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Category: Korean Media (page 2 of 21)

So, I take it you were less than pleased with the way you were treated in the United Kingdom?

Somebody at the JoongAng Ilbo was slightly upset at the way the Korean press was treated by British officials during President Park’s visit to Great Britain:

Among the three European countries President Park Geun-hye visited last week – France, Britain and Belgium – Britain was the only country that invited her as a state guest. Only a few foreign leaders are invited as state guests, and they received the best possible treatment from Queen Elizabeth II.

But the splendid welcome afforded to the president was denied to some 70 members of the press accompanying her, including full time Blue House correspondents. Veterans of presidential trips said they had never been treated with such condescending rudeness. It reminded some of the memorable remark made by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young in 1977 that racism must have been invented in Britain.

What follows is a lot of complaining about British security guards, the journalists’ British minders and the security folk at Heathrow Airport.

How much of this is the Brits actually being dicks, how much is simply winging by entitled journalists, and how much is somebody at the newspaper in question having a bad experience, I don’t know.

I did appreciate this part, though:

Journalism is all about timing. Many of us had deadlines approaching back in Seoul. Our editors in Korea needed photos, videos and articles about the pomp and ceremony going on in London. What is the use of being on the scene when you can’t report it?

That’s a good question. And it’s a question that might be better asked, perhaps, of your own government officials and media editors.

Character Assassination & Libel – A Disturbing Trend in Korean News Reporting?

prosecutedMost people have heard the phrase about hammering down the nail that sticks out.

What happens when the offending nail is the chief prosecutor for the nation?

Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook has just now been accused in the leading conservative newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo, of fathering a son, out of wedlock. Why would this be newsworthy, if true? To discredit a prosecutor that has had the temerity to question the role of the NIS in illegally exerting influence in the last presidential election?

Possible but, according to one article in the MK Business News, Prosecutor General Chae is also the man responsible for going after the illegal stash of money that Chun Doo-hwan had hidden away within his family circle:

. . . the prosecution (Chae) armed with the `Act on collecting Chun Doo-hwan’s punitive fine’ and public support ultimately led the Chun family to unveil a plan to pay the remaining fines by intimidating that the Chun family would all be subject to prosecution.
After the related ruling came out in 1997, the task has faced many bumpy roads. The issue of fine collection has resurfaced after Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook took office. (link)

Could this mean that Prosecutor General Chae has been overzealous in his role as chief prosecutor and has made certain old-school power brokers angry by directly threatening their interests?

I certainly can not answer the question,  but it is interesting that Prosecutor Chae has demanded a retraction from the Chosun Ilbo and has announced that he is willing to take a DNA test to prove that he is not the father of the child in question. Chae also is to demand a correction from the Chosun Ilbo for incorrect, if not libelous reporting.

I would ask – though we are still trying to determine who is responsible when a government agency (NIS) interferes in an election, who is responsible when a newspaper decides to discredit a prosecutor who is trying to do his job for the welfare of the nation?


It is now Chief Prosecutor Chae’s turn to embarrass the Chosun Ilbo and maybe, some other unknown member of the current administration:

. . . “We decided to file a lawsuit because the Chosun hasn’t taken any action, even though we asked them on Monday to publish a correction,” said Koo Bon-seon, the spokesman of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office. “To resolve the matter, we decided to take the issue directly to court instead of going through the Press Arbitration Commission.”

. . . The Chosun Ilbo’s Sept. 6 edition mentioned the boy’s certificate of family relationship, his residence address and the specific date that he left Korea for schooling in New York. A later edition claimed that school records named the boy’s father,” two Democratic Party legislators said at a press conference. “That information can’t be obtained without cooperation from government officials. Handing over such information to another person is subject to criminal punishment”. (link)

Considering his personal character and drive, maybe Chae Dong-wook should run for president, in the future.


Chief General Prosecutor Chae has resigned his position stating that he would continue his suit against the Chosun Ilbo:

Today, I am relieving myself of the heavy responsibility of prosecutor general . . . ” (link)

According to Yonhap News:

. . . The resignation came shortly after the justice minister ordered an inspection of the case, saying there was an “urgent need to promote stability of the prosecution office and to reveal the truth as soon as possible.”

It marked the first time that a justice minister has ordered an inspection into the country’s top prosecutor over a scandal involving a personal matter.

Perhaps the justice minister’s unprecedented entrance into this affair was a sign from the highest levels of government that it was time for General Prosecutor Chae to leave.  Though I am not a fan of the Korea Times, their comments on the tactics of the Ministry of Justice is telling:

. . . quite a few Koreans suspect this might be a joint scheme of those in the core of power and the conservative newspaper to drive out this disobedient prosecution head.
The seed for his resignation after just five months in office was sown when he first caused friction with Cheong Wa Dae over the prosecution of state spies who allegedly meddled in elections. Chae pushed ahead with indicting a former head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), in defiance of opposition from justice ministry, for directing NIS agents to conduct a smear campaign against opposition candidates in last year’s presidential election.
When Chae initially pushed back outside pressure by volunteering to take a genetic test and prove the Chosun Ilbo story wrong, the power elite seems to have decided to use the “inspection card,” depriving Chae of his authority and making the prosecution dysfunctional. Otherwise, it is hard to understand why the justice minister couldn’t wait until how the proposed DNA test pans out.
This page, along with most other Koreans, hope these presumptions are wrong, as we don’t want to see the nation’s democracy go back decades ago to when leaders used the state spy agency for political maneuvering. For any faithful news watchers, it was evident that the NIS, to get out of the biggest crisis the state spy agency is in because of unwarranted meddling in domestic politics, has made a series of “revelations,” ranging from the disclosure of the records of the 2007 inter-Korean summit to the latest spy ring accidents involving a leftist lawmaker.
It is also hard not to point out, as one in the same profession, the way the Chosun Ilbo reported this case: the self-imposed most influential paper neither provided any plausible grounds for its allegation nor confirmed its contents before reporting, let alone giving Chae an opportunity for a counterargument, like some irresponsible tabloids.
Two of the biggest victims of this third-rate drama will be the mother and son, whose private lives have been brutally exposed to the public gaze. It is another sad reminder of how the institutions of political power, including arrogant media outlets, can trample on basic rights of powerless individuals to pursue quiet lives ― and the urgent need to reform these agencies by the people’s power. (link)


Now President Park has refused to accept the resignation of Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook, a senior official said Sunday:

 . . . “The resignation has not been accepted,” senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun told reporters. “Revealing the true should come first.” . . . A presidential aide also said that Chae’s case is not about the prosecution’s independence, but about ethics of a public official. (link)

The presidential aide completely missed the point of this issue, which is not about the PG’s ethics or independence – which were never in question before he investigated the NIS – but why has this libel been printed in a major newspaper with ties to the Saenuri Dang, at this very time?

The deputy chief of the internal inspectors’ office, Kim Yun-sang, also resigned Saturday in protest of the justice minister’s order that an outside prosecutor be named to investigate Chae.  The Deputy Chief is also quoted as criticizing the Minister:

. . . He is a bad leader who has completely failed to fight against political influences, and who failed to protect the chief of the senior investigations agency. It is also insane that the ministry didn’t consider using the prosecution’s own inspection headquarters for this work. I heard about the investigation from the news media, not from the ministry or from the prosecution organization. Such a process is unacceptable and doesn’t usually occur. (link)

 This is still unfolding and will be interesting to see just how the President plays this issue now since too many people are not going to let this issue and the NIS affair die quietly.

Korean Football Team gets an education on how (not) to use the SNS

As a result of a recent palaver following the footballer 기성용 Ki Sungyong slagging off the former national team manager 최강희(Choi Kanghee) on his twitter, South Korean National Men’s Football team (a.k.a Team Hong Myungbo 홍명보호) is to receive a special lesson on how to keep their big SNS gobs shut.

National Men’s Football Team Coach Hong Myungbo – 출처:스포츠동아DB .

Hong Myungbo, Mr.Charisma himself, who was recently appointed as 감독 Manager to direct the national team, is having none of the monkeying-around by Ki. Although Ki himself has mentioned Hong with much respect and awe during multiple previous occasions, Hong in turn, silenced the possibility of showing a soft-spot for Ki by saying :

홍명보 감독은 기성용에게 “대표팀 감독이 아니라 축구 선배로서 (말하자면)앞으로 바깥세상과 소통하기보다는 부족한 내면의 세계를 넓혀 갔으면 한다”며 “협회의 경고조치를 가볍게 생각해서는 안 될 것이다. 축구에서 옐로카드가 어떤 의미를 주는지에 대해 잘 생각해야 할 것이다. 앞으로 주의 깊게 관찰하겠다”고 말했다.
As a 축구선배 (Football sunbae/senior) and not as a national team manager, I would advise him(Ki) to make an effort to widen/teach his inner self which is very much lacking (in various qualities) rather than to worry about communicating with the outside world. He should not take the Football Commission’s warning lightly, and instead think about the meaning of a yellow card during a football game. I will keep a close eye on him.”

Who knows? Marrying a 누나 might calm him down a bit in the future – here he is marrying the lovely actress Han Hyejin.
I would also say that a lesson in SNS might not be a bad idea for a lot of people. Or just any sort of anger-management. Or a help-line one can call before pressing that “publish” or “tweet” button.

Chosun Ilbo on pro-North Koreans, Roh Moo-hyun and anything other than the NIS scandal

So, I click on over to Ye Olde Chosun, and what do I see on the front page?

Why, an analysis piece taking an in-depth look at pro-North Koreans. Well, at least one pro-North Korea, anyway, a guy who ran a pro-North Korean website. Suffice it to say the guy was a bit odd, and if I were forced to guess, I’d say perhaps a bit unstable.

This article was sparked by news of another pro-North Korea who just earned himself a year and a half in the sin bin for praising North Korea. Well, not just praising North Korea, but praising North Korea is balls-out fashion—he’s shouted “Long Live the Great DPRK!” and other pro-North Korean statements at four straight hearings since 2011, earning himself extra charges every time.

The Chosun—or at least its TV channel—also used the North Korean UN ambassador’s call for the dissolving of the UN Command to look back on—you guessed it—late President Roh Moo-hyun’s views on USFK. Not quite sure why they felt compelled to do that, other than perhaps with Saenuri Party lawmakers leaking confidential statements made by Roh during his summit with late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Roh-bashing has become the order of the day.

Mind you, I find the leaks interesting, if for no other reason that—assuming for the moment that the leaks are true—-they make Roh look even more craven than I thought he was. Still, it seems fairly obvious this is the shiny object conservatives are shaking around to distract attention from the NIS scandal, which I think is much more important.

Oh, and the leaking of the notes from the summit may have been illegal, depending on how the notes are categorized. The Democratic Party has filed a complaint against not only the lawmakers who announced the notes, but also against the NIS director and vice-director who let them read said notes. At any rate, the Saenuri Party is calling for a parliamentary investigation into the NLL issue. The head of the Democratic Party, meanwhile, is calling for a parliamentary investigation into the NIS trolling scandal, and honestly, I’ve got to agree with them—it’s a very, very dangerous thing for the intelligence service to intervene in domestic politics and the public deserves answers.

For comparison’s sake, I’ve posted the screenshots of the online editions of the Chosun Ilbo and Hankyoreh:

스크린샷, 2013-06-24 13:22:24

스크린샷, 2013-06-24 13:23:08

Oldboy: A Spike Lee Joint

They did it.  They finally “remade” Park Chan-wook’s OldBoy.  Looks like they have been in post production for awhile.  Here are a few posters courtesy of “Oh No They Didn’t” blog.

Oh, no they didn’t indeed.  Release date is October 25th.  Here is more info at the IMDB.

What? You mean having consensual sex with a Korean woman is NOT a sex crime?

Matt over at Gusts of Popular Feeling has been all over the JoongAng Ilbo and its TV station for some articles and a TV program on foreign crime.

I’m going to link to his most recent post, but it’s got the rest of the series linked at the top.

BTW, dear readers, don’t try this at home:

I’d also like to say Solbi‘s role in all this, while regrettable, is easily forgiven because she’s hot. She doesn’t look like Jessica Alba, though, unless by Jessica Alba, you mean “charmingly plump Korean girl with a great rack,” in which case yes, she looks exactly like Jessica Alba.

Flavor of the month – You Are Fired

unapproved-tiesDonald trump may be a schmoe but sometimes people need to be fired, thus the Foundation of Broadcast Culture (FBC) that controls MBC, after so much protesting last year, finally fired MBC President Kim Jae-chul.

Kim’s dismissal comes after one of the largest protests over media independence this last year, when hundreds of media workers walked out in protest of heavy-handed media influence by Kim and others, who sought to control how the former government was portrayed in media:

Editorial employees of Munhwa Broadcasting Corp., or MBC, walked out Jan. 30 and were followed by journalists at the Korea Broadcasting System, or KBS, the news-only cable channel YTN, and the publicly funded news agency Yonhap. All voiced the same demands: editorial independence and the resignation of pro-government corporate presidents.
Although workers at KBS, a public broadcasting company, and Yonhap ended their strike recently, the battle continues at MBC, another public broadcaster, and at YTN, a private company whose major stockholders are government-related agencies. The strike at MBC has become the longest in company history.
President Lee Myung-bak appointed close associates to the top positions at public broadcast companies and news agencies after he took office in 2008. Kim In-kyu, a media advisor in Lee’s election campaign, became chief executive of the KBS network. Kim Jae-chul, a reporter who allegedly was close to Lee, took over at MBC.
Strikers say that major investigative programs were canceled and news stories criticizing the government were dropped or banned from the air. (cite)

Censorship has had a long and storied history in South Korea and is still a problem with many in the entertainment industry who must deal with having their music videos and work vetted first before being put out on the internet. The Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB) is another example of heavy-handed and failed meddling in the fields of entertainment and commerce.  After the infamous “Sea Story” incident, the Game Rating Board (게임물등급위원회) was created but began indulging in a list of stupid pranks that basically help shut down smaller and independent game developers in Korea (cite).
Per Yang Hyun Suk of YG Entertainment:

In the early 90′s, we were often censored for coloring our hair back when I was promoting with Seotaiji & Boys. This new policy implemented by the Korea Media Rating Board reminds me of those days. I experienced ‘mental collapse’ after hearing the news. . .  Psy‘s fresh and humorous “Gangnam Style” MV is going viral all over the world, but if this new policy gets implemented, we are going to have to think twice before we produce this kind of project again.” (cite)

The MBC labor union accused former CEO Kim of “interfering with fair and balanced news coverage and pushing favorable reporting of the former Lee Myung-bak administration”.  Their strike lasted 170 days – the longest ever – ending last July.

South Korea to get medieval on North’s ass: Dong-A Ilbo

OK, the Dong-A Ilbo didn’t say that exactly, but they got downright North Korea-esque in their headline, “Self-propelled artillery to belch fire if North launches provocation… command posts to be turned to ash by jet fighters.”

To sum up, if North Korea uses its coastal guns to attack somewhere like Baengnyeongdo, they’re gonna get a hurtin’. The South Koreans will first use their 20 K-9 pieces on Yeongpyeongdo and Baengnyeongdo, 130mm Multiple Rocket Launchers and 155mm towed artillery to rain fire on the offending artillery unit.

If North Korea persists, South Korea would commence the second stage of its retaliations by going after support and command units. ROKAF F-15s and F-16s would launch surgical strikes against command units in the rear such as the headquarters of the KPA 4th Corps, while the ROK Navy would put destroyers in the West Sea to guard against further provocations.

The ROK military is also ready for attempts by the North Koreans to land special forces on the West Sea islands in a bid to occupy them. The ROK military believes the North has plans to use air-cushioned vehicles to take over the islands within 30 minutes of crossing the NLL. South Korea has got Cobra gunships on Baengnyeongdo for just such an occasion.

A high-ranking military official told the Dong-A that it has more the quadrupled the amount of firepower its got on the West Sea islands and rewritten the rules of engagement since the Yeonpyeongdo incident. This time, the South would get proper vengeance if the North launches a provocation. Military experts, however, say it’s difficult to say who’s on top in the West Sea, with the North ahead quantitatively but the South ahead qualitatively.

And on a related note… hey, G’Na! Get off those flags!

I take it the Chosun Ilbo’s Washington correspondent dislikes pot legalization

Or so the conclusion of his latest column would seem to suggest:

But pushing “drug legalization” because of money problems cannot be a desirable direction. Even major US media say the loosening of regulations on “evil industries” like drugs and gambling is a dark aspect of American society. If you open the gate on marijuana, there’s no reason to believe there won’t be calls to permit even more addictive drugs. If one sees how there is already a study that says if the United States legalizes all drugs, it could raise an extra US$43 billion a year, this cannot be regarded as simple alarmism.

You know, guys, I think she was kidding

I have no idea how Ye Olde Chosun even picked up this story in The Reader, but me thinks—their caveat notwithstanding—they might have taken it a bit too seriously.

Daniel Tudor interview and an excerpt from his book

Back in December I did an interview with Daniel Tudor for Haps. He being the author of Korea: The Impossible Country as well a correspondent covering the peninsula for The Economist and Newsweek. The print version of the piece has been out for a month, but have just gotten around to posting it online.

Along with the interview, Haps has an extended (and quite interesting) excerpt on Shamanism in Korea, from the book.

Tudor, who I found to be frank and engaging in his responses, gave some insight into the book’s “impossible” title –which partially grew out of an interview with a former Park Chung-hee aid who said, “Korea was the poorest, most impossible country on the planet.”

“I love living here, but often, I feel thankful that I’m not part of this society’s rat race,” said Tudor, before segueing into the dual meaning of his book’s title. “I think that this society makes life ‘impossible’ for its citizens in some way, by setting up impossible ideals to live up to, and forcing people to accept a very narrow definition of what ‘success’ can be.”

I know he has caught some flak here on The Hole of late, but his book is well worth a read. You can check out the rest of the interview here.

I did like his quote on the drawbacks of being a foreign reporter here:

“On the downside, people don’t like to be so outspoken here, so that often leads to boring interviews. And if you criticize someone, they are liable to go ape on you. There’s a little over-sensitivity, especially where the foreign press is involved.”

The MH comments section would never go ape though, right?

An unholy home of incest

There are a lot of abandoned children out there and it is good to see that some of them find good and loving foster homes – but this one wasn’t.  According to the Korea Times (November 7, 2012):

A 16-year-old has been raised at the home of a 60-year-old Hwang since her parents divorced at three. Her mother was friends with Hwang’s wife and fostered her. The girl grew up calling Hwang’s wife “mother.”

Hwang took in an additional five to six children under his care and his home was actually designated as a child care center in 2007. He placed the girl on his official register and received 150,000 won ($130) a month. She called him “father” and his 32-year-old son “brother.”

In 2006, Hwang assaulted the girl, then aged just 10, sexually when his wife was out of the house. This continued through the following years.

Hard to believe but it gets worse:

Then in 2009, the son accused her of watching pornography and assaulted her sexually as well. In 2010 and 2011, the son took advantage of the girl in a truck that he drove on three occasions.

Fortunately the father (who had been charged without detention) and the son (has been arrested and charged for rape) will apparently be punished but what is especially shocking about this case is:

Prosecutors said there was strangely no evidence of pedophilia in the case.

Kind of makes you wonder about this.

Herald vying for the Pulitzer?

In a stellar piece of investigative reporting, the Korea Herald today ran the headline: “U.S. Accused of Apple Protectionism.”

The story deftly rehashes the rehashed, revisits the well-visited and, about halfway down, relieves reader suspense by identifying the accuser of U.S. wrong-doing as “a local industry insider.”

And what did the anonymous and no doubt well-placedlocal industry insider” have to say in his or her one and only quote that this fine piece of journalism was meticulously constructed around?

“It just seems like it will be impossible for Samsung to win a case on Apple’s home turf. I would say they are way too protective of its top tech firm for sure.”

That’s solid and I’m sold.

What happens when you mix white boys and K-pop?

You get this disaster.  Wow, it sounds like what pouring spaghetti sauce over japchae would taste like.

The lead singer here is Chad Future, a.k.a. Detroit native David Lehre.  Listen, I like K-pop as much as the next guy, and I also like tastefully done fusion of ideas, art, food and culture, but I just don’t know what to call Chad’s attempt to “fuse” K-pop other than bad.  Real bad.  It’s like cooked sashimi, a white girl calling me “oppah,” or chemically fermented and nasty “kimuchi.”

Perhaps some things shouldn’t be attempted, like a sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” remake of Oldboy, a Nixon second term, etc.  We should be left with the positive impressions of the originals and not have the bad taste in one’s mouth of the attempted repeats.  A frame by frame and beat by beat overlay of K-pop with white people just ain’t gonna hunt.

Don’t believe the 하이프

Some of you might remember all the media hype about the Cia Cia tribe, a group of 80,000 on the remote Indonesian island of Bau-bau, officially adopting Hangeul as their native script.

Well, that was a load of phooey.

The Hangeul adoption program, which was announced in 2008 was apparently never even asked for.

“Mayor Tamim (of the Cia Cia) only mentioned that official discussions have begun and he was consulting with the central government over the adoption of Hangeul in a media interview,” he said. “However, the media wrongfully translated his remark as if he had received formal acknowledgement from the government.”

The program, which was initially launched through the private funding of the Hunminjeongeum Society, ended up amounting to “a total of 37 hours to some 50 fourth graders last year at an elementary school in Bau-bau and now it is being taught to some 190 students in two schools,” says the KT

They also say that:

…a host of media outlets ran stories claiming that Bau-bau Mayor Amirul Tamim said the Indonesian government had finally authorized the adoption of Hangeul as the tribe’s official alphabet to preserve their dying language.

Reminiscent of the Jeju being one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World story this time last year, Korea’s media seems to have let national pride obscure their journalistic goggles.

Or maybe it was simply a case of there being a junior translator/fact checker at the copy desk that day?

“Mayor Tamim only mentioned that official discussions have begun and he was consulting with the central government over the adoption of Hangeul in a media interview,” he said. “However, the media wrongfully translated his remark as if he had received formal acknowledgement from the government.”

I am sympathetic to translation discrepancies, there are no doubt few if any Cia Cia in Korea to check the translation, but for at least several years it went unchecked or followed up on and was sold as part of the national brand without question.

With more spot on reporting, a similar piece in Ye Ole Chosun today says that the Cia Cia have a spoken language absent of a written format and that Hangeul was to be there go-to script.

Not so counters the KT article — Cia Cia law specifically states that when in Bau-bau, do as the Romans.

Professor Chun, who first proposed the idea of adopting the Korean alphabet to the Bau-bau mayor in 2007, claims that the official adoption of Hangeul by Cia Cia will be unlikely to happen as Indonesia’s Basic Law stipulates that all tribal languages should be preserved in Roman characters for national unity.

The KT also points out that, “Not only the Korean press but also foreign news media showed interest in Korea ‘officially exporting’ its 564-year-old writing system.”

The KT does not however, mention that they too were spun by the story.

But hey, if we extrapolate the KT numbers over of the life of the program, Hangeul did manage to reach 1.5 percent of the Cia Cia population. That’s at least worth a two or three day run in the news cycle right? Ahhh, the venerable Fourth Estate.

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