Sunday, July 22, 2007

Korean missionaries kidnapped in Afghanistan

More than 20 Korean missionaries were kidnapped by Taliban in Afghanistan, and Taliban is threatening to kill them unless the Korean government agrees to withraw its army from Afghnistan.

A similar incident happened barely three years ago, where a Korean man was kidnapped by terrorists in Iraq and ended up dead, and I remember how sympathetic all Koreans were for him.

I expected similar reaction this time, only to be surprised how little sympathy, if any, Koreans are showing. Some even say the Koreans are to blame for all the trouble they caused for the country, and they deserve to die because they volunteered to go there for their own interests at their own risk.

Well, for one, it shows how a lot of Koreans hate Cristians for their agressiveness in propagating their religion - you'll see what I'm talking about if you go to Korea , and get dragged by these Christians and preached on the street.

So it's interesting - although they don't seem to remember the fact that the man killed in Iraq was also a missionary and worked for a company in Iraq, supported by some Christian group, and I don't agree that any one deserves to die like that.

Also, what they say is logically flawed. By saying the Koreans are to blame because it would not have happened if they didn't go, they assume the Koreans provided a reason for Taliban to kidnap them. Which we don't know for sure, because Taliban hasn't really referred to any of the Koreans' activities in Afghanistan or their identity.

The Koreans didn't go there to get kidnapped; they just happened to be there. We don't know if Taliban kidnapped them because of what they did there; it's more likely Taliban kidnapped them to use them as a tool for negotiations with the Korean government. If anything, they are victims of politics - the Korean government provided a reason for Taliban to kidnap them after all.

But, on the other hand, it gets me to think about Christianity's audacity, which, in the end, is a hidden element in America's current war on terrorism, and historically has been a source of many conflicts.

The idea that you can just go to a country - never mind it's a muslim country - and help people by teaching them a foreign religion that is Christianity troubles me. What other religions do that? It is rooted in the idea that Christianity is a superior religion to anything else, so your mission is a holy one. It is indeed dangerous and ignorant thinking, and you don't do that unless you are 100% sure what you are doing and ready to die for your cause, in which case, your death is indeed soley a private matter of choice that doesn't have to be a public issue in the first place.

I wonder if the church that sent them to Afghanistan prepared the missionaries for this kind of extreme situation, and if they knew what they were walking into, or if they just thought they were going on a field trip for something that makes you look like a good person. The latter could well be the case, given reports saying they were walking outside in Afghanistan like it was Seoul. If so, it's a shame on the church and its utter hypocrisy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Korean O.G

From Korea Herald

Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn was arrested on Friday for his involvement in assault of six bar employees.

A judge at the Seoul Central District Court issued an arrest warrant for the nation's ninth largest conglomerate at 11 p.m. after he admitted part of charges during a three-hour court hearing.

Kim, 55, became the first conglomerate owner in Korea to be arrested for direct involvement in violent acts. He was arrested in 1993 on charges of violating foreign currency rules and was indicted in 2003 for providing slush funds to politicians. He was convicted in both cases.

The prosecution on Thursday asked the court to approve his arrest on six charges including assault, confinement and abduction, which could lead to a sentence of more than 22 years in prison.

Kim is suspected of being involved in the assault of six employees of a Seoul bar on March 8 after his 22-year-old son, Dong-won, was injured in a fight with the employees in a scuffle a few hours earlier.

The court also approved an arrest warrant for his top bodyguard.

"There is a concern over possible destruction of evidence," judge Lee Kwang-man said. He noted that the suspects had attempted to destroy evidence "by influencing accomplices and witnesses while the investigation was under way."

He was detained at Namdaemun Police Station in Seoul. The two could be held at the station for up to 10 days as police carry out supplementary investigations.

Five of the six victims have testified to being badly beaten by the chairman himself with a steel pipe while one was attacked by his son, after they were taken to a construction site at Mount Cheonggye in suburban Seoul.

Kim, who previously denied all charges, admitted yesterday that he went to the mountain area and battering the bar employees. But he denied wielding a steel pipe during the attacks.
After the hearing, he apologized to the public for the second time. "I once again apologize sincerely for causing trouble," he told reporters. "I hope there will no longer be a father as foolish as I."

Meanwhile, police said yesterday that three more people may have been beaten by Kim and that more witnesses confirmed his involvement.

According to witnesses, three more workers had been taken to Mount Cheonggye on the day of the assault, after bar owners paid them money to "pretend" they were the ones who has assaulted Kim's son. The three additional victims were not workers of the two bars, police said.
"We also secured statements from bar employees who witnesses Kim's assault on the bar owner," said an officer of Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency yesterday. "The witnesses appear to have kept silent, afraid of possible revenge from Kim."

Investigators also secured evidence that another gang leader, surnamed Chang, had mobilized his men following a request from Hanwha employees.

Police found from cell phone records that Chang made calls to gangsters and Hanwha employees on March 8 at the three locations. Chang said that he would voluntarily show up at Namdaemun Police Station for questioning, police said.

Police and prosecution investigators are focusing on tracking down a crime gang leader who allegedly took part in the revenge attacks.

The 54-year-old, surnamed Oh, is believed to have been at the crime scenes. Oh has been out of the country since April 27, investigators said.

Police are planning to investigate the bank accounts of Oh to support allegations that he received 300 million won from Hanwha for mobilizing gang thugs to participate in the assaults. Oh is likely to return to Korea voluntarily if Kim is arrested, police said.

By Shin Hae-in (


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia killer was a Korean, so what?

The shootings at Virginia Tech were sickening and tragic. I'm still saddened when I look at the photos of the victims, survivors and students mourning. My friends, or even myself could've been there, and just thinking about it scares me. Apart from the emotional reaction, it got me thinking about many things.

This kind of things should never happen, but it happens in every society - that's life. We all have seen worse things happening in the past, haven't we? Still, among others, Koreans were particularly shocked, because the shooter was a Korean, and surely, it had never happened before. The Korean government even apologized - I heard on the radio that the Korean government said it regrets the incident with "a deep sense of sorrow and 'shame.'"

I guess it's fair to say that's how a lot of Koreans feel. A majority of comments on Korean Web sites say the incident is an an embarrassment to the country, it's shameful and they lost face because of Cho.

But is it, really? I don't think so. The shootings happened because of whatever personal issues Cho had and internal social problems the U.S. has - it has nothing to do with Korea and Koreans owe Ameircnas no appology. As far as I know, it wasn't an international terrorist act - at least there has been no evidence of it so far.

Then why do Korean have to feel so guilty? I guess part of it has to do with Korean culture, where people don't want to harm others, people tend to appologize for even the smallest things they did wrong, and people always tend to think as a group. But it's also because of Korean media that played up the fact Cho's a Korean way too much. As soon as he turned out to be a Korean, the whole focus has shifted to that little fact that doesn't really explain anything about his motives for the killings. So it all boils down to this line of thinking for Koreans: a Korean killed these people in the U.S., so Koreans as a group all have to feel ashamed.

Do Americans think the same? Probably not. True, Cho's race has been all over the headlines, but in many cases, his race and nationality have been a relatively small part of the story. I still don't think it's fair to even mention his race or ethnicity in the headlines or in top parts of stories, which some U.S. media did. But I agree his personal background could give some context - even if the killer was a white kid, the media would've talked about where he's from, although it wouldn't have likely been in the headlines or anywhere high up in stories. And overall, I think the U.S. media see the incident as an internal social issue.

That's because Cho is a product of American society, and he apparently went through issues Ameirca uniquely has. He's an immigrant - not fully American, but even less Korean, a unique identity issue people don't have to deal with in many other parts of the world. He was disgusted by upper class Americans - a issue America has long had. He could easily buy guns - again, a unique American issue. The incident could reveal problems of American society on multiple levels later one, such as what immigrants go through in the multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic society Ameirca is, the class gap and gun control issues, etc.

So Koreans, get over it and move on. It's not your problem.