Extra! Korea

October 7, 2009

“Misuda” panelist Vera Hohleiter responds to criticism

Filed under: celebrities, expatriates, multicultural society — extrakorea @ 12:00 pm

You might know the story of Vera Hohleiter, and if you don’t, here’s the Reader’s Digest crib notes version: She’s a German woman who became a celebrity in Korea by appearing on a talk show that features foreign women who can speak Korean. She wrote a book in Germany. A Korean student read it, and posted on her blog excerpts which, supposedly, criticized Korea. Now she’s facing accusations that she’s two-faced and hypocritical. However, now she is finally responding to these criticisms.

In the book, Hohleiter touches upon sensitive topics such as Korea’s excessive drinking culture, Korean fathers who become mere providers of money for their families, the irrational nationalism common in Korea, and the inability of many Korean men to be open with their emotions — which she uses her mostly detached boyfriend as an example throughout the book.

(emphasis mine)

The brouhaha surrounding the few excerpts would seem to actually prove the point of irrational nationalism, would it not?

September 16, 2009

Seoul National University seems to only give lip service to “globalization”

Filed under: education, expatriates, multicultural society — extrakorea @ 2:08 pm

Seoul National University is Korea’s most prestigious university. It has 936 international students from 65 countries. However, a lot of them seem quite dissatisfied with the university’s ability to provide help and services to them. Yavuz Selim Kacara, a 24-year-old Turk who majors in economics, has quit as president of the university’s international student association.

“Although SNU talks about globalization, the reality can’t be further from the truth. We cannot even communicate well with the only official in charge of foreign student management.”

[ snip ]

SNU President Lee Jang-moo last month visited Harvard University. Foreign students in SNU, however, think it is nothing more than propaganda.

“We have difficulties in even registering for classes as our school doesn’t offer an English Web site,” said a student from a Southeast Asian country.

A Western student complained that some departments don’t provide English classes for their compulsory courses, making it difficult for foreigners to graduate.

The university scrapped this fall semester’s “SNU Buddy” program, which was set to help foreign students acclimate themselves to Korea.

Some students from Islamic countries have requested the university to provide a prayer room, but the school rejected the proposal without any convincing reasons.

They also appealed to the school cafeterias several times for a Muslim diet but not a sign of change has been shown.

Some lecturers prove to be insensitive enough to say things derogatory about non-Korean students.

“When a lecturer was irritated with a board marker that’s not working properly, he openly said, ‘It must be made in China’,” a Chinese student said.

[ snip ]

Asked about its stance over the problems in a written inquiry by The Korea Times, SNU offered no response.

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 9, 2009

Will new TV drama “Tamra, the Island” have a positive portrayal of foreigners?

Filed under: expatriates, rapid cultural change, television — extrakorea @ 9:01 am

There’s a new TV drama called “Tamra, the Island” in which an Englishman becomes stranded on the island of Cheju and gets to know one of that island’s haenyeo (famous divers who catch shellfish). The Englishman is portrayed by a Frenchman, and his hair seems to be dyed platinum blonde, in accordance with local stereotypes of Europeans. But those are minor quibbles, and hopefully, the drama will be the first positive (or, at least, neutral) portrayal of a foreign man on television in a very long time.
The haenyeo will be played by actress Seo Woo. Wait a minute, is that the same Seo Woo from the movie Paju (파주), which the Grand Narrative mentioned once? Furthermore, is it the same actress who starred in this unforgettable commercial? From spanking her own ass over the ecstasy of ice cream to starring in a possibly groundbreaking drama, she’s come a long way, baby. (Assuming that is her.)

August 3, 2009

Filipinas are good enough for sex, but not good enough to have children with?

Thanks to this translation from Korea Beat, we have the Quote of the Week:

23-year old Rose, a Filipina who married [a Korean man] one year ago, was thrown out of her husband’s home after becoming pregnant at the beginning of this year because he does not like people from The Phillippines.

She revealed her pregnancy and asked for help, but her husband assaulted her and she received a cold reception from her in-laws.

[Rose (pseudonym)/marriage immigrant: I cried a lot. I want to go to The Pillippines. My baby with no father….]

(emphasis mine)

Did I read that right? He married a Filipina, but doesn’t like people from the Philippines? Why did he marry her? To just have sex? That seems to be the explanation, since he threw her out after she got pregnant.

It’s too barbaric to describe in words.

June 22, 2009

Marrying a Korean might soon require criminal background check & medical exam

Filed under: expatriates, health, legal issues, politics — extrakorea @ 11:50 pm

Thinking about marrying a Korean? In the near future, that might require a criminal background check and medical exam.

May 26, 2009

Only 23% of immigrant women married their Korean husbands for love

Filed under: economics, expatriates, gender equality — extrakorea @ 8:29 am

A Chosun Ilbo article describes how 65.2% of 4,060 immigrant women in Incheon married their Korean husbands after only one or two meetings.

Asked why they married Korean men, 23.6 percent said they wanted a new life away from their homeland. A similar number of respondents, or 23.3 percent, said they married their husbands because they loved them. Some 18.7 percent said they wanted to live in Korea due to its economic strength, while 17 percent said they wanted to support their families at home.

So only 23.3% of them married for love, and all of the others cited economic reasons. Here is a rough breakdown of the ethnic makeup of these women.

There are 7,074 foreign women married to Koreans in Incheon, 39.7 percent of whom are Korean Chinese, 34 percent Chinese, 9.8 percent Vietnamese, 4.5 percent Philippine, 2.1 percent Japanese, and 2 percent Thai.

So about 40% of these “foreign” women are ethnically Korean, and so they’re actually not so “foreign” after all.

By the way, I saw the Korean movie “Thirst” and was pleased to see that one of the major characters, and a sympathetic one at that, was a Filipina.

May 20, 2009

Hire a Filipina housekeeper, get an English tutor for free

Filed under: economics, education, expatriates — extrakorea @ 1:32 pm

The Korea Times brings us the story of Kim Ji-ae, a working mother who killed two birds with one stone when she hired a Filipina housekeeper/nanny. Ms. Kim’s eight-year-old son has learned English from the Filipina.

“She speaks a little Korean, but I specifically asked her to speak in English to my son,” said the mom, who is starting to get worried that he would experience linguistic confusion from getting exposed to too much English before learning Korean fully.

Despite some concerns that may rise, education-frenzied mothers like Kim are becoming increasingly open to hiring foreign helpers to get the best of both worlds.

“The demand is enormous,” said Kim Seok, who runs an Internet site (www.nannyjob.co.kr) that helps connect parents and jobseekers. He explained that Filipinos are most favored because of their English fluency, but Chinese caregivers are also growing popular with moms wanting to teach their kids Chinese at an early age.

May 7, 2009

Alleged American sex offender flees to South Korea

Filed under: crime, expatriates — extrakorea @ 2:43 am

Great. Just what expatriate teachers in Korea need –something to blacken our collective name yet further.

A New York man facing charges of sexually abusing a young girl in Hampton, has allegedly fled the country to South Korea.

Paul Hurrell, of 5420 Netherlands Ave., Bronx, N.Y., was a no-show for his April 29 arraignment in Rockingham Superior Court.

A bench warrant has since been issued out for his arrest. Prosecutors wrote in an emergency motion to attain the bench warrant that they believe that Hurrell fled the county.

On the day he was scheduled to appear in court, Hurrell allegedly departed from JFK International Airport in New York, with an initial destination to Seoul, Korea.

“The defendant’s ultimate destination is unknown,” prosecutors said.

[ snip ]

An indictment is not an indication of guilt or innocence, it just means the grand jury found enough evidence to warrant a trial in the matter.

According to court documents, Hurrell allegedly abused the girl from 1998 to 2004 in Hampton.

If convicted, Hurrell faces a prison term of 10- to 20-years on each count.

(from Seacoast Online, via ROK Drop)

April 24, 2009

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].

(source)

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?

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