The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Category: Korean Diaspora (page 2 of 32)

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.

Early Pioneer of Los Angeles Gangsta Rap Dies

Last year, in an L.A. Times article, it was revealed that one of the pioneers of West Coast gangsta rap was an old Korean-American ajeossi.

[Wan Joon] Kim, the owner of the Cycadelic record stall, was in his 50s [back in the late 80's and early 90's], spoke little English and liked classical music. But he stocked what sold: the music of young rappers who were chronicling the crack-and-gang-addled neighborhoods around them. He took a chance on Wilson. “I think he understood my struggle, more than anything,” said Wilson, 42. After all, “he’s in the heart of Compton.”

Wan Joon Kim (right), with his son Kirk and wife, Boo Ja, at their stall inside the Compton Swap Meet last January.

A few days ago Wan Joon Kim passed way at the age 79.  NPR gave him a nice eulogy:

In the history of Los Angeles hip-hop, many names loom large: Dr. DreIce CubeDJ Quik. But there’s another, lesser-known name that nevertheless played a big role in the early years of L.A. rap. Wan Joon Kim opened a swap meet stall in the now-famous suburb of Compton in the mid-1980s. He sold some of the earliest work of those stars at a time when few knew them and fewer stores would sell their music. Many never forgot him. Kim died Wednesday at the age of 79.

As an old Korean ajeossi, Mr. Kim may not have always understood what the actual lyrics meant, but:

“This music I don’t like,” he said, through his son. “But I understand where they come from. They’re speaking from their hearts and their minds. I understand that.”

Michelle Wie gives up Korean citizenship

Michelle Wie—you remember, the only thing about her that’s American is her passport—has abandoned her Korean citizenship.

Given her performance on the LPGA tour, I’m surprised whatever the Home Ministry is calling itself nowadays didn’t strip her citizenship out of shame.

Meanwhile, the golfer Michelle Wie was supposed to be is apparently a 15-year-old Korean immigrant to Kiwiland.

More on the Kim Jeong-hun controversy

For English speakers, the Hankyoreh has a translation of much of the criticism being leveled at science and technology minister-designate Kim Jeong-hoon. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that it’s Lee Seok-ki who’s leading the charge, and it’s an irony not missed by Korea’s conservative dailies.

The Hankyoreh also talks about how patriotic Kim is… as an American. According to the report, he can’t even speak Korean properly.

The Chosun Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo gave pretty spirited defenses of Kim in their editorials today, with the Dong-A essentially asking, “Who’s a bigger patriot? The guy who made something of himself in America and come back to serve the motherland? Or the guy who won’t sing the Korean national anthem and won’t say a thing about the North Korean nuclear test?” Also lots of the usual “it’s a borderless world” stuff, with the Chosun noting that even if he did work for the CIA, so what? Americans want to work for the CIA, and they’re proud to have “adviser for the CIA” on their record.

Fair dinkums, but in its editorial, the Hankyoreh also makes some good points. Sure, it’s a borderless world now, and you can think of several foreigners who have served Korea successfully, including the American guy who served as head of the Korean weather service. Those guys, however, didn’t work for the CIA—and the Hani thinks his activities for the CIA are rather extensive. No matter how close Korea and the US are as allies, their interests don’t always coincide, so you’ve got to have a guy you know will take your side. And yes, the Hani mentioned Jonathan Pollard and Robert Kim, both of whom caused diplomatic headaches even thought the countries they helped were close US allies. Anyway, it’s a rather curious choice for a guy who will be in charge of a key government ministry.

In another piece, the Hani quotes a Myongji professor who notes, quite sensibly IMHO, that naming Kim could cause diplomatic problems with the United States since it’s possible that Kim came into contact with information pertaining to US national security. I’m glad he said that because honestly, I’m not sure how comfortable I am as an American with Kim becoming science minister. As the Dong-A said in its editorial defending Kim, China began its space program by hiring lots of Chinese scientists residing in America, asking them neither about ideology or party affiliation. Which is great if you’re China (or in this case, Korea). Not so cool if you’re America.

Moving story of Jeong H. Kim

If you read Korean, check out the Dong-A Ilbo’s story on Kim Jong-hun, the (until recently) Korean-American president of Bell Labs who has been nominated to become the minster of whatever the hell Park Geun-hye is calling the ministry of science and technology.

Oh, and in case you were considering abandoning your US citizenship:

김 후보자가 미국 국적을 포기할 경우 미국 정부에 막대한 금액의 ‘국적 포기세(稅)’를 내야 한다는 지적도 나온다. 이는 고소득자가 탈세를 목적으로 국적을 포기하는 것을 막기 위해 국적 포기 시점에 모든 재산을 처분한 것으로 간주해 세금을 매기는 제도다. 수천억 원의 재산가로 알려진 그가 미국 국적을 포기하면 1000억 원이 넘는 세금을 내야 할 것으로 추산된다.

Good to know.

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