Archive for the ‘Opinion’Category

Les Miserables and Korean society ①

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

Les Miserables has been a smash hit in Korea. There have been over two million people that have seen this film within a week of its premiere and it topped the box office in that time. It seems that this movie has helped soothe those who have suffered from the aftereffects of the presidential election. (particularly voters who desired a change of government.)

It is understandable because the younger generation who eagerly desired for a change in Korean society has fallen into despair and feels betrayed. There are many reasons why the younger generation want changes in the Korean society, but one only has to look at the number 1 cause of death in those younger than 40 to have an understanding of how the generation feels. A number of estimates show suicide to be that cause of death.

According to the BBC (2012), Koreans officially work an average of 2193 hours annually, which is 125 hours more than the second ranked Chile.

It is because of this situation of being overworked and a feeling of despair that the younger generation cast their votes the opposition Democratic United Party’s Jae-in Moon, and not the conservative ruling party’s Geun-hye Park. (Korea elected Park as the 18th president)

Should the youth  feel frustrated with the current living conditions of Korean society? It seems the answer  is ‘yes’,  but we can find some perspective  thorough Les Miserables’s tremendous popularity in Korea.

The backgrounds and social problems in Les Miserables are closely related to recent Korean events. For instance, scores of men at semiconductor companies have contracted cancer and workers at automobile companies have committed suicide because of their unfair dismissal from their work. In addition, many workers risk their lives to clime to the top of transmission towers. After the presidential election, a total of 5 people lost their lives due to difficult living conditions and suicide.

Social issues are applied to not only workers  but also children in Korea. In the last 10 years there has been a two fold increase in the number of children who have been abused emotionally, physically and/or sexually. More than 40 million primary school children have to skip lunch during  vacation due to disturbed backgrounds. There are over 20 million teenagers  who run away across the nation and a quarter of women who have become a prostitute have done so only to stave off hunger and to live more comfortably.

These unbelievable problems have persisted in the country with 10th largest economy in the world. It would be better for the government to do nothing, as they aggressively promote an unfair education system, deregulate employment protection legislation and welfare retrenchment, that all negatively affect the lives of regularly working people.

* For orginal article in Korean: (by Ingyu Kang)


01 2013

Les Miserables and Korean society ②

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

21 century Korean edition <Les Miserables>, more miserable than the original

Les Miserables discloses what the powerful are likely to conceal, which elaborates on legislation that is used as a powerful instrument of vested rights. The stringent laws are never applied to the corruptors, but on the contrary these unfair laws are enforced on the less fortunate as seen in the case of Jean Valjean who spent 19 years in prison on a charge of stealing a piece of bread.

Some might think that Jean’s life sounds unrealistic, although it can easily be seen in our current laws. Many are enforced to the letter against trash collectors for their illegal acts but the same law has been applied far too leniently with a cooperate mogul on suspicion of tax evasion and/or misappropriation. That has been the Korean style of righteousness of the law to this point.

Another tragedy in Korean society relates to the overwhelming indifference that people have in our society towards those less fortunate. This presidential result magnifies that point. A direct presidential election in Korea has been completed by those who sacrificed and devoted themselves realizing a true democracy. Ironically, people this time voted for the daughter of a former dictator.

It seemed that the student revolution in <Les Miserables> was unsuccessful but  consequentially the French Revolution changed France from a monarchy to a republic, which also contributed to the growth of democracy all over the world.

* For orginal article in Korean: (by Ingyu Kang)


01 2013

Les Miserables and Korean society ③

Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ingyu Kang below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

A perspective of the 2012 presidential election

There has been an extreme cry for change in the Korean society leading up to the 2012 presidential election. Although the election was lost, those wanting change made their voices heard. A certain circle might be pessimistic about this 2012 election because the proportion of voters in their 50s’ and over who are more likely to have an inclination toward conservatism is increasing. I do not agree with that sense of pessimism.

we should remind ourselves that 37% of conservative 50s did not select the ruling conservative Saenuri party Park, but it is equally important that nearly 34% of 20s did support her as president. Therefore we do not need to  fall into despair but  be optimistic for our future.

An important question that should be followed upon is how we effectively communicate with each other and harmonize our differences. Putting the 2012 election aside, we should shed more light on the constructive criticism to set Korea to in right direction regardless of particular factions.

“Do you hear the people sing? Say do you hear the distant drums. It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes .”

The ending background music of the movie implies that tomorrow comes when the people take the lead at solving social problems putting their heads together and it is necessary to take care of those less fortunate so as to create a better society.

It is the only way that <Les Miserables> will play a role as motivator of social change as well as simply consoling Koreans. Soon afterwards the future that people bring will come.

* For orginal article in Korean: (by Ingyu Kang)


01 2013

Shameful KBS, MBC and conservative newspapers’ lopsided report about the presidential election ①

[2012 Presidential election] Guerrilla column: A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Joo-hyun Park below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

International press, totally different from domestic views

On the 20th, the Korean press hit the headlines with ‘first woman president of Korea’, on the other hand international press highlighted the fact that Koreans contributed to the strongman’s daughter becoming a president. There was an absurd happening caused by Yonhap News Agency in Korea, On the 18th, a day before the presidential election, Yonhap reported the article quoting TIME’s quote that was a contorted translation where they translated ‘strongman’ as ‘influential person’ according to the press release provided by the conservative ruling Saenuri party.

TV debate ‘missing’… electronic journalism limited to electronic display

Compared to past presidential elections, the 18th got the most disappointing rating ever for lack of policy content. There were the few TV debates that help to provide wide information such as their policies, pledges, convictions, vision and philosophy.

Unlike before, broadcasters did not aggressively suggest the TV debate to candidates and hardly ever criticized against the presidential candidate who avoided the TV debate. What’s more, it might be thought that broadcasters aided her side.

Furthermore, there has been a predominant judgement that it was the worst media coverage ever during the 18th presidential election process. Setting the conservative newspapers aside, national terrestrial broadcasters consistently covered the news which was favorable for the ruling party’s candidate.

“The news related to the 18th presidential election seemed to imitate coverage and it was just like an electronic display. There were less meaningful issues and problems brought up by the press.” Choi Youngjae said, who is a professor at School of Journalism and Communication in Hanlim University.

* For orginal article in Korean:


12 2012

Shameful KBS, MBC and conservative newspapers’ lopsided report about the presidential election ②

The conservative Chosun Ilbo’s front-page coverage titled with first woman president of Korea

[2012 Presidential election] Guerrilla column : A guerrilla column has been contributed by OhmyNews citizen journalists. There will be a guerrilla column written by citizen reporter Ju-hyeon Park below. It was translated to English with a summary of the contents.

What’s the next 5 years of Korean journalism?

In this presidential election, domestic press achieved notoriety that their news was merely one action plan for helping certain parties win as well as missing impartial reporting. After the election, there have been concerns brought up over the weighted reporting. Freedom of press is one of the areas that have lagged behind since president Lee’s government was constituted.

According to the press union, there are around 450 journalists who were disciplined for  leaning against ‘the media executive sent from the government agency’ and ‘distorted editorial news’. The Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prove the sterility of the Korean press. In 2005: 34th, 2006: 31th, 2007: 39th after Lee’s government in 2008: 47th, 2009: 69th, 2010: 42th, 2011: 44th.

Nevertheless, Korean people elected the ruling saenuri party’s candidate who had the same way of Lee’s committing brutality. During the presidential election process, the problem was the division between generations and regions, which is a contemporary issue. It came out the question of the post 5 years’ change in the press circumstances which is the democratic standard.

* For orginal article in Korean:


12 2012

Olympics Opening: Where was Atlanta?

It’s quite a bit late to talk about the London Oympics, especially the opening ceremony. But I found it amusing that columnist Jacki Viles on Digital Journal noticed that her home town of Atlanta was not represented in a quick tribute to past Olympic cities. Atlanta hosted the 1996, the centennial, Olympics. Having lived near there during the Olympics and in there after the Olympics, I agree with her that it wasn’t that much missed.

Op-Ed: London 2012 forgets Atlanta 1996 (Digital Journal)

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)


08 2012

Can Pinterest survive without copyrighted content?

Rapidly growing  social media website Pinterest has bowed to pressure from photographers and copyright holders who complained that the “sharing” site had allowed its users to post content that did not belong to them.

Pinterest is reforming its terms of service, asking users to only post content they created, or content they have explicit permission to publish according to The

Read the full story on The website:

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)


04 2012

Allow North Koreans onto Yeonpyeong Island

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest Op-ed from Henry Seggerman, Manager of Korea International Investment Fund

Yes, you read that correctly. Allow North Koreans onto Yeonpyeong Island. My argument here is that the Northern Limit Line (NLL) is fundamentally unfair to North
Korea, and that South Korea should at long last address this problem.

Before I’m locked away for violating the NSA, allow me to caveat the controversial statement above.

I still believe North Korea is a full-fledged member of the Axis of Evil. The regime leaders are guilty of crimes against humanity, for which they should be tried and
punished. I also still believe in the only morally acceptable reunification would be full absorption of North Korea into a capitalist democratic unified Korea.

BUT (and this is an important BUT), South Korea is paralyzed in a North Korean policy loaded with inconsistencies. In two blatant acts of war, North Korea killed 46 Cheonan
sailors and four people on Yeonpyeong Island. Proportionate retaliations would arguably have killed 50 North Koreans. But this could never happen. Why not? Because North Korea has 11,000 cannons pointing at Seoul and really could turn it into a “sea of fire.” So, South Korea has spent nearly two years limiting its “retaliation” to rather feeble verbal demands for an apology from North Korea, which obviously is never coming.

Meanwhile, the Kaesong Industrial Park continues providing North Korea about $1 billion in annual revenue. Closing Kaesong would be a perfectly reasonable response
to the North Korea’s killing of 50 South Koreans, but somehow this does not occur to South Korea. Since South Korea is neither going to retaliate militarily against North
Korea’s killing of 50 South Koreans, nor stop giving the North nearly $1 billion in revenue at Kaesong, then it’s perfectly reasonable for me to discuss revisiting the NLL.
Economically speaking, doing so would not be the kind of free handout South Korea gives the North at Kaesong.

No peace agreement was ever signed ending the Korean War, only an armistice. Separate from even the armistice, the UN unilaterally drew the Northern Limit Line
without any consent sought from, or given by, North Korea.

The NLL runs for 100 kilometers, hugging North Korea’s coastline sometimes by less than five kilometers. It forces North Korean trade ships to make an awkward 100-
kilometer northbound detour before they are able to head out into open sea. This is particularly galling given that Haeju, at the southern end of the NLL, is the only port in
North Korea which does not freeze over in the winter. Hardly a month goes by without another angry complaint about the NLL coming from the DPRK.

Of course we stopped taking those purplish, bellicose KCNA press releases seriously years ago. However, when they say US and ROK drills at the NLL are a provocation,
they really do have a point. Imagine your pet dog was bitten by a rat and is rabid. Then you take his leash and pull it as tight as you can around his neck. What kind of response do you expect? The US/ROK West Sea drills hugging the very edge of the NLL are a constant reminder of the punitive, arbitrary NLL, never agreed to by North Korea.

Loosening up the NLL is not my crazy new idea. Actually, I borrowed it from South Korea’s last President. Less than five years ago, Roh Moo-hyun diverted enough
attention from the endless nuclear shell game to negotiate a “special peace and cooperation zone in the West Sea encompassing Haeju and vicinity” with North Korea.
Near the end of his rule the deal did not close, and it was certainly not revived by the new conservative administration that marched into the Blue House.

Why not revive President Roh’s idea? Given Park Won-soon’s recent victory in the Seoul mayoral race, the DUP may “occupy” the Blue House this Fall. If that is the outcome, pursuing President Roh’s West Sea deal may be a possibility. In fact, both Saenuri’s Park Geun-hye and DUP’s Han Myeong-sook are already offering to engage with the DPRK’s new leadership. Eliminating the NLL dispute would remove a dangerously lethal and completely unnecessary flashpoint in North-South relations.

After the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong killings, making any West Sea concessions to North Korea will obviously inflame sensitivities in the South. On top of that, KCNA will
surely trumpet that the DPRK has “dealt a merciless revolutionary blow to the imperialist stooges of the ROK.”

But why not think up a more creative deal? For example, why not offer some of President Roh’s NLL concessions if the DPRK agrees to move the 11,000 cannons far away from Seoul? Or come up with some other deal which relieves tension and can be seen as advantageous to both sides?

Given the untimely ends met by Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, who abandoned their nuclear programs and were later executed, moving the 11,000 cannons
will be a much easier sell to the DPRK regime than giving up its nuclear weapons. Over the years, there have been numerous West Sea skirmishes between North and South
Korea, and it is not unreasonable for us to expect more. And there is a lot more danger of a terrible KPA cannon barrage on Seoul than the DPRK starting World War III with its pop-gun nuclear arsenal.

Henry Seggerman is the Manager of Korea International Investment Fund, the oldest hedge fund in Korea. The views expressed herein are the author’s own, and do not
reflect the views of this newspaper.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.5/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: -3 (from 3 votes)


03 2012

Facebook ‘Common Sense’

Last September, I was experiencing the first probable feelable shock of an earthquake in my life. I was riding towards my room on my bike that evening. On reaching the center of the Sankhamul Bridge of Kathmandu, my bike got stopped. Suddenly, the 8.9 scaled quake started swinging the bridge. After seeing the public scampering, my heartbeat also got faster because of fright. I was thinking, the bridge may break down. After escaping out, I was so eager to update my Facebook status about this most memorable incident. Through the hurdles in network connections, I accomplished the job of updating. Some friends liked and some of them commented on it.

Besides the comments, I admired something else. The wall of this social network was filled up with current updates about the recent quakes. Casualties, damages, intensity on different areas were all seen in the posts of the users. Facebook at that time stood as an open portal for citizen journalism. Merely 10 percent of my Facebook friends are journalists working for different media or freelancing, but I was seeing the posts from about 50 percent of my friends who have not done their first reporting. I was getting the updates from most of the districts in just seconds.

“No one has to be a professional Journalist to disseminate the Information or news.”

This statement has been proven because Facebook was the only news source for me that day. Most of the radios and TVs were playing music. Some were talking about politics and some were scrolling flash news. But naively I was searching for full details about the casualties in the areas of my concern, which may be my homeland or somewhere else. But none of the media were providing the full details. I thanked my friends for updating their statuses. I, too, was updating my experience and perceptions about the quake, through which my friends abroad could get informed. After that day, I am always thinking and searching for ways to use this social portal as a space for citizen journalism. If used decently, Facebook permits us to get a lot of news, information and updates through an individual citizen journalist. In my sense, every Facebook user is a journalist who may be narrowcasting, but is propagating the news. All of us, you and I.

You may be wondering what I mean by decency. I do have another experience to share. I have liked some interesting Facebook fan pages. Some of the pages I have liked contain more than seventy thousand likes. One day I got the sad news of the demise of Ram Man Trishit, the popular music artist from Nepal. Again Facebook was the medium to give me the news.

“May his soul RIP,” I wrote on the status of With a profound heart, I was just signing-off, my eyes scanning loosely over notifications. Some of the users liked the status were there was written, “Ram Man Trishit is no-more.” I didn’t feel, I should say something to them because it is just common sense that no one likes his demise.

After the demise of Dalit-Activist Subas Darnal, many were writing on his Facebook wall. Some of them were stating, “I am sad to listen the news of your death, I do not believe it,” and some were writing, “Is this news true?”

Where had the common sense of those users been? Do they not know that the dead cannot answer their questions and comment on their status posts? Again the question of common sense arises.

The same is happening nowadays. The vulgar posts on Facebook walls also lack common sense. If you want to read more about those unbelievable offensive stories by clicking on ‘Follow,’ you will definitely get the same problems as these. If you want to get rid of those stories posted on the walls of your friends by your name, just click on ‘Report as Spam.’ You can see this option to the right of the story post.

Finally, it’s my conviction that Facebook is an open slam-book protected with passwords. If used decently it is a space for sharing feelings but it is also a destructive technology if we forget the universal concern of common sense. Again I say, use Facebook as a diary, to share your experience as a storyteller and to share the news as Citizen- Journalist. Facebook has the largest coverage, which not only spreads your success but also your slip-ups. Mind your clicks on likes and keys on comments. That’s the rule of Facebook common sense.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 1.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)

Friday Opinions 2012-02-10

Reflections of a Newsosaur has a good piece on publishers being slower to adopt the iPad than the public.

Robert Niles at The Online Journalism Review says that “You’ve got to know the truth to tell it.

Not as much an opinion piece but more observational is Adrienne LaFrance’s piece at Nieman Journalism Lab called “What Charlie Sheen taught Salon about being original.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)


02 2012