Winter Olympics Causes the Media and Activists to Once Again Focus on South Korea Dog Meat Restaurants

Here we go again with the media and activists bashing South Korea over dog meat restaurants:

Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel poses with her dog she saved from the South Korean dog meat trade. (AP).

As the planet sets its eyes on PyeongChang, South Korea, for the next two weeks to watch world-class grace and athleticism, an ugly subset of the country’s culture is seeing increased exposure from the Olympic spotlight.

The dog meat trade.

Around 2 million dogs each year are bred on dog meat farms for human consumption in South Korea, according to the Associated Press. They are often raised in cruel conditions, beaten or left without food before they are slaughtered. It’s a practice deeply ingrained in South Korean culture, with many believing that eating dog meat increases virility and energy.

It has become more taboo as younger generations have come to view dogs as pets rather than food. The AP reports that one in five households in South Korea keep a dog or cat as a pet.

With the arrival of the Olympics, pressure on the dog meat industry in PyeongChang has mounted. There are 12 dog meat restaurants in the city, and the local government has asked them to shutter or change their menus during the Games, even offering subsidies.  [Yahoo Sports]

You can read more at the link, but eating dog meat is not “deeply ingrained in South Korean culture”.  Hardly anyone eats dog meat anymore in South Korea.  With that said if someone wants to eat dog why should the fact that Westerners think they are cute and cuddly matter?  My biggest problem with dog farming in South Korea is that some of these farmers are very inhumane with dogs raised in small cages and then beaten to death to better tenderize the meat.

South Korean Defense Chief Apologizes for Deadly 1980 Gwangju Crackdown

I think no matter what the evidence says this was something that was going to happen regardless because this is more about politics than fact finding:

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo reads out a statement on Feb. 9, 2018, offering an apology for the military’s use of force against pro-democracy protesters in Gwangju in 1980. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s defense minister offered an official apology Friday for the military’s brutal use of force against pro-democracy protesters in Gwangju in 1980.

“As the minister of national defense, I offer a sincere apology and (words of) comfort to Gwangju citizens that our military has left suffering in the process of the May 18 Democratization Movement 38 years ago,” Song Young-moo said in a statement.

It came two days after the ministry’s special fact-finding team announced the results of five months of investigation into suspicions about the military’s role in the suppression of those protesting against the junta of Chun Doo-hwan.

The civilian-government panel said the Army launched helicopter gunship attacks on citizens in the southwestern city, with fighter jets armed with bombs on standby as a backup. The findings were based on the review of documents and interviews on witnesses.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I always recommend people read Linda Lewis’, Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising for a good analysis of what happened back in 1980.

Flight Attendant at Center of “Nut Rage” Incident Claims He Is Being Retaliated Against

The Washington Post has an interesting in-depth update on the key players from the infamous “Nut-Rage” incident in South Korea:

Cho Hyun-ah

Cho Hyun-ah, the Korean Air heiress who achieved global notoriety in the 2014 “nut rage” incident, returned to the public eye last month, accompanying her father as he ran with the Olympic torch when the relay passed through Seoul.

Korean Air is an official partner of the Winter Games, which open in PyeongChang on Friday, and Cho’s father is the chairman of the company — called “owner” in Korean because, although it is publicly listed, the company is in many ways still operated like a family business.

Running with her father and sister, Cho wore an official gray PyeongChang tracksuit and a smile.

Park Chang-jin is also trying to put on a smile these days. He was the chief flight attendant on Korean Air Flight 86 from New York to Seoul the day of the fracas over nut service in the first-class cabin, and his life has not been the same since.

“I loved my job, but then suddenly this incident with Ms. Cho happened,” Park said in an interview in Seoul. “I lost everything at that moment because someone who had power over me had this emotional outburst.”  (…..)

When Park returned to work, he had to renew all his qualifications after more than a year off. He was repeatedly given failing grades on language tests — in Korean and in English — and began to suspect it was deliberate. He was assigned to economy class and often given the most menial tasks, including cleaning the toilets.  [Washington Post]

You can read the rest at the link, but Cho’s sister has taken over her responsibilities at Korea Air and is reportedly the one leading the revenge against the flight attendant Park Chang-jin.

Former German Chancellor Announces He is Marrying Korean Woman

Via a reader tip comes this story of how former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder is getting hitched to Korean woman he met at conference in South Korea:

Gerhard Schroder visited Cheong Wa Dae on Sep. 12, 2017, to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and present his biography, translated into Korean by Kim So-yeon. / Korea Times file

It was love at first sight that bound them together.

German news outlet Bunte broke the story earlier this month that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder will marry his South Korean interpreter Kim So-yeon. The report triggered a media frenzy in Seoul. Reporters captured the moments the pair dated at Changdeokgung royal palace in Seoul and dined together at Korean restaurants in the city and Kreuzberg, Berlin.

The couple held a press conference at the Press Center in Seoul, Thursday, admitted their romance and announced they will marry this year.

Schroder, 73, and Kim, 47, did not seem uncomfortable in front of the Korean press as Kim faithfully interpreted Schroder’s opening speech and answers to journalists’ questions. And Schroder didn’t shy away from tugging her close to him in front of tens of photographers. Whenever they smiled at each other, cameras flashed to capture the moment.

“We have met each other’s family members who agreed to our engagement,” Kim said. “And we will move back and forth between Hanover and Berlin, where Gerhard lives, and Seoul after marriage.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Hospital Fires Kills 37 People in South Korea

This is a horrible death toll:

This photo captures a moment after firefighters put out a fire that broke out at a hospital in Miryang, South Gyeongsang Province, on Jan. 26, 2018. (Yonhap)

A fire gutted the ground floor of a hospital in southeastern South Korea and sent toxic fumes raging through the six-story building, killing at least 37 people and injuring 131 others in one of the country’s deadliest blazes in a decade.

Nearly 180 people were inside Sejong Hospital in Miryang, some 280 kilometers southeast of Seoul, when the fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. Witnesses said they first saw smoke coming from the hospital’s emergency room or a dressing room for nurses next to it.

The death toll was reported to have climbed to 41, but officials later corrected it, saying some victims were counted twice. Still, the toll could rise further as 18 of the injured are in serious condition, officials said.

The fire completely burned the hospital’s first floor, but didn’t reach the higher levels. But smoke was seen billowing from windows on higher floors, and most of the fatal victims were believed to have died from inhaling toxic gas. The dead included one doctor and two nurses.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I wonder if we are going to find out later that emergency exits were blocked or locked contributing to the death toll?

New Documentary to Highlight Korean-Cuban Community

Here is something I did not realize, Cuba has its own Korean diaspora:

Korean Cubans, descendants of Korean indentured laborers who migrated in search for a better life, are taking a renewed interest in their identity, according to a Korean American filmmaker who is exploring the diaspora. Photo courtesy of Joseph Juhn/Team Jeronimo

When Joseph Juhn first traveled to Cuba in 2015, the driver who was waiting for him at the airport in Havana expected to pick up a Canadian national.

Juhn, a Korean American lawyer who was flying in from Montreal, was also taken by surprise by the woman in the driver’s seat: a fourth-generation Korean Cuban.

Patricia Lim was the descendant of Korean indentured laborers who first migrated to Mexico, then to Cuba in 1921.

Juhn, who is currently producing a documentary on the Korean diaspora in Cuba, said Thursday he learned the experiences of Korean Cubans have intertwined with the history of a divided peninsula.

Not only did Korean Cubans take to the streets of Havana to celebrate Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, they were deeply affected by the division of the peninsula.

“While we were still enjoying our emancipation, something happened that should have never happened,” wrote Patricia’s grandfather Lim Cheon-taek, in a letter he wrote to his children.

Juhn, who reads the letter in the film’s voice-over, interviewed dozens of Korean Cubans, including Lim’s many descendants, some of who recently visited South Korea where Lim is honored and buried at the Korean National Cemetery in Daejeon.  [UPI]

You can read more at the link.

South Korean Government to Ban English Teaching in Early Education Classes

Via a reader tip comes news that English education will soon be banned in early education classes in South Korea:

The Ministry of Education (MOE) plans to ban English classes at daycare centers and kindergartens, following its recent controversial decision to scrap afterschool English classes at elementary schools.

In December, the ministry said it will abolish afterschool English classes for first and second graders when the 2018 term begins in March.

Officials believe starting English at a young age has little benefit and claim that it creates a great deal of stress for children.

“There are two main reasons the ministry is working to get rid of the program. Many experts believe the process of learning English is too stressful and less effective for young children.” said Kwon Ji-young, a director of early childhood education, at the MOE. “Secondly, English will be provided in classes starting in the 3rd grade, so English classes before this only become early preparation for elementary school.”  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link, but it seems to me a kid learning a foreign language at a younger age is better than waiting until they are order and possibly not as comfortable with learning a foreign language.

I also wonder if this has anything to do with trying to reduce education costs for parents by deemphasizing English education?  The costs for private English tutoring can be very expensive.  If this is the case then English testing in national exams needs to be deemphasized as well.

Petition Started to Change South Korea’s Self Defense Laws

Here is another reminder that in South Korea you do not have the same right to self defense as most people would expect back in the United States or other countries:

US soldier assaulted by “concerned citizens” during the 2004 Shinchon stabbing incident.

Korea has a “stand-your-ground law” that allows people to use force to protect themselves or others against threats.

But many believe the law is nothing but a name because of its lack of flexibility for defenders.

Under the law, people are allowed to use force to “prevent unjust infringement of one’s or another person’s legal interest,” as long as there are reasonable grounds for that act and the degree of force does not go beyond reasonable bounds. But the law, as precedents and police guidelines show, deems using weapons and inflicting injuries on the attacker that would take more than three weeks to recover from unreasonable ― a standard many find almost impossible to meet in reality.

If both sides sustain injuries, police almost always press assault charges on both, regardless of how the fight started and how serious each person is hurt, urging them to settle and drop allegations.

“Police do not want to give an impression that they are taking sides with anyone,” Kwak Dae-kyung, professor at the police administration department of Dongguk University, told The Korea Times. “This is why police are cautious about making a conclusion that one of them did so for self-protection.”

Also, there are too many petty altercations for police to handle. “It just takes too much time and effort to find out exactly what happened with physical evidence for every single case,” he said. “Thus, police try to conclude the case quickly for everyone involved by convincing them to settle.”

Some people refuse to settle and bring the case to court. But the court rarely recognizes self-defense claims.

“The court interprets the law very narrowly, which is the key of the issue,” lawyer Kim Yong-min said. “As long as the court’s current interpretation stands, there are few things police and prosecutors can do to change it.”

According to the law, which states that the defense act should not exceed reasonable limits, the person should not use greater force than that inflicted on him or her, which Kim thinks is the most nonsensical part of the law.  (……..)

But change may be coming here. Over the past few months, dozens of petitions were posted on the Cheong Wa Dae website to urge the government and the National Assembly to revise the self-defense law.  [Korea Herald]

You can read much more at the link, but there are numerous examples over the years of victims of criminal activities being convicted by a Korean court for defending themselves.  The self defense law is even worse for foreigners when the Korean assailant can just lie and the police will likely blame the foreigner for the altercation.

Here are a few examples involving USFK servicemembers:

This all validates my long held advice that foreigners need to swallow their pride and walk away from confrontations with Koreans.  This is because the odds are high that the police will side with the Korean if the foreigner fights back.  Probably the most ironic thing about Korean self defense law is that if you are being raped and don’t fight back enough they will let the rapist go free.

Further Reading:

Do You Have A Right To Self Defense In South Korea?

KB Kookmin Bank Criticized for Marching New Employees 100 Kilometers and Giving Out Contraceptive Pills

This sounds like one of these only in Korea stories:

KB Kookmin Bank has come under fire for holding a grueling 100 kilometer march for its recruits and reportedly giving out oral contraceptive pills to its new female employees — a large portion of which are under 30 — during the training period.

According to the news report from a local daily, the commercial bank gave the pills to the employees to control their menstrual cycles before they go on a 100-kilometer overnight march. The bank has traditionally carried out the marching event every year to boost the morale of the rookies, the report said.

The bank explained that it provided the pill for the health of female employees who are on their period, as they could feel relatively more exhausted than their male co-workers during the harsh schedule. The employees were not forced to take the pill, the bank added.

The act, however, caused a public backlash after it was revealed on Monday.  [Korea Herald]

You can read more at the link, but the bank did not mandate the use of the pills, it was optional if the female employees needed it.  As far as marching 100 kilometers if the new employees knew this was something they would have to complete for initial training and were being paid I don’t see what the big deal is?