The Marmot's Hole

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Category: Ministry of Barbarian Affairs (page 1 of 43)

Ladies, be careful of foreign guys offering you drinks: Dong-A Ilbo

The Dong-A Ilbo warns ladies to be careful of foreigners offering you drinks.

In May, a young man by the name of Kim got a urgent Kakao Talk from a female acquaintance of his who’d gone to a club in Yongsan. She was passing out and worried something might happen to her. He went to the club, found her passed out and surrounded by two foreigners, and rescued her. The next day, she told him that the foreigners gave her something to drink which had apparently been spiked.

She was rescued, but the Dong-A reports that there are women, defenseless against foreigners will ill-intent, who have been sexually assaulted. For instance, on Sept. 10, a 20-year-old woman was sitting at a Gangnam club with two foreign guys and a Korean guy. They gave her a drink which they’d spiked with sleeping pills. They brought her to a nearby motel, where they began filming parts of her anatomy with a cellphone. When she protested, they beat her. After a two week investigation, the cops arrested three guys for sexual assault, including a French guy and some model.

The Dong-A warns that there’s been a string of cases of foreigners sexually assaulting young women at clubs. What these assaults have in common, says the paper, is that the perps think Korean girls are easy, and they make ill use of Korean girls’ expectations about meeting an exotic stranger.

The reporter went to a Gangnam club on Oct. 8 and saw—and no, I’m not shitting you, this is what he wrote—some foreign guys constantly checking out the bodies of Korean girls or directly going up to girls, putting their arms around them and talking to them. One white American guy in his 30s apparently told the reporter that his friends say it’s easy to make a Korean girl your girlfriend, and if a foreigner sexually assaults a girl, it’s because there’s a widespread feeling that Korean girls are easy. Foreigners who might mistakenly believe they are sexually superior use the vague expectations some women might have about foreigners to satisfy their sexual desires. Some police science professor at Konkuk University told the Dong-A that women who, seeing the foreigners who appear in overseas movies, develop romantic ideas about foreigners or a curiosity in the exotic, may let their guard down easy, putting them in great danger of being sexually assaulted.

Ahem.

That it’s relatively difficult for cops to find foreign criminals is also a factor, says the Dong-A. One club manager told the paper that some particularly wicked foreigners who bring drugs in think that if they get caught, they can just run back to their home countries. Police say it’s hard to track down foreign sex criminals since it’s difficult to find where they live and they often use rental phones. A police official said since it’s hard to manage foreigners’ personal information, foreign criminals are sometimes ID’d only after they’ve fled back home. He said the police need a systemic management system and hire more foreign affairs guys who can handle foreign criminals.

The perils of intercultural communication… in the KBO

As I said on my Facebook page, I don’t blame the ump at all for this. It’s one thing to get yelled at by a foreigner in a foreign language. It’s another to get yelled at by a foreigner in a foreign language for a pitch that’s clearly high and inside.

Charlie Shirek isn’t the only one experiencing communication issues in the KBO. Former MLBer Luke Scott was cut from his team last month for yelling at his manager. Well, for yelling at his manager and, one suspects, for putting up disappointing numbers. As Deadspin notes, though, Scott’s case might not be about cultural or linguistic misunderstandings at all:

The report’s “insiders” chalk things up to cultural differences, though no one’s actually on record as saying that. But why would there be any cultural confusion here? Luke Scott speaks fluent dick, and dick is a universal language.

Of course, Scott is a special sort of guy.

Quincy Black gets 2 years, 6 months in the can / blogging vacation over

Seoul Central District Court handed former American English teacher and would-be porn star Quincy Black (stage name, I’m assuming) a two year, six month prison sentence on July 18.

Coming to Korea in 2009 to teach English, Mr. Black brought a 15-year-old girl (that’s 15 Korean age, meaning she was actually 14) he met on a chatting site in 2010 back to his place and had sex with her, recording the experience with three previously installed cameras and one hand-held camera.

He later did the same to a woman in her 30s.

In its ruling the court said Black’s crime was very bad—the victim was a minor and the offender was a native speaking teacher tasked with teaching English to elementary school students who forgot his duty to foster good sexual values in children and youth and to protect and lead.

The bench also noted the victims had suffered considerable psychological distress due to the release of the videos—the minor left for abroad after experiencing difficulties in her daily life, while the adult victim had yet to forgive Mr. Black.

The court did lessen his sentence, though, taking into consideration the fact that he’d deposited some KRW 9 million for the victims and had no criminal record during his stay in Korea.

Mr. Black will be deported after his prison sentence is up.

ABOUT MY PERSONAL LACK OF BLOGGING…

As a friend recently pointed out to me, it’s been something like a month since I’ve posted anything of substance here.

I apologize for that, but to be perfectly honest, I needed a break.

I’ve been maintaining this blog since 2003, and rest assured, I have no intention of shutting it down anytime soon. I enjoy doing it, and I’m very grateful to the readers, commenters and especially the co-bloggers who have made this little piece of cyberspace into something moderately entertaining at times and, on rare occasions, even mildly informative.

That said, it does feel like work at times, and like with work, you sometimes need a vacation to recharge. This is doubly so when your actual work-work includes being the editor-in-chief of two magazines, translating one book and writing another. Simultaneously.

It’s also no secret that I’ve been spending a considerable amount of effort on my photoblog, where I’ve been in the midst of a 365 project.

Anyway, I’m rested and ready now, so back to blogging I go.

I want to thank once again my co-bloggers for keeping the ship afloat (probably a bad analogy, considering recent events) while I went on an unannounced vacation. WIthout your help, this blog would have died long ago.

Multicultural masterplan, pub racism, DPRK keeps it classy

The Seoul Shinmun reports that Seoul is now home to 400,000 foreigners (one out of 25 residents!), and to deal with the diversity, the city has announced a five-year “Multicultural Values Seoul Masterplan.”

The masterplan has four objectives: spreading human rights, cultural diversity, shared growth and bolstering the capabilities of foreign residents.

Anyway, some city official told the paper, “We prepared the masterplan to help foreigners from the position of our parents’ generation, who boarded planes to the United States with nothing but their bare hands for the American Dream… We will do our best to make Seoul an advanced multicultural city where we all live well together.”

Seoul might want to send a memo to local bar and club owners. According to a report in the JoongAng Daily, racism is pretty rampant in the Korean nightlife scene. To be fair, though, according to at least one bar manager, foreigners are bad and really deserve to be banned:

The fingerprint verification, the manager told the Korean reporter, is “just another way of turning foreigners away.

“It is discrimination,” admitted the manager, who said the ban came into effect after “too many incidents of rowdy foreigners who start fights and sexually harass women.”

Part of the reason the bar is cautious is because “foreigners won’t be punished by local law,” the owner said.

Speaking of rowdy foreigners, a US serviceman died recently after a street fight—with another serviceman—outside a Hongdae club:

Outside the club, which is popular among men and women serving in the U.S. military stationed here, the 20-year-old Lissone was knocked unconscious during a fight with another U.S. serviceman, according to a government source familiar with the situation.

Although Lissone was bleeding from his nose and ears, the three men brought him not to a nearby hospital but to a motel in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, near Camp Humphreys, where they are stationed.

Lissone was then taken to Good Morning Hospital in Pyeongtaek, where he was pronounced dead.

Anyway, back to the clubs. If there are any Korean club owners reading this, here’s a tip: while banning round-eye and darkie from your clubs may be both legal and perhaps even socially acceptable in Korea, you’ll want to avoid carrying this practice over should you expand your business to the United States.

One place you can be absolutely sure is OK with keeping foreigners out of the clubs, though, is North Korea. Last week, the KCNA let fly with some truly spectacular racial invective aimed at President Obama, likening the US leader to a “wicked black monkey”:

“How Obama looks like makes me disgusted,” Kang Hyuk, a worker at the Chollima Ironworks Factory said when translated into English.

“As I watch him more closely, I realize that he looks like an African native monkey with a black face, gaunt grey eyes, cavate nostrils, plumb mouth and hairy rough ears.

“He acts just like a monkey with a red bum irrationally eating everything – not only from the floor but also from trees here and there…Africa’s national zoo will be the perfect place for Obama to live with licking bread crumbs thrown by visitors,” Kang concluded.

On a positive note, between the Koreans and the racism, at least Donald Sterling could consider moving the Clippers to Pyongyang if the NBA tries to force him to sell the team.

Lex-i-con

I don’t usually blog personal stuff, but…

As some readers may already know, Lex Boutilier—a long-time Korea resident and a friend of mine—was recently killed in a motorcycle accident in Seoul, leaving behind a wife and two young children.

In order to celebrate Lex’s life and raise funds for his family, his friends are hosting Lex-i-con, a two-part event to be held at Divine in Itaewon on Saturday. The first part, to be held 1PM to 4PM, is an indoor fair featuring a bake sale, 80s trivia contest and a geeky rarities auction. The second part starts at 8PM, and features an interactive showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed by live music.

The event is free, but donations are highly encouraged.

If you knew Lex, please, come on down. Even if you didn’t have the fortune of knowing him, you’d me more than welcome.

Canadian accused of sex with minor in Cambodia may have molested minors in Korea, too: report

Remember how we mentioned a long-time expat here recently got busted in Cambodia for allegedly paying a 14-year-old boy for sex?

Well, according to John Power in Groove, this story might be worse. Much worse:

A former native English teacher in Korea currently facing charges of paying a 14-year-old boy for sex in Cambodia was previously arrested in Seoul on suspicion of fondling a boy and had a history of sexual activity with minors, according to former friends and a recorded conversation.

If the allegations made in the report are true, it would mean a lot of folk really dropped the ball here, including the cops (“I overheard cops laughing about who was going to have to talk with the foreigner”) and possibly the foreign community of Haebangchon:

Savoy added that the allegations against V**** were widely known among foreigners in Haebangchon.

“People talked indignantly but did nothing. I’m excluding a few people from this, including myself as well as anyone else who actually reacted towards a solution, but the general response seemed to be that the shock was public property while justice was an unrelated taboo,” he said in an email.

Why would justice be such a “taboo” in this case?

Hey, no rush. Whenever you get around to it.

Are you an expat with a Korean credit card? You may want to be concerned:

Financial regulators as well as credit card firms and their parent banks have not provided any services for foreign credit card holders to check whether their data was leaked, nor have they offered compensation packages.
[...]
“We haven’t yet been informed of cases involving foreigners whose personal data was leaked,” an official from the FSS said. “But that doesn’t mean that foreign residents’ personal information was not stolen.”

An FSS official went on record saying he thinks data from all the foreign card holders was leaked. Great.

So what measures have been taken to alert foreign card holders? Nada:

He admitted that the current measures focus on Koreans, as they did not have enough time to take care of foreigners.

I’m hoping something got lost in translation there.

Anyway, as Benjamin Wagner tweeted:

So, why ARE foreign academics running away?

Foreign academics don’t seem to be enjoying their stay in Korea, and the Chosun Ilbo asks why:

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, which opened just 20 years ago, is ranked top among Asian universities because of its bold initiative to fill 80 percent of faculty seats with foreign staff from 30 different countries. The prestigious University of Vienna is required by law to fill two-thirds of its faculty with foreign academics.

If Korean universities are to become genuinely competitive on a global level, they need to open their doors further. They need to take a close look at why foreign professors are leaving and work with the government to prevent it.

The Chosun cites the inability of many Korean universities to afford bringing over the academics’ families and the ostracization of foreign staff at meetings, which are usually conducted in Korean. Students shun foreign staff, too, even if the professor is a Nobel laureate:

The biggest obstacle is a campus environment where communicating in a foreign language is extremely difficult. Even master’s and doctoral candidates shun the lectures of foreign faculty, making it tough for many of them to set up their own research teams. Only 21 students applied for the macroeconomics course Sargent offered when it was open to 250.

Mind you, there are quite a few Korean PhDs who seem to think Korean universities have too many foreign professors already, or at least that foreigners get hired too easily. Korean professors, meanwhile, have been complaining for some time that they aren’t treated as equals, although I don’t know if conditions have improved in recent years. As the link before last also reports, many foreign professors are hired on a contract basis as a cost-saving measure and are replaced every couple of years.

The language issue aside, I wonder if perhaps Korea’s academic environment might also discourage foreign professors from staying—see the trouble at KAIST two years ago.

Homeless foreigners? Seriously?

The JoongAng Ilbo reports that Seoul had got homeless foreigners, and figuring out what to do with them is a bit of a headache.

According to the piece, there are about 60 homeless foreigners in four shelters in Seoul, and probably more roaming the streets.

Fun fact: Foreigners are apparently not allowed to make use of government-run homeless shelters:

“When government-run homeless shelters take in Koreans, they receive government subsidies, but there is no money earmarked for foreigners,” said Kim Hae-sung, director of the Global Village of Love-Sharing.

An official from the Ministry of Health and Welfare admitted that foreigners were excluded from standard homeless shelters. “We have enough trouble supporting the Koreans,” he said. “It is hard to pay attention to the foreigners.”

Somebody clearly didn’t get Joseph Carens’ memo.

The Justice Ministry claims that it can’t simply deport homeless foreigners if they’ve got legal visas. I’m not sure why that is, and it seems to me it would benefit everyone involved if the ministry just rounded these folk up and put them on a plane back home so that their families, friends and—more to the point—taxpaying countrymen can take care of them.

Well, anyway, we are warned if Korea doesn’t do something about this, it could become yet another social issue:

“If we do nothing about homeless foreigners now, they can grow into a new social problem,” said Kim Young-ran, professor of social psychology at the Sookmyung Women’s University. “We need to create a system to protect them at the existing welfare centers for the homeless.”

This story does bring back memories, though. I remember when I first moved up to Seoul there was this homeless Westerner who used to live outside on the hill overlooking Noksapyeong Station. Used to wear a hanbok top. Lovely gent, I recall, but clearly a bit down on his luck. I believe he has since returned to his homeland.

Thailand reportedly has a foreigner—well, Westerner—homeless problem, too, albeit much worse. Alcohol and bad business decisions (often linked to bad romantic decisions) seem to play a major part in the Thailand case.

Racism!

If you’re the sort who enjoys racial flame wars, I bring you:

– “Racism paints K-pop into corner” in the Korea Times. I found Tiger JKs contribution to the discussion interesting, because it’s not like he hasn’t had to deal with accusations of racism before (albeit directed at melanin deficient people, which I suppose makes it OK in this day and age).

– Katy Perry. Jesus. Anyway, Tao Jones has a good post on why this was wrong on several levels at the WSJ, with a shot at Samsung as an added bonus:

As part of a marketing partnership, the AMAs and Samsung Mobile tweeted this exclusive picture of Katy Perry backstage, prior to her geisha-a-go-go performance, scrawled with the line “I THINK I’M TURNING AMA” — a reference to the British band The Vapors’ 1980 song “Turning Japanese.” Do the AMAs and Samsung not realize that some people view the subject of that song as a racist metaphor for masturbation?

Wait? You mean some folk might be offended by the monkey ad campaign?

UPDATE: So, a Brit firm was involved with this (HT to Pawi)?

He stressed that foreign experts were involved in the designing of the package, including graphic artist Papaboule, and designers from (Marmot’s addition: the ironically named) Korean fashion magazine Cracker Your Wardrobe.

One wonders what Papaboule’s contribution to this was, if any. I suppose it should be easy enough to find out.

ORIGINAL POST: Yes, I’m posting this a bit late, but still, it’s nice that KT&G has decided to pull its ad for its new “This Africa” cigarettes.

I suppose KT&G deserve kudos for debuting a product that uses a “African traditional method” of smoke drying the tobacco, but the accompanying ad campaign could have been better thought through:

The KT&G ads featuring a monkey dressed as a human were launched a month ago to promote the brand’s new “This Africa” cigarettes, according to the Agence France-Presse. The ads to promote cigarettes dried and roasted in “traditional” African style showed monkeys dressed as humans, tagged with the slogan “Africa is coming!”

The monkey news anchor was a classy touch, too.

Mind you, KT&G says it didn’t actually intend to be racist:

KT&G responded that the controversy was “regrettable” and that ads would be pulled this month to “dispel concerns of racism.”

“We absolutely had no intention to offend anyone and only chose monkeys because they are delightful animals that remind people of Africa,” said a spokesman for the company.

I’m guessing they really didn’t mean to offend, but like I said, I’d like to know a) who did the ad, and b) did they focus group it, and c) who sat in the focus group. I suspect if it was focus grouped, it was to groups composed entirely of Koreans. Which is fine, especially given the market and Korea’s demographics, but may on rare occasions produce results that make your company look like a bunch of knuckle-dragging racists on the BBC.

Interestingly enough, KT&G isn’t changing the artwork on the packs, which, it could be argued, is even more offensive than the ad campaign. At the WaPo, Max Fisher links this incident with Korea’s complex racial issues:

The whole incident is a reminder of how complicated racial issues can be in South Korea. Korean society has long defined itself by its race; scholars such as B.R. Myers have written about Korea’s view of its own national-racial identity as unique, something that shows up in both the North and South. Metrics of racial tolerance tend to rate the country poorly. As in much of East Asia, those attitudes seem particularly likely to manifest with regard to sub-Saharan Africans.

Immigration to the country can be difficult and is rare, relative to other countries of comparable wealth. Last year, in a story on how rising immigration from Southeast Asia was challenging racial attitudes in South Korea, the New York Times noted, “Only a decade ago, school textbooks still urged South Koreans to take pride in being of ‘one blood’ and ethnically homogeneous.” In some ways, then, this controversy – and the company’s response – are a reminder of South Korea’s sometimes difficult racial politics.

Mr. Fisher’s commenters seem to take exception.

I don’t know. I don’t think anybody will disagree that Korean attitudes about race can be a bit rough around the edges, or that Korea’s immigrant population is relatively small compared to that of the West (whether that last point reflects poorly on Korea or the West is a separate matter). That said, I do think this was more a case of PC insensitivity than intentional racism. I have a hard time believing KT&G intentionally set out to compare Africans to apes. I can fully believe, however, that at no time during the making of that ad campaign did anyone raise their hand and say “Africans+monkeys=RED FLAG! RED FLAG!”

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.

Ok, now I think it’s fake

Right now, I’m sitting with J. Scott Burgeson, who has just showed me what appears to be two additional takes of THE video. The dialogue is different, and in one take the girl appears to break character and smile.

The videos were sent to Scott on condition that they not be published online.

Now I think the videos are fake.

UPDATE: Max Fisher has apparently seen the proof, too:

Check out @Max_Fisher’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/Max_Fisher/status/360391119407816704

Quote from Scott: “And the moral of this story is: When it comes to the Korean entertainment industry, if you swim in shit, you’re going to get stinky.”

UPDATE 2: Max Fisher has added a new post on his blog.

Public Statement to Max Fisher regarding video

Author J. Scott Burgeson has released a public statement regarding Max Fisher’s Washington Post blog post “Korea’s Web community roiled by shocking video of Western men tormenting a local woman“:

Public Statement to Max Fisher

By J. Scott Burgeson in Seoul

Last night, Tuesday July 23rd, I along with Matt VanVolkenburg of the respected blog Gusts of Popular Feeling met and spoke at length with a 29-year-old citizen of a European Union nation who claims to be one of the two male actors in the video “White Guys mock Korean girl at the club [Kor Sub],” which was uploaded to YouTube on June 8th, 2013 and subsequently went viral around the world. Both Matt and I have full knowledge of this individual’s identity and real name, which was visually verified by his South Korean Alien Registration Card, and were shown enough credible evidence to suggest that Max Fisher’s Washington Post story from July 15th, 2013 (“Korea’s Web community roiled by shocking video of Western men tormenting a local woman”) warrants a retraction if he cannot authenticate or verify that the video is nonfictional, as he maintains in his online article.

Here are the facts according to this individual, whom I shall refer to as “Mr. P” for convenience. In late January or early February of 2011, he and his roommate were offered W100,000 each to act in a video directed by a young Korean filmmaker along with one male Korean assistant, who were also joined by one female Korean translator. The concept was, in Mr. P’s understanding, to make a series of video shorts with a horror-comedy theme, not a full-length horror movie as has been reported recently in other media outlets. The shoot took place at the It’aewon bar Bedlam and lasted between two to three hours, finishing around midnight on a weekday night, and seven takes were done in all. Mr. P is the main Western actor seen in the video, while his roommate held the director’s iPhone and recorded the action. Beers and a bottle of tequila were bought by the director and consumed in large quantities by Mr. P and the young Korean woman who appears in the video. At the end of the shoot, Mr. P and the woman shook hands amicably as they took leave of each other’s company. He told her, “Good job!” and she replied, “Annyong!” or “Bye!” with a genuine smile. In his words, “I’m disappointed about what’s happened, but I’m not sad about it because this was just an acting piece. I was doing an acting job – there was no ‘sexual harassment’ involved while shooting the video, and no one was hurt.”

Mr. P’s motivation in speaking to us is simple: In the past week, since Max Fisher’s story was first published, he’s been under great personal strain and, moreover, is worried that he could lose his job here in Korea and even be deported, which is a legitimate concern in our view considering that his profile appears in the video, his voice in it has already been recognized by friends, and his name could soon be leaked and made public by either members of the media or Facebook users. As he told us, “My head’s been messed up this past week. I’ve been walking into work worrying I’m going to get sacked. I’m just really fed up with this.”

For reasons unknown, neither the Korean director nor the young woman in the video has been willing to come forward and put this story to rest once and for all. Until they do so, we feel that Mr. P’s best course of action for now is to make a public statement to Max Fisher, who inexplicably has been unwilling to respond to Mr. P’s repeated attempts to communicate with him (i.e., private messages sent to Fisher on Facebook have been ignored, and a Twitter exchange between the two has been mysteriously deleted). This is unfortunate, since Fisher’s story, crucially with The Washington Post‘s imprimatur, has been the basis for many of the subsequent media reports on the video that have appeared both domestically and internationally, and as of this writing, remains unamended and unchanged from its original form.

Here, then, is his respectful request to Max Fisher: “I just want The Washington Post‘s story retracted. I don’t want a war. I just want this thing to end. This is doing no good for anyone.” He is ready to answer any further questions, and can be contacted directly at: thelastknownsurvivor@yahoo.com.

In my personal estimation, Fisher’s July 15th story unwittingly crossed an important line, straying from blog-post opinion piece to what has been taken by many to be factually reported hard news. Yet a careful reading of his text should make it plain that he made no attempt to authenticate the video, which he takes at face value as “real” and “true.” As long-time members of the expatriate community in South Korea, both Matt and I believe that his Washington Post piece has been damaging to the reputation of not only tens of thousands of Western men here, but also the many Korean women who are in loving, committed relationships with a good portion of them. We both feel that the burden of proof now lies on Max Fisher to determine whether the video is an actual documentary record of unstaged events, and if he cannot do so, then a retraction is well in order. Indeed, his story could potentially be defamatory, if the identity of Mr. P is publicly exposed at some point in the future. Here we are in full agreement with Mr. P, and support his wish simply to have the record set straight. Shouldn’t setting the record straight be paramount for all reputable journalists, anyway?

Later today, Matt will have a follow-up post on his blog, Gusts of Popular Feeling [UPDATE: Matt's post is now up---read it here], so please stayed tuned. A link will be provided here as soon as it is up.

END OF STATEMENT

For what it’s worth, I’m still not convinced the video was fake. If it is fake, it would be nice if the director simply went public and said so.

Also for what it’s worth, I think Max Fisher’s original post wasn’t bad, with the exception of a) it should have been noted that the origin of the video had yet to be verified, and b) I do think linking the reaction to the video with Korea’s glass ceiling was a bit of stretch.

On a related note, the Korea Herald reports that two women—an interpreter and a mutual acquaintance of the interpreter and one of the alleged foreign actors—have come forward to say the video was staged.

USFK pissing off people with ‘investigations’ of Korean business owners

YTN’s program YTN 8585 is claiming that USFK is forcibly investigating Korean merchants operating near US bases in Korea. Even though USFK lacks the legal basis to launch these investigations, merchants have no choice to agree lest they suffer disadvantages as a result (like being declared off-limits).

The YTN reporters talked to a Mr. Choe, who runs a club in front of the US base in Osan. Choe apparently got a call from the base telling him to come to the base because they had something to investigate. He went on base, and was subject to a one-on-one questioning in a small, windowless interrogation room with a door you couldn’t open without asking through an interphone. Very frightening stuff.

Without any evidence whatsoever, the USFK investigator pressed Choe about whether his club had provided prostitution services to US servicemen.

Choe was not the only one subject to this questioning; other business owners were as well.

A business owner by the name of Mr. Jang complained to YTN that this was Korea, and he was surprised by how far his rights and Korea’s sovereignty could be ignored.

According to SOFA, USFK has no independent investigative authority over Korean civilians. What this means, suggests YTN, is that USFK has overstepped its authority. And they found some guy from Minbyun to say as much.

What is forcing these business owners to agree to USFK’s random investigations is the threat of being placed “off-limits.” By banning US servicemen from entering certain businesses, USFK is placing what amounts to a business suspensions on bars ad clubs that depend on GIs for business.

Another business owner, a Mr. Seo, complained that somebody at USFK who thinks he can place whoever he likes off-limits with the stroke of a pen, and that Korean employees who have heard this were creeped out.

USFK, meanwhile, initially said there were no illegal one-on-one investigations, but later changed its story to there was no compulsion involved.

They got a USFK official on record saying found it difficult to believe there were one-on-one investigations going on in interrogation rooms, but a day later saying USFK had asked for info from local Koreans to investigation US servicemen.

The YTN program concludes by reminding us that a USFK commander had apologized after US MPs put Korean civilians in handcuffs, but USFK’s highhanded behavior continues with baseless investigations of Korean civilians at US bases.

Marmot’s Note: Look, as far as I can tell, there is no compulsion—the business owners are free to tell USFK to fuck off, and USFK is free to ban its own men from visiting certain clubs.

Having said that, I have to be honest—doesn’t USFK have better things to do than making sure its personnel aren’t paying for sex? I personally find Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto’s views about the comfort women objectionable, but I think he probably had a point when he advised US Marines in Okinawa to make better use of local adult entertainers. Why should the State Department and Secret Service have all the fun? Granted, prostitution in technically illegal in Korea (stop laughing, damn it!), but shouldn’t the people doing the enforcing be the KNP, not USFK?

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