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2018-06 10

[Opinion][Op-ed] Hidden Camera Epidemic

More than 12,000 women from different cities gathered in front of Hyehwa Station in Seoul on May 19th. Chanting slogans such as “fair investigations” and “the same punishment for the same crime,” the protest reflected the collective emotional response from women that were triggered by the Hongik University male nude model hidden camera incident. The perpetrator of the incident was arrested just 12 days after the crime, whereas for incidents victimizing females, even when evidence is "collected and taken to the police,” they are said to be “impossible to find the perpetrator.” Such uproar comes from a deeply rooted mix of fear and distress that most South Korean women face everyday regarding hidden camera issues. Hyehwa Station protest on May 19th against supposedly biased investigation processes, after the Hongik University male nude model incident. (Photo courtesy of Yonhap News) The South Korean government censors all obscene materials including hardcore pornography. As it is illegal to distribute porn or any explicit display of sexual acts or body parts, there is an alarming amount of hidden camera (spy cam) footage or revenge porn (filmed with spy cams) online. Such illicit footage is often shot discreetly without the consent of the participants with smartphones or cameras, and are distributed without their knowledge. The problem has been aggravated over the years by the availability and accessibility of miniature cameras that come in all shapes and sizes. The proliferation of spy cam footage and revenge porn has always been an issue. In 2004, the government advised all cellular phone manufacturers to disable the muting of the shutter sound for camera phones in order to prevent inappropriate pictures being taken in crowded public places. However, around 2010, spy cameras became easily available for average citizens thanks to the advancement of technology. According to a miniature camera dealer in Yongsan, cameras in the form of smartphone cases, business card wallets, car keys, water bottles, and lighters are popular. There are even miniature cameras with night vision so one can film in the dark without being caught. Such cameras cost from around 100k won to 250k won, and one can film for about 3.5 hours max. (Photo courtesy of Yonhap News) According to statistics provided by the Korean National Police Agency, the number of crimes involving illegal photography and clips have increased sevenfold over the past few years, from 1,134 (2010) to 7,623 (2015), consisting of 84 percent women and 2.3 percent men. In 2018, 1,288 suspects in hidden-camera cases caught in January through mid-May were nearly all men. Such data naturally drives women to pick up defensive habits to protect themselves from sexual predators, such as scanning the corners of public bathrooms, and checking holes and nails in unusual spots. Of course, the issue does not solely target women, as men are also victimized at times as seen in the cases of Sogang University, Korea University, Sungkyunkwan University, and Hanyang University (ERICA campus), where males using restrooms also fell victims to hidden cameras. Starting from May 17th, 100days of concentrated crack down on female-targeted sexual crimes began, while the police partnered with universities such as the Hanyang ERICA Campus, for hidden camera inspections of campus bathrooms. (Photo courtesy of The fear does not just come from becoming a victim, but that the footage taken in all kinds of places may be shared on social media. Such footage is so difficult to take down, that out of 15,000 removal requests the Korea communications commission received over the past three years, only 3.7 percent (570) were erased. For some victims, they end up in prostitution after losing their jobs and social status, forced to spend about three million won each month to keep the contents off the internet. It seems that the aggravation of the issue has three main causes. First, the problem is that spycam or revenge porn is seen as just another genre of porn catering to different tastes, instead of as a criminal violation of women’s privacy. Supply and demand always have a correlation, and to prevent this, thorough sexual education on these subjects is definitely needed. Second, there needs to be a more specified legal definition of obscenity, allowing a stronger crackdown on, enforcement of, and punishment for these types of crimes. Lastly, awareness needs to be raised in order to prevent unhelpful police officers who fail to suffice the victims’ needs. Thankfully, legilation that would force perpetrators to pay for all the costs of deleting the footage they had spread, among other amendments, are in the process of being implemented in hopes of strengthening the prevention of and the prosecution process of digital sexual crimes. Park Joo-hyun

2018-05 21

[Opinion]The Future of Korean Energy Development

As a country with very scarce natural energy resources, Korea depends heavily on foreign oil fields and mines to facilitate domestic energy production. With the recent success of investments in the marine oil fields in Vietnam, the national discussion on the current state of foreign energy projects and a prospective direction for policy improvements has emerged. The reason that the investment in the oil field in Vietnam has been in the spotlight is due to the patience that was required for its success. Having purchased the rights to investigate and draw oil from the area in 1992, a notable victory considering that the competitors were global oil conglomerates, it took a lot long for the mines to actually start generating surpluses. The 1997 financial crisis had taken an especially heavy toll, as the lack of foreign currency led to the disposal of a considerable number of foreign mines. However, some that were retained with great patience are now incredibly profitable. A photo of an oil reserve off the coast of Vietnam (Photo courtesy of Oil & Gas Vietnam) The nature of foreign energy projects requires extreme patience and discretion. Aside from the vast amount of capital necessary for investigations and infrastructure, it takes about 7 to 15 years to see the generation of profit. Furthermore, the odds are against the discovery of oil or gas lines in the first place, leading to an approximately 15 percent chance of successful investment. An example case of failure in foreign energy investment is the purchase of shares in the copper mines of Santo Domingo, Chile. With nearly 500 billion Korean won worth of investments made, the project seems to be doomed without having extracted a single kilo of copper. Among numerous reasons for this devastating failure, the predominant reason concluded by experts is the shortfall of government policies and supervision. A photo of the coppermines in Santo Domingo, Chile (Photo courtesy of Mining Technology) According to experts, the domestic method of assessing performance is errored, as it does not distinguish resources that can or cannot be delivered to the domestic market. Furthermore, the structure of foreign projects leaves the blame of failure on public corporations. There was also a lack of a supervising entities to overlook the projects. Aside from policy errors, there is also a lack of proficient analysis of projects. According to Jung Woo-jin, the former head of the Resource Development Strategy Division of The Korea Energy Economics Institute, there is a dire need to distinguish the causes of foreign project failures from policy failures, corruption, and oil price fluctuations. With the new government claiming to be reforming the energy sector, much discretion is called for in the design and implementation of policies regarding foreign energy projects. Furthermore, aside from the success of resource extractions, the government must also set new standards for the future of energy consumption. With recent research findings that have linked the national level of fine dust to thermal power plants, it is clear that our current method of energy production and consumption is not sustainable. The government is therefore burdened with the task of conducting a great deal of discussion and implementing improvements to ensure the sustainable development of our nation. The levels of fine dust have grown increasingly hazardous in Korea, with many concerns facing the energy sector after the discovery that linked fine dust levels with residue from thermal energy plants (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

2018-05 15

[Opinion][Op-ed] Not a Princess Anymore

On April 2018, the former vice president of Hanjin Group (a South Korean conglomerate), Cho Hyun-min (also known as Emily Cho), was accused of splashing a cup of water on a member of an advertisement agency. As she is the younger sister of Cho Hyun-ah (also known as Heather Cho), infamously known for her "nut rage," the media and the public paid close attention to the issue. People have generally been raging at the Cho family’s attitude of acting as a royal family. This negative sentiment of the public has led to more testimonials, exposure, and proof of the past behaviors of the Cho family. Cho Hyun-ah (Heather) is leaving the court after her second trial. (Photo courtesy of Hankyoreh) The peanut-return On a Korean airplane at John F. Kennedy International Airport heading to Incheon, Heather Cho was on her way back home in a first-class seat. A flight attendant offered her a bag of macadamia nuts as part of the service. She famously became outraged by the fact that the package was given unopened rather than having the nuts opened and served on a plate. Cho then made the flight attendant kneel down and apologize, and she repeatedly struck his knuckles with her tablet PC. She did not stop there and even made the whole plane with more than 200 people aboard return to the airport just to force the flight attendant off the plane. This incident was dubbed as the "peanut-return" or the "nut rage," and became an internationally notorious story. Cho was sentenced to 12 months in prison for obstructing aviation safety, and she resigned her vice chairman position from Hanjin Group. Although she only served three months and returned to management soon, many Korean people still remember the incident as one of the many cases of chaebol , or family-run conglomerates, abusing their power. Commonly referred to as gabjil, it is not surprising anymore if the chairman of a big company yells at his driver for trivial issues or at his children for mocking "commoners" on social media. However, Cho Hyun-ah’s behavior was one of the most extreme cases that Korean people had ever heard of, and that is why people were angry at the whole family when her sister Cho Hyun-min turned out to be treating her underlings with zero respect as well. Cho Hyun-min (Emily) and her short apology on her Facebook wall which says, "I apologize for my foolish behavior." (Photo courtesy of SBS) The water-rage leading up to investigations After the accusation of her throwing a cup of water at a person during a meeting, there was the publication by an insider of recordings of her screaming at her staff. She did not hesitate to shout, scream, or swear, and she seemed to disregard others' ears. “Don’t you know who I am?”, “You are going to go and trash talk behind me, aren't you?”, and “I know people can hear,” are some of her words in the recordings. Most people's common sense informs them that a boss cannot physically or emotionally abuse his or her staff; however, it turned out that it wasseen as okay to do in the Cho family. Emily and Heather’s mother was also charged with physical violence towards Hanjin Group employees. These sets of behaviors made the public as well as the employees outrage. About 400 former and present workers of Korean Air went to the streets of Gwanghwa-mun, demanding the Cho family to step down from management. The pilot labor union also demonstrated with candle lights for the same matter. Several posts petitioned the Blue House to request that the name of Korean Air change, as their behavior is damaging the reputation of Korea as a whole. The one with the most signatures was signed by 5,136 people. A whole episode on the 9th of May's KBS's "In Depth 60 Minutes" was dedicated to the Cho family’s illegal deeds and misbehaviors. The public rage also led to additional testimonies on possible tax evasion by the family. Cho Yang-ho, the chairman, is now accused of evading inheritance tax totaling 5 billion won, and, based on a number of whistle-blowers, there is now an investigation looking into uncovering the illegal smuggling of goods . As the gabjil culture is fairly spread in Korean culture, regardless of the amount of wealth one owns, it seems quite hopeful that people are trying to change such an atmosphere by condemning the arrogant, disrespectful behavior of the chaebol families. We should keep an eye on the issue of Hanjin Group’s heiress issues but also on our everyday lives where gabjil can happen much more often, although on a lighter scale. Kim So-yun

2018-05 07

[Opinion][Op-ed] Cautious Step Towards a Peaceful Peninsula

Until just a few days ago, North and South Korea had different time zones even though the two nations are basically part of one land. According to state media, North Korea turned its country’s clocks forward by 30 minutes beginning at 23:30 local time on Friday, a week after the inter-Korean summit. While the extra 30 minutes was originally a stand against “wicked Japanese imperialists,” the new time zone was seen by the press as “the first practical step” in speeding up unification. Rough past After World War II ended, the Korean peninsula was divided into a communist North and a democratic South. As one of the few remaining communistic countries with closed borders, North Korea was always the isolated evil minion constantly developing nuclear weapons as its protection measure against the “threats of the outer world.” The news was constantly full of stories about how it had successfully launched a missile, or how it was making progress with its nuclear weapons as a response whenever the U.S., Japan, or any other country strongly criticized them or implemented sanctions against them. After several missile launches, it pushed the U.S. and South Korea to execute major war drills that involved three American aircraft carrier strike groups in a massive show of force, which only drew the anger of North Korea. Things only grew worse as the U.S. and North Korea blacklisted each other as terrorist countries, and the rogue nation launched a ballistic missile that gave cause for more sanctions by other countries. Later on, even China presented a united front with South Korea over the North Korean standoff. Kim Jong-un (leader of North Korea - left) and Moon Jae-in (South Korean President - right) crossing the demarcation line (Photo Courtesy of After the North’s missile launches and its sixth nuclear test, the relations between North and South Korea were already at their lowest level, which put many around the world in fear of a possible outbreak of war. There were numerous pranks on Youtube about how North Korea had launched nuclear missiles headed towards the U.S.; the fact that many believed them showed how aware they were of the tensions and how much they feared the instability. Even the countless sanctions pushed forward by countries around the world seemed futile at this point. This was a serious matter, as the outbreak of war in the Far East involving both of the Koreas, China, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. could only mean a World War III. Luckily, this downhill road changed its course as the North started to show interest in peaceful talks. 4.27 Inter-Korean summit The summit took place after the two sides held several meetings in preparation for joint attendance at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Surprisingly, the North initially brought forward the idea of holding peaceful talks which would even include the North Korean nuclear weapons program and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The historical moment for the two countries, after more than a decade, was held outside the Peace House at Panmunjom. The meeting started out with Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands over the demarcation line, which was broadcasted live. Route of the talks held in Panmunjom (military compound in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries) (Photo Courtesy of After a full day of sharing Korean traditional dishes, conducting ceremonies such as the tree-planting ceremony which used soil and water from both sides, and marching with the South Korean military honor guard, the summit came to a peaceful end with several positive outcomes. These were all stated in the Panmunjom Declaration signed happily by both countries including commitments to “a nuclear-free Korean peninsula,” an end to “hostile activities” between the two countries, the changing of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into a “peace zone,” the cessation of propaganda broadcasts, arms reduction in the region pending the easing of military tension, a push for four-way talks involving the U.S. and China aimed at turning the armistice that ended the Korean war into a peace treaty, the reunion of families that were divided by the war, and further joint participation in sporting events including this year’s Asian Games. Cautious optimism Whilst many may release a sigh of relief and look forward to a unified Korea with no more nuclear threats, some take a more cautious stance as to why Kim even agreed to hold a summit in the first place. One of several reasons why Kim may have opened up is the sanctions that acted as a new reality check. According to data, North Korea’s economy has been taking a hit from the sanctions as its exports declined by 30-35% last year. China played a major role in this as it is North Korea’s biggest trading partner. Another critical view of the summit was that while the meeting was encouraging, the long history of North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons should quell any over-optimistic about the situation. Kim and Moon during the tree-planting ceremony. (Photo Courtesy of It is true that Kim’s interest in holding peace summits and being open to and gladly signing a treaty that is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula despite the unresolved issue of the presence of American troops, do seem rather abrupt. This is especially true since the Panmunjom Declaration did not specify what Kim expected in return for abandoning his nuclear weapons, which were supposed to be the North’s best deterrent against the “hostile U.S.” Thus, this huge step towards a peaceful Peninsula definitely seems a bit confusing. Was it simply because past South Korean presidents were bad at negotiating? Is it because Moon is exceptionally open and inviting? Is it really because Kim felt the threat of a failing economy and a failing regime? Whatever the true intentions behind Kim’s sudden change in stance is, the 2018 inter-Korean summit and the Panmunjom Declaration definitely left a mark on history as a starting point for peace, with all eyes from around the world watching it full of hope. Park Joo-hyun

2018-04 30

[Opinion]0416, Four Years Later

On the 16th of April 2014, the Sewol Ferry caused huge shock not only to the citizens in our country, but those all around the world. 304 passengers were determined dead or lost among 476 people on board, as the ferry sank in the middle of the sea near Jindo. Even though four years has past since then, a lot of questions are left unresolved. (Click HERE to read more about the timeline of the Sewol Ferry). Facing the fourth year after this tragedy, a movie called The Day, The Sea was released on the 12th of April. Focusing on the initial cause The poster for the fim The Day, The Sea with the line "The unforgettable day, the sea that knows eveything." (Photo courtesy of Naver Movie) The movie The Day, The Sea is a political and societal documentary film that focuses on the accident of the Sewol Ferry. While the media exclusively focused on the reason the maritime police could not rescue the passengers on board, the director of this movie, Kim Ji-young, focused on what caused this ferry to sink. Journalist Kim Uh-jun also participated in this process, along with 17,000 citizens who wished to give better a foundation to the research of this film. After three and a half years, this movie debuted, making a breakthrough of 270,000 viewers within a week, despite the sparse theaters showing the film. This movie is divided into six chapters showing the process of the director and the journalist’s research. Through various reenactments in addition to 2D and 3D animation, the director scientifically and objectively approached the matter. Testimonies from the survivors and crew as well as restored video clips from CCTVs and black boxes were thoroughly examined along with the announcements the government made. The ship sank to the left even though they made a sharp left turn. According to the law of inertia (the force that can be easily experienced when our body is forced to the front when a bus makes a sudden halt), that is not possible unless there was another impact. The results of the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which is an automatic record made by the ship to show its location, had two different versions even though they were both given by the government. Making matters even more complicated, a recording of the crucial 20 minutes during the actual accident was somehow not saved. The movie had to go thorugh endless rechecking of information. (Photo courtesy of AtNine Film) This movie presents a theory based on the data they collected and analyzed. Through endless questioning and research, they come to the most reasonable explanation they can deduce, but at the same time they don't show conviction in their conclusion. The director mentioned in his interview. “This theory was posited because we couldn’t think of a more reasonable cause. If there is any other explanation based on enough evidence, I simply hope that my ideas can be any kind of help to uncover the truth.” Outside the movie The process of data evaluation wasn’t the only obstacle the director faced. The protection of their own data also tormented the team. In the midst of the creation of this movie, there was an incident where the CPU of their cine-editor was damaged. “I had a fellow director making a documentary related to the Sewol Ferry who had the same experience as me. He had a CCTV in his room and saw a trespasser in a white mask bend their CPU, reassemble the machine, and walk back out again,” said Kim Ji-yeong in an interview outside. After that, a designated person had to take care of the reference room 24 hours a day for three and a half years. He even had to create a personal vault built into the wall to keep their data safe. Kim Uh-jun and Kim Ji-young (from left) talking about the movie (Photo courtesy of V App) This movie, as the director mentioned, cannot be blindly trusted even though their theory of the tradegy's cause is intensely rooted from facts they collected. However, this movie leaves a big question mark to every single audience member - “why?” Why would there be different records when one day, one ship, sank only once, at a certain time? Now our society is looking at the second Social Disaster Working Party to ascertain the truth, four years after this disaster. Some might say they are still working on this matter. However, we should assiduously and precisely look back at this tragedy. Is the matter settled? Or is this something that has not yet even started? On Jung-yun

2018-04 23

[Opinion]Efforts to Improve Taxi Services

Uniforms are often used as a method to increase a sense of belonging in a more orderly environment. Since the end of 2017, corporation-owned taxi drivers of Seoul have started to wear uniforms, based on the city council's passing of a new framework ordinance on Seoul taxis. The policy is making a U-turn, as there had been regulations regarding the dress code of taxi drivers previously, which was aborted in 2011. Now, the reintroduction of the policy has led to some controversies on the surface. Why a U-turn? Since 2011, taxi drivers have been enjoying freedom in dressing, due to the halt of the regulation by the government. However, granting taxi drivers the freedom to dress with their own choice led to an increase in civil complaints related to this issue. The complaints were mainly due to the fact that taxi drivers had abused their privilege of a free dress code and wore clothes that actually induced displeasure for many taxi users. These included sleeveless undershirts, slippers and even hats that made it hard to confirm the identity of the driver. This was unacceptable considering that it is mandatory for all taxi drivers to provide an assured identity to their customers, by which they provide a safer environment for this particular form of transportation. The Taxi Union and Management has also maintained the need of a unified dress code. Taxis have often been called upon to answer for their inhospitable services. In order to overcome such criticism, the Taxi Union and Management has come to the conclusion that the implementation of a unified dress code can bring improvements in customer services and provide trust to customers. The problematic attire of taxi drivers that has caused displeasure (Photo courtesy of News ZUM) The new uniform provided to Seoul taxi drivers for winter (left) and summer (right) (Photo courtesy of Nocut News) Questioning the effect It has been agreed that Seoul city alone bore the entire cost of uniform supplies in the first year of implementation, and the taxi business corporates cover the following entailed costs in the future. Under this agreement, the city spent 1.6 billion Korean won in providing uniforms to around 35,000 taxi drivers in the first year of the policy's implementation. However, with around half a year passing after the initial execution of this new policy of providing the taxi drivers a uniform, there have been questions rising from among both the drivers and customers. In fact, many taxi users are still unaware of this half-year-old policy, perhaps due to the fact that many taxi drivers do not wear the dress shirt uniform, disregarding the new policy. Furthermore, taking into consideration that the main intention of this uniform policy was to renovate taxi-related service issues, the fact that many users still remain unware of any improvements indicates that the change and its effect have been mediocre. If there are significant enhancements in the provided services, taxi users would have noticed a change in the taxi business environment as the direct beneficiary. In either case, such unawareness by taxi users shows that this novel dress code is far from meeting its original intentions. A Seoul taxi driver wearing the newly provided uniform (Photo courtesy of Wikitree) An attempt in vain The taxi-drivers also have something to say about the newly applied uniform policy. Most taxi drivers are behind the wheel for more than ten hours on a daily basis. In this sense, a dress shirt may be highly inconvenient for those drivers. In addition, taxi drivers maintain that simply wearing a neat dress shirt does not directly lead to a desire to provide hospitable services to their users. Thus, although a neat dress code may seem more polite to taxi users, it is not directly related to the actual services that are provided to them. In light of these details, it is doubtful whether the standardized dress code policy for taxi drivers has produced successful outcomes. The original intentions of enhancing customer services based on a neat appearance have turned out to be moderate. Both the users and drivers have seen trivial benefits after the implementation of this uniform policy. Although, a six month period may be too short to judge the policy’s effectiveness, without considerable improvements, it seems hard to overturn such negative prospects. Rather than simply preparing a uniform, finding the more fundamental cause behind the users’ complaints and providing a fitter measure seems necessary. Choi Seo-yong

2018-04 17

[Opinion]Spring is Approaching

A wave of tension pervaded the country as April 3rd drew closer. It was the date of the North-South Joint Performance in Pyeongyang, the capital of North Korea. The abrupt developments in the relationship between North and South Korea following their co-participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics presented a peculiar situation for citizens. With conflicting sentiments of hope and wariness, the nation waited under a silent tension as the date of the performance grew near. The first cultural interaction of any kind between North and South Korea dates back to 1985. Most of the events were composed in a similar manner: the two countries would prepare a stage for performers and exchanged cultural contents in an effort to ease the sentimental disparities between the divided nations. However, such events were severely criticized by both sides, as they were evaluated as encouraging ideological competition underneath the formalities of the event. Accordingly, efforts to promote harmony gradually moved to the domain of sports, a realm more detached from political ideology. Such efforts eventually dried up as tensions between the nations heightened. The North-South unified team competing in the World Table Tennis Championship in 1991 (Photo courtesy of Yonhap News) Fortunately, this performance was a great success. It was a notable milestone, as it reestablished an air of hope for the public. It was one thing for us to see news reports on the recent growth of diplomatic interactions between North and South Korea, and another to see our favorite singers and K-pop idols performing in what we have grown to perceive as the most dangerous place in the world. Arguably being true, as the two countries are still in a state of ceasefire, the performers were technically behind enemy borders. Despite the nation’s composure, perhaps to the point of preceived indifference by the third party, everyone held their breath until the performers returned safely. Adding to the ripple of relief as the performance ended on a positive note, another noteworthy aspect of the event is its historical significance. Along with the co-participation in this year’s Winter Olympics, this was the first great amicable interaction between the divided nations in nearly a decade. The success of the event is even expected to facilitate further talks of cooperation in the North-South Korea Summit, which is scheduled to take place in the Joint Security Area of Panmunjeom on April 27th. The last summit was held in 2007, and this will be the third official summit between North and South Korea. A celebratory photo of the performers on the stage in Pyeongyang (Photo courtesy of Ilyosisa). The long drought of diplomatic and cultural interaction among the divided peninsula began with a gunshot incident in Geumgang Mountain in 2008, where a South Korean tourist was fatally shot by a soldier in North Korea. When North Korea failed to provide reliable support for their justification of the shooting, ties between the two countries began to crumble. The deterioration of the relationship quickly accelerated as North Korea began to pursue its military ambitions, engaging in nuclear experiments and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development, to the dismay of international society. As a result of the North's aggressive stance, people were confused to see the recent eagerness for cooperation by North Korea, and rightfully so. In light of the historical context, how this momentum of reconciliation plays out will greatly shape the public's perception of North Korea in the future. This is especially true for the younger generation, who will witness cooperation between the two countries for the first time. The current situation will exert massive influence on their manner of interaction in the decades to come. Needless to say, every diplomatic step must be taken with great discretion. On that note, the successful completion of the North-South Joint Performance in Pyeongyang is an indicator of a great start. "A good start is half the work" is how the old saying goes, but a good start is nevertheless, only half of the work. Further dedication to establishing a solid foundation for reconciliation and stability will ensure sustainable benefits to be reaped by both nations, and will perhaps be the key to finally ending the war. Lee Chang-hyun

2018-03 12

[Opinion][Op-Ed] #MeToo

Min Byung-doo, a member of the Korean National Assembly who was accused of sexual harassment through the widely spreading Me Too movement in South Korea, announced his decision to resign on the 10th of March, 2018. He is the first to voluntarily resign as a result of accusations brought forth by the Me Too movement. Likewise, the movement is gaining much power and influence in Korea, helping women from all walks of life to make their voices heard. The #Me Too movement is now a global movement. How it all started Now a global movement for women’s rights, Me Too was started in the United States in 2006 by Tara Burke and was popularized by Alyssa Milano. The movement gained international acknowledgment just last year when the renowned movie director Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and non-consensual sex by more than 80 women. Among the accusers, famous actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Eva Green were included. The phrase #MeToo started to be used on Twitter. The movement spread to other industries within the US, but also to other countries. Now it is estimated that the Me Too movement has been diffused to at least 85 countries worldwide including India, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Many of the cases involve people working in the same industry with male offenders in a higher position victimizing their female subordinates. Prosecutor Seo Ji-yeon on JTBC Newsroom. The screenshots subsequently say, 'What happened in 2010?' and 'Weren't there other people present, too?' (Photo courtesy of JTBC) Me Too, South Korea Korea, although a bit late, is catching up with the global trend. On January 29th, a brave prosecutor named Seo Ji-yeon reported her experience of sexual assault by her senior who, until this story was released on JTBC’s Newsroom, used to be the Justice Ministry’s Prosecution Bureau chief Ahn Tae-geun. She explained what happened at the funeral eight years ago, whether it was her intention or not, pulling the trigger of the Me Too movement in Korean society. Lee Jae-jung, previously a lawyer and now a congresswoman, showed her support the following day. Lee later shared her experience of sexual harassment, too. The Me Too movement in Korea then started to spread like a wildfire when students and staff anonymously accused renowned writers and celebrities. Poet Go Eun was one of the first big names to be reported. Lee Yoon-taek, Oh Tae-suk, Cho Geun-hyun, and the deceased Cho Min-gi followed in their wake. The movement that started with the legal industry was transmitted to the literary world and the film industry, where seniors and big names have god-like power over the wannabes. Men with power were accused of harassing or raping dozens of women in lower positions. Differences and problems; Korea is not a gender equal society Yet, there seems to be a significant difference between the Me Too movement in Korea and the US. While many famous actresses voiced out to report their experiences and publicly showed support to the movement in the US, the majority of the allegations made in Korea are anonymous. Some say that Korean women are putting less at stake by hiding behind anonymity, and that the movement can be misused to disgrace innocent people. There are already ‘believe-it-or-not’ stories of women threatening their ex-boyfriends or men they're in a hostile relationship with to ‘me-too’ them to the public. However, the truth behind so many Korean women choosing to wear the mask of anonymity to tell their stories is due to the presence of factual defamation and the secondary victimization by the public and the press. Factual defamation is a type of criminal offense where a person can be prosecuted for openly telling something about someone, although it is true. However, Korea still chooses to keep its factual defamation law, along with Myanmar, Kenya, and Indonesia, despite the advice from the United Nations Human Rights Committee to abolish the regulation in 2015. However, the Constitutional Court ruled factual defamation to be constitutional in the following year. It can be tough for victims of sexual violence to officially report the case to the police. That is due to the unique social atmosphere of Korea. Another reason is that there is an uncomfortable culture in Korea where the victim of sexual violence is often accused of being a gold digger or being the cause of the incident. Women luring men with the promise of sex and then threatening to report them to the police unless a settlement is paid is a scam called ‘flower-snakes (ggot-baem)’ in Korea. While only 0.05% of the total sexual violence cases turn out to be scams, it is often questioned whether the accusers are ‘real victims,' especially when the accused is a famous figure. The public's doubt and the press's articles written in an offender-friendly tone inflict secondary harm to the victims. In short, women in Korean society are already putting a lot at stake just by openly sharing their experiences. They could be prosecuted for hurting the offender’s reputation, be portrayed as a flower snake by the public, lose their job, or be counter-sued for calumny. Famous figures would have to put their entire career, as well as future opportunities, on the line to publicly support or participate in the Me Too movement. The fact that the participants of the movement are considered brave and the fact that women have to put their career at risk to tell the truth, shows how much is left for Korean society to improve to achieve equality. Kim So-yun

2018-03 06

[Opinion][Op-ed] The Backstage of the Olympics, Gwandong Hockey Center

The 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics finished successfully thanks to millions of people participating and lending a hand to the procedures of the Olympics. I myself also took part in the Gwandong Hockey Center, as a translator in the Sports Presentation Department (SPP) for 18 days. The actual field of the Olympics required much more work than normal people think and was concluded successfully due to the participants’ hard work. What was my job? The Olympics do not require solely the players on the field. For a game to run, announcers have to tell the crowd what’s going on and increase their excitement through music and videos. Various entertainment consisting of celebrity appearances and unique events during the intermission periods are also required. All of these tasks listed above are accomplished through the SPP. They mostly work inside the control room, divided as the audio, video, entertainment team and the announcers. Therefore, all of the videos, excluding the actual broadcast of the games, and all of the sound the spectators hear are the result of the SPP’s work. Within these complicated procedures, I worked as a translator on the video team, in the SPP of the Gwandong Hockey Center. The blue box seen in the center of the picture is the control room. As the Olympics are an international event, it is not only Koreans working behind the stage. On the video team, the team directors were American, with the rest of the video team – the editors, playback operators, camera directors and the runners being Korean. That meant that the translators had to know everything going on in the video team and had to make simultaneous translations during the whole Olympic period. Each person on the video team had their own roles, and translators had the extra job of writing daily reports related to all of the videos played that day. The SPPs schedule’ was decided by the number of games that day. People would go to work four hours before the start of the first game. The doors for the spectators open an hour and a half before the game, meaning they have to be fully ready in two hours. Therefore, when we had three games, we had to leave our accommodation at 7:20 a.m. in the morning and come back around 12:30 to 1:00 a.m. at night. People generally had four hours of sleep everyday and then continued their work. Playback operators checked new daily videos and kept track of them while the editors made new highlight videos of the games and various announcement videos. The camera directors and the runners went through the events and performances planned for the day, since their filming had to be played live on the electronic display board. All questions, instructions and comments were translated by me, including the cameras filming events and performances. Each and every one in the Olympics worked hard behind the scenes. The woman hockey, Team Corea Not only was Gwandong Hockey Center my workplace, but it was also the center of attention during the Olympics. North and South Korea’s unified team played in the Gwandong Hockey Center, pulling in great attention worldwide. Even though Team Corea lost their matches, media outlets around the world payed attention to the games and the incidents surrounding them. Personally, being able to watch all of the incidents going on in the arena, I was able to come back home with unique experiences. After Team Corea's game ended, loud cheers were heard in the arena. The cheer squad in red also caught the spectators' eyes during the game. During the first game of Team Corea, North Korea’s cheering squad was present in the arena. As I normally stand beside the stage before the game and during intermissions, I was able to have a full view of the spectators and was able to see flocks of red. Endless lines of women in red clothes entered, filling up the seats one by one in several groups all around the arena. They seemed to stay still, but all of a sudden, they started cheering all at once. They continued cheering during the pre-games and intermissions, with no one leaving for the bathroom whatsoever. Moreover, quite a lot of people from our country also participated in the cheers, making the arena even more active. This however resulted in all of the SPP outside the control room to have problems listening to the intercom, which was essential to continue our events and performances. As the translator, I stood with the camera director beside the stage and the speakers. I had already been struggling to hear over the loud noises, but I had to increase the volume of the intercom to the highest level in order to translate the director’s words accurately. The attendance of the cheer squad was indeed meaningful, but at the same time gave hardships to workers like us. There were a couple more incidents related to Team Corea’s games even after the first game. These gave me headaches as a staff. However, looking back at it, they were such unique experiences that no one else could ever have had. A group photo of the SPP crew. A lot more people than you think were behind the scenes during the Olympics. 18 days of lack of sleep and tension are now finished. Everyone was extremely stressed out and sharp to finish the Olympics successfully, but still had each other to rely on. I was able to meet such passionate, enthusiastic people in their own areas, and am extremely glad such a chance like this came across to me. On Jung-yun Photos by On Jung-yun