Friday, December 09, 2005

Dow Jones crew holdin' it down

With my collegues at a year-end party for foreign correspondents in Korea. The guy in white clothes with thick makeup on isn't my collegue. He's a famous fashion designer that's often mocked for how he looks as you can see. I'm no big fan of him either, but well, he seemed to be a nice person. Oh, I look so proud.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

New Orleans, September 2005

When I first saw the horrific images of New Orleans on television, I thought it can't be America. But then I'm starting to think this may be real America, realer than ever.

Bodies of black people pile up, black people shoot and loot, and those images are broadcast across the world. Yeah, Katrina hit the whole city, but only those who had been underrepesented and misrepresented since the day America was born are left dying in the city. After all, there's nothing surprising about those images, because we've been seeing the images of helpess, savage black folks for a long time, not just in America, but in other parts of the world too.

So maybe that's why the U.S. government thought it could ignore them this time too. And it's utterly disappointing because I thought America had been making some progress in adressing racism. I, and many other naive people were wrong. Katrina not only drown the city but also exposed the ugly facet of American society. It's just that racism has evolved into a new form in a way that nobody talks about it under normal circumstances. But in an abnormal time like this, America and that hypocrisy broke down miserably.

Why are we seeing a bunch of soldiers with scary looks and guns wandering the city rather than rescue crews like fire fighters or something? The city was flooded, but there's no war going on. What are guns for now in that city? They need food, water and help, not bullets and coercing. Did Bush spend so much time talking about bombing Iraq that he confuses a natural disaster with a war? Or does he just think folks with different skin colors from his are not just his people so he can treat them like shit?

The way Bush administration responded was undoubtely inhumane, but it was also politically so stupid to make himself look this bad. Even cold-hearted Wall Mart is trying to look like it's offering some help. He could be so negligent, because he doens't care about those people, it's just simple as that.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Journalist loses control

He seems to be in big trouble. He doesn't seem to have learned how to get drunk properly in journalism school.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Engrish talk

I've been pretty busy over the past couple of weeks. I got sick over my food, visited my grandma, have been hanging out, and on top of all that, am still trying to find a decent job.

Speaking of the job hunting, this is what I do when I try to find a job. I go to a job site everyday and type in "English." I do that, because I want an English writing job. Then, I get hundreds of results, ranging from teaching to writing to translating, and it's just amazing how there are so many English-related jobs in a non-English speaking country like Korea.

Korea is officially in love with the English language. I guess it was a couple years ago. Some rich yet dumb parents got their children's tongue trimmed so that they can pronounce English words more easily. There are thousands of English schools all across the country and native speakers of English are always welcome. The government is trying to build an "English town" where people speak English and write official documents in English. Thousands of students go abroad to study Engish for a year or so, without which it's now become almost impossible get a job. In this country, speaking English, preferebly with nice and smooth American accent, is a prestige that people yearn for, oftentimes for nothing.

English education is now a mamoth industry that generates billions of dollars each year and it's been growing like no other industries have. And, English-language media here is a weird hybrid between education and journalism. People in English-speaking countries read their newspapers to get information. And people here read English-language newspapers to study English. As long as they are written in English and can feed them with new vocabularies and idioms, people don't complain about the quality. So this puts English-language journalism here in a really weird position. If people don't care about what they get from reading, what do you write for? Of course, foreigners here rely on English-language media, but they only represent a small portion of the audience.

Your readers would underline your sentences and frantically try to memorize them, like they do when they study with their textbooks. Contents don't matter to them, because study materials are meant to be boring anyway. Doing real journalism as a career is nothing but a remote fantasy to me now. Do it in Korean? Well, I don't think so, Korean-language media have their own problems I don't wanna deal with and you don't wanna know.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Military goes naked

Another military story.

See, in Korea, every male citizen has to do the complusory military service. It's two years long, and you live on the base, almost completely separated from the outside world. And this is what happens when you do that to 20-year old men.

As I haven't been in the military yet, I don't have a complete grasp of what this is all about - I'll find out pretty soon. I can see it's a kind of physical punishment, but I don't really understand what this does to the military morale and stuff. Or maybe, many days of separation from girls can homosexualize guys.

I've heard so much bad stuff about the military here, from my father, friends, uncles, cousins, etc. You walk 80 miles a night, they beat the hell out of you, you do anything they tell you to do, blah blah blah. As a flat-footer, walking that long distance kind of worried me, but I wasn't really scared of those things. But these photoes do terribly scare me. Gosh, I don't wanna be the subject of sexual pleasure for guys.

Or maybe it's just that all the stuff I've heard about the military wasn't substantiated enough for me to take it seriously. But then, with the help of digital technologies and Internet, I'm actually seeing it. And now I have to take it serisouly, hoping the revealing of these ugly truths would help make things better. Internet is a cursed blessing, really.

Who's to blame?

I guess it was about a week or two ago. A Korean soldier, known as Private Kim, allegedly opened fire and threw hand grenades at his collegues sleeping inside the barrack. The incident left eight killed and two wounded.

Then, the military's own investigation team said Kim's motive was to retaliate on verbal abuses he received from his seniors. They went on to accuse Kim of premeditating the shooting. According to the military, Kim was a videogame freak, oh well. So now we have a brutal murdurer who mercilessly killed his friends over some unkind words.

Now the whole media make him such, and the whole nation has turned against him. He's the one to blame, because the crazy m.f went on a shooting spree just because he couldn't put up with some bad-mouthing, part of daily military lives that everyone else takes for granted and has no trouble with. Seriously, the military did such a great job at pointing fingers at Kim that the whole nation just believes he's the bad guy. Mad props to the military for holding that press conference with the survivors attending, who were sobing and weeping all the way through what looked rather like a well-orchestrated show.

The problem is we've never heard a word from Kim about why he did it. It was the military that told us what he said. In fact, we've never even seen his face. Well, maybe what the military told the public indeed came out of Kim's mouth, but who knows what they did to make Kim say what they wanted him to say. Who knows how much was manupulated and fabricated? Better yet, technically, he's not exactly convicted yet, but does he even have a lawyer? With one military body doing all the investigation, it looks like the case has been all wrapped up nicely and everyone's happy. Yeah, the military found an easy and quick way out - blame one individual for all, rather than looking into problems of the entire system that actually might have driven Kim to do that. As long as everyone's happy with that, who cares? The military knows that well, because they've been doing that years after years.

Time would go on, and people will forget about what happened. Kim will live rest of his life locked up in prison, and people will stop talking about him. Wanna know the truth? Get over it. And move on, just like everyone else.