Koreans React to “Naked Punishment” Daycare Scandal

January 31st, 2008 · Netizen comments · 7 comments

As the scandal over the Itaewon daycare which gave its kids the “naked punishment” plays out, updated reports have naturally come in. The Chosun Ilbo plucked out a couple of netizen comments and also interviewed some expert in child welfare, who mostly just blabbed on about how great his child welfare organization is, so I didn’t bother with that.

Citizens are making their views known on the Yongsan-gu daycare center that used naked punishments during this cold winter.

They are extremely angry. One woman claiming to be the mother of a 6-year old girl wrote, “I was shocked to see these pictures and became furious, frustrated, and I cried. This happened in a daycare allowed to use corporal punishment and from now on there needs to be a system in place to make sure that this kind of thing does not happen to other kids.”

One user named “peony” (함박꽃) wrote, “they had no understanding of human rights. They all have responsibility, not only the teacher but the owner and the government too.”

Experts in child welfare and development do not feel differently.

This report goes over the response of the teacher accused of putting the child outside and what the government plans to do about it.

Following allegations that a daycare center in Seoul left a child outside, naked, police have opened an investigation.

On the 29th the Yongsan Police Department opened an investigation following suspicions raised on the internet news site “Oh My News” that a female child in the the ㅂ daycare center in Itaewon was given a naked punishment.

Ms. K, a foreigner living in the same neighborhood where this ocurred, saw it take place and recorded it on camera. She then published it on the internet and informed a reporter at Oh My News.

In an interview with the media one member of the police said, “an investigation is ongoing into the allegations that the law on child welfare was violated by nudity punishments. The Yongsan-gu Office, which is responsible for the management of the daycare, has also opened an investigation.

According to reports, on the 25th of January 25-year old teacher at the daycare center Ms. Lee placed the child, 5-year old A, outside on the fire escape, shutting the door, as punishment for not listening well.

Ms. Lee said, “she was pulling other childrens’ hair and tormenting them, and though I wasn’t worried of any danger, she continued to act badly and do those kinds of things. I opened the door and sent her out, and told her to go to the daycare for bad kids.” The child was given the corporal punishment of being left outside on the narrow fire fire escape.

She said, “I didn’t force her to take her clothes off. She did it because she was upset. The door closed by itself. I had gotten so angry so quickly that I left her outside for a minute or two but then I opened the door and apologized to her. That was the first time I sent a child outside without clothing.”

“I like her a lot so I want her to do well, I saw it as giving her discipline. I am really sorry to her and to my fellow teachers. If it is possible I want to take sole responsibility.”

Ever since the report came out thousands of netizens have written in fury. Most of them say things like, “they should be harshly punished,” and “how could somebody do that to a child?”

The city has requested the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family to revoke the teaching license of Mr. Park, the owner of the daycare center, as well as the contract for the center’s management. It is expected that Ms. Lee will be indicted after the joint investigation of the Yongsan-gu Office and the Mapo Children’s Protection Center (마포아동전문보호소).

In addition the Yongsan Police Department has opened an investigation into violations of the child welfare law and has asked Ms. Lee to appear before them.

There are currently 44 children from low-income families being served by the center.

This report is nearly identical to the preceding one but for the final three paragraphs.

However some neighbors say that A was outside for at least 10 minutes and that they witnessed a similar action at the end of last year.

“I like her a lot so I want her to do well, I saw it as giving her discipline. I am really sorry to her and to my fellow teachers. If it is possible I want to take sole responsibility.”

A’s parents said, “we don’t want the teacher to be punished. We just want to love one another, forget about this incident and move on.”

Foreign Boxer Wears Taegukgi Trunks

January 31st, 2008 · Sports · 5 comments

Two of them, actually, as the Sports Hankook reports.

A black pro boxer recently stepped into the ring wearing a taegukgi on his trunks.

On the 28th (Korean time) in the US city of St. Louis, 38-year old Verno Philips of Belize stepped into the ring for the IBF’s junior middleweight title match, leaving spectators seeing him for the first time briefly unsure of his nationality.

On the left side of his trunks Philips sported a taegukgi, and on the right side he wore the flag of Belize, a small country on the Yucatan Peninsula.

On the belt of his trunks the name KYOUNG JUN (경준) was written in English and after entering the ring a taegukgi could be seen on his boxing gown.

Philips’ active in-ring promotion of Korea stems from warm family love.

Because his wife was born in Korea and their daughter’s name is “Kyoung Jun Philips” he always wears trunks with a taegukgi on them.

Philips, who entered pro boxing in 1988, defeated 30-year old American Corey Spinks in a 2-1 decision to take the championship belt.

WBC welterweight champion Shane Mosley, 37 and of the US, is famous for wearing trunks with a taegukgi on them for his wife, 31-year old Jin Mosley of Korea.

American baseball star Prince Fielder has a Korean tattoo, for no really good reason.

Some Sound Confusions

January 31st, 2008 · Education and ESL · 2 comments

Most Korean newspapers publish little language learning columns for English, and often Japanese and Chinese as well, and sometimes others. The Hankook Ilbo recently published this odd little piece about native speakers mishearing song lyrics, apparently thinking it would help their readers learn — but stuffed in lots of English without corresponding Korean. I’ve rendered it into English with hangul, so you can see just how silly it was.

Kathy is an American attending university in the United Kingdom. During a lecture her professor pointed a dome in a slide, using the pronunciation sa-saw to refer it. She stared for a moment, thinking she had heard “살사” but actually the word was “사서”. 살사 is a dance in Cuba and a sauce in Spain, but since she didn’t know the meaning of 살사 for buildings the American Kathy had no idea.

Even for native speakers there is much that cannot be understood without foreknowledge. If you only listen to the 사운드 this kind of thing can happen, but the problem can be avoided with sufficient preparation.

And, if you only hear the “sound” you might mistake it for something similar-sounding. A common source of this are the lyrics in pop songs. Though it’s a little bit serious, let’s look the case of 존덴버’s song 컨토리 로드스.

The original lyric of “웨스트버지니어, 마운틴마마” has been heard by some Americans as “웨스트버지니어, 마운트여마마”. 마다나’s song 라이크 아 버진 has the line “라이크 아 버진 타치드 퍼 다 베리 퍼스트 타이므” but some have misheard it as “라이크 아 버진 타치드 퍼 다 사티-퍼스트 타이므”. There is a big difference between the first time and the 31st time.

라버트 파마’s song 아다크티드 투 러브 is an extreme case. The original lyric “마이트 아스 웰 페이스 이트, 유르 아디크티드 투 러브”(might as well face it, you’re addicted to love) has been heard as “마이트 아스 웰 페이스 이트, 유르 아 디크 위스 아 그러브”.

The latter has changed to carry the meaning “you’re a dick with a glove”. 존 바에즈’s song 노 만 이스 안 아이런드 (No Man Is An Island) can be heard as “노 마요네즈 인 아일렌드”, which means “no mayonnaise in Ireland”. For foreigners, making this kind of leap of imagination is difficult, but native speakers know so much that they can mix the sound and meaning and make these errors in listening.

Want to Live in a Train?

January 31st, 2008 · Photos · 4 comments

Now, finally, you can spend your winter in Korea holed up in an abandoned train in the middle of nowhere. With businesses like these attracting investment it’s a wonder we aren’t all millionaires yet.

Lee Myung-bak, Feminist

January 31st, 2008 · Interviews, Politics · 2 comments

In this interview with the Chosun Ilbo conservative presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak reveals a feminist side. It also gives an insight into his thoughts on homosexuality, abortion, the opposition candidiates, the economy, and what drives him.

I thought I was supposedly going to give a lighthearted interview. That is what I heard anyway.

30 minutes later than the prearranged meeting time the former mayor of Seoul arrives and as soon as he sits down he demanded a light interview.

-Do you hope that this interview will be lighthearted?

No, not at all, but I have had too many political conversations lately, haven’t I? Therefore it would be fun to talk about another subject while we have a picture taken together.

In Jongno Anguk-dong this was his campaign headquarters and it was bustling with people. Due to his conference with his staffers he was busy, and he was also busy with visitors to the office. This was several hours before they officially declared his presidential candidacy. However his feud with former candidate Park Geun-hye over the primary election rules stood out more.

His campaign advisors made the condition that “no political questions were allowed.” I retorted by asking them, “If I can’t ask a politician about politics then who must I ask?” Therefore as soon as they began the policy meeting the interview started.

-What is the first thing you think when you wake up in the morning?

“What do I think? I think like this: these days whatever happens I mustn’t confront it but I must endure it. Politics just isn’t a healthy competition; there is always a rival, and what is that rival saying, because in several ways they can make it uncomfortable for you. In politics there is no need to confront.”

-So then why do you want to be president?

“I am not going to respond to that question.”

He is still hoping for something lighthearted.

“Like the last ten years the economy isn’t improved by words alone.”

-If not yourself do you think anyone else can become president?

“Where is there anything like that? The people choose after the candidates compete. It’s not whether I want to do it or not, in these times the people judge whom they would like to see do it.”

-If by any chance the former mayor Lee Myung-bak becomes president in which area will our lives become different first?

“Life will become happier. At the moment as there are no jobs we are unhappy, the aged are anxious, and people are anxious about raising their children too. If I become president after saving the economy I can make jobs, and in the future raising children will be good and for studying I will make a better education system. We can educate children, and then find work, and allow older people to work until they can rather than have them retire early. People now live until they are 90 so they mustn’t lose their jobs early, must they? The economy is not improved through words alone. People have only been talking about it for 10 years but I will really achieve. There is that faith about me.”

-Other than yourself, are the other candidates incapable?

I came back to the very first question.

“It’s not like that. The people decide. The people say, ‘that person is my choice.’ So we research public opinion. We scientifically analyze the reason why people support this person. That objective judgment is important.”

-When did you think that you had to become president?

“I didn’t think that when I was young. When I was in business as I traveled around the world I met leaders and CEOs. Therefore I thought that we can’t become happy anymore if Korean politics and leaders don’t change. I have seen and heard a lot of things and come into contact with many people. I have also been a representative in parliament and a mayor so as I did that I made a resolution. I didn’t think from a young age that I would be president.”

-So as you worked for Hyundai construction you already had a dream about politics, I assume.

“It wasn’t like that. As I left Hyundai I thought like that. That’s because when I was at Hyundai I thought that the work I was doing was the best and I tried my best.”

“My central thought was that when we use people we must do so positively.”

-Decisively from what point is it possible to go from a certain point to actually becoming president?

“More than being possible it’s challenge, challenge you know. There is a certain type of leader this generation needs. Public opinion doesn’t think that but you can’t ignore that and only think about yourself.”

-Has your life gone as expected? Or are you leading a life that wasn’t forecast?

“Is there anyone who is leading their life as they expected they would be when they were young? When you reach the present, as you challenge yourself a new road opens. Supposing that the circumstances became difficult so you couldn’t attend school there is a challenge to go to school. Even if you don’t really like it then even if it is a small school challenge yourself to go there, and through this life often changes as we go along.”

-Sometimes do you ever think this moment is akin to a miracle?

“I don’t think like that. I think it is reward for effort. For the amount of effort that people make reward comes. Of course there will be cases when reward doesn’t come for effort. That kind of world isn’t good. Allow those who work hard live well, and I think that I can make a world where those who make effort get decent treatment.”

-What kind of leader do you think you are?

“There is a big difference between what people perceive and what is reality. People think that I am a leader who is pushy. I haven’t even thought like that once. I was a CEO who put a small medium enterprise onto a course to be a big enterprise. A CEO is somebody who prepares in advance thoroughly. From the preparation stage until it is expanded the course must be considerably democratic. You must listen to everyone’s opinion and collect information. To people that sort of hidden information cannot be seen. That’s because after expansion only the course that’s being promoted can be seen.”

“When I restored the Cheongye Stream, other people had a misconception ‘oh, he would have been pushy’ they said, but how would a mayor in the opposition party be dogmatic? There’s no cooperation from the National Assembly and no cooperation from the Prosecutor’s Office. Without that kind of thing it was a course that persuaded the people concerned. The best method I can use is persuasion. Democracy is a basic thing. If after meeting a hundred times it can’t be done, then a thousand, even then if not meet four thousand times. Passing through a persevering process like that you come to a concurrence. After that, with regard to the street vendors and stalls surrounding the Cheongye Stream, cooperation was completely assured.”

“However, people think I just pushed everyone out of the way with bulldozers. The restoration project of the Cheongye Stream is being completed but we received a call that it has been selected as part of a construction exhibition in Venice Italy. We didn’t even apply. I later met the President of the Screening Committee; he highly praised the fact that many people were wanted its inclusion.”

-Is the PR basically part of your personality? Or is it something that came after your entry into politics?

“I am just explaining the truth. This is an interview so it’s my conversation. Shall we talk about others? Why we are having this conversation is as follows; because what’s going on behind closed doors can’t be seen, so it often looks as though I am doing things in a dogmatic way.”

-So you are saying that you are a different type of leader to Jung Ju-young?

“If we were similar we couldn’t have been friends for a long time. When one person is in trouble the other has to be there, and there are times when through a clash of opinions you don’t speak to each other. Through this course, in the end it gets made up for, it becomes cooperative.”

-When you use people what do you think is important?

“The most important thing is asking whether they have positive thoughts. We consider people who live positively as important. Being honest and faithful is a minimum so my outlook is positive.”

-Suppose you have made some instructions but do you get rid of those subordinates who don’t carry them out properly? What do you do with difficult subordinates like that?

“You can make sure that you are understood. If you gave instructions in a way that couldn’t be understood then the person who gave the instructions is at fault too. As all people are different one person might understand something in a certain way and another might interpret in another way. You have to accommodate them and then give instructions. I am saying that every person has a strength. When you use people the problem will be asking yourself what approach to use. At one time use this part of a person, at another time use that part of a person. Tailoring skill precisely is the very simple thought of the times. Like now, in a complicated and varied society it’s not the case. Finding a person’s strong point is important.”

“My acquaintances like me because I am frank.”

-You say that, but from another angle people say, “Lee Myung-bak uses people as a tool.” “He uses people and then gets rid of them.” Do you agree?

“I recall that there are articles in the press saying that there are people like that. When I look at it there are political people saying things like that. When I was working hard in industry there wasn’t a single person saying things like that. People working politically will do that. As I have entered politics people say I use people like tools but that’s the way it is but as my career in politics is short I haven’t even had time to use people like tools.”

-In relationships with people what do you think is the most important thing?

“ If there is a connection then it’s good. Communicating with each other is good.”

-What do you do to get along with people?

“If you have a conversation you know right away. You know that don’t you? Rather that people who are similar in character, I have closer friends amoung those who have different characters. There are people you meet who you are comfortable with aren’t there?”

-Are you a carefree person or do you do things quickly?

“A little quickly I think. As I worked as a CEO in industry I changed a little bit into that type of person.”

-Do you adjust well to the political arena?

“I am starting from now. If you want to adjust do basic politics you don’t make a great effort. If you want to try new politics then that is practicing politics. If I practiced basic politics I would have appeared different. It wouldn’t be what the people expect.”

It has been presumed that my assets amount to 29 billion won. I heard they say that I have accumulated a reasonable amount of assets. From the position of our society’s destitute if they see this will they not feel disenfranchisement? I think that Korea too should be a society in which the rich get respect. Rather than a society in which those without money always get respect and those with a lot of money get criticism, we must judge fairly by the standard of whether people earn money or not. By a fair measure wealth that has been achieved must be respected. I think that even if you had a little but it wasn’t a fair gain than you should receive criticism. You must also give hope to the poor that they can become rich. After giving poor people the chance of education as well, I think you must make them a society in which they can also become rich. I don’t think negative thoughts are right.

-With respect to your words and deeds there has been a positive assessment that you are good at placing your finger on the core subject but on the other hand a negative assessment that you are insincere and that mistakes are frequent.

“There are people who think like that but comparatively I am frank. I use frank expressions. I use flowery language but I am not pretentious. But I think there is a need to take the remarks about my words and deeds prudently.”

-In what situation do you make the most demands?

“In order to get my point across to disagreeable people I am going to make a lot of effort.”

-Am I irritating?

“No it’s not like that. I am saying that I just intend to get my point across to annoying people. I must explain at length to those who have a misconception about me. If someone knows me well then I don’t need to say very much because we already connect, I don’t say much here.”

-What do you think about Roh Mu-hyun’s words and deeds?

“I don’t think there is a need to express myself abruptly because the world already knows it all. It’s his character. However, as president criticizing the opposition candidate is not something the president must say. With regards to Jeong Dong Yong and Kim Geun Tae: As they are part of their party I am not sure whether they can do that or not but talking about the opposition candidate is a really dangerous thing. I think that thing looks like a problem.”

“I don’t worry about comparisons between President Roh and myself.”

-It’s been said that your words and actions are very forthright, and in that respect there are people who say that you are like Roh Mu-hyun.

“If you look at people saying that kind of thing, you know what kind of a person they are. There are people who want to speak ill of me like that. They want to do things like that so we are talking about it. Politically you can talk like that can’t you.”

-As a comparison like that has been drawn does it hurt your pride?

“Being compared to a president isn’t a bad thing. That’s because he is someone who became president. Anyway, I don’t worry about that.”

-In your career you can’t remove Hyundai Construction from it. The construction scene is a man’s world. What view of womanhood do you have?

“Well, there are many women at my house. There are my three daughters, my wife, and my driver is also a woman. I belong to feminism. If you classify me then I belong there.”

-What does feminism mean?

“Understanding women, and really acknowledging the woman’s superiority.”

-Also yielding to them?

“Of couse. Thoroughly.”

-Your current rival is Park Geun-hye but through your confrontation with a woman hasn’t your basic view of womanhood changed a little?

“That’s politics. There is no division between women and men in politics. Politics is politics. You must not think that your opponent is a woman. I assess her as a leader. Now there is a generation of competition in which there is no discrimination between man and woman.”

At this critical point there was a bit of a dispute. I said to him “you are continuing to argue over the election rules” but he said, “never bring up that question,” and blocked me in the middle of my question. I then told him to “listen to more of the question and then make a judgment but he told me that he “won’t do the interview.” He was in a sensitive state about the dispute over the election rules. I asked him whether he was really that worried about that and he responded by telling me to ask about something else.

So I asked him what he thinks his attractive point is.

“I think it’s my frankness. I don’t deceive people but just tell it like it is. Therefore those who understand me really like me. I am not handsome like a movie star but I am forthright. Some people think that frankness in politics can become a weak point but I think it is a strong point.”

-As a presidential candidate what do you think your weak point is?

“I think my weakness is the fact that I haven’t been in politics for long. Politics is rough; there are more instances of unfairness than good spirited rivalry. Therefore I am a little disappointed. I haven’t been in politics long — it is a big handicap. These days attacks have come from both the government and opposition but I can’t respond to them all. There are many disadvantages.”

-It’s not because you have many weaknesses?

“They will attack me because I have many strong points. If I had many weaknesses what would be the reason for attacking me? I have many strong points so they want to bring me down. Won’t they be thinking like that? Jong Dong Yong spoke well but he attacked me by asking, “what can he do outside of anything connected to the economy?”

-In Europe homosexuality is legal. You are a Presbyterian but what is your opinion?

“I basically oppose it. Before I was a Christian I thought that male- female relationships were normal. So my position is one of opposition.”

-What do you think about abortion?

“I basically oppose it but there are situations that are unavoidable. Let’s suppose that a child entered the world as a cripple, in this situation it’s apparent that we can’t do anything but permit an abortion. However, basically my position is one of opposition to abortion, too. I don’t know whether that’s conservative or not though.”

-You publicly pledged support for a large canal project but even if a huge number of people opposed it would you still continue your support for it?

“If there is no opposition then just going ahead with it is fine but if there is opposition then I have to persuade them. With respect to the restoration of the Cheongye Stream there was large opposition too. You should know that there are circumstances in which people oppose things because they are misinformed. I have a firm belief that if I persuade the people and provide the information I can get sufficient support.”

-How do you feel when you receive criticism in the media?

“Basically the media should have the ability to criticize, if they don’t have this ability there can’t be an effective media. I only feel bad for a short time; it is a big part of the course of society’s development. I think positively.”

-Who do you think will be your biggest competitor in the election?

“I have no idea. Presently, making a prediction is tough and for a while I don’t think there will be much of a confrontation with them. I am directing myself to the people and asking what I can do, and I think it is important to show the people that you are making an effort to show them that you are thinking about how to provide a solution to society’s needs. I am fighting with myself, and that is what I think.”

-If you look at the public opinion polls your support is dropping slightly; could that be because you haven’t let the people know enough about yourself yet?

“Support rates can fall and they can climb. It’s not important if the opinion polls show a percentage climb because the important thing is the overall trend. Public opinion polls are scientific but I think it is important to know what it is the public expect from me.”

-You speak very well — when did that start?

“You think that I speak well? I receive abuse from people who tell me that I don’t speak very well.”

-How well do you sing?

“My singing ability is average. It has been a long time since I have been to a singing room. I don’t really like going to singing rooms. I like singing songs in classy places.”

His advisors tell me that the time is over.

“Take a good picture please.”

-You are tired, aren’t you?

“From a young age I didn’t sleep much. It’s a habit. After midnight I usually fall asleep and then wake up before 5 O’clock. But I sleep deeply. But I am not being forced to do this work by others. Someone is not telling me what to do either. I am less tired than people think because I have goals, and willpower, which cause me to be active. I don’t get fatigued but the people in my camp feel more tired than me. I tell many people to enjoy what they are doing. When I was working I often made things difficult for myself but I still rather enjoyed it. I always told my subordinates to enjoy what they do.”

At this stage the interview comes to a conclusion and we pose as instructed by the photographer.

“People who read books don’t read articles often but they look at photographs, don’t they? Please take a good picture.”

New Hairstyle Not Catching On

January 30th, 2008 · Photos · 2 comments

The Chosun Ilbo finds a man from Chungcheongnam-do sporting an interesting hairstyle. He says he hopes that people will get a smile out of it and also seems to have some kind of message about something. I don’t know.

Hankyoreh Investigates Korean Women in Japanese Prostitution

January 30th, 2008 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Japan, Women in Korea · 11 comments

In November of last year this article about Korean women entering the prostitution industry in Japan was on Naver’s most-viewed list for a while. It wound up sitting in my bookmarks for a while, but, finally, here it is.

Ordinary housewives and college students are gathering in Japan — so that they can make money prostituting themselves. In dark corners of Japan, where the Korean Wave flows so strongly, Korean women permeate the prostitution industry. There are all kinds of associated human rights violations and other crimes including passport forgery, illegal immigration, and human trafficking. In two fact-finding expeditions to Japan The Hankyoreh has uncovered the true state of prostitution there.

It is around 7 pm on the 6th at Terminal 1 in Narita International Airport. Eight or so Korean women hurriedly get into a waiting van. 22-year old Kim Jeon-sun (not her real name) has come to Japan for the first time and appears extremely afraid. Their destination is a shabby apartment in the Yugusudani area of Tokyo. That is where Korean women working in the pleasure industry stay.

Ms. Kim turns to the Hankyoreh reporter and begins, with great difficulty, to speak. She will live in one room with 10 women whom she does not know. “I’ll move out if I can get 20 million won in three months.”

Ms. Kim is an undergraduate music student. With her father’s business failing and the family in debt, she has come to Japan to earn tuition money. Because she claimed to be here for tourism when she entered the country, she does not need a visa for three months. Prostitution is illegal in Japan, but Korean women entering without a visa are able to avoid scrutiny from the authorities. In her notebook she has written that she will “not forget about music… call my parents every day.”

It is now two days later in a pleasure business in the heart of Tokyo’s Akasaka district. They sell alcohol here, yes, but more than that they offer the ‘second round’ — prostitution. It is a “date club”. For 50,000 yen — about 400,000 won — you can leave with one of the girls. Seven or eight Korean women are sitting on a sofa, smoking. They are joined by Ms. Kim.

At just past 10 pm four Japanese men come in. They work for a company involved in Korean drama copyrights and often come here. The Korean “mama” — the madam — introduces them to six Korean women, saying, “these are all new girls, they just got here a few days ago.” In front of a monitor in the hall she speaks with the men. On the monitor the Korean women have arranged themselves in a line, with numbers pinned to their chests. There are twentysomething college students like Ms. Kim and thirtysomething housewives. After a moment the Japanese men make their selections and move to a nearby hotel. Ms. Kim is also chosen by a man and heads towards the hotel.

There are 20 Korean women working here. It used to be that most of the women would have experience in prostitution, but recently, the mama explains, many young women like Ms. Kim are doing it for a short time because they want to make a lot of money.

It is the evening of the 9th at Tokyo’s largest entertainment district, Kabukicho in Shinjuku. As soon as we came out of Shinjuku Station a pimp walked up speaking in accented Korean. “Looking for a Korean girl? You can have a second round with them.” We followed him to a business, and as you might expect Korean signs were everywhere. 35-year old name Jeong Su-min (not her real name) has been living in Japan since a sham marriage 15 years ago. She spent 10 years working various pleasure houses before opening her own last year. There are over 20 Korean women working in her place.

Ms. Jeong says, “in the past it often happened that women were tricked into prostition by dishonest brokers, but now the trend is towards Korean women doing it of their own accord because they want to make good money. She plans to go to Korea at the end of this month to recruit women who plan to do this kind of work in Japan and bring them over at the beginning of next year.

It is the evening of the 11th at Japan’s Nagoya Airport. 36-year old Choi Jeong-won (not her real name) is to return to Korea after working for a year in a pleasure business in Nagoya. She was the mother of two children in Korea. “After my divorce two years ago I lost custody of my children. I tried working in a factory and an office but I heard this was better. My oldest starts elementary school next year. For my kids’ education I had no choice but to do this.” Asked how much money she earned in Japan, she answered, “if I spent another year working here there would be no problem to educate my children.” To avoid the status of an illegal immigrant she returned to Korea every three months. On the flight back to Korea that night she takes out a sheet of paper she has brought and carefully writes out a letter. She is too ashamed to be with her children and writes this letter for them instead.

“Listen well to what your grandmother says and take care of your health. When you start school next year your mom will buy a pretty bag for you.”

Korean Celebrities Sporting Tattoos

January 30th, 2008 · Entertainment · 2 comments

The Sports Hankook recently did a run-down of well-known Korean celebrities with tattoos. Follow the link for the pictures.

# Sensuous=Seon Hyeong-ah, Lee Gi-yeong, Shim Eun-ji

Actresses Seong Hyeon-ah, Shim Eun-ji, and Lee Gi-yong all sparked interest by revealing their sensual tattoos. In 2003 Seong Hyeon-ah picked up the most interest when she revealed the tattoo on her left pelvis in a semi-nude photo album.

Lee Gi-yong also has one on her waist. Compared to Seong Hyeon-ah’s it is a much bigger and more provocative tattoo. Shim Eun-ji drew attention for her shoulder tattoos while in the group Baby Vox.

# Male Beauty=Gu Jun-yeop, Ryu Seung-beom

Singer Gu Jun-yeop and actor Ryu Seung-beom chose strong, manly tattoos. Gu Jun-yeop’s is on his left shoulder. It dances across his bulging muscles. There are rumors that Gu, who graduated from art school, designed the tattoo himself.

Ryu Seong-beom has a tattoo of Jesus on his left hip. After recently getting back together with him, Gong Hyo-jin got a couple tattoo on the same spot.

# Take Notice=Go So-yeong, Gil-geon

Tattoos are also used as fashion points. A small, easily-hidden tattoo can be more powerful than one that is openly exposed.

Gil-geon wore golden clothes while promoting her third album and on her ripped body had a tattoo of her name in Chinese characters — 吉建 — across her pelvis. Go So-yeong has a cute tattoo on her right ankle, revealed while sitting at a press conference for a movie. Gong Hyo-jin has a small star tattoo on her right foot.

# Disposable=Se7en, Son Ye-jin

Tattoos inscribed on the body are permanent. The way to get over that is henna. Henna dyes the skin to create a picture or words, making a one-use tattoo.

Actress Son Ye-jin and singer Se7en have each tried out henna quite a bit. In the film “Open City” Son portrayed a tattooist and saw some 1,000 henna tattoos. In his sing “Tattoo”, Se7en got big results from henna tattooing.

You can see Gil-geon’s shoulder tattoo in this possibly-NSFW gallery.

I Give Up

January 30th, 2008 · Photos · 6 comments

I have no idea what to write about this picture of two Korean high school students.

Foreigner Rescues Kids From Abusive Daycare in Itaewon

January 29th, 2008 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL, Foreigners · 27 comments

Oh My News has discovered a daycare center in Itaewon that uses some highly questionable punishments — locking kids outside in the cold, naked. Oh My News was alerted by a foreigner who saw the abuse and took photos, so good on you for that, “K”.

This is currently one of the most-viewed stories on Naver. The major networks are going to air stories on it tonight.

Further Update: I don’t have time to work on them right now, but this link has the video of SBS’ report and this link is the Chosun Ilbo’s report of the situation so far with some netizen reaction.

Update: As commenter Race Traitor notes, Oh My News has reported that after their original article ran, the school called their office and admitted guilt. I’m appending their update to this post.

There is shock over the punishment a daycare center in Seoul doled out to one child — forced to disrobe and be locked outside.

As a result of photos sent to Oh My News and the resulting investigation, it has been confirmed that the “ㅂ daycare center” in Itaewon made the child, who appears to be about five years old, remove his clothes before putting him outside and shutting the door, leaving him there.

It is particularly shocking that the daycare center in question, run for low-income families by the local Yongsan-gu government, left the child alone outside on the second floor fire escape where there was a danger of him falling.

Oh My News separately received two photos, which show a small boy standing on the second floor fire escape almost naked, huddling in the extreme cold.

According to data from weather reports, on the 25th, the day of the naked punishments, the temperature in Seoul ranged from -1.8℃ to -9.6℃.

In an interview with Oh My News on the 28th, K, a foreigner who witnessed the punishments and took the photos, testified that from December 29th to January 25th she saw the punishment carried out twice.

She said, “at about 10 in the morning on December 28th someone opened the door and put a completely naked little boy onto the veranda. The boy did not cry but he kept screaming and screaming, as if terribly frightened.”

“Then on the 25th the same thing happened to a little girl. Her pants were around her ankles.”

According to her testimony, the children were left outside for about 10 to 15 minutes. She said, “I heard the child’s cries and took the pictures.”

OhMyNews went directly to the daycare to confirm these facts, finding that K’s photographs are, in fact, of the daycare’s second floor fire escape. In the three-story building there is a retirement home on the first floor, with the daycare occupying the top two floors.

But the daycare center fully denies the allegations. The Yongsan-gu Office, which regulates the center, announced, “the daycare center has operated since 1995. It was established to serve low-income families.” The center is currently serving 44 children from low-income families.

Mr. Park, the owner, angrily said, “the 25th was our sports day, so nothing like that happened. This is an untrue rumor which should not have been spoken. Who says we used naked punishments? Somebody is speaking nonsense.”

Another employee at the daycare denied the allegations. “How could such a punishment have been used on such a terribly cold day? This isn’t the 19th century, I would feel sick just to hear of such a thing.”

“I could sue you for slander,” the employee said. After reproaching the reporter, the employee raged, “old people have no work to do, don’t you know we’re running a day care? Doesn’t Oh My News have anything better to do?”

A source at the Yongsan-gu Office said, “there have been no complaints about that center since its appointment by the government. Action can be taken after an investigation but there must be proof of the allegations.”

“For criminal punishment there must be either a complaint from parents or a third-party accusation. The ward office will typically issue a warning but if there are arrests then it can be shut down. In our jurisdiction there have been times when a child was hit and the teacher fired, but there has never been a case of an establishment being closed due to child abuse.”

This is OMN’s update. It sounds to me as though the owner has bullied the most junior staff member into taking the responsibility. If so I hope she is getting paid well for torpedoing her career to cover her boss’ ass.

The daycare center at the center of allegations of “naked punishments in cold winter” has belatedly confessed.

Until now the center had denied the allegations, calling them “nonsense”, but on the 29th they called Oh My News and said, “it happened in the course of corporal punishment. But it was wrong, there is nothing we can say.”

A childcare worker at the school who applied the punishment also said, “I did it rashly and quickly. It is my fault and I feel very responsible for it.”

L, the teacher, has been working at the daycare center for the past year. In a telephone interview with Oh My News L said, “it was something I did because I thought that the children must be brought up quickly and I am clearly at fault. I did something that a teacher in a daycare center should never do.”

“The child turns six this year but hit and hurt a friend, and I didn’t consider that ok. The child made me angry and in an instant I just got so angry and shut him outside on the fire escape.”

“Normally she is a very good child, but she made me so frustrated and I just did it so quickly. I am so sorry.”

“I didn’t make her take her clothes off, she did that herself. How could I have put a little girl out into the cold in just her underpants? I didn’t do it for very long.”

L added, “the responsibility is mine and I will put in my resignation. Though I cannot work with kids again I hope that the school will not be closed.”

Furthermore the owner of the school, a Mr. Park, and two others visited OhMyNews’ office and admitted that the naked punishments had occurred.

They said, “even though it’s difficult to look after kids it was unacceptable, and it seems the emotions of the teacher in charge erupted out of control. I have a large responsibility since I did not properly manage the teacher. Because of this clear mistake, I have accepted the offer of resignation.”

A city official in charge of childhood education saw Oh My News’ report and called, saying, “we will investigate and hand down a severe punishment.” The Yongsan-gu Office announced, “when the investigation finishes every potential action will be enforced.”