Extra! Korea

April 24, 2009

Wonder Girls’ Yoobin to netizens: You can bite my supposedly fat ass

Filed under: celebrities, gender equality, music, schadenfreude moment — extrakorea @ 6:19 am

Not too long ago, netizens made comments about Yoobin (of the girl group the Wonder Girls), specifically, that they thought that she had gained too much weight.

Initially, she wrote on her Cyworld page, “Please stop calling me fat,” then deleted her comments. (In case you don’t know, Cyworld is social networking website, somewhat similar to MySpace and Facebook.)

Now she’s written again, this time telling the netizens that if they think her ass is fat, they can bite it. Okay, she phased it much more politely and eloquently than I did.

“Regarding my body, I think I am still putting on weight. There are many people who like me and care about me, and I had received many comments of advice and concern. Everyone is curious about my condition. Even though I’m not perfect, I am sufficiently satisfied with my body.”

“Even though I like the trend of being skinny these days, I prefer to have a suitable and healthy body. I am also controlling my diet and doing exercises.“

“During the ‘Nobody’ days, actually [I didn’t take good care of myself], and [I was out-of-shape]. But [by performing concerts] now, I have [lost] some weight and I feel healthy. For people who are looking at me and [feel] that I am plump and unfit, I am feeling healthy and I like my looks now a lot.“

In a country where netizen vitriol has driven celebrities to suicide, I’m glad to see her standing up to these pimply-faced, sponging-off-their-parents losers.

(Hat Tip to AllKPop and to PopSeoul, entries one and two)

More ignorance about the outside world from government officials

Filed under: crime, expatriates, What the hell?! — extrakorea @ 5:40 am

This is the inaugural entry in a new category called “What the hell?!”
A newspaper article gives alarmist descriptions about a rising tide of foreign crimes. This is typical beating of the bigotry drum for the Korean media, but the last paragraph is what caught my eye.

“As more foreigners are visiting Korea, especially from China and Thailand, which are comparatively lenient on drug use, a growing number of foreign workers are becoming major drug consumers here,” said Won [Myung-yeon, an investigator at the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency].


If they think Thailand is “lenient” on drug use, maybe they should read what the U.S. government wrote for its citizens traveling abroad:

Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in, illegal drugs in Thailand are severe and convicted offenders can expect long prison sentences under harsh conditions, and often heavy fines as well. Thailand also has a death penalty for serious drug offenses, and has executed convicted traffickers. The U.S. Embassy frequently does not learn of the arrest of U.S. citizens for minor drug offenses, particularly in southern Thailand, until several days after the incident.

In Thai jails, prisoners let insects eat their rice, and then eat the insects, because they’re cleaner than the filthy, rotten rice they’re given.
And in China, drug trafficking is likely to get you a swift bullet in the head.

There have been a couple of newspaper articles (by the Korea Herald and Korea Times) about the record-high number of crimes, over twenty-thousand, committed by foreigners last year. Buried deep within both texts is the fact that there are more foreigners in Korea than ever before. And nowhere in either of them is the fact that the per capita ratio of crimes by foreigners is lower than that for Koreans. (sources one, two, three, and four)

In Korea, the image of a frog in well, who can only see a small patch of the larger sky, as an analogy for people who are ignorant of the outside world. My question is why are so many such frogs working for the government, in capacities in which they have to deal with foreigners and foreign countries?

April 16, 2009

Sex crimes against children rises; Gov’t doesn’t know what to do

Filed under: crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 7:23 am

Sexual crimes against children has increased 69% since 2004. The government implemented a system of voluntary disclosure of personal information about such types of sexual offenders, but the government itself concedes that very little has come of it. (source)

Here’s a radical idea: How about punishing offending pedophiles with longer sentences? As in, more than 3 and 1-and-a-half years for raping your mentally disabled, teenage niece for seven years, more than two years for molesting your teenage daughter for four years, and more than six months for having sex with an eleven-year-old.

What’s worse, the sentencing for such criminals is becoming, against all logic, more and more lenient.

April 15, 2009

The Return of Mad-Cow Beef

Filed under: food, politics — extrakorea @ 8:01 am

American beef suspected of being unsafe is back in the news.

About 13 tons of American beef were falsely sold as Australian products five years ago in defiance of a disposal order issued after a case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was reported in the United States.

[ snip ]

In December 2003, when cows suspected of having the disease were found in the U.S. and Seon’s company was ordered to dispose of all American beef, he allegedly destroyed seven tons and falsely reported to the company that he had destroyed the entire 29 tons in the store.

Among the remaining 22 tons, Seon delivered 12.7 tons to discount stores and department stores between August and December 2004. The two fabricated expiration dates of the products and labeled them as “Australian beef,” raking in 280 million won in revenue. The products sold out.


As frustrating as it was to watch the Mad Cow Madness incite violent protests that caused 3.75 trillion won of damage (about 3.75 million dollars, before the current economic turbulence), I have to say that what these guys did was wrong, and that they do deserve to be punished.


Via the Marmot’s Hole, we learn that South Korea is, once again, the third-largest market of U.S. beef.

April 14, 2009

Even the Blue House are posing as foreigners at YouTube

Filed under: censorship — extrakorea @ 8:37 am

Recently, YouTube rejected Korea’s real-name system, but nevertheless, there has been speculation that people in Korea would pretend to be foreigners at YouTube. This is because Koreans still cannot upload videos or post comments unless they give personal information such as their real name. Surely, only scalawags would do such a thing, right? It turns out that the Blue House (home of the South Korean president, similar to America’s White House) have been uploading videos to YouTube, and pretending to be foreigners while doing so.

April 13, 2009

Gap in spending on education widens

Filed under: economics, education — extrakorea @ 11:26 pm

The gap between how much the wealthy and the poor spend on eduction has widened.

Government data showed yesterday that the gap in private education spending between the wealthy and the poor widened last year, raising fears that the economic slump may hit children of low-income families more severely.

According to data by the Bank of Korea and the National Statistical Office, the top 20 percent households in terms of income spent 6.9 times more on private education than the bottom 20 percent in 2008, up from 5.9 times a year earlier.

[ snip ]

The top 20 percent of households spent a monthly average of 321,253 won ($240.8) on private education of their children.

[ snip ]

Although the government has been putting ever more emphasis on English education in public schools, spending for private English education rose by the most in terms of subject.

The private education spending for English rose by 11.8 percent, while that of other subjects, like Korean essay writing, fell by 10 percent, the NSO survey showed.


I really admire the way that Koreans place a lot of value upon education, but at the same time, it’s clear that education is not valued for its own sake, but as a tool for the wealthy to cement their privilege.

Super Junior’s Yesung confused with Kim Jong-il’s youngest son

Filed under: celebrities, Kim Jong-il, North Korea, schadenfreude moment — extrakorea @ 3:37 am

Here’s my schadenfreude moment of the week:

A member of the boy band Super Junior, Yesung, had his picture labeled by Swiss tabloid Blick as Kim Jong-il’s third and youngest son. The confusion came from the fact that Yesung’s real name is Kim Jong-un, the same as the dictator’s possible heir. (source)
Who are Super Junior? They’re a boy band and they suck. That’s all you need to know.

April 12, 2009

Celibate monk offers dating advice

Filed under: Buddhism, culture, humor — extrakorea @ 12:47 am

A celibate monk has been offering dating advice for seventeen years. Here’s how he explains this seeming paradox:

“Whether it’s dating or serious love, all essentially is based on human relationship. And human relationship is based on karma,” he said in an interview with JoongAng Ilbo, published Saturday.

As a monk, he is also aware that he is doing something unusual and has a good way of defending it. “Buddhism attaches a great importance to karma, arising from human relationship. So, it’s not something very strange for a monk to do dating counseling,” he said.

But he admitted that it was not easy for him to be understood. “Even other monks regarded me as an odd ball a few years back. They thought even though I did it to help other people, but then the very job of talking about dating and very private affairs itself could become a stumbling block for a monk to gain enlightenment.”

He runs the “Happiness-healing center” in the Samcheong-dong neighborhood of Seoul, and began when, seventeen years ago, he was a chaplain in the military and counseled a heartbroken young soldier.

April 11, 2009

Newspaper executive sues lawmakers over actress’ Jang Ja-yeon’s list

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, censorship, prostitution, suicide — extrakorea @ 1:36 pm

Last month actress Jang Ja-yeon committed suicide. A note, said to be written by her, said that she was forced to have sex with some of the biggest executives in the Korean media (broadcasting companies and newspapers). When she tried to refuse, she was beaten. Though one copy of the letter was burnt, another copy was leaked to the press (no one knows which one was the original) and has made its way onto the Internet.

First, some background on Korea’s libel laws. As Brendon Carr explained, in Korea, one person’s right to protect their reputation trumps another person’s right to free speech. Further, telling the truth is no guaranteed defense. Even if you print verifiable facts that are a matter of public record, you can still be sued for libel.

Two lawmakers implicated the senior executive of the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in the actress’ death, and now he is suing the lawmakers for “damaging his reputation.”

In my opinion, if you don’t want your reputation to be damaged, don’t commit crimes. When you commit crimes, you lose your right to protect your reputation. Just my opinion.


It turns out that at least one of the lawmakers, Lee Jeong-hee (also spelled Lee Jung-hee), is a woman, which could help to explain why she wanted to give this pig the humiliation that he richly deserves.

April 9, 2009

It had to happen: new TV drama about figure skater

Filed under: television — extrakorea @ 2:49 pm

A new TV drama has reunited the director and screenwriter of Coffee Shop Prince. (No, I didn’t see it either. I had better things to do, like sticking my head in an oven.) The storyline involves … wait for it … a young figure skater who want to become a champion. (Hat Tip to AllKPop)

The drama is widely anticipated to be a hit with Korean viewers, seeing how popular figure skating is in Korea right now thanks to Kim Yuna who became world champion at the recent 2009 World Figure Skating Championships and setting a new world record in the process. Although one might suggest that it is trying to cash in on the Kim Yuna momentum, one must take note that the drama had been mooted almost a year ago.


I think Kim Yu-na is a great athlete who worked very hard for her success, and seems to be a nice person as well. To her credit, it looks like the main actress also made sacrifices:

Min Hyo Rin’s performance on the ice rink was highly anticipated as she had practised vigorously for her role in the past year, putting in at least 10 hours and above of practise daily without fail. [ snip ] After donning her ice skates, Min Hyo Rin’s impressive showing on the ice ring won her applause from everyone watching her. Director Lee Yoon Jung personally came up to Min Hyo Rin and praised her for the hard work that she had put in for her role which led to Hyo Rin tearing.

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