Most-read articles of the week — September 30, 2012

September 30th, 2012 · Stories of the Day/Week/Year · 0 comments

Top 10 in society.

1. One college student in Suwon died and another threee were injuried after eight of them drank alcohol and raced their cars.

2. The site of an explosion in Gumi had been leaking toxic gasses for quite a while, sickening residents.

3. There was a fatal highway accident in Seoul.

4. A university student who died in a hit-and-run accident was carrying a suicide note.

5. Over 600 hospitals nationwide are accused of having contracted with disreputable pharmacies using non-certified pregnancy tests and having lax security for sensitive photographs.

6. Choi Kap-bu, the fugitive whose escape made headlines, was caught.

7. A 57-year old woman gave birth to twins, making her the oldest Korean woman to give birth.

8. Two people died following liposuction procedures.

9. Ahead of Chuseok, one family discovered that its family graves had disappeared completely.

10. Teenagers are being recruited for prostitution using abbreviations in job ads on part-time job sites. “Kial” means a part-time job in a kiss room, and “saekal” means a part-time job in a brothel.

SKorea: Teen stabs 6 at Gangnam elementary school

September 28th, 2012 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

Suffering from depression, a high-school dropout went into a classroom of an elementary school and stabbed six students, leaving one in critical condition.

The Bangbae Police Station in Seoul has announced that it is investigating an 18-year old named Kim on charges of going to the private elementary school in Banpo-dong at approximately 11:50 am and stabbing the students in the classroom.

According to police, Kim brought a shovel and a toy gun with him, went  into the classroom where a fourth-period lesson for fourth-grade students was being held, and stabbed three male students, including a 10-yearold named Jang, and three female students in a space of five minutes.

According to police, at the time of the attack a class meeting was being held in front of the classroom, and when Jang opened the door of the classroom Kim entered and stabbed him, leaving Jang no way to escape.

Jang was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery, but his condition remains critical. The other five students had injuries on their arms and stomachs. Police investigators found that Kim, who dropped out of high school before his senior year, had been receiving treatment in a hospital for his depression since last spring.

Also, at the time of the attack Kim had a note which read “I try so hard but there are things which will just not work out for me, please take of my body well but don’t pay for a funeral.”

Kim had been preparing for the university entrance examination when he quit school, then bought the shovel on the internet in June for a camping trip with friends, and then purchased the toy gun from the same site for survival, he confessed.

Police are investigating the precise circumstances of Kim’s condition. The school at which the attack took place is a well-known private school in the Gangnam area.

Most-read articles of the week – September 23, 2012

September 24th, 2012 · Stories of the Day/Week/Year · 0 comments

Top 10 in society.

1. In a repeat from last week, a young woman is accused of distributing propofol without a prescription.

2. A TV reporter demonstrated how a fugitive slipped through a very tight hole.

3. A look at the man in Cheongju who is accused of murdering a young woman, through the eyes of his family.

4. A photo of a police officer giving an umbrella to a disabled man caught in a rain storm from a typhoon while holding a one-person demonstration.

5. Sogang University declined to permit Kim Jae-dong to hold a politicall-themed “talk concert” on campus.

6. A more in-depth explanation of how the criminal in #1 managed to escape.

7.  In an apartment in Yeongnam, police uncovered a staggering array of stolen goods.

8. More on #1.

9. More on #1.

10. Another student committed suicide over being bullied at school.

South Korea to probe corruption in international high schools

September 23rd, 2012 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education has announced that it will begin period sudies of foreigners’ schools, which have recently been the subject of much controversy over allegations of corruption in admissions.

SMOE announced on the 23rd that it will set up a system for monitoring allegations of corruption in admissions at foreigners’ schools, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Education, and Technology and the Offices of Education in Incheon and Gyeonggi-do.

The foreigner’s schools have broad rights of academic freedom regarding curricula, hiring of teachers, facilities, and accounting under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Private School Act, but are subject to strict regulations regarding the recruiting of students.

SMOE has decided to periodically investigate the need for the increasing number of foreigner’s schools to receive operational guidance according to their admissions rates of Koreans.

However, with little in the way of sanctions available for schools found to be in violation it will be difficult for there to be effective guidance and oversight, so the Ministry is considering proposing reforms to laws covering the foreigner’s schools.

A presidential directive on regulations governing the establishment and operation of foreigner’s scools and foreigner’s kindergartens limits the admission of Koreans to those who have been resident overseas for a three-year period, and they may not comprise more than 30% to 50% of total admissions, but there have been no rules for detecting violations.

SMOE respects the establishment goals and freedoms of the foreigner’s schools but also plans to implement an oversight system for their public character and responsibilities.

Beginning with the establishment of 서울일본인학교 in 1972 there are now 22 foreigner’s schools in the Seoul metropolitan area, but in the beginning they were established as foreign organizations under the Immigration Control Law. Since 2001 they have been established as alternative schools and as “diverse schools” under amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

In 2009 a presidential directive on the establishment and operation of foreign language high schools was issued which enabled oversight by provincial and metropolitan offices of education, but up to recently the majority of foreign language high schools have experienced no episodes of such oversight.

An official with SMOE said that “since currently there is no basis in the law to do anything about schools found the be in violation the effectiveness of the studies may suffer… there is an urgent need for systemic reform regarding the guidance and oversight of these schools.”

National Assembly Representative Kim Tae-won of the New Frontier Party, and a member of the National Assembly’s committee on science, education, and technology, has released statistics received from the Ministry, according to which 9 out of 49 foreigner’s schools in Korea had student bodies with Koreans exceeding 30%. Foreign students outnumbered Korean students in just 12 of the schools, or 24.5%.

At one school the total yearly tuition including lesson fees, admissions fees, and dormitory fees exceeded 38.93 million won, and at another school the fee for lessons alone was 24.62 million won, Rep. Kim said, calling them “schools for aristocrats.”

SKorea Supreme Court rules in lawsuit over swimming pool heart attack

September 18th, 2012 · Legal news · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the operator of a swimming pool is not automatically responsible for the death of a guest caused by a heart attack while swimming even when there were insufficient emergency instructions.

On the 18th the third division of the Supreme Court, under Justice Lee In-bok, partially overturned the ruling of the trial court in the lawsuit against travel agency H, brought by the 67-year old father and 66-year old mother of a Mr. Lee, who they allege was on his honeymoon when “he [our son] died because of the travel agency took no regard of its obligation to care for his safety.”

The Court ruled that “the travel agency was at fault in that it did not have sufficient emergency instructions, but it is difficult to agree that the agency had a responsibility to explain the dangers of the hotel swimming pool… Moreover, [Mr. Lee’s] death was not caused by the lack of regard for its obligation to care for [his] safety.”

Mr. Lee’s parents filed a lawsuit against the travel agency, seeking 155 million won each, after their son “died during the night while on his trip because of the lack of safety instructions” during his honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia, in November of 2008.

The trial court had ruled against them, but the appeals court found that “the travel agency violated its duty to care for his safety and issue emergency instructions, and has a responsibility to compensate [the plaintiffs]”, and ordered the agency to pay 21.52 million won to each [parent].

Non-traditional families on the rise in South Korea

September 17th, 2012 · Society · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

#1. 39-year-old office worker Han Ju-yeol (not his real name) and 35-year-old insurance saleswoman Lee Su-yeong (not her real name) are an “unofficial married couple.” They have lived together for the past four years but have no marriage certificate. The two each have experienced a failed marriage, Mr. Han’s marriage ended over personal differences, and Ms. Lee’s ended over her husband’s unfaithfulness. They do not have a marriage certificate due to their intensely negative experiences, but live as if they were married. The two “had two many wounds from getting divorced… if they healed we could get legally married, but we like the way things are,” they say. The two have a son who has Mr. Han’s family name.

#2. 27-year old Kim Seong-jin (not his real name) and 23-year old Park Jae-hui (not her real name), are a campus couple who had a baby together in March of this year. They lived together for two years since moving to Seoul when they suddenly got pregnant. Ms. Park said that “when the pregnancy test came up positive we thought of getting an abortion… I couldn’t bear the idea.” Their healthy daughter is currently being looked after by Mr. Kim’s parents. Mindful of social prejudices, they said they will get a marriage certificate after obtaining employment.

An increasing number of male-female couples are living without marriage certificates. According to the National Statistical Office last month, the number of children born out of wedlock rose 3.3% last year, or 320 children, to 9,959. That is the highest number since figures began being kept in 1981. Since 2001 there has been an increasing trend, which if it continues will see over 10,000 out-of-wedlock births this year. In 1997 such births comprised 0.6% (4,196) of the total birth rate, which rose 2.1% (9,959) in 2011. Kim  Yeong-cheol, a research leader at the Korea Development Institute, said that “it appears from the statistics that if this trend towards out-of-wedlock births is not interrupted, there will be a large increase in them among cohabitating couples, not just the unmarried, and among de facto marriages… the traditional, conservative institution of marriage is weakening.”

According to the NSO, in 2010 there were 17,359,333 household nationwide, of which 12.1%, or 2,096,651, fell into the “other” category, which excludes all married couples with children and also grandparents raising grandchildren. There were 4,142,165 one-person households, and 479,120 “secret friend” households. Unmarried couples with or without children, cohabiting couples, and those in de facto marriages are classified as either “other”, “single-person”, or “secret friend”. Perspectives on these relationships are changing with little consideration of their legal effects. In 2010 the NSO found that 53.3% of teenagers aged 15 to 24 agreed with the statement “men and women can live together even if they are not married.” In April the internet polling company Dooit Survey published a study in which 2,513 adults were asked “is it good to cohabitate before getting married?” 60% said yes. Lee Mi-Jeong, a research leader at the Korea Women’s Development Institute, said that “with the marriage age increasing and sexual freedom expanding, cohabitation has become natural… with an increasing number of people seeing marriage as a choice and being accepting of individual sexual customs, the number of out-of-wedlock births will continue to increase.”

The NSO has also studied unmarried mothers raising children born out of wedlock. In August the KWDI published a study (미혼모 자녀양육 및 자립지원을 위한 정책과제) according to which the number of single mothers who raise their children went from 7.2% in 1998 to 66.4% in 2009.

With the increasing economic ability of women and an increasing respect for life, the traditional route of oversea adoption is also crumbling, the KWDI found. Byeon Hwa-sun, head of the Family Life Research Institute, said that “in the past marriage and pregnancy were absolutely equated… now, more and more women believe they can raise a child by themselves, without a man.”

Experts say that it is important that these “new families” be able to create a heathy and happy social environment. Although are various systems for them, such as the Single-Parent Family Support Act (한부모가족지원법), the Domestic Relations Act (가족관계법), the Medical Insurance Act (의료보험법), and the Act on Special Cases Concerning Adoption (입양특례법), there are still benefits denied to couples who are not legally married. Kang Hak-jung, head of the research institute Home 21, said that “we must create a society in which children can be raised healthily… it is a long-term social problem that social benefits are denied to those in de facto marriages, to cohabiting couples, and to homosexual couples.”

Most-read articles of the week – September 16, 2012

September 16th, 2012 · Stories of the Day/Week/Year · 0 comments

Top 10 in society.

1. A young woman was arrested for selling the anaesthetic drug propofol out of a nail salon.

2. Some young men in Gangnam were arrested for stopping cars and asking the drivers for money to buy alcohol.

3. Police in Gwangju are offering a reward for anyone with information about a man suspected of sexually assaulting a high school student.

4. Kim Woong-yong, the man who recently was acclaimed as one of the world’s smartest men with an IQ of 210, wrote a poem when he was three years old.

5.  A man in Ulsan murdered his older sister after she told him she never wanted to see him again.

6. More on #5.

7. A wealthy Korean who disappeared while in The Philippines has been found dead, over 20 days later.

8. Two young men were assaulted by an elderly man for speaking to them in 반말.

9. A doctor and a nurse at a large hospital are accused of stealing and selling prescription drugs.

10. Prosecutors believe that Jo Hui-pil, the man at the center of a large corruption/bribery scandal earlier this year, is actually alive and living in China, and is not dead as previously reported.

SKorea: Govt moves to expand prosecution of sex offenses

September 10th, 2012 · Legal news · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The government is considering a proposal to make sex offenses punishable even in cases where the victims do not express such a desire to investigative agencies. The government also is considering a proposal to make chemical castration an option for all sex offenders following an investigation of the effects of drugs for lowering sex drive. This follows recent controversy over such measures.

Gwon Hae-jin, head of the Ministry of Justice, discussed policies to deal with the recent spate of serious crimes with the Dong-A Ilbo in an interview in Gwacheon on the 7th.

Minister Gwon said that “we are now considering the issues regarding sex crimes being prosecutable only subject to complaint.” This is the first time the Ministry has publicly addressed making the prosecution of sex crimes not subject to complaint. If the requirement of a complaint is removed, investigative agencies will be able to bring offenders to court even without a stated desire for such by the victim, giving the government a somewhat more active role in dealing with sex crimes.

Minister Gwon said of chemical castration that “although there remain doubts about the human rights implications and effectiveness of pharmaceutical treatment, after an investigation of its effects on re-offense rates we may expand its use to all sex offenders.”

Regarding expansion of the disclosure of sex offender regsitration to all numbered lots, eups, myeons, and dongs, he said that “we are promoting a proposal to expand the posting of sex offender registration to all local government central offices.”

Minister Gwon said of the controversy over the proposals that “we cannot just ram through these proposals. We must proceed with caution… we must not advance recklessly but rather use the recent group of terrible crimes as a guage for the debate, focusing on these proposals.”

Minister Gwon said regarding worries that there would be all kinds of rumor-mongering and slander leading up to the December presidential election that “we will be closely inquiring into whether the rights of the electorate to a fair vote are violated… we will be watching during and after the election and any offenses will be strictly punished.”

Most-read articles of the week — September 8, 2012

September 9th, 2012 · Stories of the Day/Week/Year · 0 comments

Top 10 in society.

1. The man who abducted and sexually assaulted a 7-year old girl in Naju has a prior conviction for sexually assaulting a 13-year old girl.

2. Friends of the abductor say he was not always a monster, and there is much the public does not know about his childhood and upbringing.

3. Two men in Suwon were arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a young college student in a motel following a blind date.

4. The abductor in story #1 has been revealed to be a man named Goh Jeong-seok.

5. Some foreign models were accused of taking disrespectful photos inside Gyeongbokgung.

6. In Yeouido, a new mall was criticized for have a too-sexy photoshoot involving… foreign models.

7. To avoid falling into an unfavorable legal category, motels in Oido call themselves “models”.

8. There are now “sparrow families” where the father works in Gangnam but the mother and children live elsewhere in the country, such as Jeju, to reduce their cost of living and education. The nickname follows the famous “goose fathers” who live in Korea while educating their children overseas.

9. A teenager in Seoul is accused of murdering his mother and neglecting her corpse after he could no longer stand her pressuring him over his grades.

10. An attempt to probe the psychology of the Naju abductor.

SKorean juries give sex offenders harsher punishments

September 5th, 2012 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A drunk man in his 50s stole into a 6-year old girl’s bedroom, then abducted and sexually assaulted her. Another man stabbed his wife to death after an argument. If you, rather than the judge, chose the punishment, what would you choose?

Five years after the start of the citizen jury system, a study has found that juries give sex offenders sentences that average eight months longer than those of judges. Jurors also do not reduce sentences for those who commit crimes while intoxicated, unlike judges. When deciding guilt and innocence, they tend to demand clearer evidence than do judges. The research team studied 546 cases tried before juries in the past five years, involving 569 victims and 4,282 jurors, and compared their behavior to judges.

The study found that jurors in sex crime cases gave average prison sentences of 68.1 months compared to the average 59.9 given by judges, an 8-month gap. In the other major crimes of murder, assault, and robbery, jury sentences were just 1 to 2 months longer. It appears that citizens want to punish sex crimes more harshly than does the judiciary.

Further, the research team led by Kyonggi University Professor Lee Su-jeong (criminal psychology) studied the factors influencing judges’ and juries’ sentences, finding that jurors took little heed of intoxication as a mitigating factor when setting sentences. Prof. Lee said that “some citizens see the traditional attitude towards intoxication in the judiciary to be excessively lenient.”

However, in other major crimes such as murder and assault, juries gave harsher sentences than judges in only roughly 1 out of 10 (10.%) of cases. They gave shorter sentences in 17.6% of cases, and gave identical sentences in 72.1% of cases.

Jurors also seek more solid evidence when deciding guilt and innocence. In the 9.3% (51) cases where judges and juries reached different conclusions about guilt and innocence, 47 involved juries who wanted to acquit and judges who wanted to convict, versus just 4 cases of the reverse. The largest reason, cited in 47.1% of the cases, was lack of evidence. Lee Sang-won, an attorney who began his career as a judge, said that “judges have seen so many criminals that they start to see everybody as guilty, but juries don’t experience in issuing judgments, so they look at the defendant sympathetically and that is the basis for them seeking a just verdict.”