Extra! Korea

April 28, 2009

Survey: 26 to 38% of men had beaten their wives last year

Filed under: crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 11:11 pm

Men with college degrees are more prone to domestic violence than those without, a study suggests. The survey, conducted by a Catholic domestic violence help center in Daejeon together with Lee Seo-won, a professor of Yonsei University, shows that 25.8 percent of men without college degree and 37.7 percent of men with college degree surveyed had beaten their wives during the last year.

In general, 36.4 percent of men used violence against their wives since they were married, and 33 percent had beaten their wives during the last year. As many as 76 percent abused their wives verbally during the last year, the survey said.

[ snip ]

The survey was conducted of 466 married men and women over 20 living in Daejeon in last April and May.


In Korea, domestic violence is considered to be a personal affair. If people hear a violent domestic dispute next door, they’re not likely to call the police. Even if the police are called to the home, they’re likely to act very politely, as the husband yells at them, “This is none of your business!” I’ve lived for a few years in different apartments that I’ve rented, so I’ve heard the late-night screams on occasion. Still, even I was surprised at the high numbers (25.8% and 37.7%).

Prof. Lee [Seo-won, of Yonsei University] said, “The authorities should come up with concrete and effective countermeasures to prevent domestic violence.”

No kidding. But that would require a change in society-at-large. Some things in Korea change rapidly (e.g. new cell-phone models every year, each with more features than the last). Some things don’t (e.g. xenophobia).

Another young actress, Woo Seung-yeon, found dead

Filed under: actors/actresses, suicide — extrakorea @ 8:10 am

It appears that she hung herself and left a suicide note.

(sources: Korea Times, AllKPop, and Korea Herald)

April 27, 2009

Kim Jong-il’s youngest son elevated to post in military body

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 6:43 am

The third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been assigned to a post in the communist nation’s top military organization headed by Kim, apparently a sign of being groomed as the North’s next leader, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday, quoting multiple sources privy to North Korea affairs.

[ snip ]

Sources noted that Jong-un’s course of “succession lessons” is different from that of his father, who started his political career in the Workers’ Party. They said the move shows the authority of the National Defense Commission headed by Kim under his military-first policy.

Kim Jong-il was tapped as successor at 32 by his father and the nation’s founder, Kim Il-sung, in a general meeting of the Workers’ Party in 1974. He took over after his father’s death in 1994.

[ snip ]

The 25-year-old is the youngest of Kim’s three sons. Jong-un was educated at the International School of Berne and is known to be a fan of NBA basketball. After returning to Pyongyang in his late teens, he has lived a reclusive life, and very little is known about his character.


Kim Jong Un speaks English, likes basketball — and is said to look and act just like his father.

[ snip ]

The eccentric leader has three known sons by two women. The oldest, Kim Jong Nam, was long considered his favorite — until he tried to sneak into Japan using a fake Dominican passport and visit Tokyo’s Disney resort in 2001.

The middle son, Kim Jong Chol, apparently has never been a favorite as a possible leader. Kim Jong Il’s former sushi chef says in a 2003 memoir that the leader considers his second son “girlish.”

But talk about the youngest son has been growing. On Sunday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Kim Jong Un was assigned to a low-level post at the defense commission, the top government body, several days before his father was reappointed as the commission’s chairman on April 9.

[ snip ]

South Korea’s Unification Ministry and the National Intelligence Service said they cannot confirm the report.

Little is known about Kim Jong Un. The former sushi chef, Kenji Fujimoto, says in his memoir that the son looks and acts just like his father.

The teen studied at the International School of Bern in Switzerland, a short walk from the North Korean embassy, where classes are taught in English and many students come from diplomatic families.

A recent article in the French-speaking weekly L’Hebdo described Kim Jong Un as a shy student enrolled under the name of Chol Pak, who enjoyed team sports like basketball, went skiing with friends on Fridays and admired Michael Jordan and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

“He had a lot of friends among the children of American diplomats,” the school’s past director, David Gatley, told L’Hebdo.

Kim Jong Il believes his youngest son has “charismatic leadership” like him, said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the security think tank Sejong Institute.

[ snip ]

But Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, disagreed, saying Kim Jong Il is believed to be focusing more on consolidating his support base rather than appointing his successor, which would quickly erode his power.


There’s a good Chosun Ilbo article about how Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, Jong-nam, fell from his father’s favor.
(Hat Tip to ROK Drop)

April 26, 2009

Korean films and filmmakers to appear at Cannes film festival

Filed under: movies — extrakorea @ 5:40 am

Top Korean movie directors have been invited to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival running from May 13 to 24.

The festival delegation announced the list of this year’s competitors and jury members Thursday through the festival’s official Web site ― they included Koreans Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Lee Chang-dong.

According to the list, Park’s “Thirst” will vie for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded to competing films at the event. This is the second time that one of Park’s films has been nominated, the first being “Old Boy” in 2004. The movie won the Grand Prix at Cannes that year. The thriller “Thirst” tells the story of a priest who becomes a vampire and falls in love with his friend’s wife. It’s slated for release here on April 30.

[ snip ]

Fellow filmmaker Bong will also join Park at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section with his new film “Mother.” Bong won the award for Best Director at the 2007 Oporto International Film Festival for his monster film “The Host” (2006). This is his third invitation to the event. Mother stars veteran Korean actress Kim Hye-ja as a distressed mother who fights to prove her son’s innocence against false charge of homicide. The film is slated for release in May.

Meanwhile, Lee Chang-dong (“Secret Sunshine,” 2007) will be part of the jury, headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, Taiwanese actress Shu Qi and American director James Gray. Lee’s “Secret Sunshine” was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2007, while “Oasis” (2002) won the Special Director’s Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2003.


(More here.)

This commercial’s not cute and I’ll tell you why …

Filed under: gender equality, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 5:22 am

Over at Mongdori I saw this commercial.

Here’s a new and cute ad for the yogurt drink O’Yu, which is kind of clever in how its jingle is devoid of consonants…

I don’t think it’s cute, and here’s why.

From their uniforms and the hallway leading to classrooms, these are schoolgirls. But look at how short their skirts are. That’s not regulation length, trust me. If these were 18-year-old high school seniors, then it could be overlooked, but when the camera shows a close-up of their faces, it’s clear that they’re much younger than that. And do I have a uniquely dirty mind, or does the final scene, in which one girl opens her mouth and tilts her head back in order to receive a drink from a giant phallus-like beverage container that gets closer and closer to her lips, remind you of a blowjob?

Newspaper exec named in Jang Ja-yeon’s list cleared of charges

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, gender equality, prostitution — extrakorea @ 4:57 am

The newspaper executive who was publicly named by two lawmakers and an Internet-based newspaper, Surprise, has been cleared of charges by the police, at least until they are able to take Kim Sung-hoon, the head of Jang’s management company, into custody and interrogate him.
This seems to rest upon, among other things, an alibi based upon one of the executive’s scheduled meeting. Just because he had a meeting scheduled doesn’t mean that he attended it, or attended it on time. Anyone who lives and works in Korea knows that higher-ups have carte blanche to be tardy, reschedule things, leave early, and even to cancel.

The Hankyoreh also has a cartoon in which a police officer buries the Jang Ja-yeon list in a grave while shadowy figures watch him to make sure that he does it to their satisfaction.

The Jang Ja-yeon list has made its way onto the Internet, and though the Korean government has tried to chase it out of cyberspace, I think (and hope) that they will fail. That way, the list will never be buried.

April 25, 2009

Wolverine goes wild with three hot Korean chicks

Filed under: celebrities, humor — extrakorea @ 5:17 am

(photographic evidence here)

Okay, they’re not the hottest three girls you’ve ever seen in your life, but you should see this video that was made when Hugh Jackman came to Korea to promote the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Some things that you will kick yourself if you miss:

* They compliment him on his small face.
* “I have a beautiful face and sexy body. My specialty is dancing on tables. My nickname: Korean Beyonce.”
* “My act-trition (‘attraction’) is very, very young face.”
* “I was Miss Korea and I’m not married.”

If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can see Part Two here.

(Hat Tip to PopSeoul)

April 24, 2009

Drunk Executives Sexually Harass 19-Year-Old College Student

Filed under: crime, gender equality, idiots — extrakorea @ 10:37 pm

Executives of a conglomerate and a securities company have been booked for sexually harassing a 19-year-old woman while under the influence of alcohol.

Police said Friday that a president of a conglomerate, identified as a 46-year-old man named Park, and a vice head of a foreign securities firm, who is aged 39, looked under the skirt of the college student on a Seoul street at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday. The latter has been accused of taking a photo of her underwear with his cell phone.

As one of the girl’s male friends protested, they scuffled and attacked another man who tried to stop the fight.

[ snip ]

“They denied the accusations [of sexual harassment, photo-taking, and violence], but we concluded that they harassed the girl sexually on the basis of testimony and circumstantial evidence,” a Namdaemun police officer said.


Wow. A 46-year-old tries to look at, and photograph, a 19-year-old’s panties, and then gets into a fight with her friend, who is trying to protect her from this dirty old pervert. You’re never too old to act like a spoiled prepubescent.

No justice for Jeon Ji-hyun, but hopefully for Jang Ja-yeon

Filed under: celebrities, crime, gender equality, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 7:36 am

Actress Jeon Ji-hyun’s agency created a duplicate of her cell-phone so that they could monitor all of her private phone calls and text messages. Though one low-level freelancer has been convicted, and two other executives were indicted, the agency’s CEO, Chung Hoon-tak, escaped justice.

This raises the question of whether or not there will ever be justice for deceased actress Jang Ja-yeon, who was beaten by her agency if she refused to be, for all intents and purposes, a prostitute for some of the biggest moguls in the Korean media.
A piece in the Chosun Ilbo expressed concern that the investigation would die down and eventually lead nowhere, just like a similar one in 2002 did.
The Hankyoreh newspaper, via Korea Beat, has just reported nine arrests in connection to the actress’ suicide.

The Bundang Police Department, in charge of the investigation into the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, announced on the 24th it has arrested nine people on charges including forced entertaining, forcible molestation, and defamation.

Of the nine arrestees, three are in public relations, two are directors, three are bankers, and once is a businessperson.

[ snip ]

Police also arrested a director on charges of being an accomplice to extortion and abuse of office, and a banker was arrested for forcible molestation.

Police investigated 20 people, including those arrested today, and of the remaining 11, five are directors, five are in the media, and one is a banker. Of those 11, four investigations were cancelled, without public comment three concluded without public comment, and four concluded with no arrest.

Hopefully, there will ultimately be justice and she can finally rest in peace.


The Korea Times has more, and here’s an excerpt.

In a press briefing on the progress of the investigation, Bundang Police Station in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, said that they have so far booked three entertainment agency officials, two directors, three financial industry officials and a private entrepreneur on charges of defamation, coercion and assault.

Included are Yoo Jang-ho, Jang’s most-recent agent who disclosed the letter, on charges of libel for making the letter public through the media. Police are also trying to track down the head of Jang’s agency, the former agent, accused of coercing the actress into offering sexual favors.

A court has issued an arrest warrant for the head of the agency, identified only by his family name Kim, who is now in Japan. Police officials have requested that Japanese authorities extradite Kim, as he has repeatedly defied summons by investigators.

The police decided to suspend interrogating five suspects until Kim is extradited, as they have had difficulty confirming the allegations without questioning him.

Criticism has mounted that police have done little to uncover the truth during the month-long investigation. Critics claim that investigators have not been active in questioning big names in the media and corporations allegedly mentioned in the suicide note and the circulated list.

Police decided to conclude their investigation into 11 directors, media-industry and financial-sector officials, which include journalists at broadcaster KBS that initially reported the existence of the suicide letter.

Further Update:

There’s more from the Korea Times and Korea Herald, respectively.

Police Fail to Pursue Sex Scandal List

Police booked nine people out of the 20 questioned but failed to identify who the late actress was forced to provide entertainment and sexual intercourse to.

None of the corporate figures and media executives suspected of having sex with the late Jang have been booked. Police said they were unable to find concrete evidence to the claim that the late actress was forced to provide sex in completing their investigation Friday.

[ snip ]

Many suspect police succumbed to pressure from the VIPs.

Police initially vowed to investigate all listed figures, but after two months, they were nowhere close to taking legal action against them as none of them were summoned for questioning.

In 2002, a similar scandal involving famous entertainment directors and singers and actresses occurred but no legal action was taken.

Police yesterday wrapped up its probe into allegations behind the death of Jang, 30, who hanged herself in her home on March 7.

[ snip ]

“Though we tried to reveal the truth, we faced limits in investigation, as the victim is now dead and the most crucial suspect Kim is overseas,” said Han Poong-hyun, head of the Bundang Police Station in the briefing. “Further steps will be taken once Kim is brought in for questioning.”

These investigation results were denounced by many as fruitless, especially as they came after a long period of silence from the police. Public suspicion also rose that the police may be covering up for socially influential suspects as their detailed identities remained hidden.

Yet Another Update:

There is a Joongang Daily article which is somewhat lengthier than most of the others I’ve posted links to. A few things are notable. The police report is described as interim, not final, as the Korea Herald article had suggested. There’s a summary about the guy who fled to Japan on December 2 and has since refused to return, despite a summons from law enforcement.

Kim Sung-hoon, head of Jang’s management company, was accused of assaulting her.

He was also accused of coercing Jang to serve drinks to influential businessmen, police said. The alleged exploitation and assaults took place in Kim’s office and bars in the southern Seoul area.

The police also said Kim is accused of embezzling money.

While serious accusations were made against Kim, he was never questioned by the police.

There’s also a description of eyewitness testimony given by a fellow actress.

“A fellow actress of Jang, who had attended a drinking event with Jang and the suspect, testified that he had acted inappropriately,” Ha said.

While the witness identified the financier as the suspected harasser, he denied the accusation by saying that her testimony has been inconsistent.

At first, the witness identified the head of an Internet media firm as the suspect, but later changed her account and identified the financier.

Thankfully, the case seems to have been left at least partially open.

Of the 11 other people who had been questioned, the police left the case open for at least four of them. “The four had met with Jang at least once, so we want to investigate them further after Kim is arrested,” said Lee from the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency.

And finally, here’s a “What-the-hell?!” moment.

Jang’s family filed a defamation suit against the [president of a major newspaper company], but police said Jang must have mistakenly mentioned the man in her letters.

“[M]istakenly mentioned the man in her letters”?! If you’ve been raped by someone, I think you would remember the fine details about him pretty well.

Was the movie “JSA” prophetic about choco pies?

Filed under: movies, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:16 am

In the movie “JSA” actor Song Gang-ho played a North Korean soldier who became enamored with the South Korean snack called “choco pies.” If you’re Canadian, you’ll recognize them as being very similar to the much older snack called Wagon Wheels.
It turns out that North Koreans really do love choco pies.

If there’s one South Korean product that all North Korean workers in the Kaesong Industrial Complex know about, it’s Choco Pie. According to factory owners in the Kaesong complex, some businesses there began passing out the snacks to their North Korean workers in 2005 to boost morale, which led to explosive popularity of the product among workers, and now most businesses there have followed suit.

[ snip ]

The Choco Pies are then brought out of the industrial park through unofficial channels and sold in black markets near Pyongyang. One South Korean government official said North Korean authorities tried to stop Choco Pies from being smuggled out of the complex, but this has proven too difficult to do, and they are now turning a blind eye, the staffer said.

He added Choco Pies were “sweet symbols of capitalism” for North Koreans.

Perhaps you’re heard of the Sunshine Policy, the policy of engaging North Korea that was pursued for two consecutive presidential terms, and whose abject failure has lead to, among other things, North Korea’s rocket launch, the restarting of its nuclear program, and continuation of human rights violations. As blogger G.I. Korea noted, Dr. Andrei Lankov, an expert on Korea, advocates a radically different kind of policy, one that, in years to come, may be referred to as the Choco Pie Engagement Policy.

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