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Category: Ministry of Barbarian Affairs (page 2 of 43)

More on the professor who called his Indonesia students ‘animals’

The Korea Herald’s John Power has more on the incident at Gyeongsang National University in which a professor is recorded calling his Indonesian students “animals.”

In addition to hearing more from the students, we also get the professor’s side of the story:

When contacted by The Korea Herald, the professor declined to apologize or express regret for his choice of words, again using “animal” to refer to the students.

He said the remark was intended to describe someone who did not keep their agreements.

The professor claimed they had wanted to extend their visas after graduation for research but then did not submit academic papers and had failed to produce receipts for a trip to Japan funded by his foundation. He said he visited the women’s accommodation after being unable to contact them for a week to get a form for their visa extension.

“(I said) they should submit the official (visa extension recommendation) sheet to our university (but) they didn’t submit the official sheet, so I went to visit them and then I told them to submit the official sheet, that’s all,” he said.

The professor, who heads the BK 21 foundation that paid part of the students’ tuition, also said the students’ papers had been largely copied from his son’s.

He added that he believed they had “planned this manipulation from the start.”

OK, so one might be tempted to discount the professor’s explanation of the term “animal.” I asked around, though, and was told that many older Koreans—and the professor in question is older—use the Korean word 짐승 (“animal” or “beast”) a lot when they’re pissed off. Unfortunate choice of words, especially considering the target, but the intent may not necessarily have been racist. Also keep in mind the professor is speaking in a language he is clearly uncomfortable in.

Anyway, let’s see how this develops.

And more from the anti-discrimination front…

In case you missed it, the Hankyoreh is still talking about the anti-discrimination bill in the National Assembly, this time noting that the bill does NOT explicitly punish verbal racial insults. Which sucks, the Hani seems to argue, claiming that immigrants are frequently insulted:

For the immigrants, verbal insults are a daily occurrence. They are discriminated against because of their different appearances and skin color. When they ask the price of products at a shop, the clerks cut them off immediately by replying, “It’s expensive.” Even parking is difficult. The manager comes up to them doubtfully and asks for the “real” owner and asks to their identity card. Mrs. Hernandez remarked bitterly, “Koreans think that we have no money to buy things and that we steal cars”.

Recently, a racist placard was posted on a street in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province. It read “We announce the following statement to migrant workers: if the law does not punish you, we will. Since Bangladesh has the world’s highest illiteracy rate anyway, we will not translate the statement. Those who know Korean, read the statement and spread the word to others.” This shows how racial discrimination and xenophobia are more serious issues in South Korea now that there are many more foreign residents than in the past.

Seriously though, do we need a separate law to combat public harassment? Wouldn’t that sort of thing fall under the current defamation laws? It seems to me if I start harassing somebody in public, the authorities would find a law to punish me under, regardless of whether the victim was part of a designated victim group or not.

Anyway, regardless of what you think about the legislative end of things, I think we can all agree that managers of professional sports clubs shouldn’t mock foreign fans as “monkeys”:

I regularly attended Korean basketball games, that is, until this fan was a victim of degrading and disgusting “monkey chants.” A few years back, my son and I attended a basketball game between Electric Land Elephants and Samsung Electronics at the Sports Complex in Incheon City. At the time, I was a regular fan who supported and cheered for the home team, the Electric Land Elephants; I didn’t cause any trouble, nor was I a danger to anyone.

A few days later, my son and I went to an afternoon basketball game in Incheon, but before the game had started, one of the managers of the Electric Land Elephants began to rudely mock me with monkey chants as he was making fun of me for the last game when I was a bit too passionate in support of my home team.

I was absolutely shocked and at a loss for words. After a few minutes, I composed myself and confronted this racist manager, but he wouldn’t deal with his racist behavior. Instead, like a coward, he ran and hid in his little office. Next, we made our complaints known to another more senior manager, but he simply laughed and ignored us as he thought it was an innocent joke.

Jesus, what is this, Eastern Europe? Out of curiosity, though, what does “Who would have imagined that ‘Asians’ would have become professional athletes in any sport let alone organize their own professional sport leagues?” mean?

Needless to say, the writer wants to see Korea adopt anti-discrimination laws, and judging from his history of bad experiences, it’s perhaps easy to see why. He is right in pointing out that “While racism is problem in the Western world, there are anti-discriminatory laws that can be used to fight racist behavior.” Of course, in the Western world, there are anti-discrimination laws that can be used to put Mark Steyn and Lars Hedegaard on trial, too, so be careful what you wish for.

Nothing worse than expat philanderers and their wickedly winking ways

Remember children, when you wink at a Korean New Yorker in haute couture at a party featuring specially catered cuisine by slowly improving Korean chefs, the Baby Jesus cries:

As a Korean New Yorker, I could always lift my middle finger at guys who winked at me on the streets instead of trying to be socially polite like I had done to a winking expat executive from a global company in Seoul. For my own integrity’s sake, I even tried to enlighten him on different cultural connotations to no avail. I did not attend the party adorned in my haute couture to be winked at by a self-obsessed narcissist or a crude womanizer. I went there to enjoy a night of fun to in pleasant company and to relish in specially catered cuisine by slowly improving Korean chefs. Obviously, women do not necessarily decorate themselves to be knocked down by a stranger for the night.

Will keep that in mind.

See Casey Lartigue’s response at his blog.

KCNA advises foreigners in South Korea to have evacuation plans

It’s touching to know that North Korea has my well-being at heart:

North Korea warned foreigners in South Korea to take evacuation measures on Tuesday in case of war, in the latest escalation of warnings from Pyongyang.

“We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war,” its KCNA news agency, citing the spokesperson for its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

You can read North Korea’s statement in Korean here. Basically, they are saying America’s being very mean to them, and a war could break out at any moment, so be sure you’ve got your evacuation plans thought out ahead of time.

No mention of their plan to take all the Americans living in the South captive—word count issue, I’m sure.

Perhaps North Korea’s just pissed off that South Korea set a record for inbound tourists in March?

UPDATE 1: Korean newspaper MoneyToday notes that the US embassy website does have a page with emergency info for US citizens in Korea—worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.

UPDATE 2: From Don C.:

So we’re all good, then?

UPDATE 3: US State Department says there’s nothing to worry about. Funny stuff at the press briefing, though:

Reporters pressed Ventrell to acknowledge that the U.S. government thinks North Korea is just bluffing and has no intention of attacking the South.

“So the fact that a nuclear-armed country has told foreigners to get out of South Korea because of a coming war, you don’t regard as a specific threat?” asked AP reporter Matt Lee. “In another circumstance if a country warned Americans or any other foreigners to get out, you might think that that was an actual threat. No?”

Ventrell said that North Korea has a pattern of making such provocative statements and he insisted the U.S. government was taking Pyongyang’s statements seriously, but said that at the same time, Americans should feel free to travel to South Korea as they please.

There was more back-and-forth, too.

Oh, and thanks go to the WaPo’s Chico Harlan for the link.

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.

Is South Korea really that unfriendly to foreign visitors?

UPDATE: A commenters takes issue with ZenKimchi’s quote, namely, the part about “the only way to be a long-term resident is to have Korean DNA, marry a Korean, or invest $100,000 to open a business.” Fair enough—there’s the point-based F-2 visa. Granted, by late 2011—a year and eight months after the program went into effect—only 155 people had gotten point-based F-2s (out of a population of over 128,000 who were eligible) in part thanks to poor promotion that one article suggested might not be unintentional. Said commenters suggests the numbers have improved with 165 getting F-2-7s and 655 getting F2-99 (“that’s the visa that is given out with 5 years continuous living, also requires zero money investment and no marriage to a Korean”). I’m sure things are improving, although I’ll let you decide for yourself what that those numbers mean in a country of 50 million people with a resident foreigner population of 1.4 million. For that matter, feel free to download the latest immigration stats and decide for yourself what those numbers mean, too.

UPDATE: Twitter K. Slothus (blog here) notes:

From the report:

The Survey is carried out among chief executive officers and top business leaders in all economies covered by our research; these are the people making the investment decisions in their respective economies. The Survey provides unique data on many qualitative institutional and business environment issues, as well as specific issues related to the T&T industry and the quality of the natural environment.

Doesn’t sound like a very wide group surveyed.

ORIGINAL POST

The World Economic Forum apparently compiled numbers on how welcoming nations are to foreign visitors. The WaPo also kind enough to map it, the result you can see here.

Sit down for this—Korea placed near the bottom of the list. Like 129th out of 140, tied with China, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, Bulgaria and Slovakia.

On the bright side, Korea did beat out Pakistan and Iran, so it wasn’t a total loss. And with a bit of work, they can reach the level of legendarily foreigner-friendly Chad.

Japan placed 74th, which suggests you can run a restrictive immigration policy and still be considered friendly as long as you smile and women in service professions speak with high-pitched voices.

The WaPo’s Max Fisher was a bit surprised, but he thinks nationalism might have something to do with it:

One thing I’m struck by, in trying to puzzle out this map, is the apparent correlation between unfriendliness to foreigners and nationalism. That would maybe help to explain the low ratings for China and South Korea (although there are other possible factors here, including race) and for Russia. It might also help to explain why the United States, Germany and Japan — three countries with strongly nationalist histories — rank below other wealthy nations.

The nationalism theory makes a bit more sense when we look region-to-region. In Latin America, for example, a region generally friendly to foreigners, three countries stand out: Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela. All three have governments that could be fairly described as nationalistic. It also makes some sense in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia and Iran rank poorly among countries that generally court foreign tourism.

To be honest, one of the reasons I think the numbers are so low is because the question, “How welcome are foreign visitors to your country?” seems to have been directed at Koreans themselves. And yes, you’ll often hear Koreans talk about how welcoming they are to visitors—something I don’t think is necessarily untrue, BTW—and from time to time you’ll find a “foreigners love Korea” pep-talk story in the press, but Koreans know they lag behind the West in the multiculti department—something I don’t think is necessarily bad, BTW—and that their society remains somewhat provincial.

That said, sure, the low numbers are probably earned, and yeah, nationalism probably has a lot to do with it. I don’t think Korea is an especially unfriendly place, per se. I was just in Goesan—pretty much as provincial a town as you can get—and folk were really nice (including the 119 rescue personnel who had to help me off a mountain when I fell, screwed up my arm and lost my glasses coming down as it got dark—lovely gentlemen they were). As long as you show respect, you’ll be treated just fine.

The problems really become apparent when you try to settle here for a longer period of time. That’s when you’ve really, really got to work to gain acceptance… or at least find a niche.

For starters, moves by the government to effect some sort of minimal multiculturalism aside, Koreans largely want to keep Korea Korean, and immigration policy reflects this.

Then there’s the questions of connections. Even if you manage to learn the language and understand the culture, you’ll probably still lack the personal connections and social base that Koreans have been building since birth. Nobody knows anything about you—your hometown, your family, your school, nothing. You’re a person without roots.

Even without the additional issue of racism—which you’ll confront, too, with a direct relationship between the level of racism and the concentration of melanin in your skin—it’s a high barrier to overcome. What do you talk about when you go drinking with people who lived through dictatorship and forced-march industrialization? About going to Islanders games when you were a kid?

And yes, there’s the nationalism issue. For the record, I actually like the nationalism. I think it’s great that Koreans take pride in their people, their culture and their history. If anything, I wish this pride were a little deeper—I think you’ll find that like in many post-colonial countries, once you scratch the nationalist surface, you’ll find a lot of self-loathing and “colonization of the mind.” But yeah, some of the cruder expressions of that nationalism can turn foreigners off. I also think the nationalism presents barriers in another way—because it’s based on a national inferiority complex (particular in regards to the West and Japan), there is an assumption that foreigners look down on Koreans. Hence the reactions you sometimes get when you say or write anything critical of anything Korean.

BTW, Joe of Zenkimchi left a very good comment on the WaPo piece:

Having lived in South Korea for nine years, dealing with Immigration headaches, and seeing so many expats come and go, I’m not surprised by its ranking. Historically, Korea has been hostile to outsiders. Even though it talks a lot about opening up to the world, it gets skittish when it becomes a reality. Domestic news cycles go through blaming a different outsider group for their problems (U.S. soldiers, foreign English teachers, Japanese, Chinese-Koreans). The only way to be a long-term resident is to have Korean DNA, marry a Korean, or invest $100,000 to open a business (which is being increased to $300,000). And when a foreigner opens a business outside traditional foreign neighborhoods, I have seen many times other Korean businesses ganging up on it to knock it out of business. Foreign English teachers have to take HIV tests, implying that they’re diseased miscreants to the public.

I have rarely met a multi-generational immigrant, as in someone whose family moved here more than a generation ago. Foreigners tend to only stay for two years. Most people are friendly, but there is also a good bit of harassment and micro-aggressions that wear foreigners down to the point where they end up hating the country and leaving. I’ve been able to handle it, and I still enjoy it, though I have my dark days. But I have seen so many people break down. This isn’t an easy country for a foreigner to live in.

Foreign interns like subway, but don’t like missionaries, Gangnam

The JoongAng Ilbo talked with some youngish foreigners working for Seoul as part of an internship program about what they liked and disliked about our fair city.

Almost all of them liked the subway system, although some took issue with certain aspects of said subway. A young Iranian woman said the Seoul subway system frightened her. She said she was often shocked by the sudden appearance of missionaries telling her to believe a certain religion or garden-variety nutjobs making a scene. According to the JoongAng, most of the foreigners found the subway missionaries objectionable.

They also found public order on the subways lacking. Oh, and some apparently didn’t like that there were so many plastic surgery ads in the subway stations.

Suprisingly (to the JoongAng), many of the foreign interns weren’t especially impressed with Gangnam, which they found to be ostentatious and lacking in any distinguishing charm besides the high prices. A Japanese intern from Tokyo said she was surprised by the gap between Dongdaemun and Gangnam, which she felt revealed the gap in living standards in Korean society.

The interns were impressed by the long work hours kept by Koreans, though.

Marmot’s Note: Yeah, the missionaries can be annoying, although I’ll take annoying missionaries over religious compulsion as a matter of public policy any day.

American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japanese discrimination

Miki Dezaki, a second-generation Japanese-American teaching in Japan, is apparently under attack from the Japanese netizenry for giving a lesson to his students on Japanese racism and discrimination (HT to James).

Wait, I thought hypernationalist netizens fucking with foreigners who criticize their host nation was something that didn’t happen in Japan.

Anyway, I didn’t know about the “bakachon camera” thing—apparently, some Japanese refer to disposable cameras by a term that means “a camera so simple even an idiot or Korean could use it.”

The comment discussion on the WaPo link is quite interesting. I certainly feel for the guy—nobody should have to put up with getting hounded by online mobs of radical nationalists. How’d you like to get this phone call?

But the outrage continued to mount, both online and in the real world. At one point, Dezaki says he was contacted by an official in Okinawa’s board of education, who warned that a member of Japan’s legislature might raise it on the floor of the National Diet, Japan’s lower house of parliament. Apparently, the netouyu may have succeeded in elevating the issue from a YouTube comments field to regional and perhaps even national Japanese politics.

That few of his students thought there were racism and discrimination in Japan but nearly all thought it was a strictly American phenomenon was probably telling, too—reminds me of the story (perhaps apocryphal) of the Chinese student who said there was no racism in China because China didn’t have any black people.

That said, there’s also merit to the argument that as a guy hired to teach English, he shouldn’t be holding social science lessons, especially on controversial issues. If he spent his days preaching about Japan’s perceived social ills rather than teaching English, I’d say there’s a problem. Sometimes, though, you present controversial topics to students in English conversation classes to get them talking. I have no idea what this lesson was, and from what I can gather, his school actually liked whatever it was before the 2ch brigade started calling.

PS: Apparently, not everyone thinks racism is a problem in Japan.

Hey, at least the Mongolian didn’t seem to start it

The Maeil Gyeongje’s Internet TV ran another piece on how the rise in crime in neighborhoods with lots of foreigners has the locals living in fear.

Nothing you haven’t seen before, although it does got some cool footage of a rumble between a Russian and a Mongolian in a sauna near Dongdaemun’s Little Mongolia.

Also on the foreigner crime front, Incheon Immigration officials have announced that a Pakistani who was deported in 1999 after he sexually assaulted a young Korean woman while residing here illegally has been rearrested in Seoul posing as a businessman. Despite a reentry ban, he’d reentered Korea on a laundered identity.

The Pakistani in question was given a suspended sentence and subsequently deported for molesting a 23-year-old woman who was playing the the waters off Busan’s Haeundae Beach. He apparently dragged her out to the deep water and assaulted her after rendering her unable to resist.

So, how’s the month long “strengthening of public order in areas with lots of foreigners” campaign going? Well, not bad, according to Yonhap. The campaign—conducted in six areas—has netted 464 arrests, with 29 being confined and 435 booked without confinement.

Some 40.1% of the arrests were for simple assault, followed by 16.2% for gambling.

The cops netted 62 on immigration law crimes. They also got some really bad dudes, too, including four muggers, three rapists and eight on drug offenses.

On a positive note, the Chosun Ilbo’s business paper reports that for Korea’s major telecom firms, foreigners have gone from being a problem to being a golden egg. Not so long ago, these companies looked at the foreigner market as something they didn’t really want but didn’t want to completely abandon, either. This was because the phones were often used by foreigners to commit crimes and many foreigners left the country without paying their bills. But with the local market now flooded, telecom companies now see resident foreigners as a way out.

Magpie couple in WSJ

When you get a chance, read the WSJ Korea Real Time’s write-up on Tiffany Needham and Erik Moynihan, who—among other things—run Magpie:

The microbrewery is called Magpie and operates from a location down a hill from Itaewon that the couple says was designed to be a lab and taste center rather than a bar. Ms. Needham said she recently admitted to a customer that the place – which looks like an overgrown kitchen with a few stools tossed in – had indeed become a bar. But they’re now planning to open a proper bar, one that stays open past 11, in the basement of a nearby building next month. Name: The Magpie Basement.

The couple, along with their partners in Magpie, have been able to take advantage of recent changes in South Korean laws that have made it possible for microbrews to be distributed beyond their premises. As a result, Magpie’s beers, along with those of the nearby Craftworks Taphouse, have become available in other hip bars around Itaewon and in restaurants like Vatos Urban Tacos.

Jutaek more dangerous than apartments; neighborhoods with lots of one-person households, foreigners have lots of crime

A research team has analyzed the impact residential environment plays on crime rates. reports the Herald Gyeongje.

Taking the crime rates for six major crimes over the last three years in 16 dong in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, the team found that those who live in ilban jutaek are more exposed to crime than those who live in apartments.

They believe this due to the access controls found in apartments such as security guards. Apartments tend to be far from places like bars and entertainment establishments, too.

The study also found that neighborhoods with lots of single-person households and foreigners are more dangerous, too. They warned, however, that we shouldn’t necessarily take this to mean that they are dangerous because these people commit a lot crimes. Since most foreigners and single-person homes are “outsiders,” they can become criminals, but they are also likely to be victims, they said.

The Economist sues famous Gangnam language school: report

British weekly The Economist is suing a famous Gangnam language hagwon for using its articles and columns without permission, reports the Chosun Ilbo.

This is apparently the first time a foreign magazine has sued a hagwon for copyright infringement in a Korean court.

In its complaint, The Economic claims the school made 10—160 billion won in illicit profits by copying 54 of their articles and columns between 2009 and 2011. The English hagwon in question is a major player in Gangnam hagwonland—its information sessions draw abut 1,000 parents… which tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Gangnam. The Economist submitted photos to the court showing that the school had used its articles in its textbooks. They also reportedly used them for secondary content such as videos and promotional materials.

An official from the hagwon in question, however, told the Chosun Ilbo that while they did print out Economist articles for use in their advanced class and sell texts books with the articles internally, this was a common practice of Korean hagwon and at similar level as using foreign articles in class.

Marmot’s Note: Hard to see how the hagwon gets out of selling texts with articles copied without permission.

UPDATE: Ye Olde Chosun’s English edition has its own translation here.

Advice for non-Koreans working for Korean companies overseas

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the interview with Don Southerton in the WSJ’s Korea RealTime:

Don Southerton, a U.S. business consultant, has written several publications centering on the Korean auto industry, new urbanism, entrepreneurialism, and early U.S.-Korean business ventures. His firm, Bridging Culture Worldwide, provides strategy, consulting and training to businesses that are working in South Korea.

Just a few weeks ago, he published his latest, an e-book and paperback called “Korea Facing: Secrets for Success in Korean Global Business.”

With it, he has flipped the tables to look at the challenges that non-Koreans face working in the overseas offices and subsidiaries of Korean firms. The book is available in e-book form for Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Apple’s iPad devices.

You can buy Don’s book here, and visit the site of his consulting firm here. At that site, you can also view his fine ebook about Incheon, Chemulpo to Songdo IBD.

Wouldn’t want to scare Grandma, after all

Well, you’ve got to give Hidehiko Nishiyama, a deputy director at Japan’s environment ministry, credit for being blunt:

Opinions on the trip’s effectiveness vary among participants, but in the six months since, not a single foreign company has been employed in Japan’s cleanup, according to the trip’s participants and Japan’s Environment Ministry.
[...]
“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”

Needless to say, Debito is not amused.

Please don’t sexually harass the flight attendants

Incheon International Airport police have arrested a 44-year-old American for drunkenly harassing three female flight attendants on a plane.

He is also accused of assaulting two male attendants who tried to intervene.

The incident took place at 11am in the morning Thursday. Among other things, the guy tried to hug the attendants.

When the two male attendants failed to restrain the drunken American, they broke out the Taser, which apparently did the trick. The flight crew then handed him over to the airport police.

UPDATE: According to this report (HT to Tom), the flight was Korean, the flight attendants were Korean, and the lout was a businessman sitting in business class. The incident took place while the plane was in flight from New York, too.

The piece concludes, “With a recent rash of foreigners causing disturbances on airplanes, all of Incheon Airport is in shock with a case of assault on top of sexual harassment taking place.”

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