HT to Korea Beat.
Looks like the Chosun Ilbo has finally started doing what the Korean media should have been doing a long time ago — reporting also on patterns of violence against foreigners. Although it remains to be seen whether this writer’s observations regarding the rise in petty violence against foreign men will ever make it into mainstream reporting, at least a major daily has started to report on a problem I noted with rising numbers of sexual assaults on foreign females quite some time ago. Winter brought the issue to the fore during her tenure on Misuda.
Here’s to a story that doesn’t fit the grand narrative.
As we pointed out here before, there seems to be a pattern of arresting South Asian men for photographing what is apparently perfectly legal for Koreans to do. This is the second summer I have heard of South Asian men being arrested for photographing women on the beach.
When the Chosun Ilbo continuously photographs white women in bikinis, it’s ok and even worth printing, which should actually make legal matters worse according to Korea legal principles, than the brown men in question, who are considered criminals for doing far less.
Still, I wonder if the typical response to their barrage wasn’t a harrassing cell phone message, but perhaps something more reasonable, such as the huge amount of criticism expressed over blogs, newspapers, and other legitimate sources. Once again, offer the most inflammatory and extreme examples to typify an entire community’s response. Bascially, the response from foreigners was summed up by either simplistic remarks, foreigners completely agreeing with the paper, or harassing the reporter in a sexual way.
No one out there had any other response? No one mentioned statistics? Or lack thereof? Or the human rights report? Or Ban Ki-Moon’s own agreement that HIV testing as a response to these reports is a human rights violation? The sheer non-newsworthiness of all this business? Anything?
Leave it to the Chosun Ilbo to mention none of the real issues, typify the foreigner response with extreme or simply dumb examples, and report that strange, random web sites that supposedly we foreigners are reading to seduce Korean women have any standing in the foreign community, while completely ignoring the responses from the many sites that actually DO.
We here at Korean Media Watch feel like a certain tipping point is being reached, as foreigners are beginning to fight back, speak up, and tell their own stories. We’re all about “getting another narrative out there,” so we were very happy to find a tip in our mailbox pointing us to this video.
It’s excellent because it’s heartfelt and makes a very good point, but without the longwindedness. As they say, a “picture is worth a thousand words,” so what you see here speaks volumes.
And two of my own images were used in its making, so I am flattered.
Interestingly enough, the version of the Chosun Ilbo’s story that appear on its site –“한국 유부녀들은 남편 대신에…” 일부 원어민 강사들 비하발언 파문 (English translation from Korea Beat) — went up in a different way from Yahoo’s syndicated feed version of the story, which had added the following image graphic:
[Source: Yahoo News]
Interesting to see these two images actually linked together as a single graphic, which does a great job of linking all foreigners’ apparent sexual desire for Korean women and debauchery to the issue of “sexual groping” that was brought up in the story. This is more than a story, or a series of stories, but are actually parts of a growing meta-narrative in which foreigners (specificially men) are an actual pathological threat to the “innocent” members of society, i.e. women and children.
There is no logical reason to link these two photographs together other than that. And since the issue of sexual groping is quite literally at hand, adding a picture in which you actually see it happening is a very powerful emotional move. Here, we have a white man (and perhaps another off-camera) with his hands all over the flesh of two Korean women, in what is a party atmosphere, in an environment that is private. But that doesn’t matter when that picture is used to depict the “sexual groping” that the article talks about. A mere picture of an adult English teacher in a shot of many students isn’t so powerful, since it simply says that “he is in charge of your children”or “watch out.” There is no sense of direct sexual threat in the left picture.
But with the magic of the mosaic, the two white men, who have nothing to do with one another, who are acting in very different private and public spheres, become conflated into a single “white male menace,” made similar by not just their proxomity to each other in their layout, but by the faceless anonymity and notoriety assigned them by that mosaic. They are these men, and all white men. Note that the only “sexual grope” is in the picture on the right, ostensibly between consenting adults, but the psychological effect of such lurid imagery is to make the reader feel almost as if s/he had seen the white male English teachers actually groping a child in the picture on the left.
In a sense, and on an emotional level, the white man/men are guilty of lewd groping of Korean girls, regardless of context, at least in the conservative Korean mind, especially one that is full of stereotypes and negative images already. And once that emotional trigger is pulled, the psychological connection between perfectly legal, but perhaps unsavory “sexual groping” in a night club or other private space, and that of perhaps small girls in the public space of the classroom, is made. In terms of the visual and emotional connections, it’s almost as if a grope, and hence, an actual crime had been depicted in the picture on the left, rather than in the picture on the right, taken from a situation clearly that should absolutely be considered personal and private. In the end, the emotional brain won’t really make any real distinctions, because in a fundamental way, it doesn’t matter which picture sexual groping actually took place in — both pictures are, from a certain emotional standpoint, one and the same.
As suspected, the crime of gambling has been added to the meme of the “criminal English teacher” from the recent bust of what appears to be nothing more than a private poker game, which the police claim to be a “drug and gambling ring,” emphasis mine. KBS has several television stories going out:
마약에 성추행까지…막나가는 원어민 강사 (link in Korean)
“From Drugs to Sexual Groping…Foreign Instructors on the Loose”
‘막가는 외국인 영어강사’ 환각 수업에 성추행 (link in Korean)
“Out-of-control Foreign English Instructors: Sexual Groping during Class”
‘막가는 외국인 영어강사’ 마약에 도박까지 (link in Korean)
“Out-of-control Foreign English Instructors: From Drugs to Gambling”
‘막가는 외국인 영어강사’ 마약에 도박까지 (link in Korean)
“Out-of-control Foreign English Instructors: From Drugs to Gambling”
These are variations on the same report being passed around KBS. These stories clearly feed into the single, big meta-story of “foreigners gone wild in Korea” and evolved to include the new gambling story.
Donga.com also got in on the story with:
원어민 강사들 2000여회 포커 도박
As did the Maeil Kyeongje, with their story:
도박·마약에 찌든 외국인 영어 강사 무더기 적발
More will be added to this post as the story develops.
I’d have to agree with that sentiment, expressed by Korea Beat in the seeming declaration of war against foreigners on the part of the Chosun Ilbo. It’s 4 for 4 with the “intern reporter” Choi Hui-seon’s fusillade against foreigners. The roundup:
It’s getting pretty ugly over there, and I’m personally getting pretty interested in talking to Choi Hui-seon, the “intern reporter” generating all this nasty coverage over at the Chosun Ilbo.
UPDATE: We got an audio interview with several of the main players, along with some pretty disturbing descriptions of police misconduct, coercion of testimony, and even alleged lying to the Canadian embassy when asked if media were present — the officer communicating said they weren’t, although the picture taken by one of the suspects shows a different story.
Expect some kind of story, with accompanying video, about a “ring” of foreigners involved in drugs and gambling, from tonight on the national news.
From a tip to Korean Media Watch, a group of Americans/Canadians were having a poker game that was raided. Apparently, someone called in a tip. There were 8 members at the raid, one of whom was female but was not asked to come down to the station to pose for the cameras today. 6 others NOT present at the poker game but had been players before were “asked to come down and make a statement” at which time they were told to take urine drug tests. The original 8 had already done so. Apparently, two of the original 8 tested positive, although no drugs were apparently found. This morning at the station, it was a press field day, with cameras called in and set up around a makeshift poker table IN the station. They were even asked by the Korean press to re-enact the game around the table for the cameras, which they refused to do. They also refused to grant any interviews.
One reporter, who seemed a bit disappointed or confused about what was actually going down, informed a member of the group that they had been called by the police, who had claimed to have busted a “drugs and gambling ring.” This is apparently how the police want things to go appear, as this is the context under which the press was called. A few things seem obvious — that the police are primed to turn anything involving foreigners into a “big story” and are directly involved in calling the media down to the station, as well as spinning the story. No matter what particular trouble any members of the group might be in, it is certainly a stretch to call a poker game a drug and gambling “ring,” or to link this story to other “foreigners acting wild” yellow journalism already out there. Considering the pattern of media vilification of foreigners, expect lurid closeup shots of a poker table (provided by the police), exaggerated unnecessary implications about other crime “rings” being conducted by foreigners, and most importantly, linkage of this story to other bad journalism already out there.
We will do our best to get their side of the story out there, at least, and to keep things in context. However, it must be expected that the media will follow the general pattern: wildly exaggerate the facts fo the story, generalize that story to the greater population, and pose this generalized population as a “threat” to the Korean public, especially to children.
In the beginning and end, all from a poker game. No drugs on the premises or the persons in question, no reasonable evidence for a gambling “ring.” But that’s how the police are spinning it.
One suggestion from this writer and others: watch your Facebook accounts and updates. There is a lot of suspicion that certain interested parties are now watching Facebook, for various reasons related to the specifics of how this and related stories went down, and that calls are being made, tips being given, from watching Facebook, one suspects status updates and event announcements. From the appearance of this story, it seemed like an easy setup and tipoff, with the police ready and prepared to spin a finished story, poker table included.
This pattern of foriegner vilification has institutional momentum, from an over-eager police force ready to make a poker game into a criminal drug and gambling “ring,” to a media equally ready to run any lurid story involving foreigners, whether illegal acts are involved or not. With a police force working hand-in-hand with the media for “the next big scandal,” the results should not be surprising.
The Chosun Ilbo and “intern reporter” Choi Hee-seon have blemished their reputations in the story “어린 학생-동료 여성강사 가리지 않는 원어민강사들의 성범죄” or in English, “Unabashed Sexual Crimes Against Young Students and Fellow Female Instructors.” [HT to Korea Beat.]
So, without being able to speak to whether or not these allegations are true, the problem is that the venerated Chosun Ilbo is basing a story and engaging in further English teacher character assassination based on a single and extremely biased source — the “Anti-English Spectrum Cafe,” which itself has problems with questionable sources. And the problem in the past has been that these stories are either completely untrue, or have no secondary confirmation or validation. Supposedly, by now, there are legions of foreign English teachers who have been arrested for sexual crimes against children. However, not a single one has shown up in official crime statistics. Where are the arrest reports? Why are names never named, even in the case of hagwons? Why are there no specifics other than hearsay-level evidence? And…
Why is there NEVER an interview with the alleged offender, English teachers, or foreigners at all? Ever?
If you want the REAL numbers of all foreigners in Korea, as well as the report that shows exactly how many crimes were committed by E-2 visa holders, please download from these links.