Qatari men’s team, Al Mohandi Ibrahim Mohammed, said the issue was one of safety rather than religion but added that there were other more dangerous things to look out for than headscarves.

“I don’t think they are targeting Muslims, I believe that the hijab is banned for safety reasons,” he told Reuters.

“But from what I understand, hijabs, bandanas and hairbands are all allowed in the Women’s National Basketball Association.

“I think a long ponytail would probably cause more safety problems.”

From my side, I have enjoyed the games from my private box with full half-stocked refrigerator, luxury leather seats, private bath, HDTV monitors…. OK, one HDTV monitor.   My 술집여자, however, is a little too lippy, snippy, and hippy .  So yeah, cluster f@ck.

(Special thanks to bumfromkorea. All my work should be so easy. )

 

Open Thread: September 28, 2014

Out and about on amazing Autumn weekend.

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