Salvage Workers Race Against Time to Complete Recovery of Sunken Sewol Ferry Boat

I feel horrible for the families that have to live through this tragedy all over again as the resources have finally been mustered to lift the sunken Sewol ferry boat:

Salvage operators will load the Sewol ferry onto a semisubmersible ship late into Friday night ― the final task before heading to land.

“We are racing against time,” said Lee Cheol-jo, an official from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, who is in charge of the operation. “With strong tidal currents expected in the area Saturday, the workers have to do everything correctly to finish the job hopefully before midnight.”

He said loading the ferry onto a semisubmersible ship is the trickiest stage of the operation, which requires optimal weather conditions.

The workers plan to finish the job before March 24, the last day of the neap tide period around the area. The next neap is not until April 5.

Lee said the rest of the operation will not be as vulnerable to weather conditions.

The semisubmersible ship will take the 6,825-ton ferry to Mokpo Port next week.

The sunken ferry was lifted from the depths, Thursday, nearly three years after it sank and left 304 people dead on April 16, 2014, in Korea’s worst maritime disaster.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Chung Yoo-ra’s Danish Lawyer Suddenly Dies

As if things couldn’t get any weirder in the Choi Soon-sil corruption case, the Danish lawyer for her daughter suddenly dies:

Peter Martin Blinkenberg / Yonhap

A Danish lawyer defending a Korean woman wanted by Korean prosecutors over the presidential corruption scandal died suddenly on Friday of unknown causes.

Chung Yoo-ra’s lawyer Peter Martin Blinkenberg died on Mar. 17 at his home in Lohals, Langeland, Ekstra Bladet reported.

Blinkenberg, who specializes in financial cases, was trying to keep Chung in Denmark after prosecutors there decided to extradite her to Korea.

The daughter of Choi Soon-sil, an alleged influence-peddler behind impeached Korean President Park Geun-hye, is wanted on charges of receiving kickbacks while attending Ewha Womans University.

These included manipulation of marks and attendance records.

The perks are suspected of having been carried out at Korea’s most prestigious women’s university under the influence of Choi, who is under arrest.

Christian Blinkenberg, the dead lawyer’s brother, told Danish news outlet Borsen that the “unexpected death” came when the father of two teenagers was spending his last day “within the walls of his beloved cottage” in his hometown.  [Korea Times via a reader tip]

You can read more at the link, but his death as expected has people claiming a conspiracy to force Chung to return to Korea by killing her lawyer.  With Park out of office really the fate of Chung is now a sideshow thus no real urgency for her to be extradited now in my opinion.

Killer Whales Spotted for First Time in Two Off Korea’s East Coast

Here is something very rare to be seen on Korea’s East coast, orcas:

A killer whale mother and calf were seen in Korea’s East Sea, the National Institute of Fisheries Science (NIFS) said Friday.

The whales were observed near Uljin, North Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday, according to the institute.

In 2015, two killer whales were seen in the same area, but the last time a killer whale mother and calf were seen was in 2001, off Hongdo, in South Jeolla Province.

The latest sightings may signal Korea’s East Sea as a new habitat for killer whales.

The NIFS believes the whales have expanded their habitat from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East Sea because of its abundance of prey such as seals.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

South Korea Sees Drop In Number of Illegal Immigrants

It appears the illegal immigration reform South Korea has implemented has had some success in reducing the number of illegal immigrants:

One out of 10 foreigners living in South Korea are illegal aliens, government data showed Tuesday.

According to the data released by the Ministry of Justice, 211,320, or 10.5 percent of the total number of foreigners living here as of end-January, are staying without a valid visa.

The number is up 1.1 percent from what was tallied the previous month, which stood at 208,971, it said.

The total shot up to 223,464 in 2007 and dropped to 177,955 in 2009. Since 2014, the number has hovered around 200,000.

The percentage of illegal aliens, meanwhile, has been declining from 12.3 percent in 2012 to 11.3 percent in 2015 and 10.2 percent in 2016 with the overall rise in the number of foreigners living here.  [Korea Times]

The South Korean government implemented a program where if illegal immigrants self deported, after six months they could apply for a work visa for the prior job they were working.  It seems a program like this could be something that could work in the United States as well.

Should Long Time Foreigners In Korea Learn Korean?

I saw this question posted on to Reddit and figure I would comment on it:

I’m wondering why the foreigners who re-sign year after year until they’re past the 5+ years in Korea mark and don’t learn Korean stay in Korea? If you, after more than five years in a country you are choosing to live in, can’t have a conversation in Korean, isn’t that racist/Eurocentric? What reason would you have for not bothering to learn your host country’s language? The Bangladeshi worked in the factory has learned it, why haven’t you?

I get the “I thought I’d just be here for a year but then I re-signed,” I really do, but after five, six, seven years you’re a long-termer.  [Reddit]

I don’t think it is racist to not become proficient in Korean.  From the US military perspective I knew servicemembers who had many years of service in Korea and could not speak Korean.  A lot of it has to do with working in an English work environment plus Korea is so English friendly as well especially around US military bases that knowing Korean is not mandatory.  Getting fluent in Korean takes a lot of time and work that most people don’t have.  However, many folks who have served many years in Korea do know enough Korean to get around and communicate simple things.

Local Residents Rescue Korean Boy Sucked Into the Ocean In Hawaii

This Korean family is lucky their child did not drown:

A family visiting Hawaii from South Korea is grateful for the good Samaritans who helped rescue their young son from waters on Oahu’s North Shore.

Cell phone video taken Sunday just after 5:30 p.m. shows 8-year-old Ryon Kim playing in the whitewash near shore at Sunset Beach. His younger brother plays nearby. Their grandfather can be seen gesturing to Ryon, though he does not appear to realize the danger the boy is in.

Ryon attempts to leave the water, but a retreating wave knocks him over and sucks him out into the ocean. His grandfather and mother struggle to reach him and that’s when several people can be seen running in to help, including Ewa Beach native Christopher Tuncap.

“The minute I saw the second wave come, that’s when I got up and I started sprinting,” said Tuncap.  [Hawaii News Now]

You can read the rest at the link plus view the cell phone video, but Oahu’s North Shore is infamous for its large waves during the winter months and is not an area for little kids to be splashing around in.

Pro-Park Activists Wave US and Israeli Flags During Protest

It does seem pretty weird that the pro-Park protesters are waving US and Israelis flags which have absolutely nothing to do with the corruption scandal that caused her impeachment:

Controversy is brewing over the use of U.S. and Israeli flags by supporters of the impeached President Park Geun-hye during their weekend rallies that have nothing to do with the countries.

Right-wing groups have organized these rallies to counter much-larger demonstrations demanding Park’s removal from power by the Constitutional Court.

Pro-Park counterprotesters have waved the Korean national flag, or Taegeukgi, at the rallies, which they call “Taegeukgi rallies” themselves. Lately, they have also been bringing U.S. and Israeli flags to the political events.

The participants claim it is a way to show their “patriotism,” but criticism is prevalent that the flags are being misused.

Several protesters, who are mainly in their 60s or older, have been waving the Korean and U.S. flags together in a bid to underscore the Korea-U.S. security alliance against “North Korean sympathizers.”

Some others, who call themselves devout churchgoers, have brought the Israeli flag with a wooden cross and other symbols they think can represent their faith.

But critics said Monday that such expressions may only stir up misunderstandings toward the U.S and Israel as well as Christianity.

The U.S. and Israeli embassies in Seoul were not available for comment.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Korean Tourists Attacked and Robbed By Rioters In Paris

It looks like Paris has their own example of apparent police misconduct being used as an excuse by thugs to riot and rob:

A group of South Korean tourists in Paris were robbed of their train tickets and one passport in what appeared to be a case linked to the recent unrest over alleged police brutality, officials said Sunday.

Some 40 Korean tourists were on a bus to their hotel around 9 p.m. Saturday (local time) when three or four black men boarded the bus and fled with the tourists’ Eurostar tickets and the passport of the group’s Korean tour guide, according to officials at the South Korean Embassy in Paris.

The men shouted and brandished what appeared to be glass bottles and struck some of the tourists on their heads. The group included children and senior citizens.

An official at the embassy urged caution in the suburbs north of Paris where the hotel is located, citing safety concerns. More than 2,000 protesters gathered in the nearby suburb of Bobigny the same day to express support for a 22-year-old black man who was alleged raped and subjected to unnecessary violence by police officers during his arrest on Feb. 2.  [Yonhap]

Here is a Arirang News report about the attack: