Extra! Korea

August 16, 2009

Police pledge to crack down on motorbike posses*

Filed under: crime, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 10:23 am

Korea Beat translated an article from earlier this month which described how membership in motorbike posses* and the criminal behavior associated with them has increased.

17-year old Lee, who didn’t go to high school after graduating from middle school, and his friends call themselves a “motorcycle gang”. He said, “I got addicted to it, because in the gang I feel like I’m the toughest, like I can do anything. I zigzag around, racing, and open a taxi door and grope someone.”

[ snip ]

After local toughs in the Sanbon area of Gunpo formed the group 1차 정모, they combined with other groups in the Seoul areas of Yeouinaru, Ttukseom, Children’s Park, and Coex, to form 2차 정모.
The gang members have some who take the roles of “leaders”, who issue orders, and “front covers” and “back covers” who watch out for police and impede them. Their activities include dangerous motorcycle riding such as ignoring traffic laws, crossing over the center line, purse-snatching, and fighting.

Now the Korea Times reports that the police are planning to crack down on them, especially in the interest of protecting young female members.

“Girls join the gangs in a friendly atmosphere first, but the boys sometimes sexually assault them. Also, if accidents happen, those on the back are hurt more seriously than the riders,” he [a police officer] said.

These motorbike posses are nothing like the Hell’s Angels or the Outlaws, who are basically mafias-on-wheels. However, I think that there are a few reasons to be concerned:

–> In Korea, if you are a high-school dropout, then you don’t have much of a future. If many members of these posses fit this profile, then it’s possible that they will realize, and then exploit, the criminal potential of their groups. Sure, a 100-cc motorbike may be unimpressive compared to a Harley Davidson motorcycle, but its still good enough to easily elude the police, given Korea’s traffic-congested streets and the tactics that they’ve developed, such as the aforementioned strategy of having members act as front and back “covers”. In fact, the smaller the bike, the more easily it can slip between cars.

–> They’re already committing crimes, such as sexual harassment, traffic violation, purse-snatching, and sexual assault. With their mobility, they could easily become effective drug-runners. Drugs are highly illegal in South Korea, and the more illegal something is, the more potentially lucrative. I could see them selling drugs in neighborhoods like Hongdae (which has a lot of dance clubs) and Gangnam (which is wealthy and has many night clubs) and then zipping off though the streets while the cops get stuck behind a bunch of SUVs.

–> The articles indicate that the groups have leaders, and that they are selected on the basis of being the “toughest.” As these high-school dropouts get older, and their career options rapidly and severely become constricted, I imagine that at least some of them will “upgrade” these activities from being a mere hobby to something that they can make money off of.

–> They mention at least one example of two groups amalgamating into one, thus gaining strength in numbers and influence over a wider geographic area.

* In the article that Korea Beat translated, the phrase used was “오폭족.” While “motorcycle gang” may not be an accurate translation, it’s difficult to find a viable alternative.

North Korea threatens to “mercilessly wipe out” the U.S. and South Korea with nuclear weapons over upcoming joint military drills

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 9:48 am

In response to upcoming joint military drills between American and South Korean forces, North Korea’s KCNA news agency quoted a military official as saying, “The U.S. imperialists and the Lee Myung-bak group should clearly understand that it is the iron will and resolute stand of the Korean People’s Army to go into action anytime to mercilessly wipe out the aggressors” with nuclear weapons.
In other news, the sun rose this morning.

August 15, 2009

Korean police don’t care about porn stars

Filed under: censorship, crime, gender equality, intellectual property — extrakorea @ 9:17 am

You may have heard the news about how American and Japanese porn produces are trying to sue Koreans who download porn, and then charge other people money to watch it.
Well, the Korean police don’t care. To be fair, though, they do have their reasons, which you can believe or doubt at your own discretion.

The officer said the video footage involved in the cases is not subject to protection from domestic law because it is neither academic nor artistic work.

Since pornography that depicts pubic hair or actual, as opposed to simulated, sexual intercourse, is illegal in Korea, I guess the police’s proper action would be to prosecute these people for breaking Korean laws. Let’s say that Harry Potter books are illegal in Country X, and that people in Country X start photocopying Harry Potter books and selling them for a profit. J.K. Rowling tries to sue those people for intellectual property piracy. Those people should be prosecuted for having Harry Potter books, because they are illegal in Country X, whether they are photocopied or bought from legitimate bookstores in other countries.

(Updated) Somebody stole Choi Jin-shil’s ashes!

Filed under: actors/actresses, crime, suicide — extrakorea @ 8:53 am

You probably remember late actress Choi Jin-shil. Well, somebody stole her ashes.

Edit/Update:

We have some updates thanks to Korea Beat and the Korea Times. Somebody smashed a hole in the tomb to get the ashes. Empty soju* bottles were found and are being checked for fingerprints. The police suspect that it may be the work of a fan of Ms. Choi.

* cheap, nasty spirits

August 13, 2009

Speaking of stressed-out students, whatever happened to the “Korean madness” girls?

Filed under: education, humor, music, youth — extrakorea @ 2:49 pm

To no one’s surprise, young Koreans spend the most hours studying in the OECD.

According to the comparative study on the life patterns of children and adolescents commissioned by the National Youth Policy Institute, Koreans aged between 15 and 24 spent an average of seven hours and 50 minutes per day on studying at school, private crammers or at home as of 2003, nearly three hours longer per day than the OECD average of five hours.

I wonder what those hours would look like if we only looked at high school students. The amount of time that Korean university students spend studying is next to zip.

And here is concrete proof that quality is more important than quantity.

But while Korean students spent eight hours and 55 minutes per week on math alone, the country ranked second in the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2003 with 542 points, after Finland which scored 544 points. Finnish students spend just four hours and 22 minutes per week on math.

Are the “mothers’ mafias” who terrorize hogwons (private institutes) into doing their bidding (by threatening to take their kids to another hogwon) listening? Probably not.

If ever asked to present visible evidence that stress is driving young Korean students crazy, I would present this video* as Exhibit A. I wonder what ever happened to those girls? The skinny girl is a comic genius. One of the major entertainment companies should have snatched her up, if they had any sense. Who cares if she doesn’t really have vocal talent? A lot of Korean “singers” who can’t sing.

* I could watch that video a million times, and still get a smile on my face on the millionth-and-first viewing.

August 12, 2009

“Manager driving” is still hurting celebrities (Girls’ Generation, Brown Eyed Girls, Big Bang)

Filed under: celebrities, music — extrakorea @ 2:59 pm

In 2007, comedienne and singer Kim Hyung-eun died after being in a car accident which was attributed to something called “manager driving.”

Celebrity friends say while Kim’s accident was not due to speeding, many entertainers and especially singers face the danger of traffic accidents due to so-called “manager driving” to meet their hectic schedule. “Manager driving” refers to speeding and aggressive driving showbiz managers are known for to get their charges to work on time. One staffer with an entertainment agency says some singers visit seven different places in the provinces in a day. “They have to sing at university festivals, on TV shows and in a variety of events held in the provinces, meaning they sometimes have to make it from Seoul to Busan in just two-and-a-half hours.”

Their cars are often armed with flashing lights and alarms that show where speeding cameras are located. Another entertainment agency staffer says each of the company’s cars gets about 10 speeding tickets a month. “That’s the price we have to pay not to ruin millions or tens of millions worth of schedules, and the company justifies them as ‘legitimate costs.'”

In 2004, a member of the group Wanted was killed. Numerous other, albeit less serious, accidents have occurred to other singers, including members of the groups Super Junior, TVXQ (Dong-bang-shin-gi), and Shinhwa.

And it continues. Members of Girls’ Generation, Brown Eyed Girls, and Big Bang have been in accidents on August 4, 7, and 11, respectively. Looking at the wreckage of his car, Dae-sung, of Big Bang, should count himself lucky that he only got his nose broken.

August 11, 2009

The real story of the foreigner who was raped

Filed under: crime, expatriates — extrakorea @ 8:16 am

Earlier, the Marmot’s Hole, posted about a young South African woman who was raped in Korea. Korea Beat also posted another, more complete, translation of the original Korean newspaper article. Now, according to an interview with her by the Korea Herald, a lot of misinformation has been circulating around, and she wants to put the record straight.

When news broke about the assault, a leading Korean daily, allegedly quoting Brouard, stated that she was unhappy with the police response, knew of another foreign woman sexually assaulted in the Ulsan area whose perpetrators were caught but not punished, and that she was being treated differently due to being a foreigner.

Problem is, Brouard didn’t talk to the newspaper. They made up her quotes.

(emphasis mine)

Unfortunately, I’m not at all surprised. We are talking about the Korean media. This is Korea. T.I.K.
In the article, there are some notable contradictions with earlier reports. For example:

Brouard says the police handled the case very well.

“The police and detectives were at my apartment not long after the incident accord. They were very professional and drove me to the rape center. I am very pleased with the quick and professional way in which they caught the suspect,” she said.

At Ulsan’s rape and crisis center her evidence was processed. The people at the center “were understanding and kind, yet very professional. They stayed with me while I slept and even though they couldn’t speak very much English, it was very comforting to have someone there,” stated Brouard. She said the police even phoned her prior to her return to her native country in order to wish her well.

August 10, 2009

Korean pop groups become more multicultural

Filed under: music, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 2:23 pm

Some of Korea’s most famous pop music groups have members with close ties to other countries (other than the United States). Nich-khun, who is, by some accounts, the most popular member of boy group 2 P.M., has a Chinese mother, Thai father, was born in Thailand, lived in the U.S., then Thailand, then back to the U.S., where he was spotted by a talent scout of JYP Entertainment. Confusing enough for you? Apparently, he’s a superstar in Thailand, to the extent that on a recent visit there, he was accompanied at all times by 8-to-12 bodyguards. Sandara Park, a member of the very successful rookie group 2NE1, and now goes by the name “Dara,” lived in the Philippines from late childhood to early adulthood. She can still speak Tagalog and says that she misses the Philippines and some Filipino food, such as shrimp sinigang and pinakbet. She and her fellow band members now enjoy huge, unconditional support in the Philippines.

August 9, 2009

Is anyone else creeped out by “tofu dolls”?

Filed under: trends, What the hell?! — extrakorea @ 11:52 am

Apparently, “tofu dolls” (also called “‘Prince Shin’ dolls“) are one of the latest trends. It’s a large pillow in a humanoid shape (head, arms, legs, and body). The head has a large, clear plastic envelope where its face would be. You put a picture of somebody that you like in the plastic sleeve. That way, you can “hug” the person you like, especially if you’re suffering from unrequited love.
When I was in early elementary school, I had a crush on one of my female classmates, and I would hug my pillow, pretending that it was her, but I was eight years old at the time. I find it creepy that grown-up adults would be doing this.

Sexual performance problems? Our medicine will have you using your thingy to smash through walls

Filed under: health, humor, pseudoscience, What the hell?! — extrakorea @ 9:26 am

Mad props to flakfizer for making and putting up this video.
Do you have problems with sexual performance or urinating? Don’t worry, our medicine will give you pee so powerful you’ll be smashing down walls!
By the way, there’s a kind of Korean wine made from wild berries, bok-bun-ja, which is supposed to have similar enhancement properties.

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