I'm not the only person - as this Swimming World Magazine article reveals - to hear the news of the kerfuffle in Rio involving drunk American Olympic swimmers and think of what happened in Seoul in 1988.
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which pass for public opinion in a land where no such thing exists can be found only in Seoul - Isabella Bird Bishop, 1898
Then, Obama's recent visit to Hiroshima acted as a wedge. It's laudable for him to try to free the world of the fetters of nuclear weapons. But here, memories of Japan's brutal occupation remain fresh even after the passage of 70 years. Obama was perhaps too engrossed in the heat of the moment to say out loud that the nuclear attacks were the result of Japan's aggression and those killed and maimed were the victims of its failed leadership. Ironically, his visit has freed ultranationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ilk from the atrocities it had committed. Human rights are one of two pillars of U.S. foreign policy, with nonproliferation being the other. For sure, Obama's visit didn't help much on human rights.Regarding "memories of Japan's brutal occupation remain fresh even after the passage of 70 years" (and I wonder why that is?), perhaps it's worth noting that most countries don't dedicate their education system and media to instilling historical bitterness quite like the Koreas, and thus not everyone believes that any given Japan-related news item is an occasion to dredge up memories of suffering. But I'll concede that it's a great way to keep people's minds off more important things. The Korean government itself apparently had no such complaints; a foreign ministry official said, "In such a historic speech, it is meaningful that he clearly mentioned Koreans, putting them on par with American and Japanese victims." Which might suggest that confirming victim status is a diplomatic victory. The problem is that it seems like aspiring to victim status is part of the Korean national identity, and thus there are some who would insist that Koreans' suffering should be elevated above everyone else's.
an interview with a prominent expert on prostitution. When I asked what she thought of the comfort women issue, she asked me to put my pen down so that she could rant politically incorrectly off-the-record.In a Korea Times column, Maija Rhee Devine (who will give a lecture for the RAS in September on the comfort women) asks "Are comfort women lying?" Her ultimate answer is no, but she points to criticism of the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, who are suspected of having "coached" the comfort women in some of their testimony.
"It's a joke," she said. "Pure hypocrisy."
We all know Japan was guilty of terrible things up to 1945, but, she said, this chauvinistic focus on justice for a historical matter is popular with Koreans because it conveniently distracts us from the real issue and our own continued guilt.
The real issue is the attitude in Korea of men towards women and human trafficking in the sex industry that operates on the scale it does as a consequence of that attitude.
That explained for me the odd fact that the comfort women story did not surface until 40 years after the war. People in 1945 were of course angry about the Japanese occupation but the comfort women did not appear important then, few even knew about it because male attitudes toward women and the trafficking of young women to service them hadn't changed with national liberation.
Like Sin [Ch'ae-ho], chuch'eron [the (supposedly) North Korean-influenced anti-imperialist 'philosophy' of leftist South Korean students popular from the mid-1980s to the 1990s] sees the entire history of the Korean people as an epic struggle to overcome foreign domination and feudal oppression. The historian's task, in other words, entails the examination of the experience and legacy of the Korean people's struggle to preserve their "core" identity. [...] Perceived as a significant threat to this core identity, miscegenation became associated with a whole host of related themes about the defense of the social body - the retrieval of a superior "core" Korean identity in the name of a phantasmic Korean essence. The ability of the foreign male to penetrate (literally) the inner and inviolable sanctum of Korean women and to establish conjugal alliances with them was perceived not only as a threat to the viability of the family, but as an act that undermined the fundamental cohesion and identity of the Korean nation. Thus we find in Korea that those women who formed marriage alliances across racial lines were popularly perceived as being women of "loose" morals: prostitutes, bar hostesses, or entertainers. In fact the were represented as the polemical inversion of the idealized virtuous female associated with Korea's traditional romance narratives. By allowing themselves to be appropriated by the West, these women were simultaneously perceived as being victims of Western imperialism and faithless profiteers of American capitalism. Both pitied and despised, the whore thus became the symbol of the nation's shame as well as the rallying point for national resistance. (Pages 71-72)
[Paul] Fussell criticized the poem in his work The Great War and Modern Memory (1975). He noted the distinction between the pastoral tone of the first nine lines and the "recruiting-poster rhetoric" of the third stanza. Describing it as "vicious" and "stupid", Fussell called the final lines a "propaganda argument against a negotiated peace".Is the propagation of such images as those above (especially in a manner meant to communicate to the young) not, in its own way, similar propaganda? This is not to say Korea is the only side at fault, of course - political realities in both Japan and Korea militate against solving the Comfort Women and Dokdo issues, and Japan's apologies (listed here - to 2005 - by Konrad Lawson) have often fell short of the mark (though a cultural tendency towards indirectness plays a part in this). Another elephant in the room is the effect on Japanese attitudes towards the war of the U.S. occupation of Japan and the American decision to preserve the imperial institution and protect the Emperor from prosecution during the Tokyo trials; as John Dower has put it, if the Emperor, in whose name the war was fought, wasn't going to be held responsible, why should anyone else feel guilty? One can only hope that, much like an ascendant Germany pushed the UK and France into an alliance before WWI, China's rise will have a similar effect at some point in the future. But as long as the Korean Gordian Knot - its division - remains in place, other problems related to mid-20th century history will be difficult to solve. An insistence in Korea on allowing displays (and popular culture) to portray Korea as a historical victim to inculcate historical bitterness in order to distract the populace and/or encourage a nationalist belief in Korea's moral superiority strikes me as something that will be counterproductive in the long run - even if it has its uses in the short term.
A man in his twenties who even received the motel fee from a 13-year-old schoolgirl found guilty of prostitutionAfter moving on from my amazement at how someone could be that much of a scumbag, what I found interesting is that the defendant was content to suggest that he'd had consensual sex with a minor (though he did try to say "she looked 20ish"). Back in mid-2013 laws were changed regarding sex crimes (see here and here), particularly against minors, but these clearly did not affect age of consent, which is still 13, though there are certain limitations, as pointed out in this case, as well as its follow-up, higher-court appeal ruling, as described over at klawguru.com. As is noted there, having sex with someone between the ages of 13 and 18 is not a crime unless you did so "by authority/deception" (though not by "position of authority"), while having sex with someone 12 years old or younger is "a crime (unless you had no way of knowing)." Even the latter part seems to have wiggle room (as it did in a case in Gangneung a few years ago where an instructor in an elementary school was initially let off by police for having sex with a 12 year old student because they were "in love" - until they found out he was also "in love" with a 15 year old former student).
A man in his twenties who met a 13-year-old runaway schoolgirl for sex but argued he wasn't guilty and said that "The schoolgirl paid more of the motel fee so it wasn't prostitution" was found guilty.
Seoul Eastern District Court announced on the 16th that is that it [sentenced] Mr. Lee (22), who had been charged with contravening the Law for Sexual Protection of Children and Youth, to a one-year sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to attend 40 hours of sexual assault treatment classes.
Mr. Lee came to know A (13) on June 10, 2015 via a smartphone chatting application. Learning that A had run away and needed a place to sleep he promised, "If you come to my house, I can put you up," and the next morning he called her out to the Uijeongbu Station area.
When he met A, Lee said, "It's hot right now, so let’s go and rest," and took A to a nearby motel. The motel fee was 20,000 won but Lee had only 8000 won in his pocket. Lee asked A, "Can you pay a little bit?" and got 10,000 won from her and, after getting a 2000 won discount, paid the motel fee.
After they had sex, Lee said, "My parents came home early so I can't put you put you up," and left A and returned home.
In court Lee claimed that "Since I had never promised to put her up at my house and I paid 8000 won of the motel fee but A paid 10,000 won, it wasn't buying sex."
Subsequently he protested that "Since A looked 20ish in her chatting program profile photo, in which she was wearing makeup, I didn't think she was a minor."
However, the court said, "It doesn't make any sense that you saw her face and didn't know she was 13." "Seeming to offer to put up a runaway victim at your house and meeting [her], you acted to buy sex to satisfy your sexual desire, and the fact that even after that you left her and ignored the fact that she was penniless because of you makes the nature of the crime very bad."
It added, "Because she expected that the defendant would give him a place to stay afterwards, she readily gave 10,000 won." "The defendant fully acknowledged the fact that he promised to provide payment for things like a place to stay and that, expecting this, A acceded to sex."
A court official said, "The amount of money when providing payment for prostitution does not matter; if it's true that payment is provided, then [the fact of] prostitution is established."
The revisions are only a step forward, although a significant one. A bigger problem is our society’s misperceptions about sex crimes. According to a survey of policemen in small and mid-sized cities in South Gyeongsang, a whopping 53.8 percent said that sexual violence occurs due to women’s sexy dressing. Thirty-seven percent said it’s a woman’s fault when she is sexually attacked while drunk. That clearly illustrates our society’s generosity toward men’s sexual impulses.You know there's a problem when the police answer this way (though perhaps we won't be too surprised by such attitudes coming from "small and mid-sized cities in South Gyeongsang," considering what happened in Miryang in 2004 - but it's sad to see these attitudes hadn't changed ten years later.
There have been attempts to raise the age of consent, such as that of then-Grand National Party lawmaker Kwon Seong-dong, who tried to lift it to 16 in 2012. I am mystified as to why it is still 13. With the ever-increasing concern over child protection, I doubt any political party would have anything to lose by throwing its weight behind a legal change here.And yet this attempt to raise the age of consent went nowhere. As one ponders this fact in the light of lenient sentence after lenient sentence for those who sexually assault or exploit minors, one might be tempted to reach some rather unpleasant conclusions.
The current government, however, refuses to revisit the case, and is blocking a push by an opposition lawmaker to do so on the grounds that the evidence is too old.Well, we wouldn't want any more dirt on the president's father to be dug up, would we?
Ahn Jeong-tae, an official from Seoul's Ministry of the Interior, said focusing on just one human rights incident would financially burden the government and set a bad precedent. The Brothers' victims, he said, should have submitted their case to a temporary truth-finding commission established in the mid-2000s to investigate past atrocities. "We can't make separate laws for every incident and there have been so many incidents since the Korean War," Ahn said.
In 1975, dictator President Park Chung-hee, father of current President Park Geun-hye, issued a directive to police and local officials to "purify" city streets of vagrants. Police officers, assisted by shop owners, rounded up panhandlers, small-time street merchants selling gum and trinkets, the disabled, lost or unattended children, and dissidents, including a college student who'd been holding anti-government leaflets.The article makes a provocative claim:
They ended up as prisoners at 36 nationwide facilities. By 1986, the number of inmates had jumped over five years from 8,600 to more than 16,000, according to government documents obtained by AP. Nearly 4,000 were at Brothers. But about 90 percent of them didn't even meet the government's definition of "vagrant" and therefore shouldn't have been confined there, former prosecutor Kim Yong Won told the AP, based on Brothers' records and interviews compiled before government officials ended his investigation.
Choi was one of thousands — the homeless, the drunk, but mostly children and the disabled — rounded up off the streets ahead of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which the ruling dictators saw as international validation of South Korea's arrival as a modern country.Except that Choi was arrested in 1982. Still, considering who was president at the time and the general 'clean ups' that take place in Olympic cities, it wouldn't be surprising. You'd think that the mass abuse of children would prompt more outrage, but keeping in mind the short sentences handed out for rape of children or the low age of consent, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised. Maybe a movie needs to be made to draw attention, like 'The Crucible' or the one about the Burger King murder in Itaewon which resulted in the case being reopened.
"The Employer will immediately report the Employee to the appropriate agencies once the Employer becomes aware of any illegal action (Narcotics, etc.) by the Employee and the Employee shall be subject to prosecution and punishment according to Korean Law."
A video went viral over the weekend, showing an Italian person stopping his car in the middle of the road, getting out and while shaking his fist, spewed what sounded as obscenities. The scene was captured in the "black box" camera of the car behind him. The woman in that car was quoted by a cable channel as saying, "He cursed at me but I didn't get out for the fear that he would physically harm me."Good to hear such laws have been passed. This SBS report documented two more foreigners misbehaving on the road, asking "Just because you live in Korea, does it mean you have to emulate even our rough driving culture?" [Hat tip to Robert Koehler.]
The man, a resident in Korea, was outraged when he was honked at when cut in on the Olympic Expressway near the Seongsu Bridge at around 3 p.m. Sunday. He was booked without physical detention for endangerment by a sudden change of lanes. The police sent the case to prosecutors with a recommendation for indictment.[...]
They may hope that they will be given the benefit of extenuating circumstances for not promptly keeping abreast with a law change, introduced last month, which has strengthened penalties significantly after a number of road rage cases involving Koreans.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission warned the nation's No.1 portal website Naver to use"voluntary restraint" after it posted video links to the drama entitled "Lily Fever," according to Hankook Ilbo, Monday. The mandate came after netizens reported the drama's bold portrayal of homosexuality.Isn't the suicide rate high enough already?
The watchdog was cited as saying homosexual love scenes in the drama "incited sexual curiosity and tempted viewers to imitate the acts in practice" thus "violating social orders in terms of ethical values."
After the 20-year-old Raskalov updated his Instagram account with a photo of his feet precariously atop Seoul’s Lotte World Tower, Sunday, the Korean public responded with fierce criticism of his “reckless” and “irresponsible” behavior. [...] Users left lengthy tirades under Raskalov’s photo in Korean, admonishing the adventurer for what they saw as unwarranted entry into private property, which could have resulted in disastrous accidents.Well, that's embarrassing, then. As the Korea Times notes, the site even had posters up telling them they were banned from the building. How that didn't work, I've no idea. On the bright side, at least they weren't leaving graffiti.
One Korean user with Instagram handle “heuum_” called Raskalov “an unarmed IS soldier” in the sense that he poses a threat to the safety of innocent people around him. “He’s being a nuisance in a foreign country. Safety is the utmost principle at a construction site. He is thoughtless to be doing this without safety measures,” heuum_ said. [...]
Lotte World Tower authorities had been wary of Raskalov and Makhorov entering its premises ever since it was reported the two were traveling in Korea. Roughly 400 security agents had been stationed around the construction site.