Our sympathies go out to the family of Ahn Kisook, one of the four passengers who were killed in today’s commuter train derailment in the Bronx.
Joshua Treviño linked to a piece in the July 1973 issue of The Atlantic describing the final days of LBJ. Interestingly, former First Lady Lady Bird was apparently a big fan of late Korean President Park Chung-hee:
We were in a private dining room on the third floor of the LBJ Library. Across the hall was a replica of Johnson’s White House office. A three-foot electric pepper mill sat at the head of the table, and butler Wong scurried in with a plate of steak and sweet corn. Johnson seated himself ahead of his guests, a presidential practice carried into retirement, and began to eat. Aides arrived to whisper in his ear about incoming calls. He either shook his head or left the table for many minutes. Secret Service agents haunted the surrounding corridors, walkie-talkies in hand. Déjà vu was a decorative theme: on one wall of the dining room were the framed photographs of heads of state whom Johnson visited during his years in office. “Here’s my favorite,” said Lady Bird, pointing to a photo of South Korea’s President, General Chung Hee Park. “He was a real no-nonsense fellow.” (Lady Bird was more conservative than the public ever realized.) LBJ laughed. “I remember our trip to Seoul. My God, I’ve never seen so many people lining the streets. I asked Park, through an interpreter, what would he estimate the crowd to be? The interpreter jabbers a bit and tells me, ‘President Park, he say population of Seoul is one million. People on the streets is one million. That’s all the people we have. So solly.’”
She must have really liked that otchil box from Ewha.
LBJ’s visit to Korea in 1966 came at a time when the North Koreans were acting especially vicious:
“President Lyndon B. Johnson could not have chosen a worse time to visit Seoul. General Bonesteel had been in command only about two months. He spent most of that time trying to separate fact from fiction along the DMZ. In the meantime, deadly incidents and rumors of future incidents proliferated. President Johnson came to Korea on 31 October, trailed by a bustling entourage of more than 500 people. He met with President Park, U.S. Ambassador Winthrop G. Brown, General Bonesteel, and American troops at Camp Stanley — all in a frenzied forty-four hours. United Nations Command forces remained ready, but the DPRK made no move against Johnson.
“Instead, the North Koreans took action against Johnson’s men. In the predawn darkness on 2 November, while the American president slept near Seoul under heavy guard, a KPA squad tracked an eight-man patrol from Company A, 1-23 Infantry. The northerners, probably from the 17th Foot Reconnaissance Brigade, paralleled the oblivious American soldiers. Once the U.S. element reached a point about a kilometer south of the DMZ proper, the North Koreans estimated that the Americans had relaxed their vigilance. The Communist soldiers swung in ahead of the plodding American file, assumed hasty ambush positions, and engaged the Americans with hand grenades and submachine guns.
“The U.S. squad disintegrated under a hail of bullets and grenade fragments. Despite later wishful stories of heroics, six Americans and a KATUSA went down almost instantly. A seventh American survived by playing dead. For one day, Korea displaced Vietnam from the front pages of American newspapers. Then Johnson left for home and interest waned.”
And so began the forgotten DMZ War of 1966–1969.
It looks like Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” is bombing at the box office, and the reviews aren’t so good. Which is surprising, because I can’t imagine a film featuring a guy in a suit with a hammer being an unsatisfying experience.
One reviewer said a funny, though:
A respectable piece of filmmaking from a purely technical perspective [but an] unnecessary, inferior remake…Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ is harder to swallow than the octopus in Park’s original.
Speaking of remakes, Kyle Mizokami at War Is Boring enjoyed “Return 2 Base,” which was apparently not only quite watchable, but also much superior to China’s “Top Gun” ripoff.
Anyway, as Wangkon will tell you, “Return 2 Base” is actually a remake of the 1964 film “Red Muffler” by director Shin Sang-ok, whose life story was just as dramatic as any of his films. If you’d like to watch the original, here it is thanks to that whole Youtube thingamajig:
Another weekend, another Open Thread.
Play nice. Play safe.
Yes, I know Thanksgiving is over but, did you ever wonder what the first Americans in Korea feasted on for Thanksgiving? It wasn’t much.
Horace Allen, an American missionary doctor, brought his wife and infant son to Seoul in late Oct. 1884. They spent the first month repairing the home and getting it ready for the winter ― and winter was early that year.
Allen described Nov. 27 (Thanksgiving) as “a cold crisp day” with the “ground frozen for four inches below [the] surface.” He complained about the slow progress in plastering the house but then noted that it was the American holiday so “we celebrated the day by a little altar worship by singing ‘My Country tis of Thee’ and by eating ‘Boston Baked Beans’ for tiffin.”
By the mid-1890s, things had improved but getting a turkey was no small matter – they had to be imported from China – so many Americans made due with what was available. Sallie Sill, the wife of the American Minister to Korea, described one of her substitutions to her daughter:
“I wish you could have seen the swan, a large, handsome, pure white one it seemed a shame to have it killed and eaten. I do not like the meat as well as turkey, but it is considered a great delicacy here.”
You can read the rest of the article here – Korea Times November 30, 2013.
By now, most American readers will probably be familiar with Ju Hong, the Korean guy who heckled President Obama during—ironically enough—an immigration rally.
Hong has a history of, depending on how you look at it, gutsy political activism or outrageously mocking the people’s laws on immigration.
I didn’t think much about the incident at the time, other than being somewhat impressed by Obama’s handling of the incident and, likewise, somewhat perplexed as to why Hong and his family weren’t immediately placed on a plane back to Korea where he can do his two year’s military service like every other Korean male in his age cohort—I’m sure the ROK military has plenty of need for good English speakers.
Then I read an interview Hong gave with Yonhap News, where he calls immigration reform an “important matter for Korean-Americans and a human rights issue.” But more interestingly, he claims that one in seven Korean immigrants to the United States is undocumented.
The interview is worth reading, as it not only explains how Hong’s family ended up in Migukistan, but it’s also fun to compare its tone with the one Yonhap would have likely adopted had this been Ahmed the Illegal Bangladeshi Factory Worker from Ansan heckling President Park Geun-hye during a presidential speech.
At National Review, Mark Krikorian discusses the problem Hong’s case presents to immigration law enforcement—his family entered the country legally enough, but simply overstayed their visas. And as Hong himself told Yonhap, there are apparently a lot of Koreans doing this:
The salient fact here for immigration policy is that he came with his family on a tourist visa, and never left. Visa overstayers are believed to represent between a third and a half of the 12 million illegal aliens in the United States — and with improvements in border enforcement it’s possible the majority of new illegal aliens are overstayers. That translates to 4 to 6 million liars, people who swore they’d leave when their visit was over but didn’t, something at least as contemptible as sneaking into someone else’s country. Hong came as a child, so he wasn’t doing the lying, but he’s no more entitled to stay than the child of someone who lied on a mortgage application and later lost his home.
There are also more Korean illegal aliens than you might think. For instance, nearly 7,000 South Korean illegal aliens have been amnestied by Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (a.k.a. the administrative Dream Act) through the end of August, making it the No. 5 country after Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Krikorian goes on to note that the problem—at least in Korea’s case—is made worse by the fact that Korea is included in the American visa waiver program:
Exacerbating this problem with regard to South Korea and other countries is the Visa Waiver Program. As the name suggests, people from the 37 countries on the list don’t have to get visas for short tourist or business trips. Only those countries whose citizens are very unlikely to overstay are supposed to be included in the program. Unfortunately, the main force expanding the list of participating countries has been lobbying pressure from the travel industry and foreign governments. South Korea was added in 2008 and Greece — Greece — in 2010. This has been a significant driver of illegal immigration; the GAO reported earlier this year that, of a very large sample of apparent overstays, nearly half were people who entered under the Visa Waiver Program.
To be honest, as far as nations of origin for illegal aliens go, you could do a lot worse than Korea, but still, something appears to be broken. Ultimately, it’s up to the United States to enforce its own immigration laws, but I wonder if perhaps there’s room for cooperation with Korean authorities to ensure Korean tourists don’t get lost on their visits, lest this become a bilateral diplomatic issue. You know, much in the way the Korean Foreign Ministry stepped in when a certain, ahem, segment of the Korean community in Australia became an issue.
I don’t believe they flew over anything especially important (like the Senkakus!), as I’m sure that would have been mentioned.
Anyway, Northeast Asian ADIZ quiz—which nation has violated Korea’s ADIZ the most this year?
No, it’s Russia, which has violated Korea’s ADIZ 18 times this year. China has violated it thrice, and Japan just once.
Over the last five years, Russia has violated Korea’s ADIZ 64 times.
The JoongAng Ilbo reports that the very source of the leaked information regarding Chae Dong-wook, and the alleged son that caused his disgrace and subsequent resignation, came from an official working within the Seocho District Office that was a former aid of Won Sei-hoon, indicted director of the spy agency. Won Sei-hoon is the one and the same NIS head that has been charged with running the online smear campaign against the Opposition Party candidate. (cite) The information was used by the Chosun Ilbo in a thinly disguised bit of libel that had the effect of derailing Choe’s ongoing investigation into the electioneering activities of the NIS.
The Seocho District Office official, named “Cho”, had accessed the records of Chae Dong-wook several months in advance as well as being directly connected to former NIS director Won:
. . . Cho, 53, is known to be close to Won, who appointed him as his administrative secretary when he was the public administration and security minister in 2008 under the Lee Myung-bak administration. Cho followed Won to the NIS and moved to the Seocho District Office after Won’s stint as NIS chief ended in January this year.
The prosecutor’s office seems to have done some excellent work, as of late, especially when they are motivated by injustices committed against the function of their office, however this leaves us with the question of just who ordered Won to do what he did and why?
In today’s Korea Times, we are treated to—sit down for it—complaining, particularly about how the US pivot towards Asia is putting Korea in a tough spot because a) Korea is being forced to choose between Washington and Beijing and b) Washington isn’t putting enough pressure on the Japanese to apologize:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is thriving amid growing uncertainty in the region.
Experts say the trend is likely to continue, unless the United States reprimands Japan for denying its wartime history, for instance.
However, the U.S. engrossed in a duel with rival China can’t afford to alienate Tokyo.
Rather, it is encouraging Abe to become bolder, which he has done.
The end of the piece quotes from a recent column by Stanford’s Daniel Sneider in the WaPo calling on Washington to help Japan do the right thing and resolve its historical issues with Korea. For what it’s worth, I agree that a satisfactory resolution to historical issues between Korea and Japan would be in everybody’s interest—well, everybody’s except possibly China’s. Maybe there’s even a role the United States can play in encouraging the Japanese to be more forthcoming.
There are several problems with this, though. Firstly, Koreans are already prone to doubt the sincerity of Japanese apologies, and I’d imagine they’d be even more keen to doubt them if it appears Japan was being “forced” to apologize by America. Sure, they’d enjoy the sight of Japan being humbled, but any apology would come off as forced and insincere. Secondly, even if Washington leaned on Japan to confront its past, there’s no guarantee Tokyo would do so, especially considering that a lot of the folk driving Japanese diplomatic hamfistedness towards Korea seem to believe the only real war criminal in the Pacific was the United States.
There’s something else to the complaints, too, namely, the lack of compartmentalization. Historical issues are one thing. Declaring large swaths of the East China Sea your ADIZ is quite another. Prioritize.
Japan’s Kyodo News is reporting that Japan’s Self-Defense Force (or as we like to call it with a giggle, the jawidae) not only has spies in Korea, but has also sent them without telling the Japanese prime minister:
Japan’s Self-Defense Force operates clandestine intelligence-gathering teams in South Korea and other countries without informing its civilian government, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.
The teams are operated independently by the force without notifying the prime minister or defense minister, Kyodo quoted a former army chief and top defense intelligence official as saying, flying in the face of democratic control of the armed forces.
The force’s Ground Staff Office formed a spying team that sets up bases overseas to gather intelligence. All members undergo training in espionage and counterintelligence.
Huh. Japanese military forces operating independently of Japan’s civilian government. How could that possibly go wrong?
And finally, in the Chosun Ilbo’s gripe of the day, some ruling party lawmakers are beginning to grumble that Korea is getting a much worse deal on the F-35 than Japan. In particular, while Japan will be allowed to make most of its F-35s, Korea will be forced to import finished products from the United States.
Remember Cho Yang-eun? He “founded the Yangeuni Family in 1978 and once made it the biggest gang” in Korea. According to this Korea Times article (April 16, 2012):
The Yangeuni Family once had more than 10,000 members. Cho served his first prison sentence from 1980 to 1995 after being convicted of murder and social unrest. He was released in 1995 but jailed again the following year on charges of drug trafficking and attempted homicide.
After being released in 1998, he surprisingly entered a Catholic school saying he would become a priest. However, he was arrested again in 2001 for gambling and blackmail and received a 10-month prison sentence.
According to the court, Cho hit a man identified as Hwang with an ashtray and punched him for allegedly bad-mouthing him at a bar in downtown Seoul in 2005. Hwang needed medical care for three weeks and Cho was arrested on the spot.
The court said, “an ashtray can be a lethal weapon in cases and it has been only three years since he came out of prison.”
He allegedly committed other crimes as well.
Police are investigating allegations that former gang leader Cho Yang-eun blackmailed a singer to compensate his acquaintance for loss from his stock investment.
Police said the notorious gangster, 60, intimidated the singer in August 2009, and threatened to chop the man’s leg off and bury it unless he paid back 1.7 billion won.
Perhaps Cho Yang-eun had learned this alleged art of intimidation from his rival, Kim Tae-chon and his dealings with Korean actor, Kwon Sang-woo. According to the Chosun Ilbo (February 7, 2007):
According to prosecutors, Kim called Kwon in April last year, threatening the actor on the behalf of a Japanese associate who said Kwon had failed to keep his promise to hold an event to meet fans there even though he accepted an expensive watch as a reward. Kim allegedly rang the actor again the next day, threatening him with a personal visit to his home. Asked by Kwon what he was talking about, he threatened to expose everything he knew about Kwon in the media unless Kwon met him to discuss his Japanese friend’s demands, according to prosecutors.
But Kwon refused, saying they could talk on the phone. An irate Kim asked if that meant Kwon did not care if “tragic things” happened to him. Having had similar threatening calls before, Kwon recorded the conversation and handed it to prosecutors, who charged Kim with threatening behavior.
What is interesting is the final paragraphs of the article which clearly seems to indicate Cho:
Since 2000, crime syndicates have worked to give their activities a veneer of legality by establishing or investing in entertainment companies.
Prosecutors plans to investigate the cash flow of crime syndicates in case they cooperate with crime organizations in China and Japan that may aim to take advantages of the Korean Wave in Asia.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said it found that a member of a Yakuza gang masquerading as a pastor has taken an interest in the Korean entertainment business. “We have to keep them under constant surveillance and thoroughly investigate the victims,” prosecutors added.
Cho Yang-eun “publicly announced his “retirement” in 2009, but “remained the de-facto leader of the ring”. Then in 2012, an arrest warrant was issued in regards to his alleged involvment in a financial scam involving a Korean bank and $US 2.5 million. He quickly skipped the country and went into hiding somewhere overseas.
Now we know where - The Philippines. He was arrested at 9 in the morning after leaving a casino! And, get this, it may have been because his tourist visa had expired 19 months earlier.
What became of his rival, Kim Tae-chon? Well, he died earlier this year.
Further Notes or related topics
A couple of years ago Mr. Marmot did a piece on various foreign gangs working with Korean gangs.
It is kind of strange that wikipedia does not mention these two gang leaders despite them being so notorious.
Lately a number of historical significant items have been returned to Korea – items that were alleged to have been stolen by U.S. soldiers. It should be noted that in some cases these items were bought from Koreans – although the buyer should have been a little suspicious such as Sergeant Giltner who was approached by a Korean selling antiques from his cart:
One item, a huge carpet – nearly eighteen and a half feet long and about eight feet wide – made from the matched pelts of 48 leopards immediately caught Giltner’s attention. Although he didn’t explain how he had come by the carpet, the Korean peddler claimed “it was worth at least $25,000 and came from the Chang Duk palace in Seoul.” He was willing to sell it for a mere 150,000 Korean won – worth about $25 USD. Giltner promptly bought it and in a letter to his parents wrote that he was sending them “a pretty nice Korean rug” that he had picked up.
After the carpet was sent home, a Korean diplomat recognized the carpet as having come from Queen Min’s bedroom. It was returned to the Korean government but now it has been speculated that the carpet was not the queen’s.
In a September statement, the museum said there was “credible evidence” that its Royal Seal with Knob in the Form of a Turtle was “removed unlawfully from the National Shrine in Korea.”
“While LACMA has not received a formal request from the Korean national government, we have reached out to them to discuss the results of our research and a mutually satisfactory resolution, including the return of the Royal Seal to Korea,” the statement said.
An official at the state-run cultural heritage administration told The Associated Press that South Korea in May asked the United States to investigate how the seal ended up at the Los Angeles museum known for showcasing art from ancient times to the modern era.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity citing department rules, said U.S. homeland security officials have confiscated the seal, as they investigate.
But not every item coming back to Korea is coming back by legal force. A large number of Joseon era wooden birds are being given to a univeristy in Korea by a Japanese collector in the hopes of generating goodwill:
Haruo Yahashi, 79, owner of a surveying firm, has collected 140 such artworks, many of which were made in the 19th century and were used as gifts, ever since he fell in love with an elegantly sculpted bird he saw at an antique store in Tokyo some 30 years ago.
He will donate them to Daegu Health College in the city of Daegu in southeastern South Korea.
Many of the sculptures are 20 cm to 40 cm long and weigh between 3 and 5 kg. Some are painted in bright colors such as red and yellow, while others are covered with gold foil, a sign that they were originally owned by wealthy Koreans.
Mr. Haruo Yahashi explained his reasons for giving the gifts as, ”Japan-South Korea relations are facing difficulties now, but I hope my donation will help promote exchanges on a grass-roots level.”
My sympathies go out to the family and friend of Ban Eunji, the Korean girl brutally murdered in Brisbane, Australia this morning by—it is suspected—an animal out for a thrill kill.
As far as we can tell so far, the attack does not appear to have been racially motivated, although I’m sure that’s of little comfort to anyone involved. It will be recalled that attacks on Koreans in Australia attracted the attention of the Korean press last year.
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?
Hard to see how any of this is going to help maintain peace in East Asia. Then again, it wasn’t meant to (HT to Anonymous Joe):
Japan warned Sunday of the danger of “unpredictable events” and South Korea voiced regret following China’s unilateral declaration of an air defence zone over areas claimed by Tokyo and Seoul.
“We find it regretful that China’s air defence zone partly overlaps with our military’s KADIZ (Korean Air Defense Identification Zone) in the area west of Jeju Island,” said a ministry statement, according to Yonhap news agency.
The Chinese zone also includes a South Korean-controlled submerged rock that lies within the two countries’ overlapping economic zones, according to a South Korean defence ministry official quoted by the news agency.
The submerged rock in question is Ieodo, a.k.a. Socotra Rock, where Chinese surveillance flights have sharply increased this year. On the bright side, China reassures us that there’s no territorial dispute with Korea over the rock, and as far as I know, neither Korea nor China actually claim it as territory—-according to the UN Law of the Sea, submerged rocks cannot be claimed as territory. On the not-so-bright side, Ieodo features prominently in the regarding the overlap in Korea’s and China’s respective EEZs, although why the rock itself is of any importance in that, I’m not quite sure—Koh Choong-suk, president of the Society of Ieodo Research, tries to explain it here, but I’m still not sure why the rock matters. If you get it, though, please enlighten me in the comments.
Interestingly enough, Japan’s air defense zone also reportedly violates Korea’s in the water’s south of Jejudo.
The JoongAng Ilbo has a nice little map showing the competing Korean, Chinese and Japanese air defense zones in the
South Korea Sea East China Sea. One interest thing to note is that Korea’s does NOT include Ieodo, although the Korean Defense Ministry is apparently considering extending the zone.
The United States, needless to say, is not happy about any of this, especially since President Obama is on record suggesting that the United States would defend Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the event of an attack. For that matter, so is the US Congress. Possibly to reaffirm this point, the USAF flew a B-52 through China’s new air defense zone and over the Senkaku Islands. Which was pretty ballsy on Obama’s part, IMHO. China, meanwhile, is sending a carrier group—or should I say the carrier group, as it’s only got one—to the South China Sea. Lovely.
I confess, stuff like this gets me a wee bit nervous, mostly because I don’t know to what extent the Chinese leadership believes its own bullshit. You’ve got Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and Americans involved in this thing now, and you pray no one does anything stupid.
Christmas is coming and so are several concerts by the Ronn Branton Group, whose Jazz arrangements of Christmas favorites helps brighten up the year end season. Branton is performing on December 22, 4pm at the Sejong Arts Center downtown and on the 24th at the Chang Cheon Art Hall in Apkujeongdong (close to the subway) at 8pm.
Tickets can also be bought, in English at 02-888-0650 or writing whomre(at)naver.com.