Extra! Korea

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.

August 25, 2010

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 2, 2010

Are sexual crimes against children increasing rapidly in South Korea?

Filed under: crime, youth — extrakorea @ 6:01 pm

Recent articles by the Korea Herald and Korea Times suggest that the number of sexual crimes against children has increased dramatically. But is it the number of crimes, or the reporting of said crimes, that is increasing? This excellent post by Gust of Popular Feeling strongly suggest that it is the latter.

In any case, the number of such crimes committed in South Korea outnumbers those in the United States, Britain, Japan, and Germany, sometimes dramatically.

Sex crimes against children in Korea outnumbered those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times, but a great number of such cases here ended up being unsettled as victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations.

[ snip ]

Another new finding by the research was Korean victims were much more reluctant to report their nightmarish experience to police than those in the other countries, a factor exacerbating the situation further.

Only one out of 168 victims contacted the police. In Britain, one out of 12.2 victims report their cases to police, while in the United States, one out of 2.7 victims did so, the research showed.

“Given this reluctance, the actual number of child sex crimes in Korea could be far higher than the number officially reported,” said Kang Eun-kyung, a senior researcher at the criminology institute.

(emphasis mine)

American English teacher accused of sexual assault

Filed under: crime, expatriates — extrakorea @ 2:38 am

On the heels of this embarrassing incident comes news that an American English teacher has been accused of sexual assault.

According to police, an America citizen, a native English teacher at a private language institute, is accused of sexually assaulting a Korean barmaid in a public restroom of a building in Dunsan-dong, Daejeon, at 3 a.m. Saturday.

Police said the victim didn’t want the investigation to go further in exchange for compensation from the American.

Under the law, police investigations into a rape case can only continue with the victim’s approval, meaning that the probe must be halted.

I find myself wondering why the woman is asking for compensation instead of having the man put in jail for his alleged crime. In any case, I`m sure that Lee Eun-ung, the founder of Anti-English Spectrum, will run with this as far as he can.

July 15, 2010

(Updated) Homestay students in Canada more likely than Canadians to be sexually abused, be sexually active, use cocaine

Filed under: crime, expatriates, youth — extrakorea @ 6:20 am

Update #2:

The University of British Columbia has a media release, but by far the best source of information so far is this Vancouver Sun article. First, it gives us a definition of what was meant by “sexual abuse”:

The B.C. Adolescent Health Survey asked respondents if they had been forced to have sex by either an adult or a youth (or both) and defined sexual abuse as: “Sexual abuse is when anyone (including a family member) touches you in a place you did not want to be touched or does something to you sexually which you did not want,” explained study co-author and nursing professor Elizabeth Saewyc.

That’s a pretty broad definition, and could conceivably include things like unwanted hugs, etc. Also, it states that the offenders could be anyone the student knows, not just home-stay “parents” but others such as other students or home-stay participants.

The study studied three groups of students who were of East Asian heritage:

1. students living in B.C. without their parents (home-stays)
2. immigrant students living with their parents
3. Canadian-born students who also live with their parents

Are any of these home-stay kids living with relatives? It seems so.

The Vancouver school board had 730 international students between the ages of 13 and 19 last year, says the head of the board’s international education program, Barbara Onstad. Most students stay with relatives, but between 15 and 20 per cent use the homestay program managed through Langara.

(emphasis mine)

Another tid-bit of information:

Fifty-four per cent of male homestay students spent more than four hours a day on the computer for recreation compared to 30 per cent and 35 per cent of immigrant and Canadian students living with their parents.

Way to break the Starcraft-playing, four-eyed computer geek stereotype, boys. More proof that sending these kids to Canada for the sake of “a better education” is not working out as planned by the parents.

And how much do the students pay?

Foreign students pay about $12,000 a year in tuition and another $7,000 for room and board.

Most disturbing of all is the fact that some of these young women may be getting into (being forced into?) prostitution.

In May, a 17-year-old female homestay student from China was picked up during a raid on a bawdy house in downtown Vancouver. A 44-year-old Vancouver man, Xiao Jin Zhao, was charged with several prostitution-related offences including procuring women to sell sex.

(source, Hat Tip to Seth Gecko)



Gusts of Popular Feeling posted a link to a Canadian article that has more information. First of all, it tell us more about who takes in these kids and why.

The industry, however, is largely unregulated and home-stay “parents” who take fees from foreign students “are considered custodians, not legal guardians, and have no legal obligation to nurture youth,” the University of British Columbia and non-profit McCreary Centre Society researchers noted in calling for government oversight of the sector.

[ snip ]

“Shouldn?t we also have systems for protecting foreign teens when they are here for years without their parents?”

We also find out more about who these students are …

The research was based on information collected from more than 3,000 foreign home-stay students, among 30,500 students surveyed in grades seven to 12 throughout British Columbia in 2003.

And what they’re doing (or not doing) in Canada.

[H]ome-stay students were also far less likely than other students to be involved in extracurricular activities and just over half had skipped school in the month before the survey, while only a quarter of their peers did.

So much for the notion of sending these kids abroad for the sake of a better education.


Original Post:

Each year, lots of young people from Korea (and other East Asian countries) go to Canada to hang out pretend to study escape their parents study English, but there is a dark cloud, due to the fact that there is little-to-no oversight of the homestay programs.

Each year, thousands of East Asian students, mostly from Korea, China and Japan, stream to Canada to study English or attend high school through homestay programs.

Under the scheme, families pay for their children to study there while living with families who provide room and board.

But the industry ― worth an estimated $60 million annually in British Columbia alone ― has no oversight or screening processes, the study said.

[ snip ]

It found that 23 percent of female respondents from East Asian countries reported having been sexually abused, compared to eight percent of Canadian-born girls.

Among males and females, 25 percent of the homestay students were sexually active, more than twice the ratio of their Canadian counterparts.

They were also two to six times more likely to use cocaine compared to other students their age.

All three of these problems seem to come out a lack of supervision. Another factor could be that in Korea, these students and their schedules are strictly controlled by their parents, especially their mothers. After they arrive in Canada, they “overdose” on this new freedom (freedom provided both by Canada’s more relaxed atmosphere and the homestay program’s lack of oversight). The relatively-high rates of sexual abuse could be traced back the naivity that South Koreans had until the horrible Na-young case. Korean parents don’t teach their kids to be careful (not just of strangers, but not to run across a street without looking, etc. It’s not surprising, since the parents themselves are often reckless.*) My Korean language teacher told us that when she was in elementary school, she would walk to school alone, a half-hour trip. Nowadays, some parents walk their kids to school, but not all. I still see a lot of young students walking to school either alone or with a friend of similar age.

* At one of KOTESOL’s annual conferences, Dr. John Linton described Koreans as “lacking the danger gene.”

July 14, 2010

20-year-old Vietnamese killed by 47-year-old mentally-unstable husband after 8 days in Korea

Filed under: crime, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 6:55 am

A 47-year-old Korean man with a history of mental illness got himself a 20-year-old Vietnamese wife, brought her to Korea, and eight days later, murdered her (Joongang Daily, Korea Times).

The Busan Saha Police Station said the woman was found dead at her house, Wednesday, and that officers were questioning her husband identified as Jang, 47, for beating and stabbing her to death.

[ snip ]

According to investigators, Kim punched his 20-year-old wife in the face and then stabbed her in the stomach at 7:25 p.m. Thursday in Sinpyeong-dong, Saha District, after a quarrel.

[ snip ]

The couple was introduced on Feb. 7 through an interracial match-making company, and the woman decided to marry the man the next day, hoping for “the Korean Dream” despite the age difference.

She stayed in Vietnam to make arrangements for the marriage and arrived in Korea July 1. She did not know any Korean and her husband was her only contact here. However, she did not know of his history of mental problems. He was hospitalized for five days before returning to Vietnam to bring her to Korea and assaulted his parents five years ago after hearing voices.

[ snip ]

Kim told investigators that he suffers from mental illness and heard a ghost telling him to kill his wife while the two quarreled.

Police are investigating whether the matchmaking company that introduced Kim to the Vietnamese woman screened candidates for mental illness, as they found Kim received treatment in a mental hospital 57 times in the last eight years.

[ snip ]

The immigration office is expected to require Korean men to prove they informed their wives-to-be of any past record of domestic violence, mental disorders or human trafficking.

Good luck with that.

June 23, 2010

Teens kill “friend,” drain blood from body to carry it more easily

Filed under: crime, What the hell?!, youth — extrakorea @ 4:11 am

When I first read this news (via the Korea Times and Joongang Daily), I was so dumbfounded that I wasn’t sure how or if to blog about it.

Some teenagers (all 15 years old except for one 19-year-old,* Lee, the boyfriend of one of the group’s members) killed their “friend,” then drained the blood from her body so as to carry it more easily. They dumped her body in the Han river, but fortunately (or unfortunately for the murderers), the body floated up. When the police found them, the killers were sleeping soundly, remorselessly.

Even experienced police officers called the case “horrendous and astonishing.”

[ snip ]

He [an investigator] said they seemed to have no sense of guilt or fear. “They acted very natural in their crime and to be honest, we don’t know what to say about them,” he added.

Why would they do such a thing?

The motive, police said: teenage gossip.

Police said Kim talked to other friends about Jung’s “very bad behavior.” In retaliation, he and four other teens took Kim to the home of Choi’s parents, who were away on a business trip, and began beating her.
(Joongang Daily)

However, when Choi heard that Kim had been talking behind their backs calling them “slutty,” she beat Kim up for four days. The other four joined in and beat her to death.

How did they drain her body?

Choi got Chung to ask Lee for help in disposing of the body. The murderers and their accomplice, copying crime animation films, hung Kim’s dead body upside down, cut her throat and drained all the blood out of it.

And where, exactly, did they get this idea?

He [Lee] allegedly suggested they drain Kim’s blood, telling them that he’d gotten the idea from “Case Closed,” a popular manga detective series. The gang consulted the Internet for tips on corpse disposal.

Raising children is very tough, especially these days, but this case appears to have clear evidence of parental negligence:

Police said all of them live either with a single parent or grandparents. The parents of neither the victim nor the suspects had reported their children missing during the span from June 9 to 13.

* Keep in mind East Asian age reckoning, so they could all be up to two years younger than their reported ages.)

June 19, 2010

Man videotapes sex with 3 girls, then tries to blackmail them

Filed under: crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 12:56 pm

A man videotaped himself having sex with three young women (in separate incidents, as far as I know), and then threatened to send the videotapes to their families unless they paid him 100 million won (approximately 100 thousand dollars).

According to police in North Chungcheon Province, the man identified as Lim deceived the daughters into believing that he was a successful businessman in the United States, but then threatened to send the tapes to their parents if they did not give him money.

The lesson of the story? Korean girls give it up for Korean guys who are successful in the United States. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.

April 29, 2010

Over 60% of actresses pressured to have sex, says comprehensive new study

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality — extrakorea @ 1:12 am

Last July, in the aftermath of the suicide of actress Jang Ja-yeon, whose suicide note claimed that she had been forced by her manager to sleep with rich men, a survey of about 2,000 entertainers was conducted. Unfortunately, there were a mere 183 responses, which rendered the study almost meaningless.

Fortunately, more recent studies are giving us a clearer picture of what goes on behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, but unfortunately, the image is an ugly one.

Last October, a survey of 200 people, of various professions in the entertainment business, revealed that:

37.5% [of actresses] experienced physical or verbal assault, 25% experienced unwanted physical contact and 12.5% received “sponsorship” offers. By Sponsorship, it means those in power who support actresses, financially and also using their connections and influences (to get important roles), in exchange for sex. Many famous stars such as Ivy and Song Yoon Ah confessed to turning down such offers, while some female celebrities who seem to receive a lot of media attention compared to their popularity are rumored to have very powerful sponsors.

Now a more comprehensive study did extensive interviews with 240 aspiring actresses and 111 actresses, of whom 10% were top actresses. Eleven entertainment industry insiders, including managers, also participated. The results are far more damning that those from the previous two surveys. Sixty-point-two percent of them reported being pressured to have sex with influential figures like producers, directors, businessmen, politicians and advertising executives. The study has been written about in the Joongang Daily, the Chosun Ilbo, and the Korea Times, and the following quotes are taken from those articles. Apologies for block-quoting huge swaths of text, but it speaks for itself.

An up-and-coming actress in her mid-20s is still reeling from a nightmarish experience she had a couple of years ago.

“I was with the boss of my agency that evening,” she said requesting anonymity. “We went shopping together at brand-name shops. His behavior was unusual as he provided lavish hospitality, going on a spending spree in buying me pricy clothes and other accessories. Afterwards, he escorted me to his luxurious car.”

According to the actress, the man drove toward the area where she lived. She thought he would drive her home. But he pulled over near a hotel and propositioned her.

“He told me that how much I know about men would decide how famous I would be,” she said.

She terminated her contract with the agency but this just highlights the lack of a fundamental solution to prevent future incidents from occurring, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said Tuesday in a 294-page report on the rampant rate of such propositioning of actresses and actress-hopefuls by those who can influence their career development in the domestic entertainment industry.

Almost 60 percent of respondents said they believed rejecting sexual advances would disadvantage their careers, and 48.4 percent said they had in fact lost out on appearances on shows because they refused.

Wealthy men were cited as the most common group of people seeking sex with the stars, cited by 43.9 percent of respondents, followed by TV producers and directors with 38.6 percent. Heads of TV production companies came next with 22.8 percent and senior businessmen with 15.8 percent.

Fifty-five percent of the interviewed actresses said they received at least one offer of “sponsorship” – a secret contract between a rich man and his favorite actress in which the actress receives financial support during a certain period of time in exchange for having sexual relations with him on a regular basis.

“I got such an offer at the initial stage of my career,” said an actress in her mid 40s in the report. “He told me if I accepted, he would support me unlimitedly. But I rejected him.”

Among those who made such offers were wealthy businessmen, TV and movie directors, and politicians, the NHRC said.

More than 6 percent said they had been victims of sexual crimes including rape.

Rape? Things are clearly worse that what some have smugly dismissed as merely “the casting couch.”

Another 31.5 percent said they were molested when men touched their bodies, including breasts, hips and legs.

Among the actresses surveyed, 58.3 percent said they had felt sexually harassed by people who “stared at certain parts of their bodies,” while 64.5 percent said they had to listen to sexually explicit jokes and 67.3 percent said they were judged by their appearance. Some were directly asked to have sex, or even suffered sexual harassment or assault. Some 21.5 percent of respondents said they had received direct requests for sex …

The NHRC said one of the main reasons for the abuses in the entertainment industry was the competition of a large number of actresses for a limited number of parts. “Each year, 48,000 aspiring actresses graduate from various acting schools in major cities, and there is no way of telling how many more women are hired by small talent agencies,” a commission official said.

Public auditions should also be encouraged to create a transparent culture,” the rights commission said. “Actresses are also urged to create labor unions or other representative bodies to improve their working conditions and protect their rights.”

April 11, 2010

I’m sure the rape at the MT (“Membership Training”) is just the tip of the iceberg

Filed under: crime, culture, drinking, gender equality, safety, suicide, youth — extrakorea @ 9:59 am

Not too long ago, Brian (formerly) in Jeollanam-do reported on the university student who committed suicide after being raped on an MT. MT is short for “membership training” and they have nothing to do with any sort of training. Groups of students who are associated in some way (e.g. are members of the same club or have the same major) go somewhere, stay the night, and then return the next day. Participation is supposedly optional, but declining could get you ostracized, which is a big deal in Korea, particularly among university students. What do they do there? Drinking alcohol. Lots of it. Again, you’re pressured to conform and participate. If you don’t drink, or only a little, you will be angrily accused of “spoiling the mood” by your superiors (“seon-bae”). In Korea, subordinates (“hoo-bae”) basically have to do everything that their seonbaes demand, or risk the aforementioned excommunication. It’s common for male seon-baes to try to get female hoo-baes drunk so as to make sexually harassing them easier.

You say, “Wait a minute, they stay overnight? I thought that Korea was a conservative society. I thought that Korean parents are worry-warts with regards to their children. What do they think about that?” Good question. I think it’s a combination of: a) naivety (“Just because a big mixed-gender group stays somewhere overnight doesn’t mean that they’re having sex.”), b) denial (similar to a)). Korean parents don’t want to think about the fact that their kids might be humping like rabbits.), and c) people know, and it’s kind of a dirty little secret. Have you ever seen the movie “Memories of Murder“? (If you haven’t, be sure to.) In one scene, two police officers speculate on what might be happening on these MTs.

I’m sure that it’s well-known among Koreans that sexual harassment is widespread at MTs. You might remember the Japanese student who shocked the nation by publicly describing when her Korean teacher offered her a sex-for-grades exchange. You might not remember that another girl on the show, a Chinese student, Shang Fang (“상팡”), said that she was sexually harassed by the same teacher while on an MT (“상팡 “문제의 교수에게 MT서 성희롱 당했다””). People here don’t want to talk about it in much the same way that they don’t want to talk about the special barber shops (which don’t offer haircuts), “anmas” (a kind of massage parlor), “room salons” (an expensive bar-brothel mash-up), etc. It’s embarrassing to talk about it, so the problem is not addressed.

Kushibo has written that the problem isn’t as bad as it used to be. Let’s say that he’s right. “Not as bad as it used to be” can still describe a serious problem. Near the school that I teach at, I still see students at the big supermarket loading up for the weekend MTs with snacks like chips and booze. Lots of cheap, strong booze. Kushibo certainly knows the seriousness of the problem, from this story that he reprinted:

Well, one other woman began to pass out while they were all at a noraebang in L.A. Koreatown. My friend noticed what seemed like shallow breathing, but she wasn’t sure. She asked some of her sŏnbae (‘senior’) if the passed-out hubae (‘junior’) seemed all right. She actually got barked at that she was ruining the punwigi (mood/atmosphere) of the party. After a couple minutes, still nagged by concern for the passed-out friend, she decided to call 911.

According to my accountant friend, the call saved the woman’s life. She was rushed to a nearby hospital and her stomach was pumped. The E/R doctor told them that if they had waited another twenty minutes, the friend might have died of alcohol poisoning. Her blood alcohol level was stratospheric, having downed all these “one-shot” drinks, egged on (without any real choice without being ostracized) by her supposed friends.

Also, I’m sure that someone as knowledgeable about Korea as Kushibo is knows that there’s optional, and then there’s “optional,” with big, fat quotation marks around it, which basically means, “It’s your choice not to, but if you don’t, we’re going to make your life f-ing miserable.”

Now, due to this unfortunate tragedy, perhaps the problem will be addressed like it should have been long ago.

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