English Spectrum-Gate continues!

Korean Tabloid Crap, Stupid Foreigner Tricks.

UPDATE VII:

The Party Pooper offers his own appraisal of English Spectrum-Gate.

UPDATE VI:

CBS is now reporting that there is considerable concern that the online fury may lead to offline violence directed at [primarily male] foreign teachers. Personally, I wouldn’t worry that much, as a lot of this seems like Netizens blowing off steam, but you never know with things like this, especially if there are confrontations and stupid things get said. Anyway, foreign males would be cautioned to be on their best behavior — especially if they are with an Asian women — for the time being, especially because some of the online forums are calling for people to gather in places frequented by barbarians in order to give “insolent foreigners” a hard time. I doubt many will actually do so, but still, CBS warns me, and now I warn you. Personally, I think this is a non-story (although, as the Oranckay pointed out, a fine example of Internet psychology), but I’d prefer it to be a non-story that passes without incident.

BTW, just so I can make my feeling clear on this, I would really hate for people reading this to come away with the impression that Koreans are jackasses. They are not. Just as the outrageous posts that ignited this issue are hardly representative of foreigners in Korea, one should not judge this country by the reckless behavior of certain segments of the Korean Netizen community.

UPDATE V:

CBS is now on the story. In particular, it focuses on the shock and outrage directed at the “how to molest your students” post (which now has been taken down) over at Korean ESL . Being a relatively responsible news agency, however, CBS did say that some Netizens are pointing out that well-meaning foreign teachers shouldn’t suffer because of this. I don’t believe many of the people posting on this are actually saying that, but it was nice of CBS to think so.

BTW, wasn’t Korean ESL formed basically by a bunch of guys who got kicked off the forums of Dave’s ESL Cafe? Please correct me if I am mistaken. If so, you’d hope that one of the news agencies covering this story might make a mention of it, as it would be a real shame for such a post on such a site to be taken in some quarters as representative of foreign English teachers in Korea. Much of the criticism being leveled at the industry is justified, of course, but there is a huge difference in saying that many (if not most) English teachers are unqualified (which is probably true) and saying that many English teachers like to screw their underaged students, which I think some of the reports might unintentionally (I’d hope) lead some readers to believe.

UPDATE IV:

Hey, even Dog Stew is talking about this!

UPDATE III:

The aftershocks of English Spectrum-Gate may now be moving offline, according to the whores at Dailian (then again, as a blogger, I guess I don’t have the right to call anyone a whore). Korean Netizens are now demanding that the “foreign English teachers who degraded Korean women” be punished, and are planning to hold demonstrations and take legal measures to ensure that justice is done.

The Korean portal site Daum has also started a petition signing campaign to expel “low-quality foreign teachers.” They’re looking for 10,000 signatures, and they’ve got about 3,931. The campaign is also recruiting a “[Counter-] Yankee Strike Force.” They say the use of violence is prohibited, but they’d like to get together and hold a protest demonstration. There targets are 1) the “Yankee bastards” who put up the instructions on how to molest female students, and their accomplices; 2) the “Yankee bastards” who threw the wild party in Hongik; 3) the club owner; 4) institute owners who hire ex-cons or under-qualified teachers; 5) as a “bonus,” drunk GIs who might be in the Shinchon area starting fights with local citizens. Membership is open to all Korean nationals (no kyopos allowed, apparently — perhaps the organizers read this) with “wholesome thoughts (more like worldview).” They’ll meet at 6:00 p.m. Saturday near the front gate of Hongik. Be there… or be square.

The BBS of the signature campaign is full of condemnation for under-qualified foreign teachers, with things (selected by Dailian) like “The issue of low-quality foreign teachers has been a problem for a long time,” and, “It’s now the time to worry about the problem of substandard ‘foreign’ teachers in terms of society.”

Another angry Netizen called for strengthened immigration inspections, with under-qualified teachers being booked and fined and legal measures taken against their employers.

The (mostly) boys over at Anti-English Spectrum are trying to take legal action against the foreigners who wrote the offensive post over at English Spectrum and the Hongdae club where the infamous party took place. They already tried to hand a complaint to Ilsan Police Station (which was returned for lack of evidence), and are now in the process of collecting additional materials. They are also planning signature campaigns and street-side demonstrations to expel unqualified foreign teachers and — get a load of this — making plans to turn this into a social issue to “set straight our twisted club culture and correct foreigners’ biases about Korean women.” The funny part about that is that if you actually read what they have to say about Korean women in their forum, well, let’s just say much of it is less than flattering or empowering. Definitely not the kind of stuff that will correct any biases or stereotypes.

Anyway, the Hongik club where this all took place isn’t taking things laying down. The owner of the establishment is considering legal action against Anti-English Forum, presumably for defamation, and claims that the party in question wasn’t as depraved as the Internet photos would suggest. And besides, he said, those kinds of things happen in the Hongik clubs all the time.

You know, if I were a GI, I might be enjoying this all. God knows I’ve heard and read enough bitching from English teachers about how the military types make them look bad. Well, 8th Army personnel, here’s your chance for a little payback. Next time you see an English teacher, tell him you were thinking of growing your hair long, but you didn’t want Koreans to confuse you for being a hagwon instructor.

UPDATE II:

My Daily is now reporting that two of the girls involved in the “Ask the Playboy” party are pissed. They complained:

“The pictures don’t make up the whole party. Some media and Netizens are looking at the photos and making us out to be prostitutes. It’s unfair that people are criticizing us without knowing what happened before and after during the party.”

“After those photos went around the Internet, I couldn’t go to work. I haven’t show up for work for the last two days because I was afraid my coworkers may have seen them. I’m afraid my parents may have seen them.”

The girls claim that the party they attended was not a “sex party,” as many on the Internet are suggesting, and are complaining that they’ve been unable to live their lives since the photos were released without having their faces blotted out, despite the fact that the girls are ordinary citizens. On Friday, they asked the police’s cyber crimes division to investigate some of the media and websites that distributed the photos.

One of the girls complained:

“Shouldn’t the media at least ask those in the photos about the circumstances in which the photos were taken? Netizens are just looking at the photos and the critical posts and using them as grounds to condemn us.”

She added:

The essence of this incident was the controversy over the abusive things said by the foreign teachers, but the criticism has now turned to the girls who were in the photos, and about this, we are planning to respond by getting a lawyer.”

The girls said that rashly distributing photos of ordinary people on the Internet can be quite harmful to those involved in terms of defamation of character and violation of the right to their own likeness. They also expressed hope that no more people involved would suffer as a result of the distribution of the photos.

Oh, and the Hankyoreh’s BBS has some of the problematic material up for those who want to know why everyone’s so pissed. Enjoy.

UPDATE I:

Man, and you wonder why we have the reputation we have sometimes.

Original post here. Sick, but I gather from the header that it was meant to test the limits of the BBS’s moderators rather than a serious post on how to molest little children. But then again, I don’t read these sites, so how the hell should I know.

Now on to our regularly scheduled program…

ORIGINAL POST:

English Spectrum-Gate still smolders, with Netizens expressing shock and anger at photos taken from a forum party that featured big-nosed, hairy Western barbarians and young Korean women engaging in serious nonsense.

An anti-English Spectrum website over at Naver revealed the name of the Hongik club (and its website) where English Spectrum’s “Ask the Playboy” forum held a party that featured wet T-shirt contents (see photo gallery). Or to put it the way “Ask the Playboy” did (which got posted on DC Inside):

Party humpers,

Just so there’s no confusion…English Spectrum and I will be hosting two parties at Mary Jane’s in Hongdae on BOTH the 14th (Friday night) and the 15th (Saturday night).

Each party will be slightly different. On the 14th, it will be much the same as the last two; meaning some sex in the female bathroom, some late night dance floor grinding and partial nudity, mixed in with the addition of some clothes-allergic professionals who should be making a guest appearance that night.

On the 15th, we will be holding an MC’ed Sexy Game Night. We will be selling drinks at an exceptionally low price from 9-12 to get everyone hammered prior to the games. From 12 to about 4 am, we’ll play a bunch of team-oriented, guy-girl-guy-girl games, each for small prizes. This will be mixed in with a fair amount of dancing (hip hop and otherwise) intermissions.

Both nights will be fun, but a little bit different. If you can make one or the other or both, please come and join the fun. The 15th will be a good time to meet new people and develop some interesting relationships.

The Playboy

The administrators of English forum have put up an explanation that says (the Korean version, anyway), “We regret that several indiscreet users made bad posts that had nothing to do with our intention… We’ve erased the relevant bulletin boards.” Of course, when you make an “Ask the Playboy” forum and have your own T-shirts printed, this explanation is less than convincing.

The Mary Jane Bar, however, was slightly less than apologetic. “Are women all foreigners’ whores if they dance with Westerners? This is a nonsensical affair born of cultural ignorance and extreme nationalism.” This just got the Netizen community even more pissed.

About the photos, one Netizen said he was “Rightly shocked.” He angrily condemned “Korean college girls who sell their bodies to learn English.”

Nice set on the one in the middle. Anyway, a commenter over at the Anti-English Spectrum cafe wrote, “The photos seemed like some sort of sex party… Not all Korean women are like that, but since women who will become the mothers of Korea are like that, things are bleak.” He also said, “I’m frustrated because Korea doesn’t have a future without good wives and wise mothers (Korean: hyeonmu yangcheo).

Another commenter said, “I don’t know if they are college girls, office girls or some other sort, but the English you learn from selling your body is body language, not real English… Looking at the pictures, it seems like they were on drugs.” He added, “I think we should find and reveal the identities of the site’s administrators and shame them.”

Now, if I might be permitted to make a comment or two, as I think I’ve earned that right having just spent the last hour or so going through all the mindless shit that’s being posted on this incredibly lame story (which is, nonetheless, the No. 3 most looked at story over at Naver), I find it extremely ironic that the Joongang Ilbo (and it ran another piece on it today) should get itself so bent out of shape about someone degrading Korean women. The Joongang Ilbo-owned Ilgan Sports, after all, runs its own adult-content section. Heck, most of the risque pics that often grace this blog — such as this one over at Yahoo! Korea (currently No. 5) — come straight from Korea’s tabloid press via major Internet portal sites. If you think the buttheads over at English Spectrum degrade Korean women, they are nothing compared to the Korean media, which regularly depicts women as sexual playthings. I’m not going to get myself tied up in a knot over this, as like any heterosexual male, I enjoy seeing attractive women in advanced states of undress, and I find posting tabloid crap much more rewarding than posting about North Korea. But if the Joongang Ilbo — currently the largest online newspaper in Korea (Chosun still leads in hardcopy, though 🙂 ) — wants to defend the honor of Korean womanhood against the degradations of barbarian men, it first needs to ask itself what role it has played in fetishizing its own women. And the same goes for many of the Netizens so full of rage about photos and commentary that differ little from similar material you can read in Korean elsewhere. Heck, read through some of the online comments being made. If the original forum and photos represent white male neocolonialism at its ugliest, some of the male Netizen responses represent little more than tribal patriarchy. Like I said, having suffered the indignity of surfing through some of this shit, I’ll allow myself that comment. Anyway, I’m curious as to what women’s groups would have to say about this fiasco, because so far, the online dialogue (if you could call it that) seems primarily male.