Extra! Korea

August 31, 2010

Many tablet PCs to be available soon … except for the iPad

Filed under: technology — extrakorea @ 1:34 pm

I’ve been wondering why the iPad has not been allowed into the South Korean market. Now we know why: To give Samsung, LG, TG Sambo, and even KT time to get their clones high-quality similar products into the pipeline. Samsung and LG were caught flat-footed by the iPhone, and so they’ve decided to strike back by keeping out the competition until they’re good and ready.

KT on Monday introduced the nation’s first tablet PC. Called the Identity Tab, it runs on Google’s Android operating system and is produced by Seoul-based gadget maker Enspert.

[ snip ]

Samsung Electronic plans to debut its Android-powered Galaxy Tab at the IFA consumer electronics trade show opening in Berlin this weekend. It will hit the Korean market through SK Telecom later in September. LG Electronics will also release an Android tablet PC within the year, and TG Sambo is developing a similar device.

(Chosun Ilbo)

KT plans to offer the tablet PC for $23 under a two-year contract. Without a contract, the device will sell for $411.

“Compared to the iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which will cost around $600-$700 in Korea, KT’s tablet PC is rather cheap,” said Hong-seek Kim, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

While it will sell its own device, KT says it’s still open to offering the iPad to South Korean consumers.

KT “is definitely thinking of launching the iPad in Korea, but I can’t tell you the exact timing of the launch,” said Sung-chul Kim, a KT vice president.

Apple spokeswoman Jill Tan declined to comment.

(Wall Street Journal)
(emphasis mine)

I would be at a loss for words, too, if my company were being ganged up on and its products kept off the shelves.

August 26, 2010

Are sexual crimes 8 times higher than officially reported?

Filed under: crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 8:40 am

According to a recent report by the Korean Institute of Criminology, the rate of sexual crimes* may be eight times higher than officially reported (Yonhap News, Chosun Ilbo, Korea Times).

According to official police statistics, the rate of sexual crimes* per 100,000 women in Korea is 58.3.
Hwang Ji-tae, a researcher at the Korean Institute of Criminology, surveyed 5,559 women and found that 26 has been the victim of sexual violence. This translated into 467.7 out of every 100,000 women, which is eight times higher than the rate according to official reports.

* The terms sexual crimes, sexual violence, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or rape were used in the articles cited. I chose the term sexual crimes as it was the broadest.

Korean women in their 40s happiest; men in their 40s unhappiest

Filed under: economics, health, rapid cultural change, science, suicide — extrakorea @ 7:37 am

According to a study by the Korean Psychological Association, Korean women in their 40s are the happiest Koreans, while men in their 40s are the unhappiest.

Why are the men so unhappy?

“Korean men get stressed in work to survive in the competitive world and take responsibilities for families, but they lose interest in anything in their daily lives and just endure day by day,” Suh [Eun-kook, a psychology professor at Yonsei University] said.

And also …

[U]nlike the emotionally opened women, Korean men have suppressed emotion. In Korean custom, men are socialized not to reveal their sentiments to the public in any circumstances.

Why are the women so happy?

The housewives answered “satisfied” mostly when they are left alone at home during the daytime, when all family members are working outside.

“As kids are growing up to be independent from their mommies, women become more free from house chores and child-care, giving them more spare time,” Suh said.

The analysis indicated that the woman’s ability of expressing positive feelings can make a happier life.

In the world-at-large, Koreans are quite unhappy, as much so as people from much poorer, less-developed countries. In other news, the sun rises in the east in the morning.

Referring to the statistics of World Values Survey Association, Korea’s happiness ranked 58th out of 97 countries.

Korea has almost the same level of happiness as Peru, despite its developed scale of economy of $19,504 GDP per capita – about four times that of $4,452 in Peru.

Ed Diener, a psychologist visiting Seoul for a seminar, said Koreans have low satisfaction despite their high standard of living.

“When asked if they had a nice day or not, only 64 percent of Korean answered positive. Even the people of Zimbabwe scored 4 percent more than that,” said Diener.

The researchers said Koreans are concerned too much about what other people think of them, leading to unhappiness. Respondents who valued inner peace of mind were seen as having better relationships with others and stronger self-respect.

“However rich, educated, or hired by a famous company, a person who feels unhappy is living in misery,” said the researchers.

August 25, 2010

Taiwanese singer talks about being forced to sexually entertain in Korea

Filed under: gender equality, music, prostitution — extrakorea @ 6:54 am

Taiwanese singer Estrella Lin used to be a member of a girl group, 3EP Beauties, in South Korea. Now she’s talking about how she, and other female entertainers here, are pressured to sleep with investors in the entertainment industry (Chosun Ilbo, Korea Herald).

“I was forced to ‘sexually’ entertain investors but I never allowed myself to do so. I’m not afraid of Koreans protesting because what I said is so true,” she was quoted as saying by multiple news reports.

[ snip ]

“I was asked to go out and meet someone. There was a man, about my father’s age, who said ‘I will let you become whatever you become, if you let me buy your youth,’” a 20-something actress was quoted as saying in the human rights report.

It sounds very much like what was described in Jang Ja-yeon’s suicide note.

The reopening of the sensitive issue of the coerced sex trade for work and benefits in the entertainment world brought back the question of why police and prosecutors have not got to the bottom of the sex trade issue, despite the suicide of Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon in March 2009. Jang left a note saying she suffered forced “sponsorship” by her agency owner.

At that time, the police said it had identified five corporate figures, including a securities firm executive, a CEO, a drama director and three media moguls as major suspects who might have had sex with the late actress.

However, the year-long investigation ended up finding “little evidence,” according to the police, and the case was closed in April this year.

Lin claims that it happens to both men and women, and to both famous and B-list performers.

Lin wrote that any popular singers in Korea, regardless of gender, are pimped for sexual services but claimed that despite being frequently asked to sleep with investors, she stubbornly refused.

(emphasis mine)

Yu Gi-na, a film critic and professor at Dongguk University, concurs.

“Men who have power and high rank seem to think their power is bigger if they have sex with popular female entertainers in secrecy,” Yu told The Korea Herald.

[ snip ]

For Korean female entertainers, receiving a proposal to have sex in return for fame or money from influential figures is an open secret. Korean model Lee Pa-ni early this year revealed in a TV show that she was once made such an offer.

Did MC Mong have his teeth pulled to dodge his military service?

Filed under: celebrities, crime — extrakorea @ 6:25 am

All young men in South Korea are required to do 21 months of mandatory military service. (It’s likely to remain in place even after reunification, since they’re in an unfriendly corner of the world.) Some try to get out of it, particularly the scions of the wealthy.

Last month, rapper MC Mong was under suspicion of dodging his military duty by having some of his teeth removed. [Joongang Daily, Korea Herald, Korea Times] (I don’t know why that would give you an exemption. You can still shoot a gun without teeth. Look at rednecks.) Authorities have decided to formally charge him.

Indicment [sic] without physical arrest means that MC Mong is under arrest and will be going through a trial to determine whether he really is guilty or not. However, he will not held in a cell due to his circumstances, such as low threat of running. He has been accused of intentionally removing all of his teeth but the front ones and canines, which would make him ineligible for full military service as a soldier if the lack of teeth was due to natural reasons.

Readers of this blog might recall that I am not a fan of the plagiarizing Mr. Mong.

August 24, 2010

Some teen entertainers coerced into wearing revealing clothing, skipping studies

Filed under: gender equality, music, rapid cultural change, youth — extrakorea @ 6:34 am

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family surveyed 88 teen entertainers, 47 boys and 41 girls (Chosun Ilbo, Dong-a Ilbo, Korea Times). About ten percent of them were found to have been coerced into wearing revealing clothing. Remember how some performers have been too young to legally watch their own performances (e.g Hyun-ah and GP Basic)?

Korea’s Broadcast Law is geared at protecting children and adolescents from viewing programs containing sexually explicit or violent content, but does not have any clauses regarding children or adolescents depicting such content.

It seems that some have also suffered sexual harassment and pressure to go on diets or to have plastic surgery.

Moreover, 9.1 percent said they had to caress, cuddle or kiss someone on stage and on the set.

Another 4.5 percent said they have experienced sexually insulting words or sexual harassment.

Many are encouraged to go on a diet or undergo plastic surgery. Among female teen celebrities, 56.1 percent were pressured to go on a diet and 14.6 percent to have cosmetic surgery.

Are these teens being allowed to keep up with their schooling?

Among 85 celebrities who are attending primary or secondary schools, 40 percent said their right to study is not guaranteed. In addition, 47.5 percent said they skipped a quarter of a day’s classes per week in a semester, and 34.1 percent said they have no time for homework.

The trend is that young singers drop out of school and get into college by taking a qualification exam because their right to study is not protected. Yet 65.9 percent said it is important to attend classes.

Sun-mi (ex-member of the Wonder Girls) and Minzy (of 2NE1) are two examples of dropping out of school and taking a qualification exam.

So what do Korea’s child labour laws have to say about this?

Among teen celebrities under the age of 18, 39.5 percent worked eight hours or more per day and 10.3 percent worked for 40 hours or more per week. Though the Labor Standard Act stipulates the working hours of a youth under 18 as less than seven hours a day and 40 hours a week, the law does not apply since entertainers are categorized as special workers such as insurance agents or salesmen.

(emphasis mine)

Lastly, some seem to suffer from insomnia and/or depression.

Fifty female teen celebrities and aspiring wannabes say they experience insomnia (64.3 percent) or take anti-depressants (14.3 percent).

Kim Yu-na parts ways with Brian Orser

Filed under: sports — extrakorea @ 5:50 am

Figure skater Kim Yu-na has parted ways with Brian Orser, who coached her to Olympic and World Championship gold medals (Korea Times, Yonhap).

In a press release, IMG said Kim’s mother, Park Mee-hee, and Kim’s South Korean agency AT Sports informed Orser on Aug. 2 that “he would no longer be retained to coach Kim.”

“No reason was given for the sudden and unexpected decision,” the statement read. “At the present time Kim continues to train at the Cricket Club in Toronto, Canada.”

The statement quoted Orser as saying, “I am honored to have worked with such a talented and gifted skater. I wish her all the best as she moves forward in her skating career.”

“Massive” N. Korean troop deployment near Pyongyang

Filed under: North Korea — extrakorea @ 5:36 am

A “massive” deployment of North Korean troops and arms, including armoured vehicles and artillery, has been detected near the capital, Pyongyang.

The deployment appears to be related to political events such as a meeting of key communist party delegates next month and the party’s 65th anniversary on October 10, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

“The massive deployment of troops could be designed to show their military power at home and abroad, or for security,” he said.

[ snip ]

Some analysts say Kim Jong-Il will probably designate the son as his political heir at the September meeting, the third such gathering since the communist state was founded in 1948.

It is seen as the most important party event since 1980, when a convention of all-party members made public Kim Jong-Il’s status as the eventual successor to his father, and founding president, Kim Il-Sung.

August 13, 2010

What will happen after Kim Jong-il dies?

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 7:51 pm

What will happen after Kim Jong-il dies? Over half of a group of experts* predict that there will be a power struggle.

A researcher at the Sejong Institute (I don’t know if he was part of the aforementioned group or not) believes that China will support Kim Jong-un, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il, taking power.

I suspect that in about three years, we’ll all know. And unlike any of the aforementioned experts, I’m predicting that, in the same way that Korea was divided, North Korea might be divided. One part will reunify with the south, and the other will either remain as is (a satellite state dependent upon big brother China) or will, for all intents and purposes, become a Chinese province.

* “46 North Korean affairs and unification experts from 23 universities, think tanks and media companies”

Court agrees that entertainer’s contract is “slave-like”

Filed under: music, youth — extrakorea @ 7:37 pm

In 2006, a member of the boy band U-Kiss signed a 10-year contract with his entertainment agency. The contract further states that “if his performances were suspended due to health problems or mandatory military service, the inactive period would be added to the term.”

Two years later, he took them to court, saying that it was unfair, and today, the court agreed.

A district court ruled in favor of Woo, saying, “The first ten years after his debut album constitute virtually his entire life as a singer. Given the nature of the industry, the contract term is unfair and excessively infringes upon his rights.”

An appellate court upheld the decision.

Such excessively binding contracts in the showbiz industry came to light when three members of the popular boy band TVXQ filed a suit against its agency, SM Entertainment, to invalidate what they called “life-long slave contracts.”

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