“Unwanted Guests” on Korea’s Beaches!

July 23rd, 2013
Unfortunately, this kind of story isn’t new.

“It’s ok if WE do it, though. Here’s an entire photo gallery of Chosun Ilbo reporters shooting up busty white women being jostled and jiggled by crashing waves. Now, THAT’s news!

I find this article’s overall tone and obvious pointlessness vaguely racist.  it’s not about yelling names or calling for discriminatory acts, but it’s about otherrizing and stigmatizing specific group of people in a continuous pattern for no apparent reason other than t0 point out social discomfort with the fact that people from this group are doing that thing.  And even and especially in Korea these days, it’s not so cool to be overtly racist, at least not anymore. So the way to do it is to steal a page from American apologists for racism and couch  discontent over contact with stigmatize other in terms of the apparently positive discourse of multiculturalism.  In this article, what popped out at me is the fact that the apparent social issue and niggardly problem of apparently mostly brown  men from Pakistan and other “foreign laborers from South Asia”  taking pictures of bikini-clad women on the beach  is not attributed to anything concrete such as perhaps there being some lack of knowledge regarding law and custom regarding photography, or even the possibility that such men are consciously and willfully flouting such laws, but the article starts off the questioning about  why this is happening with phrases such as, “Perhaps being due to cultural differences…”  and grounding the article’s raison de etre with quotes from interviews with apparently distressed young women saying, ” I don’t feel free to run around and play and stuff with all these man staring at me so intently and taking pictures that might end up on the Internet.” Ah,  So it’s truly crisis worthy of continuously writing articles targeting specific ethnic groups with headliners such as “South Asian Haeeundae Summer Vacationers Univited Guests?” in in a very meta-way, indeed they are uninvited guests,  as the article not-so-subtly implies, and it’s difficult not to make the  mental connection with the very obvious social fact that brown men from South Asia are  unwanted and indeed “uninvited guests” in general.
The big question that needs to be asked here is whether this is  even newsworthy,  and why the perceived newsworthiness seems to  based around the fact of these men being of different ethnic origin and from  already  heavily stigmatized countries. there is also the questionable fact that this exact same story seems to come up again and again over the course of a single summer and the pattern continues from summer to summer in general.  And the article itself dozen even pose the issue as anything significant or  a real issue  warranting real  proposals or solutions.  It just skirts the issue  and protect itself from criticism by copping out with the final line that “This is something that society must consider.”  What the hell does that mean, exactly?   Although no cut news  publication is not worth the paper it’s printed on  as even an alternative to toilet paper, the writers are smart enough to avoid the appearance of intolerable bias by casting their racist aspersions   under the guys and protection of seemingly innocuous attempt to bridge walls of “cultural misunderstanding.” but don’t get it twisted.

2009031200265 1

No, THIS is perfectly acceptable, though, right? Might THIS be applicable under the new special sexual harrassment law? Taking pictures of high school girls changing with a 300mm lens set BELOW relative ground level? Might this not cause “embarrasment or shame?”

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source: Chosun Ilbo

Yet the newspapers are targeting a relatively tiny number of vacationing brown factory workers who take out their cameras on the beach on the few days per YEAR they get exposure to the sun per year and take pics of bikini-clad girls that might go on the Internet (Oh, no! Girls in bikinis standing in public places doing absolutely normal things!) while Korean NEWSPAPER photographers are busy doing the exact same to busty white girls bobbling about in the surf, and UPSKIRTING MINORS in pics that are definitely going on the ‘net. Put those brown guys in jail! Fine ‘em! Bring the paddy wagons!!
If I got caught taking these pictures by the police, I’d be under the jail.
The whole reason for this ongoing pattern of stories  is to otherize and stigmatize aspecific group of people we know all too well is already very heavily looked down upon in  Korean society.  To argue that this is innocuous is to bend over backwards  defend this kind of  this kind of garbage reporting.
Sure, there might be some problems and some irritating differences in thinking and habit on the beach. Even the article cannot bring itself to up the ante of concern to anything actually significant or important, other than an unnamed young woman in her 20s who complains that men “stare at her” and take pictures of them. This article only works as “news” to anyone who finds the fact that the hands holding the camera are dirty and brown. It seems that the trash reporters writing this garbage have smartened up enough to not come out and say it, this being the age of Korean “multiculturalism” and all, but the same sentiments are all still there, both in terms of tone and selective emphasis.
Now, apologists for all this, as well as those who are loathe to see the R word used anywhere, since it obviously must be an overreaction–are going to ask rhetorical questions such as “would you want your pictures taken like this on the beach?” Or “what if it was your wife or girlfriend being photographed on the beach?” while ignoring the questions of said selective emphasis and the fact that the crux of the consternation has to do with the beach photographers’ ethnic origin, to the point of outright calling them “unwanted guests,” albeit under the guise of simply calling them uninvited BEACH guests. But the sub textual message is pretty obvious: why are these unwanted undesirables allowed to sexually ogle OUR women with impunity? Indeed, “This is something that society must consider.”

More Balance?!

August 27th, 2009

Take a look at what appears to be the beginning of a series of articles done by the Chosun Weekly, translated courtesy of Korea Beat.

Finally, a Bit of Balance

July 24th, 2009

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.

Photo Law Hypocrisy

July 22nd, 2009

HT to Korea Beat. And here’s the original story in Korean.

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.

Utterly ridiculous.

The Chosun Ilbo Responds

July 17th, 2009

HT to Korea Beat for translating the Chosun Ilbo’s response to the avalanche of criticism to its week-long attack on foreign teachers.

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.

“Live from Korea”

July 6th, 2009

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.

Mosaics, Implied Connections, and the “White English Teacher”

July 6th, 2009

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:

2009070114425083234_145014_1[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.

“Drug and Gambling Ring” Reports

July 5th, 2009

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.

Choi Hee-seon and the Chosun Ilbo “On the Warpath”

July 5th, 2009

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:

어린 학생-동료 여성강사 가리지 않는 원어민강사들의 성범죄
English translation from Korea Beat.

“한국 유부녀들은 남편 대신에…” 일부 원어민 강사들 비하발언 파문
English translation from Korea Beat.

“한국에서 끝내주게 살게 해주지” ‘위조학위’ 장사 원어민강사 충격
English translation from Korea Beat.

부적격 외국인강사 채용 쉬쉬하는 기관들
English translation from Korea Beat.

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.

Developing Story: Foreigner Drugs and Gambling “Ring”

July 2nd, 2009

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.

Photo090702 004
From the station.

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.