The Marmot's Hole

Korea... in Blog Format

Tag: Homosexuality

How do you get Korean rightwingers to protest in front of the US embassy?

By having the US embassy support the Korean Queer Festival, that’s how!

The Gidok Ilbo (“Christian Times”) reports that the Korean Citizens’ Alliance for a Healthy Society held a protest in front of the US embassy on Saturday to protest the support the embassy had given to the Queer Festival (HT to Kim Tong-hyung).

In a statement, the group said they could not help but be dumbstruck that the US embassy, crying about human rights for sexual minorities, would participate in the Queer Festival at a time when Koreans were exercising prudence in word and action as the nation overcomes deep wounds and pain.

(Marmot’s Note: Which is perfectly understandable, BTW, because as we all know, it was really the gays that sank the Sewol.)

According to the report, the US embassy set up a booth at the Queer Festival and provided active support for the car parade and other festival events.

The group asked, “The United States is causing many problems as it pursues pro-gay policies like the recent expansion of same-sex marriage legalization, but is it now trying to expand homosexuality in not just the United States, but Korea, too?” They said homosexuality was the main culprit in the occurrence of AIDS, and that homosexuals were at high risk of getting AIDS. They that the number of patients who contracted AIDS due to homosexual activity in Korea is rising like the United States, and asked if the United States was trying to export AIDS, too, to Korea through its gay diplomacy.

The group also said homosexuality was causing many tensions in Korean society. With homosexuals pressuring to even permit homosexuality in the military, there was great tension between the majority of Koreans and homosexuals, they said, and criticized the United States for contributing to even greater tension by supporting homosexuals.

And in language that should make any progressive opponent of Western cultural imperialism proud, the group said the situation in Korea was very different from that of America, and that if the United States is a true partner of Korea, it must respect Korean culture. It called on the United States to immediately cease its policies that are causing social tension by exporting homosexuality to Korea. It also called on the US embassy to stop its support for the Queer Festival and demanded that President Obama apologize to Korea for the US embassy’s high-handedness.

Meanwhile, the Homosexual Issue Countermeasures Committee (or however they translate their name) said there were reports that the US, French and German embassies had set up booths at the Queer Festival, and the overseas trend to recognize homosexuality was growing. It also said there should be strong protests that said embassies were engaging in activities the Korean people did not want.

Feel free to read Christian Today’s account of the Queer Festival here. Apparently some Christian/conservative groups clashed with festival-goers and were arrested for their efforts (see also here).

PS: Just out of curiosity, did the embassy actually give official support to the Korea Queer Festival?

UPDATE: First queer festivals. Then Spider Man with a boner. This nation is truly going in the crapper.

PGH Speaks, Suh Chung-won’s Back, the FA-50 and Korea’s Gay-friendly but Xenophobic Youth

President Park says something about the NIS

Ahead of a tour to Europe, President Park speaks about the NIS allegations:

“I personally didn’t do anything suspicious, but suspicions have been raised that state agencies meddled in the election. I will clearly shed light on those suspicions without fail” and punish those responsible, Park said during a meeting with senior secretaries.

She also called on politicians—read: the opposition—to avoid causing public division and patiently wait for the legal system to do its job. Considering a) if it weren’t for politicians causing public division, it’s doubtful this issue would have even come to light, and b) the chicanery within the prosecution doesn’t instill much confidence in the legal system, I think it’s safe to say Park’s statement won’t shut the opposition up.

Some foreign correspondents offered their opinion on the NIS mess to the Korean Times. For instance:

“What President Park needs to do is open a bipartisan, cross-party investigation,” said Andrew Salmon, a Seoul-based journalist. “The prime minister’s pledge comes only halfway.”
“I think she needs to get the house in order and get rid of old-fashioned right wingers in certain institutions who may be thinking that they are helping her but in fact are a danger to the democratic process,” Salmon said.

As to why these right-wingers would operate in such fashion, he saw them stuck in a past mindset ― in the Cold-War perspective. “Such forces should leave the institution or start writing blogs.”

I’ll do my part by offering any stuck-in-the-past, Fifth Republic holdovers space on my blog, provided they first resign from their official posts.

2013 By-elections: Return of the Suh Chung-won

So, the Saenuri Party swept both by-elections. The key one was Hwaseong-A District, where Suh Chung-won won, and won big. Everything you need to know about Suh I shall reprint below:

The return to the political scene of heavyweight Suh, President Park’s long-time ally who served two separate prison terms for violating election-finance laws, may signal a wind of change in the leadership structure at the ruling Saenuri Party.


He is also expected to present a challenge to Representative Kim Moo-sung, who has been building his clout in the party and has recently emerged as one of the strongest candidates for the next presidential race. Kim is highly likely to run for the party chairmanship in a party convention scheduled for next year.

Party insiders say Kim is remote from the president, who has strong confidence in Suh because he is less politically ambitious and more loyal.

Double ugh.

The FA-50 Is a Good Plane. But It’s Not an Easy Sale

Will anybody buy the FA-50? That’s what the boys and girls at War is Boring ask (HT to Geek Ken):

Nonetheless, at $35 million a pop, the FA-50 is a bargain for the capabilities it offers. Plus the aircraft has operating costs that are a fraction of that of other fighters—even something as small and comparatively low-cost as a JAS-39 Gripen. For that relatively low price, a country gets an aircraft that has much of the performance of a full-sized fighter — a 75-percent solution.
But as impressive as the FA-50 is, especially for its price, the small fighter faces an uncertain future. “The problem isn’t the plane — they have designed one of the best lightweight fighters in years,” says Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group. “The problem is the market.”

The market has shifted in over the years. Countries that used to buy light fighters such as the F-5 — Turkey, for one — have moved on to more expensive aircraft like the F-16. But other nations have fallen upon hard times and have not been able to purchase modern fighters in decades — Argentina, for example. “The market has kind of bifurcated into haves and have-nots,” Aboulafia says.

Now, Korea did sign earlier this month an MOU with the Philippines to export a dozen FA-50s. What make that sale even MORE interesting is that Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun—quoting multiple Korean officials—reports that Seoul made that deal over the objections of the Chinese, who asked Korea not to sell the fighters to the Philippines.

Koreans Grow More Conservative. Young Koreans Least Homophobic, Most Xenophobic

The Dong-A Ilbo and The Asan Institute for Policy Studies conducted a poll of attitudes in Korea, yielding some interesting results. Up to last year, self-identified progressives outnumbered self-identified conservatives by about 10 percentage points, but this year, centrists (41.2%) and conservatives (32.7%) outnumbered progressives (26.1%). In particular, the percentage of self-identified conservatives grew by 9 percentage points among those in their 20s and 11 percentage points among those in their 60s.

A researcher at the Asan Institute said the drop in support for progressives was largely thanks to support for Park’s strong response to North Korean provocations soon after she took office, late President Roh’s statements about the NLL, and the whole UPP/Lee Seok-ki fiasco.

Meanwhile, conservatives are growing more conservative and progressives more progressive. Slightly more Korean feel the government should focus more on growth than distribution, but conservatives and progressives responded to this quite differently. Conservatives also tended to more heavily favor limits on personal freedom for the public interest—not exactly good news for you classical liberals out there.

Even more interesting—especially for some readers—is that it was young respondents in their 20s that revealed the highest degree of xenophobia. Some 23.9% of respondents in their 20s said they disliked foreigners living in Korea, the highest of any age group. Respondents in their 30s were the least xenophobic, with just 16.1% saying they disliked foreigners living in Korea.

Likewise, 31.3% of respondents in their 20s agreed that foreign laborers were making a mess of Korea’s social values, 10 percentage points higher than the 21.5% for the survey as a whole. This was followed by 21.6% for those in their 50s and 60s and 19.1% for those in their 30s. Only 15.3% of those in their 40s agreed with the statement. Furthermore, 35.1% of those in their 20s said that multicultural families were raising the level of social instability and complicating social unity.

That said, those xenophobic 20-somethings are not equal-opportunity in their hate. They especially dislike immigrants from China and the Philippines, but they are actually less adverse to immigrants from the United States and Japan than those of other age groups, and especially those in their 60s. This is believed to be the result of discomfort resulting from the growth in the number of Chinese students studying in Korea and concern about crimes committed by foreign laborers like the Oh Won-chun murder. Also believed to be at play is the feeling that foreigners are stealing jobs at a time when it’s difficult to find work.

Koreans still don’t like gays, though. Some 78.5% of respondents said they didn’t like homosexuals, although this number has come down year-to-year. That said, 42.5% of respondents in their 20s said they didn’t dislike gays, as opposed to only 8.3% of respondents of in their 60s. Some 53.0% of respondents in their 20s said same-sex marriage should be legalized, while only 7.6% of those in their 60s believed so. Interestingly, there was little ideological difference on the question of homosexuals—84.9% of conservatives and 70.3% of progressives disliked gays.

As for abortion, 55.3% of respondents said they believed abortions should be permitted only when the life of the mother is threatened. Only 29.9% said abortion should be left up to the mother’s choice, and even fewer (14.8%) said it should be banned outright. Younger respondents tended to support the permitting of abortion, while older ones did not. As with homosexuality, the numbers did not change much according to ideology, with conservatives and progressives responding similarly.

I knew the gays were plotting a North Korean takeover!

At Global Voices, Lee Yoo Eun has written a good post about the push by the DUP and UPP to pass an anti-discrimination law and the push-back they’ve gotten from conservative groups:

South Korean conservative groups are mounting a fierce resistance to a proposed anti-discrimination law in South Korea that would prohibit discrimination based on based on religion, political ideology, or sexual orientation.

The comprehensive bill, which was drafted after receiving recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, was introduced to the country’s legislature early February 2013 and it is now pending review from the Legislation and Judiciary Committee-just a few steps away from becoming effective.

The possible legal changes it could bring include banning all forms of corporal punishment, toughening measures on sexual violence against children, and stepping up the monitoring of discrimination against migrant workers. However, the law still excludes any changes to the the controversial, anti-communist National Security Law as well as the death sentence.

I’d been meaning to post on this law since last week after I saw a piece in the Hani on the law that mentioned there was a hotel sauna in Suncheon that banned homosexuals from entering. Had a sign right next to the entrance that said homosexuals and other people judged to be potentially disgusting to others would be refused entry.

Christian groups in particular are not happy about banning discrimination against homosexuals. The Christian Council of Korea (CCK), Korea’s largest Christian lobbying group, has been apoplectic, arguing that not only does homosexuality not accord with Korean culture, but the aim of the anti-discrimination bill is to sow social chaos at the behest of North Korea:

Hong’s argument seems fitter for the Onion than serious news outlets. He accuses gay-rights sympathizers in politics and the civic community as ”leftists” because they weaken society by causing disorder and that all this would eventually benefit the North Koreans threatening the democratic South.

“The spread of homosexuality would bring chaos to society. Isn’t it obvious who would benefit from that? Any disruption in politics, society and culture will play to North Korea’s favor. The leftists have always been doing things like this and this is why the CCK exists: to stop them,’’ he said.

The irony here is that somewhere, there’s a Confucian scholar bitching about how Korean society has gone to shit since the Christians came with their strange, corrupt foreign ways.

UPDATE: To be fair to the CCK, they aren’t the only Christians in the world linking gays and the North Korea threat.

Another irony here is that while the CKK may dislike gays, I’m willing to bet North Korea really dislikes gays. In 2011, there were even reports that North Korea publicly executed two lesbians. If somebody told me North Korea shores up public support by running clips of “Modern Family” and warning that’s what’s coming if the Americans invade, I wouldn’t be surprised. Then again, Fidel Castro might tell you otherwise about the North Koreans, and North Korean vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan did see a performance of “The Producers” during a visit to New York in 2007, which does make you wonder whether the Christian nutters may be on to something here. Might the CCK be the only thing standing between us and a lifetime of tree bark, Lady Gaga and Glee? Heaven save us!

So I take it the classroom will be a homosexuality-free zone?

As we mentioned earlier, Seoul education chief-elect Moon Yong-lin wants to change the student human rights ordinance promulgated by Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education earlier this year.

As you can see from the photo used in the link, one of the beefs conservatives have had with the ordinance is that it includes provisions to protect the rights of homosexual students. In his televised debate with left-wing candidate Lee Su-ho—former head of the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union—on Dec 6, Moon said about these provisions, “Schools need to teach that (homosexuality) mustn’t take place in schools; they mustn’t teach that you have the right (to be homosexual).”

Well, that’s frank.

Gays, transgenders and Yakuza, oh my!

Seoul’s finest have applied for an arrest warrant for a Mr. Park (44), who is accused of making a ton of money in protection money and commissions for arranging prostitution opportunities in Japan for local gay and transgender individuals, reports Yonhap.

Some 28 individuals were booked for prostitution, including a Mr. Oh (21).

According to the cops, Park is suspected of recruiting about 30 gay and transgendered individuals for overseas prostitution in Japan via a well-known local online community for homosexuals from last year to recently. His recruiting pitch was that they could make a lot of money selling sex in Japan.

Police say he made about 320 million won in commissions and protection money from 27 prostitutes, who worked in Yokohama red-light district run by the Yakuza.

Police also found that Park, who has AIDS, forced some of the gay men to have sex with him.

A police official said Park used negative public perception of sexual minorities and their fewer job options to seduce them with opportunities to make lots of money. He said most of the prostitutes who were busted were unemployed and decided to sell themselves to earn a living.

In cooperation with their Japanese counterparts, Seoul police plan to investigate if the Yakuza and other agents were involved.

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