Korean Court Rules in Favor of Compensation for Prostitutes that Worked Outside of US Military Bases

This is ruling about prostitution outside US military bases is nothing new and widely known for decades throughout Korea:

Women who were encouraged by the South Korean government to work as prostitutes near US military bases hold a press conference outside of the Seoul High Court in the Seocho neighborhood following a court ruling on their case on Feb. 8. (by Kim Min-kyung, staff reporter)

A court issued a first-ever ruling acknowledging that the Republic of Korea actively justified or encouraged prostitution with the operation of US “military camp towns” for the sake of the military alliance and foreign currency acquisition.“In regarding the right to sexual self-determination of the women in the camp town and the very character of the plaintiffs as represented through their sexuality as means of achieving state goals, the state violated its obligation to respect human rights,” the court concluded, ordering the payment of compensation to all 117 plaintiffs.

Hon. Judge Lee Beom-gyun of Seoul High Court’s 22nd civil affairs division ruled on Feb. 8 in the case filed by 117 former military camp town prostitutes to demand damages from the state, which was ordered to pay compensation of 7 million won (US$6,370) to 74 of the plaintiffs and 3 million won (US$2,730) to the remaining 43.“According to official Ministry of Health and Welfare documents, [the state] actively encouraged the women in the military camp towns engage in prostitution to allow foreign troops to ‘relax’ and ‘enjoy sexual services’ with them,” the court said.“In the process, [the state] operated and managed the military camp towns with the intention or purpose of contributing to maintenance of a military alliance essential for national security by ‘promoting and boosting morale’ among foreign troops while mobilizing prostitutes for economic goals such as acquisition of foreign currency,” it ruled.  [Hankyoreh]

You can read more at the link, but there is some nuance to the ruling in favor of the prostitutes to worked outside of US military base. The court did not find the government liable for forcing them into prostitution, just managing it by forcing them into medical treatment:

But the court did not accept the plaintiffs’ claim that the state had also violated the law by establishing the base village in the first time “to allow prostitution to take place easily.”“It is impossible to conclude that the victims were in a situation where they did not begin engaging in prostitution within the area of their own free will or could not leave,” the court said.  [Hankyoreh]

This is important because if the government was found to have forced these women into prostitution than that would allow the Japanese right to say that the ROK government should stop complaining about World War II era comfort women when they had their own comfort women system going.  This is technically correct because the ROK government was not grabbing women out of their homes and putting them into clubs.

Many of the prostitutes came from poor families who sold their daughters to the club owners to make ends meet or put a son through college for example.  Other became prostitutes in the hope of marrying a GI to escape poverty.  However, they ended up in the club system they were effectively managed by the Korean government to not spread disease.  They were forcibly given STD treatments and those that were found to be diseased were then forcibly interned.  This is where the human rights violations come into play for these women by the state.

Something to keep in mind is that the US military bases were not the only locations with prostitutes.  Can prostitutes stationed outside ROK Army bases or even in urban red light districts now sue for damages as well?  What about the women brought in from the Philippines beginning in the 1990’s that were forced into prostitution?  Can they sue for damages as well?

Fitness Devices Cause Concern of Revealing Secret US Military Bases

There is a reason why Fitbits are not allowed in sensitive US military facilities and it appears they should not be used at secret US bases either:

A portion of the Strava Labs heat map from Beirut, made by tracking activities.

An interactive map posted on the internet that shows the whereabouts of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit also reveals highly sensitive information about the location and activities of troops at U.S. military bases, in what appears to be a major security oversight.

The Global Heat Map, published by the GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the location and movements of subscribers to the company’s fitness service over a two-year period, by illuminating areas of activity.

Strava says it has 27 million users around the world, including people who own widely available fitness devices such as Fitbit, Jawbone and Vitofit, as well as people who directly subscribe to its mobile phone application. The map is not live — rather it shows a pattern of accumulated activity between 2015 and September last year.

Most parts of the United States and Europe, where millions of people use some form of fitness tracker, show up on the map as a blaze of light, because there is so much activity.

In war zones and deserts such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark — except for a few scattered pinpricks of activity. Zooming in on those brings into focus the locations and outlines of known U.S. military bases, as well as of other unknown and potentially sensitive sites — presumably because U.S. troops and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but in most cases using a Fitbit to run around Yongsan Garrison is not going to provide valuable intelligence information.  However, if there is a bunch of Fitbit activity noticeable in an isolated area of Africa for example, it may be a tip off there is a secret US military base there.  That is what is driving the concern.

Senator Duckworth is Worried that the US Military Is Training to Go to War In Korea

Here is what US Senator Duckworth had to say recently about her trip to South Korea:

Senator Tammy Duckworth

When Senator Tammy Duckworth returned from a recent trip to South Korea and Japan, she brought back a sobering message: “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.” In a speech at Georgetown University, she laid out the U.S. military maneuvers over the past several months—including a nuclearpowered submarine heading to South Korea, the movement of three aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific, and the Army testing out “mobilization centers” for deploying troops and training soldiers to fight in tunnels like those beneath North Korea—that inform this worry. In an interview with me, she said the U.S. military seems to be operating with the attitude that a conflict “‘will probably happen, and we better be ready to go.’”

The Illinois Democrat believes this is primarily a response to the rhetoric coming out of Washington, where members of the Trump administration have repeatedlythreatened to use force if diplomacy fails to prevent North Korea from acquiring the capability to strike the United States with nuclear missiles. And even though the administration continues to emphasize its preference for a diplomatic solution, “I feel like the military hears the war-mongering tendencies coming out of the executive branch and many in the legislative branch and have seen the writing on the wall and they said, ‘Holy cow. We’re more likely to be called on now than we were two years ago,’” Duckworth said.

“I know that the military’s job is to be fully ready for any contingency, and I commend them and support them for continuing to prepare for war. I’m not saying that they’re going to war,” Duckworth said at Georgetown. “But it’s painfully clear from my visit to the [Korean Demilitarized Zone] and these movements that I am seeing that we shouldn’t ignore the signals that our military is sending with these actions. We know that the North Koreans and our allies in the region are certainly paying attention.”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who lost her legs during the Iraq War when insurgents downed her helicopter, took the trip along with Ruben Gallego, a Democratic congressman from Arizona and a fellow Iraq War veteran, earlier this month. The two met with top South Korean and Japanese diplomats and defense officials as well as commanders of U.S. forces in South Korea. Duckworth said that she found “all three of the major military actors—American, Korean, and Japanese—…more ready [for war] than they’ve ever been.”  [The Atlantic]

You can read more at the link, but I find it interesting that Senator Duckworth is more worried about the rhetoric coming out Washington, but makes no mention of the rhetoric and actions backing it up coming out of Pyongyang that is firing missiles over Japan, setting off nuclear bombs, threatening to destroy Guam and other US cities, and even murdering someone with a nerve agent weapon in a busy international airport.

Considering all of this the US military would be derelict in its duties if it did not train for a possible military contingency in response to North Korean actions.  However from reading the article it appears that Senator Duckworth would prefer to have an untrained military so the Trump administration could not use it as an option to stop North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM programs if needed.

Group is Looking for Former USFK Veterans to Donate Their DNA

After reading this article I was surprised to learn that these companies that use your DNA to trace your ancestry release this information to outside groups for their own initiatives:

This composite photo shows Matthew Suh, left holding his daughter, and his birth father, retired Army Capt. Walter Rettberg.

At 68, retired Army Capt. Walter Rettberg thought he was done having children. Then he decided to trace his family tree with a DNA-testing kit and found Matthew.

Matthew Suh was a baby in South Korea when he was adopted nearly 40 years ago by an American couple. He grew up longing to find his biological mother but never thought about searching for his father because it seemed an impossible task.

All he knew was that his father had been an American soldier serving in South Korea.

Enter 325 Kamra, a U.S. nonprofit that’s building a DNA database to help South Korean adoptees find their birth parents, including U.S. military veterans.

In many cases, troops rotating through the country didn’t know the women they had sex with became pregnant, so the group is offering free DNA kits to all vets and their descendants.

“So many of them have been stationed here for a long time,” said Maria Savage, director of the group’s South Korea operation that launched this year. “So if they remember any encounters that they had then that’s enough for us.”

The DNA will help even if the vets didn’t father children, because it might lead to another relative who did, she said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Army Sexual Assault Lawyer’s Rough Sex and Role Playing Leads to Sexual Assault Charge

This is just another example of why these military sexual assault cases are not as black and white as the advocates want people to believe:

What started as a consensual relationship of rough sex and role playing between two Army attorneys could be headed to court-martial.

Members of the defense and prosecution teams made their closing statements Friday, on the third and final day of a preliminary hearing for Capt. Scott Hockenberry, an Army attorney and former special victims prosecutor accused of sexual assault and battery against a former girlfriend.

Hockenberry faces three counts of sexual assault and three counts of assault consummated by battery, based on accusations that he choked, slapped and held a knife to the accuser’s throat, in addition to forcing her to have sex without a condom during the summer of 2016.

The case’s fate hangs on whether Hockenberry was mistaken about the nature of the incidents, in the context of a relationship in which both accuser and accused agree that acts like slapping and hair-pulling were fair game.

The prosecution presented the accuser, who declined to testify at the hearing, as an educated, professional woman who — despite her knowledge of self-defense techniques — froze up when she felt threatened by a man she was intimate with.

“She doesn’t hide the fact that she’s done things she’s not proud of,” special victim prosecutor Lt. Col. Carol Brewer said. “She doesn’t deny that she should have known better.”

The defense pushed back with multiple letters and testimonies from Hockenberry’s friends and former lovers, who described him as a top-notch officer, as well as kind and considerate of the women he had been intimate with.  [Army Times]

Here is what Hockenberry did in one instance of rough sex:

Where Hockenberry crossed the line, Brewer said, was in holding a knife to the alleged victim’s neck and forcing her to have sex without a condom, despite condom usage being an explicit rule of their relationship.

This is what Hockenberry claims his accuser is really upset about:

Helixon pushed back, alleging that the alleged victim is out for revenge.

“It’s at that time that she discovered the breadth and depth of the other individuals” he was having a sexual relationship with, Helixon said.

You can read the rest at the link, but this article read more like the Duffel Blog than the Army Times.

Convicted US Military Wannabe Pimp Was Allowed to Become a Foster Parent

I never thought I would see the face of Gregory McQueen gracing the pages of the Stars & Stripes ever again after his conviction for trying to be a pimp at Ft. Hood, but I was wrong:

Gregory McQueen

On paper, Gregory McQueen must have seemed like a great candidate to become a foster-care parent in Texas.

A married man and Army veteran, McQueen had served as battalion representative on a task force to prevent sexual harassment at Fort Hood in central Texas.

But some important information didn’t show up in a state background check before a foster-care agency hired McQueen and his wife last March to care for abused and neglected children

Two years ago, former Army 1st Sgt. McQueen pleaded guilty to more than a dozen military charges for attempting to run a prostitution ring in Fort Hood. As part of the plea deal he was demoted to private, sentenced to 24 months in prison, was stripped of his retirement pay and received a dishonorable discharge.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I would hope the Defense Department is aggressively pursuing the updating of national databases because clearly people like McQueen should not be a foster parent.  With that said what kind of background checks are being done when a simple Google search would have exposed McQueen’s background that was highly publicized?

Pentagon Says It Has No Plans to Move US Military Dependents Out of South Korea

In response to Senator Lindsey Graham’s recent comment that the Pentagon should consider moving military dependents out of Korea, the Defense Department says they have no plans to do so:

The United States currently has no plan to move military dependents out of South Korea despite rising tensions with North Korea, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Commenting on North Korea’s latest launch of a long-range missile last week, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued Sunday that the U.S. should stop sending military dependents to South Korea and transfer those that are already there.

“The Department of Defense currently has no intent to initiate departures for military dependents, whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and no intent to modify the policy authorizing military dependents to accompany military members being stationed in South Korea,” Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said in emailed remarks to Yonhap.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link.

Former US Marine Claims He Did Not Intend To Murder Japanese Woman, Just Kidnap and Rape Her

Here is an update from the trial of a former US Marine who killed a Japanese woman on Okinawa last year:

Rina Shimabukuro is seen in an image from a Fuji Television broadcast. Kenneth Franklin Gadson, a former Marine who was working as a civilian at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, has been charged with murder and rape resulting in death in the slaying of the 20-year-old local woman. SCREENSHOT FROM FUJI TV

The parents of a 20-year-old Okinawan woman murdered last year told a packed courtroom Friday they want the former Air Force contractor charged in her death to pay for the brutal crime with his life.

“A murderer, who took my daughter’s life, should not be allowed to live,” the mother said in a statement read by her lawyer during the second day of Kenneth Franklin Gadson’s trial at Naha District Court.

Gadson, 33, a former Marine who was a civilian employee at a Kadena Air Base cable and internet provider at the time of his arrest, is charged with murder, rape resulting in death and the illegal disposal of a body in the death of Rina Shimabukuro. He is being tried under Japan’s lay judge system with three judges and six jurors.

Shimabukuro disappeared after going out for a walk on the evening of April 28, 2016. Gadson became a suspect — and was later charged in the crime — after police spotted his SUV while checking vehicles captured by security cameras in the area.

During the previous day’s proceedings — which mostly focused on whether Shimabukuro’s killing was premeditated — Gadson read a prepared statement pleading guilty to rape resulting in death and illegal disposal of the body but denied the murder charge, stating that he had “no plans to kill her.”

Gadson told the court he planned to knock her unconscious, take her to a hotel in a suitcase to rape her and release her afterward. After failing to knock her out, he panicked and was not able to complete his plan, he said.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read the rest at the link, but I don’t blame the family for wanting this scumbag put down.