Extra! Korea

March 30, 2009

Guide to religion in Korea

Filed under: Buddhism, expatriates, religion — extrakorea @ 12:03 pm

The Korea Herald newspaper ran a series on the different religions that can be found in Korea. Unfortunately, their web-site will often have you going around in circles or to dead ends. Fortunately, the articles were written by a blogger who has the articles on her web-site, so I’ll post the links to her entries and send the traffic her way.

Christianity in Korea

Buddhism in Korea

Hinduism in Korea

Judaism in Korea

Islam in Korea

Gov’t to hire Korean English teachers because “native speakers can’t teach”

Filed under: education, expatriates — extrakorea @ 11:33 am

The government is intending to hire 10,000 Korean teachers to teach conversational English in public schools over the next two years. The initial plan was to hire a lot of native English teachers from “the Super Seven” (my term for Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States), but they’ve had difficulty attracting enough. No surprises there. However, this is what caught my eye:

“Foreign native English speakers cannot teach students without Korean teachers, but the newly recruited teachers can teach on their own. We expect these instructors will replace foreign teachers over the long term,” [Ministry of Education, Science and Technology official] Euh [Hyo-jin] added.

(source)

I know a lot of native speakers who can, and do, teach entirely on their own, and I’ve also known a lot of Korean English teachers who had no business being in a classroom, except maybe as a student.

Brian in Jeollanam-do, who works as a public school teacher, brings us some of his personal experiences and thoughts on the subject.

Google compromises on Internet free speech in S. Korea

Filed under: censorship — extrakorea @ 3:44 am

(from the Hankyoreh newspaper)

Google Korea submits to government’s trend towards curbing Internet freedoms by implementing a “real name system”

Google, the world’s largest Internet company, has finally submitted to South Korea’s unprecedented Internet regulations, including agreeing to implement a “real name” system in which any South Korean can post their contents only after they confirm their resident registration number.

   The company plans to reorganize its site beginning April 1 so that subscribers in South Korea must confirm their real names before posting materials or replies on YouTube Korea. Concurrently April 1 is when the amendment to South Korea’s Act on the Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and User Protection will go into effect. It expands the scope of sites subject to the real name registration system to those that have at least 100,000 users per day.

[ snip ]

The head offices of Google have explored various means of bypassing the “real-name registration system,” arguing that freedom of expression should be experienced globally by all users, including proposing to shut down YouTube services in South Korea but to no avail. A representative of Google Korea says that South Korea “is the first country worldwide for which Google will be collecting real-name information that can be used to identify individuals.”

First Minerva, now this. Free speech isn’t absolute, but the Lee Myung-bak administration seems to be a little unclear on the concept of “democracy.”

Professor Criticized for Sexist Remarks

Filed under: education, gender equality, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 3:38 am

(from the Korea Times)

An honorary professor at the nation’s top university is facing rising anger from female students for his sexist statements.

They claim the comments were degrading to women ― and say they are more than mere misdemeanors because they involved school grades.

On an online bulletin board for Seoul National University students Sunday, an article about the man, who has been identified as an elderly professor Kim at the institution, was uploaded under the name of “The Man Who Keeps Talking About Women’s Figures.” The writer claimed that the professor made odd and offensive comments.

“All he says in the classroom are some stupid words such as, `women should get plastic surgery,’ and, `do some remodeling on your face.’ I feel mortified whenever I hear it,” the writer said.

[ snip ]

The institution said there is little it can do since he is an honorary professor who cannot be sacked. “We will be thinking of possible measures,” a school spokesman said.

However, the professor has denied that he has done anything wrong. He said he was simply trying to enlighten students and help them look beautiful and attractive. “I have been making such comments for more than 10 years and I find it very surprising that students are making it an issue right now,” he told the Yonhap News Agency.

In my mind, this guy is clearly a dinosaur who doesn’t realize that Korea has changed.

March 29, 2009

Kim Yu-na wins world figure skating championship with record-setting score

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 5:09 am

Kim Yu-na (also Kim Yeon-ah or 김연아) has won the world figure skating championship with a record-setting score of 207.71. Canadian Joannie Rochette finished second, and former world champion (2007) Miki Ando of Japan came in third. Mao Asada, last year’s world champion, fell on her second triple axel and fell to fourth place.

AP National Writer Nancy Armour said, “(Kim) skates with incredible ease and lightness, seeming almost to fly across the ice. While other skaters slow down as they approach their jumps, trying to steady themselves, she goes full speed ahead. Yet she lands as if she’s touching down on a pillow. She did five triple jumps, three in combination, including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination to open the program.”

AP said there is so much more to her, though. Her edge quality is so high, she carves the ice like a calligrapher. All of her jumps were landed to crescendos in the music, making the music as much a part of her program as any other element. Her footwork was exquisite, and she skated with the elegance of a queen throughout her “Sheherazade” program.

(sources one, two, and three)

Edit/Update:

You can now see videos of her free skate and of the awards ceremony here and here, respectively.

Further Update:

Here is an article about Kim’s early years and her relationship with her mother. There are videos, including one of her being interviewed in English. There’s more on the team that’s stood behind her here.
Her only mistake during her long program is when she singled out of a planned triple salchow. Her performance helped Korea earn two spots at the Winter Olympics.

North Korean women bought and sold in China for as low as $439

Filed under: North Korea, prostitution — extrakorea @ 2:25 am

Article One

Chinese human trafficking rings are selling North Korean women into marriage in China.

The rings receive details on age and other preferences from Chinese men, recruit women from all regions in the North, get the women across the border, and then sell them to Chinese men living in rural areas.

The Dong-A Ilbo has found that Chinese rings have engaged in the trafficking of North Korean women over the past decade. They are active in the northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang and also in Hebei, Anhui and Jiangsu.

North Korean women have been recruited from the border cities of Musan, Hoeryong and Hyesan and also from inland areas.

Several crime rings are apparently dealing in the trafficking. This was confirmed by North Korean women living in a Chinese rural village who named several organizations.

Demand for North Korean brides is high from Han Chinese as well as ethnic minorities in China. One Chinese village even had more than 20 North Korean women.

The price of a North Korean wife is set at between 3,000 yuan (439 U.S. dollars) and 10,000 yuan (1,464 dollars).

Article Two

A Chinese man who currently lives with a North Korean woman said, “The organization that I contacted for a North Korean woman and the organization another village man contacted for the same purpose were different. So, it seems that there are a number of such organizations involving in the business.”

North Korean women who entered China were often lured by a human-trafficking broker who proposed a “lucrative job.” They were first gathered in the northeastern city Yanji, then were sent to the nearby city of Jilin before being transported to various Chinese cities where the “order” was placed, the newspaper said.

Article Three (a heartbreaking story)

`Where is Our Mother?`

“I’ve been told that my mom went to visit her hometown. Why hasn’t she come back?”

A five-year-old boy almost cried in an isolated rural area in the Chinese province of Hebei. “Ahn” did not know that his mother was arrested by around 10 Chinese police officers because she was a North Korean.

His elder brother looks frightened when he sees strangers since he still vividly remembered the day their mother was arrested.

When asked how much he missed his mother, Ahn’s brother burst into tears but did not answer the question.

Consolation from his father was not enough to soothe the crying boy. Their North Korean mother had been sold into marriage eight years ago but had lived a happy life in the Chinese rural village.

Their mother was returned to North Korea after her arrest.

Ahn’s father bought the then 21-year-old North Korean bride for 14,000 yuan (2,049 U.S. dollars), an amount nearly two times larger than his annual income. Several of Ahn`s father`s neighbors had married trafficked North Korean women before.

BoA’s debut album enters Billboard charts at #127

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 1:22 am

(Hat Tip to Popseoul)

Ironically, her album is just below Miley Cyrus‘.

Presidential Aides Caught in Brothel

Filed under: politics, prostitution — extrakorea @ 1:06 am

(from the Korea Times)

Two aides at Cheong wa dae, the presidential Blue House, were caught during a police crackdown on a brothel in Seoul and they subsequently submitted a letter of resignation, Hankyoreh Daily reported Saturday.

The belatedly known incident happened March 24 when the two presidential aides, identified by their last names Jang and Kim, went to a brothel after they got drunk. They were arrested while engaging in sex by the police officers who were on stakeout in the area.

Man Fined for Filming Sex With Student

Filed under: gender equality, prostitution — extrakorea @ 1:02 am

Perhaps I should have a category called “I’m speechless.” This might be the first entry.

(from the Korea Times)

A court in the southwestern city of Jeonju sentenced a man to a 5-million won ($3,720) fine for filming sex with a female high school student, allegedly done without her knowledge.

The man met a 17-year-old high school student through an Internet chatting room. They went to a motel in Gunsan City, North Jeolla Province, on Jan. 25 last year. He filmed his sex act with her using his cell phone.

After his arrest, he said that it was done by a “mutual consent,” claiming innocence. He subsequently appealed to a higher court for retrial.

“Although the defendant didn’t post the footage on the Internet, he had a previous similar case and he committed the crime again while on probation,” the court verdict explained its reason for upholding the lower court’s sentence.

Since he has a history of having committed similar crimes before, and was on probation to boot, I would not show him any leniency.

March 28, 2009

Kim Yu-na wins world figure skating short program with new world record

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 4:38 am

Kim Yu-na (also spelled Kim Yeon-ah or 김연아 in Korean) has won the ladies’ short program at the 2009 World Figure Skating championship with a world-record-setting score of 76.12. Joannie Rochette of Canada came in second and Mao Asada of Japan came in third.

(sources one, two, and three)

Now she has to hang onto her lead by doing well in the free skate on March 29 (Sunday).

The video is already on YouTube.

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