The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Korean Diaspora (page 2 of 32)

The Korean dude who heckled President Obama and Korea’s visa waiver status

By now, most American readers will probably be familiar with Ju Hong, the Korean guy who heckled President Obama during—ironically enough—an immigration rally.

Hong has a history of, depending on how you look at it, gutsy political activism or outrageously mocking the people’s laws on immigration.

I didn’t think much about the incident at the time, other than being somewhat impressed by Obama’s handling of the incident and, likewise, somewhat perplexed as to why Hong and his family weren’t immediately placed on a plane back to Korea where he can do his two year’s military service like every other Korean male in his age cohort—I’m sure the ROK military has plenty of need for good English speakers.

Then I read an interview Hong gave with Yonhap News, where he calls immigration reform an “important matter for Korean-Americans and a human rights issue.” But more interestingly, he claims that one in seven Korean immigrants to the United States is undocumented.

The interview is worth reading, as it not only explains how Hong’s family ended up in Migukistan, but it’s also fun to compare its tone with the one Yonhap would have likely adopted had this been Ahmed the Illegal Bangladeshi Factory Worker from Ansan heckling President Park Geun-hye during a presidential speech.

At National Review, Mark Krikorian discusses the problem Hong’s case presents to immigration law enforcement—his family entered the country legally enough, but simply overstayed their visas. And as Hong himself told Yonhap, there are apparently a lot of Koreans doing this:

The salient fact here for immigration policy is that he came with his family on a tourist visa, and never left. Visa overstayers are believed to represent between a third and a half of the 12 million illegal aliens in the United States — and with improvements in border enforcement it’s possible the majority of new illegal aliens are overstayers. That translates to 4 to 6 million liars, people who swore they’d leave when their visit was over but didn’t, something at least as contemptible as sneaking into someone else’s country. Hong came as a child, so he wasn’t doing the lying, but he’s no more entitled to stay than the child of someone who lied on a mortgage application and later lost his home.

There are also more Korean illegal aliens than you might think. For instance, nearly 7,000 South Korean illegal aliens have been amnestied by Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (a.k.a. the administrative Dream Act) through the end of August, making it the No. 5 country after Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Krikorian goes on to note that the problem—at least in Korea’s case—is made worse by the fact that Korea is included in the American visa waiver program:

Exacerbating this problem with regard to South Korea and other countries is the Visa Waiver Program. As the name suggests, people from the 37 countries on the list don’t have to get visas for short tourist or business trips. Only those countries whose citizens are very unlikely to overstay are supposed to be included in the program. Unfortunately, the main force expanding the list of participating countries has been lobbying pressure from the travel industry and foreign governments. South Korea was added in 2008 and Greece — Greece — in 2010. This has been a significant driver of illegal immigration; the GAO reported earlier this year that, of a very large sample of apparent overstays, nearly half were people who entered under the Visa Waiver Program.

To be honest, as far as nations of origin for illegal aliens go, you could do a lot worse than Korea, but still, something appears to be broken. Ultimately, it’s up to the United States to enforce its own immigration laws, but I wonder if perhaps there’s room for cooperation with Korean authorities to ensure Korean tourists don’t get lost on their visits, lest this become a bilateral diplomatic issue. You know, much in the way the Korean Foreign Ministry stepped in when a certain, ahem, segment of the Korean community in Australia became an issue.

Murder of Ban Eunji in Brisbane

My sympathies go out to the family and friend of Ban Eunji, the Korean girl brutally murdered in Brisbane, Australia this morning by—it is suspected—an animal out for a thrill kill.

As far as we can tell so far, the attack does not appear to have been racially motivated, although I’m sure that’s of little comfort to anyone involved. It will be recalled that attacks on Koreans in Australia attracted the attention of the Korean press last year.

Pro tip: If you’re going to engage in a hate crime, be sure to get both the nationality and the war right.

A Korean man was beaten in a suburb of Seattle.

As if this weren’t bad enough, turns out he was beaten because the guy thought he was Japanese:

Alford said, “It looked to me like he was going to actually throw him into the oncoming traffic.” Alford ran out onto the street, waved his arms and said “stop, stop.” Two other bystanders joined him to stop the beating and that’s when the attacker started to protest. According to Alford, he said, “Why are you helping him? Don’t you know this man’s Japanese? Don’t you know what we did for them in Vietnam?”

Alford said it was totally crazy talk like that that really made no sense. As Packard walked away from the beating, Alford followed him and pointed him out to police who made the arrest.

The victim suffered only minor injuries. According to charging documents, Packard appeared to be either high on something or mentally ill. They took him to a hospital where he was quoted as saying, “I beat him up to keep the white people safe.”

Fortunately, the victim suffered only minor injuries. The assailant, meanwhile, faces hate crime charges.

Personally, I blame Japan.

Now, I’m no fan of hate crime sentencing, but I suppose tacking on a few years for being stupid wouldn’t bother me any.

Obamacare… in Korean

You’ll be happy to know that the Health Insurance Marketplace website has information in Korean.

You can also call them up at T. 1-800-318-2596 if you need Korean language information. Or feel like practicing your Korean.

Japanese court rules anti-Korean hate speech illegal

I guess one part of me is happy the courts said something to this group of asshats (HT to Aaron):

A vocal anti-Korean group was ordered Monday to stop a “hate speech” campaign against a Pyongyang-linked school, in a rare court ruling against racial discrimination in Japan.

A civil court in Kyoto also ordered the group and its activists to pay some 12 million yen ($120,000) in damages to the elementary school run by affiliates of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

Members of the group, formed in 2006 to eliminate what they called “privileges” given to Korean residents in Japan, staged loudspeaker demonstrations outside the school three times in 2009 and 2010, the district court ruling said.

They shouted such slogans as “Throw Korean schools out of Japan” and “This is a front for training North Korean spies.” They also posted video clips of the demonstrations on the Internet.

Oh, they’ve shouted much worse than that, including calls for the rape of Korean women. Pure class. At least one demonstrator held up a sign that read “Fuck Korea,” no doubt a tribute to Japanese colonial policy between 1910 and 1945.

Mind you, I dislike “hate speech” legislation (which neither Japan nor Korea have), and I’d be extremely wary of a court citing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination rather than domestic law, which is what the court did in this case. It also leaves a bad taste in my mouth that the group will be giving money to a school essentially run by North Korea, which means if it’s anything like most things North Korean, there’s probably a fair amount of hate going on.

Also, to be fair to the Zaitokukai, the far-right anti-Korean group in question, they have shown at times that they can be equal-opportunity in their hate:

On October 31, 2009, Zaitokukai protested Westerners in Halloween costumes, waving a sign that stated, “This is not a white country.”

On 24 January 2010, members of Zaitokukai stated towards Caucasian foreigners, “Go home, white pigs!” in a public demonstration against a bill to give foreigners the right to vote.

Frankly, I think the protest against Halloween is pretty cool. Wouldn’t be entirely upset if Ilbe or some other like-minded group would did that here.

Speaking of Ilbe, some on the left-wing of the Korean political spectrum have likened Korea’s largely right-wing social website to Zaitokukai, noting that both began as (and in the case of Ilbe, still remains) online groups. I don’t really read Ilbe, and most of the complaining I read about Ilbe comes from sources I don’t always trust, but even a cursory glance at some of their stuff turns up some gems. Where I think the real comparisons can be drawn, however, are with groups like those described in this post last year written following the election of Rep. Jasmine Lee.

Well, at least Rudd has a future as a hagwon teacher after the next general election

Hojustani PM Kevin Rudd—a.k.a. the Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Oceania—told a church full of Koreans that Korean would join Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Hindi as a priority language in Korean schools:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the language would join Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Hindi while visiting a Uniting Church in the Sydney and LNP-held seat of Bennelong.

With help from an interpreter, Mr Rudd told the room, largely of Korean background, that the country’s future would be strengthened by Australians being able to speak Asian languages.

“Australia’s future lies so much in Asia so in our schools we now have four priority languages – those Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Hindi,” he said.

The “priority language” thing goes back to late last year, when the Australian government decided on a series of initiative to boost ties with Australia’s Asian neighbors.

While he was at the church, he paid a visit to a classroom where local Korean kids study English. Here, the PM was upstaged by 5-year-old Joseph Kim:

Give the PM credit—he handled the whole hagwon thing like a boss. At no time did he lose his cool, which is no mean feat for him. He even had words of encouragement for the young students:

“You keep learning hard and one day I’ll learn Korean,” the Prime Minister, who speaks only Mandarin and a folksy Queensland dialect loosely related to English, promised.

Props to The Age’s Tony Wright for writing the funniest thing I’ve read all week.

Hollywood Cashing in on Koreans Behaving Badly

Speaking of movies, let’s take a look at what’s on the docket.   So what’s Sofia Coppola up to?  The co-star of “GodFather III” and the director of “Lost in Translation” has been working on a movie about the  string of burglaries masterminded by Korean American teenager (18 in 2009 when the crimes were perpetrated) Rachel Lee.  The title?  The Bling Ring.   You got Hollywood remaking Korean movies and now you have Hollywood making films about Koreans.  Here’s the trailer.

So, who are they having to play Rachel?  A full Asian actress?  Heavens no.  Remember, it’s Hollywood where a full Asian lead in a non-martial arts movie is rarer than a martian.  They are having one quarter Korean Katie Chang play the role.

Oh, and here is another movie about a Korean-American misbehaving in the works.  Remember Lisette Lee?  The woman who claimed to be a Samsung heiress?  Apparently there will be a movie about her as well based on the crazy Rolling Stone article of the same title.  The movie sounds like it is early in pre-production but it should be an interesting flick if it’s half as good as the article.

Another Korean, another offensive coffee receipt

Or, as The Gothamist put it:

Another day, another racist receipt: A NJ woman is suing CVS, accusing a worker of changing her name to say “Ching Chong Lee” on her receipt.

Hyun Lee, who is Korean, says that she ordered photographs from CVS online and when she went to pick them up from the Egg Harbor City branch, the receipt said, “Lee, Ching Chong.” She emailed CVS, saying, “Do you think it’s funny? It’s very disturbing to me!!!!… why doesn’t he just call me Chink! It has the same derogatory meaning!!!!!”

When pot, gyopos and USFK mail collide

Seoul’s Finest have busted a Korean-American by the name of Park for not only turning his Yongsan home into an indoor pot farm, but also using USFK mail to smuggle pot in from the United States (HT to Mryouknowwho).

Park was growing 57 pot plants at him home, where he built in indoor greenhouse. Even had CCTV cameras installed for security.

According to MBC, Park had been deported from the United States after getting busted for marijuana possession. Personally, I find this difficult to believe—if beating your girlfriend and then getting fingered by Russian intelligence as a possible jihadi isn’t enough to get you thrown out of the United States, I can’t imagine ICE showing a Korean dude the door toking up.

Park is claiming he was growing it for his own personal consumption since life’s been tough and growing it is cheaper. Plus, it’s got that whole DIY hispter cool factor.

Park was caught with 435 grams of gear, enough to sell to 8,700 people. He’d also been using USFK’s post system—which receives easier screenings by customs and is punished lighter for violations (or so says MBC)—to smuggle pot in.

Four months ago, a former GI was arrested for using USFK mail to smuggle in some new sort of drug.

A customs official at Incheon International Airport said with drug smuggling via USFK mail on the rise, USFK and the customs office were closely cooperating. Last year, Incheon Airport customs caught 2,800 grams of drugs being smuggled through USFK mail, over seven times the amount of the previous year.

The Strange Story Behind New York Based Pyongyang Soju Importer

Meet Il Woo Park, a 64-year-old South Korean national with legal permanent resident status in the United States, who owns New York based Korea PyongYang Trading U.S.A., a company that imports soju from everyone’s favorite pariah state: North Korea.

Keumsan Restaurant, Palisades Park NJ by you.

However, Park is more than a immigrant businessman.  He may have also once been a South Korean spy and was also, at one point, arrested by the FBI.  Oddly enough, despite his extensive North Korean connections, Park was only sentenced to 18 months of probation and a $300 fine.  The man must have some friends in high places.

Keumsan Restaurant, Palisades Park NJ by you.

So, is he a legitimate business man? A North Korean spy?  A South Korean spy, or maybe even a freelancer working for the Americans?  Who knows, but TPM posted an interesting article on him here.

Motherlover

Check out YOMYOMF Network’s “Motherlover,” starring Ki Hong Lee.

Pretty funny shit.

(HT to reader)

Things you don’t want to say during a Canadian divorce case

This was probably ill-advised, especially when the judge is female:

The judge said Hong was very candid about his attitude toward women.

“The respondent made it plain that in his view, a woman has very little say in Korean culture: she must obey her husband’s opinion and do what he tells her to do.” the judge observed.

“Pressed to explain this further, he went on to testify that in Korea, there is an old saying that a woman before marriage will obey her father, a woman after marriage will obey her husband, and after giving birth to a son and the son is old enough, then a woman will be obedient to her son,” the judge added.

“I have to give credit to the respondent [Hong] for being so frank about his attitude. I make no finding that this is indeed part of Korean culture, but it is certainly alien in the Canadian cultural context where equality is a fundamental cultural and legal value.”

(HT to reader)

Korean-Canadian in jail in Mauritania, possible links to Algeria attack

A Korean-Canadian convert to Islam is in prison in Mauritania for “terrorism actions in the region,” and although he was imprisoned prior to the deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in January, he was high school friends with two other folk from London, Ontario linked by the Ceeb to the attack

How much he could have been involved in the attack, I don’t know, because he was first arrested in Mauritania in December 2011 and has presumably been in prison since then.

(HT to reader)

The Korean on the NYT Article about the Oikos Shooting

TK offers his opinion on Jay Kang’s NYT piece at his blog—read away.

Han, Hwabyeong, Koreaness and the Oikos massacre

To mark the one-year anniversary of the Oikos University, Jay Kang penned a piece for the NYT in which he looked at the what part if any Koreanness might have had in the shooting. It’s a long piece, but a good one, albeit one that makes me extremely uncomfortable. I’ll just cite one part below:

Two Korean-American men, five years apart, walked into their former places of education and executed innocent students. This, by definition, is a coincidence, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a single Korean-American who feels that way. I have no idea whether these killings came out of han or hwabyung or some other shared heritage, but it’s clear that the search for an explanation is far more threatening to the Korean-American community than whatever the actual answer might be.

One week after the Virginia Tech massacre, I sat in a bar in Upper Manhattan with the same Korean friend who would later send me that four-word e-mail about Oikos and One Goh. He confessed that he felt violently angry nearly every day but couldn’t understand why. He wondered if Cho had felt the same way. His honesty upset me. I said some platitudes about how one maniac doesn’t represent an entire people, but even back then, I felt I was lying. I agreed in theory, but I did not believe it was actually true. I don’t mean to say that there’s something faulty and irreparable in the Korean psyche, but these shootings have become part of our identity, and they come, at least in part — and possibly in large part — from a place that many of us know instinctively. One Goh, sitting on the other side of the glass from me in jail, and Winston Chung, walking past the desiccated flowers set out in front of Oikos, both described their fathers as “typically Korean,” knowing that I would understand instantly what they meant. Kinsa Durst and I, even though we’re separated by 17 years, both had the same reaction to the news that the gunman at Oikos was Korean. And all the people I tried to talk to in and around Oakland who wouldn’t speak with me, who ushered me out of churches and cultural centers or grimly waved me off — their silence, protected so forcefully, spoke to the intensity of their shame.

Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond took exception with this Kang’s line of thinking:

So, Korean culture makes people suppress violence which later makes some of them prone to fits of rage that leads them to commit mass murder?

This would differ from American culture how exactly?

I mean isn’t that pretty much the story behind all the mass shootings that take place on a far too regular basis in this country?

Cho and Goh happened to both be of Korean descent but most mass shooters in the U.S. are white men.

Why should we connect the Virginia Tech and Oikos shooters just because both happened to be Korean and infer that some cultural mental flaw made them do it?

I’m more inclined to support Drummond’s argument here, although judging from the WaPo’s opinion section, I guess it’s now OK to link shootings with cultural flaws.

BTW, I think they meant “national” in the caption.

Anyway, being neither a resident of Los Estados Unidos nor a Korean-American, I have nothing really to say. But if you’ve got something to say, feel free to unburden your soul in the comment section.

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