The Queen of Korea?

October 31st, 2007 · Foreigners, Photos, Sports · 4 comments

Check out the prizes Norway’s Susan Petersen collected after winning the 2007 Hana Bank-Kolon-sponsored LPGA event.


October 31st, 2007 · Photos · 0 comments

Sports days at public schools are always a fun affair. The Chosun Ilbo snapped this photo at one recently.

Defrauded of the Korean Dream

October 31st, 2007 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals · 1 comment

A couple of Korean conmen have been arrested for taking considerable payments from Chinese workers, who apparently are excluded from the “memorandum of understanding” through which other Asian workers can come, on the false pretense of being able to get them jobs in the ROK. The Segye Ilbo declares that the workers’ “Korean Dreams” are over.

The police have caught a person for bilking over 1,400 Chinese people on the pretext of charging for introducing them to Korean employers, stealing over 700 million won.

The office of international investigation announced on the 29th that they had arrested Mr. Seo (47), representative of engineering firm S, for defrauding 1,443 Chinese workers of more than 700 million won for recruitment and visa application costs by producing fake commission documents and acting as the training director of a Korean employment recruiter. Police are also searching for Mr. Kang (59) for complicity in the forgery of the papers.

According to police met a Mr. Choi and Mr. Lee in a hotel in >Sunyang, China on October 22, 2005, tricking them by saying, “we have received permission from the Ministry of Labor for 200 Chinese workers and will pay 60,000 won per worker.” Then from November of that year to January of the next they are suspected of taking a total of 693,690,000 won by receiving 80,000 yuan (approximately 97,600,000 won) from 200 Chinese workers on 12 separate occasions.

Seo and the others committed the fraud by showing the workers a fraudulent paper stamped by the Korea Human Resources Development Institute (한국인력개발원) and saying that they had been granted to right to recruit foreign laborers.

For their scheme of claiming to have permission from the Ministry of Labor to recruit foreign laborers they forged their business papers, investigators say. Seo and Kang forged foreign laborer applications stamped with the Ministry of Labor’s seal, papers from the Korean and Chinese labor commissions, papers stamped with the licensing numbers for the workers, and papers from the Ministry of Labor recognizing the entry of foreign laborers.

Foreign Students in Gwangju

October 31st, 2007 · Foreigners · 0 comments

Gwangju apparently has quite a few of them running around, enough to be worth celebrating by making them sit through a bunch of boring speeches all day.

Gwangju will hold the first ever city tour festival “Foreign International Students Gwangju Experience Program” with 240 foreign students on the 26th and 31st.

The October 26th program at Chonnam University will feature students from five universities and ten countries, and the second program on October 31st will be held at Chosun University with students form four universities and six countries.

In August the city hired the Gwangju International Center, which has experience running foreigner-related events, to run the program and in mid-September foreign students at various universities were recommended. The program will start at 9:30 am at the central conference room at City Hall with the opening speech of mayor Park Gwang-tae and a screening of a city promotional film, then continue with visits to civic and business leaders including KIA Automobiles and Samsung Electronics, and finish at 5 o’clock with a visit the May 18 Memorial.

A representative from Gwangju City announced, “the program has been prepared to introduce Gwangju to the rapidly increasing numbers of international students as a leader in the cultural sphere and when they return home, they can say that it is a city of harmony and human rights.”

According to research conducted in April on the state of foreign students in Gwangju there are 1,455 of them at 11 institutions.

By institution, Chonnam University had 359, Chosun University, 359, niversityGwangju Women’s University 227, Honam University, 217, Gwangju University 149, and all other together had 184. The students’ nationalities were mainly Chinese (1,063, 73%) and Vietnamese (283, 19.5%), with other nationalities accounting for 109, or 7.5%.

The Korean “Hunchback”

October 30th, 2007 · Entertainment, Photos · 0 comments

This is a photo from the Korean-language version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” — apparently a heavily adapted version, if this scene is typical — which is playing until November 11 in Gimhae. This Naver blog has some info about it in Korean and there is an English review here. Tickets can be reserved by calling 02) 501-1377.

Prostitution Increases After Anti-Prostitution Law

October 30th, 2007 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals · 3 comments

According to the statistics kept by police, there are fewer red-light districts than three years ago but prostitution is flourishing even better without them. This has been the verdict on the Special Law for quite a while, as you can see here. Check out the huge number of red-light districts, too.

Three years have passed since the Special Anti-Prostitution Law went into effect but prostitution-related crimes are not decreasing and every year since there have been a greater number and variety of prostitution-related businesses.

It was announced on the 25th that according to research made available by the police to National Assembly Representative Gwon Gyeong-seok of the Grand National Party, red-light districts decreased through police enforcement but prostitution-related crimes increased every year.

According to Assemblyman Gwon’s research there were 1,679 red-light districts and 5,567 brothels in September of 2004 and 995 areas in September of this year, a 40.7% decrease, and 2,508 brothels, a 55% decrease.

But the average number of crimes discovered per day has gone from 47 in 2004 to 96 this year, more than doubling.

Also, in 2005 there were 18,805 crimes of which 4,422 (23.9%) were committed in brothels, and this year that figure increased to 5,254 (43.8%), revealing a growing trend of spreading brothels.

Foreigners: “How To Globalize Korean Cuisine”

October 29th, 2007 · Foreigners, Korean Wave, Surveys and Studies · 5 comments

Something called the Corea Image Communication Institute asked some foreigners what they think of Korean food and how best to make it popular around the world. I threw in a bit more information from this article too.

A study has found that the most popular foods for foreigners staying in Korea are bibimbap and bulgogi.

Also, six out of ten foreigners see “the abundance of vegetables for good health” as the greatest reason for the globalization of Korean cuisine, while saying that “cleanliness” and “traditional interiors” are needed.

The Corea Image Communication Institute ( announced on the 22nd the results of its survey, which lasted from August 19th to September 3rd and asked 207 foreigners staying in Korea about the globalization of Korean food culture.

The survey of foreigners in all levels of society, including businessmen and professors, found that 78.7% answered that they like Korean food. Of those, 60.2% said “because is is delicious” followed by “I am interested in new cuisines” (16.6%) and “it has excellent spices” (14.2%). 18.4% said they were “neutral” about Korean food and 2.4% said they dislike it.

“Flavor” was given as the most common reason for disliking Korean food, followed by smell, interior, and lack of cleanliness.

17% chose bibimbap as their favorite Korean food, followed by bulgogi (13.7%), galbi (11.5%), and kimchi (5.6%).

58.5% said they believe Korean food can be globalized, with 36.7% saying the reason is “the abundance of vegetables for good health”, 21.5% saying “the various flavors”, and 18.9% saying “the varied dishes.”

The biggest obstacles to globalization cited were “spiciness” and “unusual smells”, mentioned by 29.1% and 20.9% respectively.

But 20.0% of the foreigners chose “cleanliness” and “a uniquely Korean atmosphere” as the preferred ways of achieving a globalized Korean cuisine, choosing them as more important than flavor. 17.5% chose “globalized service” while 11.9% said “localized flavors” and 8.8% said “standardized flavors.”

The survey also found that 61.8% had tried traditional Korean spirits, but 43.7% could not name what they had drunk and 21.9% said “soju”, showing that there is not enough effort put into raising awareness of those traditional drinks.

The results of the survey were presented on the 23rd by Jo Tae-gwon, director of 광주요, at the “Korean Food Culture Globalization Conference” at the COEX Intercontinental Hotel.

There Ain’t No Sex in the Noraebang Room.

October 29th, 2007 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals · 2 comments

While this article doesn’t spell out what they do — though only the most naive would think it mainly involves singing — it does make clear that the police seem unable to stamp out the practice of 도우미, women who help you have a good time in a noraebang.

Recently lax police enforcement has allowed illegal noraebang “helpers” to stealthily flourish.

Noraebangs are openly recruiting the “helpers” through flyers, internet ads, and job-hunting websites.

The Busan area is full of flyers. The districts of Busanjin-gu, Saha-gu, and Yeonjae-gu, packed with nightlife establishments, are chock full of advertisements for work in noraebangs.

Their monthly salary is at least 2 million won, and they can get severance pay, room and board, and a daily allowance. Even a housewife in her forties or fifties can get an interview and start working, and a college student in her 20s is aimed at with promises of special bonuses and so on.

At internet site B it is the same story. Fearful of being caught by police, they set up secret cafes for recruitment, and don’t leave direct contact information, but leave notes.

According to the notes, if you want to obtain that work you must pay an introduction fee of 25,000 won and you will then quickly get an interview.

One owner of a noraebang in Yeonjae-gu said, “when the police investigation came, the guests and groups simply ended their parties on some pretext and there was almost no trouble. If only the business is caught and punished by the investigators, there’s no problem because they can escape through the secret passageway.”

Since October of last year the use of noraebang “helpers” have been clearly illegal. But in reality the noraebangs are well aware of the difficulities investigators face and continue to use expedient methods of business

A representative from the police explained their difficult situation. “Once a week investigators go out and once a month there is a big push, but it’s just not enough to cover the more than 300 establishments.”

By the way I’m not sure if the “secret passageways” the guy refers to are loopholes in the law or something, or actual physical Clue-style escape routes — I hope it’s the latter as it’s just such a funny idea to be fleeing a noraebang.

Grasshoppers Like Kimchi

October 29th, 2007 · Photos · 1 comment

One reader sent in this picture to the Busan Ilbo with the following caption:

Last weekend our family went out to a neighborhood restaurant. In the middle of our meal an insect “bravely(!)” jumped up onto a banchan and started eating. I didn’t know what to do, but then without a care I told it “you silly bug” and forgave him for showing me “the romance of an autumn night”. ^^ Cha Cha-ryeong, Busan, Yeonjae-gu, Geojae-dong.

Who’s Calling? A Foreigner? *click*

October 28th, 2007 · Foreigners, Surveys and Studies · 1 comment

It seems that many employees at the Ministry of Finance could use a little training in what to do if someone calls who does not speak Korean. A simple card saying, “I cannot speak English, but please call this person who does” would suffice, I think.

Last December the Ministry of Finance and Economy surveyed 184 employees in the fourth through eighth levels, findind that 34% (63 people) said, “if I receive a phone call from a foreigner, if there no other person that I can ask to answer it, all I can do is hang up.” This was announced on the 17th in a report titled “The Long-term Management of Human Resources at the Ministry of Finance and Economy” delivered to National Assembly representative Lim Tae-hui of the Grand National Party.

Just 3% (6 people) said, “I can ask what they are calling about and give them the correct information” while 17% (32 people) said, “I can ask who they are trying to call and give them that person’s phone number.” The rest, 45% (83 people), answered, “I can give them the phone number of a person in charge of international affairs or someone who can speak English well.”

Also, on international conferences attended by foreigners, 30% (56 people) said, “if there is no interpretation or translation it is difficult for me to understand,” and 15% (28) said, “if there is no interpretation or translation is is pointless for me to attend.”

It was also found that one in three Ministry employees have a decreasing knowledge of the law. 12% of respondents said, “I do not have a good understanding of the main laws,” and 21% said, “I understand the main laws to some degree, but not enough to answer outside inquiries.” However 37% said, “I can explain in detail about the law and its institutions”, and 30% said, “I understand enough to answer outside inquiries but I do not know well about its background, history, and exceptions.”

The report points out, “as it is difficult to guarantee specialization through internal education, there should be a greater effort to recruit outside specialists.”