Yes, I’m still alive. And I see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Photo: Ikseon-dong, Seoul
Yes, I’m still alive. And I see light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
Photo: Ikseon-dong, Seoul
Not that persecution is anything new to Christians, however the PRC has steadily increased its suppression of domestic Churches and Christian-related NGOs, including those that work to help people in the DPRK that need help (such as orphanages).
This last November, Peter Hahn, a Korean-American, who had used his life savings to help relocate from the United States and set up his NGOs, was detained and accused of various crimes (He is being held on suspicion of embezzlement and using fraudulent invoices) by the PRC:
The 73-year-old naturalised US citizen, who has overseen a range of aid projects straddling the border between China and North Korea over the past two decades, was called in by authorities in Tumen, China for questioning on Tuesday and placed under detention after a six-hour interrogation. Two other staff members, including a South Korean national, have also been detained in recent weeks. . . .”I feel that the Chinese government doesn’t want foreign NGOs working on North Korea any more,” (Mr Hahn’s wife, Eunice), having fled to Seoul soon after the first police raid. “In the past, it just left us alone; but now it is cracking down.” (cite)
Several months ago, a Canadian couple, (Kevin and Julia Garratt) who ran a coffeehouse in Dandong, PRC were arrested by the Chinese Government and charged under the notoriously vague state secrets law since they were allegedly spying and stealing military secrets (believe it or not). The Garratt’s were also loosely affiliated with local Christian NGOs, thus drawing the attention of the government there.
Certain sources report that this increased anti-Christian action has become more common as of late:
. . . South Korean missionaries working in China near the North Korean border have reported being forced out in recent months after having their visa renewals refused. The crackdown is variously viewed as part of a broader campaign against Christianity, or consistent with a ramp up in official rhetoric against foreign influence seen as undermining Chinese interests. (cite)
As of several days ago, the Chinese have decided to formally detain (as if this has any meaning at all!) Mr. Garratt and charge him under their state secrets law. His wife has been released but can not leave the PRC, according to an article:
The Garratts have not been formally arrested and no charges have been filed, the family said in a statement released through their lawyer, James Zimmerman, who is based in Beijing. “No evidence of any crime has been provided to the Garratts, family members, or their lawyers of any criminal conduct,” the statement said.
Ms. Garratt has been barred from leaving mainland China for one year. Her husband has been relocated to “a more formal detention center at an unknown location,” the statement said. (cite)
The Garratts apparently were motivated by spiritual concerns to move to and open a coffeeshop in Dandong:
Their relocation to Dandong was divinely inspired, Mr. Garratt said in a recorded sermon that had been posted on the website of the Terra Nova Church in Surrey, British Columbia, before it was removed in August. “God said, in a prayer meeting, ‘Go to Dandong and I’ll meet you there,’ and he said start a coffee house,” Mr. Garratt said, adding that “we’re trying to reach North Korea with God, with Jesus and with practical assistance.”
Rather than this being an issue of “state secrets” – which is clearly unlikely – this case and many others shows that the PRC leadership seems to have panicked over the increasing influence and afluence of Christian groups within the PRC, which is something that they can not control, therefore is percieved as a direct threat to their existence. According to an article in the CS Monitor:
While Christianity is waning in many parts of the world, in China it is growing rapidly – despite state strictures. The rise in evangelical Protestantism in particular, driven both by people’s spiritual yearnings and individual human needs in a collective society, is taking place in nearly every part of the nation.
Western visitors used to seeing empty sanctuaries in the United States or Europe can be dumbfounded by the Sunday gatherings held in convention center-size buildings where people line up for blocks to get in – one service after another. In Wenzhou, not far from Hangzhou, an estimated 1.2 million Protestants now exist in a city of 9 million people alone. (It is called “China’s Jerusalem.”) By one estimate, China will become the world’s largest Christian nation, at its current rate of growth, by 2030.
which is enough to make the current CCP leadership sweat in anticipation as their grip on power is unwittingly contested by Chinese in pursuit of spiritual meaning. This pursuit, as in South Korea, also has the smell of money though. One recent study proports that Christianity has been a major part in the PRC’s success.
This study, by Qunyong Wang of the Institute of Statistics and Econometrics at Nankai University and Xinyu Lin of Renmin University of China, claims that Christianity has significantly contributed to China’s economic growth by demonstrating a positive correlation between areas of particularly robust economic growth and the prevalence of Christian congregations and institutions in these areas, in China. (cite)
Having spiritual beliefs can be enriching for many people and help them in their lives, however, a collective body can be easily lead and manipulated if the collective is prone to the effects of blind faith – faith in someone or something without the benefit of reasoning.
Faith without reason can be an incredibly dangerous thing and it is precisely this blind faith the party would love to harness for their own goals, however it can become a very unmanagable thing as they are belatedly discovering, thus the pronounced effort to clamp down on churches, in the PRC and on the border with the DPRK, that are not sanctioned by the Party.
What happens when a Korean scientist looks for what could be the last tiger in Korea? . . . A new musical, written by expatriate Jazz pianist and composer/arranger Ronn Branton is opening tomorrow for a limited run at the Sejong Arts Center downtown. Call for tickets or go to interpark.co.kr but hurry since this run will probably sell out quickly.
Have a good Sunday, folks.
I’m gonna go pray against the Pats now.
Photo: Changsin-dong neighborhood.
The Bible speaks of the “left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing” and when applicable to a government, this is usually bad news since it could imply a “deep government” that exerts undue control over a democratic process.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina has announced plans to disband Argentina’s intelligence agency after the suicide (murder) of prosecutor Alberto Nisman – hours before he had been due to testify against senior government officials about the government cover-up of Iran’s role in a bombing that took place in 1994 (cite).
President Kirchner was quoted:
“I have prepared a bill to reform the intelligence service,” President Fernandez said, adding that she wanted the proposal to be discussed at an urgent session of Congress. “The plan is to dissolve the Intelligence Secretariat and create a Federal Intelligence Agency,” she said that a new leadership should be chosen by a president but would be subject to a Senate approval. (cite)
“Combating impunity has been a priority of my government,” she added. She further stated that the existing intellegence service “has not served the national interests”.
Considering the heavy-handed direct interference of the NIS (1, 2, 3) and the CIA (torture instead of gathering actual information) in their respective governments, the undue political interference in the Prosecutor’s Office in Seoul, and the use of these intellegence services to further the political aims of a select group of politicians, it is past time to make a greater committment to our respective societies’s democracy and make these agencies anew.
Sorry for posting this late: busy week.
Photo: P-road in Ihwa Mural Village
In a JTBC interview that filled my little heart to the brim, 손석희 manages to interview Alain de Botton in English about de Botton’s new book on the subject of news, and cover several interesting topics (KAL/nut, Charlie Hebdo)
Apparently de Botton is one of the “favourite authors of Korea”, but it’s his comment on the KAL/nut incident (watch the clip to find out) that seems to be making him the No.1 search word in the news portal at the moment.
It’s just a pity that people like Sohn does not run for politics.
P.S. DL Barch :
Doesn’t de Botton comes across as a classic case of milquetoast you mentioned, telling other milquetoasts to be less of a milquetoast..
Here are the laws of ajossi-dynamics:
1. smart inv.proportional to aging/ajossification
2. opinionated prickfying proportional to aging/ajossification.
3. smart inv.proportional to opinionated prickfying independent of ajossification
I do think de Botton is suffering from a rash he developed from being subjected to the champagne-socialist-prominent-attitude of the British media when he pushes for media to have a stronger voice, because in places like Korea it’s a different story. 손석희 and the JTBC is like a long overdue aberration. One must learn to crawl before one walks.
1. Mystery deepens over the Korean teenager gone missing in Turkey
There is a possibility being raised that a 17 year old Korean boy who went missing from his hotel room in Turkey might have been interested in joining the terrorist group IS. At first the Korean news was simply reporting on the fact that he went missing, hinting at a possible kidnapping connection, but as more evidence mounts- including some picture of IS on the background of his twitter account, and his twitter messages which included :
I want to know how to go about joining ISIS, I would like to join ISIS.
Currently we live in the times when males are discriminated against, I abhor feminists therefore I like ISIS.
(emphasis mine. Disclaimer: I don’t like feminists either, but ffsake what a fool)
– this is now replaced by another scenario, at least for the first part of the story.
Besides this (possibly greatly misguided fool of a) person, who I hope (to the Lords of Kobol), doesn’t himself star in an ISIS video in an orange suit in a few weeks with a masked man demanding ransom from the Korean government, I have been also thinking about the “journalists” who go to places like Syria to report and get themselves captured and killed. My one more possibly controversial opinion/affront against the journalistic blah-di-blah integrity (I can’t help it) is that “I don’t want to know what is happening in that neck of the woods, I’d rather they didn’t go.” There! I said it!
2. Lee Minjung announces pregnancy
Almost straight after the guilty-of-blackmail verdict against the women who threatened her husband, the actress Lee Minjung has announced that she will give birth to a baby in April. She and Lee Byunghun were seen spending time in the US, supposedly away from all the palaver, to the tune of “stand-by-your-man” but now the reason becomes more clear. The timing of the pregnancy is seen as bad form on LBH’s part, as the punters who got A’s in maths did the sum and they say he was chatting up the other women while his wife was pregnant.
3. Kindergarten and Children’s Day-Care centre under scrutiny after several recent abuse scandals
This is just terrible. There have been several cases against children’s day-care centres in various parts of the country (I’ve actually lost the exact count, I know I am missing a few)
First there was a woman helper at day-care centre in Incheon who used her fist to hit the head of children (4 years old) because they could not do the colouring-in properly (amongst other things)
Then there is investigation launched against the Kimhae day-care centre where the cook is meant to have punished those who ate slowly by making them eat out in the cold corridor, or hitting them on the head or bum making them swallow the throw-up.
There is now a police investigation launched against the head of a Ulsan day care centre as she is accused of stuffing wet wipes in the mouth of a 22-month-old infant because the baby cried too much, or to use her leggings to tie 10-month-old twin babies onto a bed.
I have missed a couple of cases.
The politicians are scrambling over themselves to come up with various ways of fixing the system, from employing grandmothers at the day-care to watch over the kids, to making CCTV a compulsory requirement. Also under scrutiny are the way the centres are graded (like restaurants) and the relative ease with which the qualifications are doled out to the centre employees and carers.
Beautiful day today.
Enjoy the weekend, folks.
What do all these events have in common?
They were memorable lopsided victories.
First reported by Yuna last week, Mr. Lee Byung-hun looked like he was in a bit of a pickle with two young women trying to blackmail him over apparently “sexually suggestive” video content. The married Lee Byung-hun (age 44) met model Lee Ji-yeon (age 24) earlier last year and in alleged text messages, it appeared that Byung-hun tried to seduce the younger woman into having sex with him through gifts and flirty text messages. All this was apparently happening while Byung-hun was barely a year into his marriage with actress Lee Min-Jung (age 32).
From left to right- Kim Da-hee, Lee Byung-hun and Lee Ji-yeon.
So, as the story goes, Lee Byung-hun tries to shag up with Ji-yeon, is apparently unsuccessful, and after tiring of the blue balls inducing chase (other accounts says that Byung-hun dumped Ji-yeon only after she insisted on having sex with him), he dumps her. Jilted, Ji-yeon plotted revenge with her friend, GLAM girl group member Kim Da-hee (age 20), to extort $5 million USD out of Byung-hun by threatening to release of video that allegedly has him making sexually suggestive (lewd?) comments to the girls in one of their evening outings. $5 million USD? Seriously? These girls need to get their heads checked!
Presented with such a ludicrous request Byung-hun did what any sane man would do. He said “hell no” and reported them to the police. Wow, talk about backfire! So, the police question Da-hee and Ji-yeon, they apparently confess to their attempts at blackmail and were formally charged. Yesterday, the Seoul Central District Court convicted both Da-hee and Ji-yeon of attempted blackmail with a jail sentence of one year and one year and two months, respectively.
These girls certainly tried to go big. They bet all their money and the keys to their car on a pair of twos, bluffed badly, and got royally shafted. Spectacular fail, but deserved due to their gross stupidity and hubris. Lee Byung-hun doesn’t come out smelling like roses either, with all kinds of evidence pointing to him being a pervy married ahjussi trying to seduce a girl 20 years his junior.
Photo from Kpopstarz.com via Twitter.
Don’t often get long articles on South Korea in The Economist, but apparently tomorrow (the article is strangely dated into the future: January 17th) they will publish an article about Korean economic nationalism. Yes, good old fashion economic nationalism! Everybody has it, but Korea’s version seems to be a bit more, how shall we say? Focused, aggressive and pervasive? Yeah, that will work.
When South Korean celebrities, eager to prove their patriotism, swapped their German BMW cars for home-grown Hyundais on television, during the Asian financial crisis in 1998, they rallied the whole nation behind domestic products. To wean South Koreans off their Coke and Pepsi, a local firm launched “815 cola”, commemorating Korean liberation from Japan on August 15th 1945.
However, such appeals to patriotism seem to have run their course, and South Koreans have rediscovered their fascination for all things foreign. What has prompted them to rethink is a growing awareness of how much more they pay for things than foreigners do—and not just because of high tariffs—and how easy it has become to import cheap stuff.
Among the first signs that patriotic propaganda was losing its effectiveness came in 2009, when Apple launched the iPhone in South Korea. Samsung fought back by promoting its Omnia 2 mobile as “the pride of South Korea” and local media weighed in with negative reviews of its American rival. Yet Apple went on to seize a quarter of the country’s smartphone sales in one year. More recently, a petition by local grocers last March, calling for a boycott of popular Japanese-branded products, such as beer and cigarettes, flopped.
Yes, but economic nationalism is not dead!
The beautiful Lee Hyori (God bless her heart!) on Twitter said that if Ssangyong rehires all the workers they laid off in 2009, then she will star in a Ssangyong commercial promoting the Tivoli crossover, dancing in a bikini!
Lee Hyori- beautiful AND generous!
Unfortunately, Ssangyong showed their poor sense of aesthetic and business acumen by declining Hyori’s offer.
Personally? I admire Hyori’s sense of community activism and civic virtue, whether or not it’s to promote Korean beef, or raise awareness for abandoned pets, feeding the poor or finding attractive mates for ugly Korean men.
Photo from Soompi.com.
General Cho is not amused and wants a picture with Meryl Streep. Naturally, some Rollos were not pleased with the general and called this presentation “racist”
Please click the photo for a sample of General Cho’s anger.
I saw this movie recently on VOD, not long after Christmas, and I noticed the weird Korean too, but given that it is an American movie and all the Korean actors are Korean American or Korean Canadian, my expectations weren’t high in the first place.
Much of the pronunciation was off. Diana Bang‘s accent was really off, although at least I thought Randall Park‘s accent was a little better. The girl singing in the beginning clearly was a Korean-North American (probably taught how to speak Korean by either weekend language school or parents). Nobody bothered to try and imitate the North Korean accent (which I think is fun to mimic).
What the heck is “모든｜,” huh?
According to Michael Han:
Most of the Korean language spoken in the movie sounded like kindergartners speaking. This is often the case with any language used by non-native speakers. There were some supporting characters whose Korean language seemed more natural, but the main characters sounded like they use English as their primary language, and do not use Korean regularly.
Here is an exhibit A: Randall Park (Kim Jong-un in the movie) says these two lines for a subtitle: “I want his severed head on my desk!”
그 새끼 대가리 원해! (geu seki daegari won-hae!)
눈 목을 거야! (noon mok-eur guh-ya!)
[I] want his head!
[I] am going to eat his eyes!
“[I] want his head” sounds more natural in Korean if it’s translated, “그 새끼 대가리 가지고 와!” (geu seki daegari gajigo wa! / “Bring me his head!”) , because no native Korean speaker would write or say “won-hae” (“[I] want”) in the context of the situation and the expression used.
Diana Bang mispronounces her character’s name in the beginning of the movie as Park Sook-yong and later corrects it to Park Sook-young. Sook-yong being more of a guy’s name and Sook-young being the correct girl’s name (the Chinese character “龍,” pronounced yong meaning “dragon” and the Chinese character “荣,”pronounced young means “glory”).
받아막다 means “confront (or ram on) to block,” instead it should say 정지 or “Stop” like:
Photos from Kotaku, via YTN or Wikimedia Commons.
Choe Sang-hun has written a rather obvious article that points out that the only thing worse than living in a murderous, despotic country is having a bad movie made about you while being resigned to live there.
As for good news, Sony is still offline.
Considering the current concern with satire and free speech, Hyung-Jin Kim’s (AP) article on Shin Eun-mi, the Korean-American woman that has been accused of saying nice things about the DPRK, is a recent report concerning the National Security Act, free speech in South Korea and the politically inspired abuse of such in South Korea.
Shin Eun-mi is due to voluntarily leave today (?) after the Prosecutor’s Office issued a request to have her deported from South Korea today, due to her praise of the DPRK. The Prosecutor’s Office has also requested that she be barred from returning to South Korea for five years and that she be required to apply for a visa to return after that time, even though US citizens do not need a visa to visit South Korea (link). Shin Eun-mi’s “praise” has been construed as being a violation of the controversial National Security Act (an abbreviated translation of it is here). This has also not been the first time a foreign national has been expelled from South Korea for expressing pro-DPRK views – last year, a Chinese student was expelled for such for “suspicions of ‘aiding the enemy'”. (link) The National Security Act has long been a means by which critics of the ROK Government and DPRK supporters, both, have been prosecuted and imprisoned for up to seven years.
This issue illustrates the political intolerance that has characterized the current administration in squashing not only those that say good things about the DPRK but those that criticize the politicians in power and those that would expose the majority party’s incidences of violating the law though means of illegally manipulating government agencies, such as the NIS, or the use of media allies to help thwart investigation into their own violations of law.
Even the closest ally of South Korea thinks that the South Korean Government has gone too far in suppressing what most Americans would consider to be a freedom of speech issue:
. . . In a rare note of criticism of a key ally, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that despite South Korea’s generally strong record on human rights, the (South Korean) security law limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.
A fair description about the current state of South Korean politics and its effect upon free speech and political commentary, by Jamie Doucette and Se-Woong Koo, describes how the security act and government have grown bolder in using the issue of state security to supress those that would indulge their opinions:
. . . In this essay, we argue that this rhetorical shift has been accompanied by an expansion of what South Korean intellectuals term ‘politics by public security,’ a phrase used to describe the use of public security as a ground for stifling dissent and criticism. What is unique about the present moment is not simply the evocation of a threat to national security but the extent to which state agencies have been actively involved in this process, whether it be in the form of direct electoral interference, the leaking of confidential state documents, or the initiation of probes into prominent critics of the government from across the liberal-progressive opposition. In what follows, we examine the recent sequence of events from NIS electoral interference to the more recent move to disband the United Progressive Party in order to better understand distorting effects to Korean democracy brought about by this recent rhetorical shift and its intricate relation to ‘politics by public security.’
A link to this essay can be found here