Archive for the ‘Under the Radar’Category

Japan’s disputed island troubles

Japan is not popular on the rocky uninhabitable island front these days. Hong Kong activists were detained by Japanese officials for landing on the Diaoyu Islands, which are claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China.

Meanwhile a swim relay from the Korean mainland to Dokdo was organized by pop singer Kim Jang-hoon. This follows the South Korean president Lee Myung-bak making an unprecedented and provocative visit to the islands. Called Takeshima by Japan and known as the Liancourt Rocks in English, Dokdo has been a longtime thorn in Korea-Japan relations.

HK activists detained on Diaoyu Islands as South Koreans swim to Dokdo (Shanghaiist)

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18

08 2012

South Korea accused of racism in the U.N. yet not reported in Korean news

Here is a perfect example of news buried by the media. For the first time ever, South Korea has been challenged under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The repeated cases being turned down by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) regarding foreign English teachers having to be repeatedly tested for AIDS has been challenged by the Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

And not one news source in South Korea has mentioned this momentous event.

The investigative news blog Gusts of Popular Feeling has posted both the press release on this action, along with a translation in Korean. Here is the English version.

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17

08 2012

Under the Radar: Female Tajikistan Boxer Wins Bronze

While many are paying attention to the Big Five nations’ medal counts, a female boxer is breaking stereotypes in Tajikistan by winning her country a bronze medal. Mavzuna Chorieva, 19, beat the highly favored Chinese boxer Cheng Dong to earn her medal.

Why is this significant?

In Tajikistan, combat related sports are generally forbidden to women. Read about her amazing story, including how she could only train with men as opponents on Global Voices.

Tajikistan: Female Boxer Defies Stereotypes, Wins Olympic Bronze (Global Voices)

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09

08 2012

China’s “Leftover” Women?

Shanghaiist discusses an infographic printed in the Shanghai Daily that talks about China’s “leftover” women.

What are leftover women?

They are unmarried ladies in their late twenties. Yes, if you are not married by age 25 in China, you are already a sort of social pariah. But the women seem to be taking the title and owning it. Read Shanghaiist for more.

Infographic: The plight of China’s ‘leftover’ women (Shanghaiist)

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10

03 2012

Chinese hacked into NASA

Cal Widdall at Shanghaiist reports details of Chinese hackers gaining access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. According to a source, there were 5,408 security breaches in a two year period. The majority of the attacks likely weren’t government sponsored or completely malicious, according to the article.

Chinese hackers gained full access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab last year (Shanghaiist)

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07

03 2012

Yonhap libels foreigners based on 0.2% of its members

Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling does it again. A month ago, there was a drug bust in South Korea in which some native speaking English instructors were involved. Predictably, this bust was used to paint all native speaking English instructors as drug smuggling fiends intent on corrupting Korean youth and thus calls were made for tougher regulations on those instructors.

But Matt breaks it down.

First, the content of the bust. Matt went through multiple articles on this and found that the majority of the people in the bust, by far, were Koreans–not foreign English teachers. One was an underground hip hop singer. Many of the others were “office workers.” A little more digging found that this was likely a media cover up. These “office workers” were the children of prominent leaders in Korean society. But that doesn’t fit in with the foreign-English-teachers-as-drug-addicts meme. So the headlines, news stories and subsequent editorials stuck with their old whipping horse–foreign English teachers are dangerous drug fiends out to poison Korean society. Let’s panic and pass even more restrictions.

But Matt breaks it down again.

Through more digging, Matt found that the Americans and Canadians in the bust were of Korean ethnicity.

Why does that matter?

Korea has a visa type set aside for this category, the F-4 visa. Koreans from certain countries with Korean blood can get these visas and basically have all the economic freedoms Korean citizens have. In other words, they can have any job they want without having to get another visa for said job. The most popular choice is teaching English.

The other English teachers in public schools and private cram schools (hagwons) come in on a very restrictive E-2 visa. To get an E-2 visa, one has to exhaustively prove that she has graduated from a four-year university, has to provide a thorough criminal background check from a national agency (like the FBI) and must go through a string of tests for drugs and sexually transmitted diseases. Once this visa is acquired, the teacher’s owner owns the visa. That sentence may come out awkwardly, but that’s basically how it is. The owner of the business owns the visa and basically owns the teacher. The teacher cannot change jobs easily if it’s an abusive owner and usually has to wait until the one-year period runs out on the visa.

Contrast that with the Korean blood F-4. There are new laws requiring hagwon owners to verify university degrees for all teachers, but that’s about it. F-4 visa holders do not have to go through drug testing.

The crime here, as Matt suggests, is that many of these busts on foreign English teachers, if not the majority, involve people who aren’t on E-2 visas, yet it’s the E-2 visas holders that are made the societal scapegoats. The Yonhap editorial I mentioned in the title, which was published within mere hours of the drug bust story, was titled, “It’s regretful that English education is entrusted to marijuana smoking native speakers.”

It did not say, “Some marijuana smoking native speakers.”

Without that crucial modifier, the headline implied that most native speaking English teachers are pot smokers. In short, the headline alone libeled an entire demographic in Korea, despite the statistics, as Matt found, showed that less than 0.2% fit that category. Keep in mind that Yonhap is the South Korean version of the Associated Press and has a level of respect internationally.

In South Korea, libel is a criminal offense. One of the reasons it’s difficult on this site to publish original citizen articles is because of this law. It’s even libelous if it’s true. And in this case it’s definitely not.

In the eyes of the Korean public, F-4 visa holders aren’t true foreigners. They’re in a gray area. When Korean-blooded foreigners do well, the media treats them as if they’re Koreans. When they do badly, like get busted for drugs, they’re foreigners. There is a deep, likely subconscious but obvious, racial bias in Korean media. This drug bust is but one of many examples. Most of the people busted were Koreans. Most all of them were ethnically Korean. But the media did not want to embarrass the children of the rich and didn’t want to acknowledge that its rules for teachers are based on race. So it turned the bust into a convenient way to repeat the centuries-old mantra–foreigners evil.

A closer look at Friday’s hagwon instructor pot bust (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

Yonhap: “It’s regretful that English education is entrusted to marijuana smoking native speakers” (Gusts of Popular Feeling)

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New Documentary about Alabama’s Immigration Law

This struck me, and I just had to post about it. The HuffPo highlights a new documentary, “Is This Alabama?” It’s about the HB 56 law that is currently considered the most draconian anti-immigration law in the United States. Director Chris Weitz told a crowd:

[I learned about] the decency of many, many Alabamians, who have a deep sense of hospitality and compassion, and how those voices aren’t being heard by the legislature.

‘Is This Alabama?’ Documentary Pushes For HB 56 Immigration Law Repeal (Huffington Post)

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16

02 2012

‘Boob Out’ Day Against Facebook

AllVoices reports that breastfeeding mothers in Sydney, Australia, are protesting against Facebook for censoring their photos and suspending their accounts.

Breastfeeding moms revolting against facebook (AllVoices)

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06

02 2012

Gunmen Attack Indian Polling Station

Surya Gaire at AllVoices reports that Maoist rebels opened fire on a polling station in Manipur, India. At least five were killed, including a female voter and poll workers.

Rebels Attack Polling Center in India, Kill at Least Five (AllVoices)

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31

01 2012

Police vs. Pets (Guess Who Wins)

This article about police in Decatur, Alabama, shooting two dogs brings up a string of questions about the tendency for police to cross the line in recent years. Some call them “adrenaline junkies,” and, in my opinion, shows like COPS glorified sometimes over-the-top behavior of people who took their jobs a little too seriously. And this incident occurred over an arrest for public intoxication and having an open container–a law I find even more surreal and backward the longer I live outside the U.S. As always, the brave men in blue defended their actions against unanimous witness accounts.

Police Brutality against innocent dogs (CNN iReport)

Here are other examples that have brought this pattern to mind.

Photo: Dylan Singleton via Washington Post

Police fatally shoot dog at Adams Morgan festival (Washington Post)

Cop Kills Dog, Tries To Buy Owner’s Silence!   (KFOR via YouTube)

Police Brutality & Killing Dogs – Columbia Mo SWAT Raid 2/11/2010 (Totally-useless.com)

Family Says Police Killed Their Dogs and Slammed Grandmother to Ground (WHO TV Des Moines)

Cop shoots, kills family dog (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Local Officers Kill Dog, Then Use Taser On Dog’s Deaf Elderly Owner (KWTX)

Maryland SWAT Team Raids Home on Hunch, Hits Husband in Face, Handcuffs Couple, and Shoots Family Dog — and Finds No Evidence of a Crime (via Jonathan Turley)

Answering alarm, Oakland police kill family dog (SF Gate)

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16

01 2012