December 22, 2014

Simon and Martina and the Problem With User Created Authority

There is a danger to the user created authority generated by popularity on social media. This is evident in the case of Simon and Martina, two Canadian English teachers living in South Korea who have gained quite a following on Youtube to the point where they have been deferred to as an authority for all things Korean and Kpop by many viewers and unexpectedly, the media like Al Jazeera. It is an unfortunate turn of events as they really do not have the authority to speak as experts on such matters, lacking the requisite language skills or understanding of Korean history or culture that comes from critical analysis, formal education, or experience. I am aware of this because they have posted that they feel like it is enough to learn enough Korean to get around and enjoy life there, but that they are not really focused on being fluent. So I was taken aback recently after watching a video of them talking about single mothers in Korea. I thought they generally focused on Kpop and their own reflections about living as foreigners in Korea, but when you talk about major social issues, there is an extra onus of responsibility. You're still responsible for whatever you write, but you should take extra care when writing things about a society because they are major statements that people might take literally. It's not just rambling about your opinions, but asserting a "fact" and that does affect a lot of people.

In their video, they make a number of assertions that are false and unfounded. The most basic being that there is no term for single mother in Korean. There is. It's '미혼모' , which translates to 'unwed mother', a woman who has had a child out of wedlock, not a mother who becomes single through divorce or widowhood. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on single mothers as it is used in the Korean context, which is women who bear children out of wedlock. They mention that when Koreans do talk about single mothers, that they only use the English term. They deduce that it is due to the fact that no such term exists in Korean. What they fail to recognize is that perhaps Koreans do not use it as much because there is less of a stigma to the term "single mother", being that it is an English term which is not connected to the past when Koreans had a less favorable view of the phenomenon. Based on the limited information and interaction they have had with Korean single mothers, one Korean single mother, Simon and Martina drew a false conclusion. This happens quite a lot in the ESL blogosphere because you have a group of people who are drawing upon an incomplete set of information about Korea due to their lack of social contacts, language skills, and understanding of the Korean culture. I recall reading a similar post by a female Canadian expat who claimed that Korean culture did not expect Korean men to be good providers for their families and it was only the influence of their individual families and NOT Korean culture that made Korean men good providers. This really made me scratch my head as the breadwinner role is a strong expectation placed on Korean men, much greater than in the U.S. or other Western countries where house husbands are more accepted. This Canadian woman had the experience of dealing with a Korean husband who did not do his part to support their family, so she mistakenly assumed that it was a common practice in Korean culture. That is why it's so important to study and understand another culture if you want to interpret it correctly. Otherwise, you are just projecting your own cultural models and going off on limited and incorrect information.

To truly understand the plight of single mothers in Korea, you would have to have a basic grasp of sociology, Korean history, and know enough of the Korean language to interact with the right people who would be able to direct you to the right resources. Simon and Martina are not in this position. They are English teachers with an interest in Kpop who have lived in Korea for a few years. You can live in a country for 20 years and still not know much about the language or culture.  They may be able to share their individual experiences as foreigners living and working in Korea, but they cannot share an educated or informed opinion about the country because they don't really have the skills to do so. They are basing their opinions on limited interactions with Korean single mothers and Korean society in general. As foreign English teachers living in Korea, they aren't going to get the full Korean experience because they are so sheltered. The people they work with speak some English or there is at least one person around to help them in English. In Korea, foreigners are not really expected to know much Korean or that much about Korean culture, so they are given a lot of accommodation that Koreans would not normally get. They are getting the filtered down experience that foreigners who don't make enough of an effort to learn the language or culture to great fluency do. Because when you don't take time to understand a language or culture, you tend to impose your own constructs of them based on your home culture or language, essentially projecting a Western view on a Korean phenomenon. Just because you have a hammer does not mean that everything needs to be pounded. A hammer is not right for everything as an understanding of North American culture does not always translate to understanding Korean or other cultures. There's a different tool kit required and until you learn the language and culture properly, you're just not going to have it.

A lot of Koreans look down on unwed mothers because they are not considered respectable. The view is that if you were a proper lady, you would wait until marriage to have sex. In North America, waiting until marriage is largely considered prudish or, at the very least, unnecessary outside of a few circles. You can still be considered a respectable woman even after having had multiple sexual partners, but of course, there are exceptions. Generally, it is considered par for the course in relationship and dating life. In Korea, that is generally not the case. Waiting for marriage is the proper thing to do and if you don't, then you are not respectable, you were not raised properly, you do not have the right values. Because Korea is a more traditional and conservative society, that is the prevailing attitude. I do believe that there is discrimination against single mothers in Korea, but I really disagree with what Simon and Martin said as well as how they said it. Because they do not present a balanced view of things and are making a lot of ignorant assumptions about Korean society. They say that the lack of social services is a reflection of the prejudice toward single mothers in Korea. Perhaps, in part. But ultimately, it is reflective of the social welfare system in Korea. In Korea, people are expected to take care of their families, including their aging parents. In America, the expectation is that you take care of your children until 18, but it really is up to the individual whether they will go beyond that. It's nice to take care of your parents, but there is not as much of a stigma as there is in more traditional societies to put them up in care facilities. Koreans also have facilities for the elderly, but it is generally expected that if you are able to do so, you should take on the care of your aging parents. The Korean government is interested in cutting out any unnecessary spending, so why should they spend as much on an expense that is not as necessary as in Western countries who have a different social structure? I'm not saying that the Korean government should not increase its welfare spending. What I am saying is that it has not been a priority until now because social welfare has largely been the responsibility of an individual's family in Korea. In the U.S., the government has to take on a greater burden for the social support of individuals because the nuclear family is not as prevalent. There does need to be a balance in recognizing that not every one has a supportive family that can help them. But excessive social welfare is not the answer.

Simon and Martina believe that the Korean government should provide support to single mothers. I will disagree in part. Ultimately, it is the parents job to provide for their children. I understand the government's reluctance to increase social welfare spending for single mothers as opposed to providing support for two-parent families who have children. Single motherhood is not something that should be encouraged. The lax attitude toward children born out of wedlock in the U.S. has led to the alarming rate of roughly half of all first-born children in the U.S. being born to single mothers this year (CBS News). I believe in a compassionate government that emphasizes personal responsibility, but if there is too much support, the burden is taken away from fathers to support their children from divorce. I believe that there needs to be stronger enforcement for getting child support from deadbeat dads and that is something I agree with in the video. Is there discrimination against single mothers in Korea? Yes, but they make it seem like all single mothers are discriminated against. But I will have to take Simon and Martina to task for a lot of their unfounded assumptions.

They make a lot of mistaken assumptions about Korea for various reasons:

  1. They are not critical thinkers. I got that the first time that I saw their videos. They mean well, but they simply look at the world in too naïve and simple of a lens. They don't know how to discern information properly. They lack the ability for critical inductive and deductive reasoning. For one thing, they say that there is no stigma against deadbeat fathers in South Korea. That is not true. There is. I don't know of any Korean who would approve of a man not paying child support or taking care of his own children. But no one is going to announce to the world that they are a single father so that other people could gossip about him. Where would Simon and Martina or anyone hear about this unless they personally knew a deadbeat father? The only way they would hear it is through idle gossip, which his baby mama, her family, his family, and their friends are probably not going to do considering the stigma of out-of-wedlock pregnancy. It's easy to hide the fact that you are a deadbeat father, but not so much if you are a single woman with a child living with you. Those are simply the facts. Are there people in Korea who might not care? Sure, but that doesn't mean that deadbeat fatherhood is universally accepted in Korea without consequences.

  1. They don't know enough Korean to know what is being said out there in Korean media and society. They have posted that they have no desire to be fluent, but just know enough to get around and enjoy their life in Korea. This is very different from having enough Korean skill to read the media and understand sociological reports and studies. They are mainly getting their information from Korean news in English and from their own Korean friends, both of which are limited sources. The Korean news in English is filtered to the interests of foreigners. Individual stories from friends are not representative of the whole.

  1. They lack a nuanced understanding of the world. They want the world to fit into their lens of convenience. The world cannot be reduced to sound bites. If you are truly committed to understanding, you won't stop until you get it. They're a bit too reductive in the way they try to understand the world and Korea. One does not have to have a PhD. in ethnic studies to understand the impact of racism. Nor does one need a PhD. in Korean studies to understand Korea, but one does need to approach things with a critical mind.

If you are going to write something, be intelligent about it. Do your research. Truly understand whether you are going to have the skills to understand what you are talking about. If you say something ill-informed, it is your responsibility to correct that. People need to be more critical about what they choose to put out. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from responsibility. If you truly want to inform the world, you need to be committed to understanding otherwise you are just going to spout out a lot of ignorant nonsense and end up doing a lot of damage. I don't understand people who say whatever is on their mind without any consideration for how it impacts their audience. If you want your words to mean something, act like it and take responsibility. Unfortunately, too many people are unconscious and just believe anything that comes to mind. Simon and Martina are well-meaning, but they do a lot of damage by posting such ill-informed videos on Korea. It's not just about wanting to do well. You've got to take responsibility so that you don't do more damage in the process. 

July 25, 2014

Why Kvetchpats Will Always Hate Korea

I believe the biggest reason why some expats will never have a good time in Korea is not due to the country itself, but the reason they came in the first place. This is the line that divides the kvetchpats from the other expats who truly want to have a great time in Korea and pretty much determines the experiences that each group will have accordingly. Kvetchpats generally come to Korea with a sense of entitlement, expecting Korea to conform to their Western expectations while differing on only a superficial level like food or dress. Because they have come from multiethnic countries, they seem to believe that somehow makes them more progressive in their outlook towards racism and social issues. They fail to recognize that being from multiethnic countries does not make one automatically progressive, but having a progressive attitude does. Then, there is the other group of expats who are truly open-minded, understanding that culture is more than just food or dress and willing to respect and understand the different ways of Korean society. They put forth the effort and they take on the responsibility to learn the language and understand the culture. They do their best to adapt to Korean society as they know that they are guests and it is up to them to make the most of their lives wherever they are.

Kvetchpats on the other other hand generally came to Korea to appease their own egos. They thought that they would get a free vacation, maybe doing a little work to earn money and have a free place to stay. They look to get what they can from Korea without taking much responsibility for how they conduct themselves or choose to create their lives there. So they will do as little work as possible at their schools, expect other Koreans to give them whatever they want, and not do anything to improve their own life situation. They will blog or comment on other blogs and forums where kvetchpats like to "blow off steam" and bash Korea. This cycle will continue until they finally get sick of living a miserable life and choose to leave Korea or change their attitude. I have seen a few kvetchpats change, but I don't know of anyone that has done a complete 360. I know that is definitely possible, but it goes to show how much work someone has to do to change deeply ingrained habits that have been present for a long time. Ultimately, it is about personal responsibility and choosing to be more aware, more self-critical about oneself. Until that choice is made, the cycle will continue. I know that many kvetchpats will insist that it is their right to be this way because Korea has made them so and so they will continue to give all their power to Korea and be its "victim". Yeah, I guess if you are a victim, there is nothing you can do and you are just stuck in Korea and your miserable life. It is astounding the lengths that some people will go to protect their "victim" status going as far as arguing vociferously for the right of expats to be homeless in Korea instead of being sent back to America where they would have more resources and a better chance to pull themselves up than in a society where they do not really understand the language and culture.

There are expats who actually make the most of their lives in Korea, starting from the same place as kvetchpats, at least in terms of working at schools and such. I know of an American woman who started out as an English teacher and then got an MBA at a Korea university, became fluent in Korean, and now has an executive position in the Korean agricultural industry. Yes, the kvetchpats will whine, but what use is Korean when only a few countries speak it? What use are your Korean girlfriends and friends and co-workers when you can't express yourself in Korean and have to get them to translate things? It is your life and if you can't see the value of being able to communicate and get what you want, I guess you're screwed and it will not be Korea's fault.

The real problem with kvetchpats is that they are completely out of touch with the reality of their situation. Instead of blaming Korea, they need to take responsibility and recognize what they need to do make their lives better. The power will always be out of their hands because they choose to make it so. You don't like Korea? Then, leave. They could save enough money to start again in their home countries, but they choose not to because they want to take the road of empty gratification, doing little work for as much gain as possible. The problem is not that Korea is such a horrible place to live. The problem is that until you take responsibility for how you live, think, and conduct yourself, including what you say and how you say it, your life isn't going to get any better.

Korea is not the problem here. The problem is that kvetchpats have given up so much responsibility that they have degraded themselves in the way they choose to live and be. They think that they can compartmentalize their misbehavior on forums and in their daily life and still present themselves as a good person the rest of the time. People don't need to have an experience to get negative vibes from you and that is what you create when you stew in the hateful, negative, and unfairly critical thinking present on those forums. It's to the point of unconsciousness and I believe that many of the kvetchpats on those forums have gotten so mired in that way of being that they cannot see what they are really doing. It's become an unconscious habit. Being hateful and bashing is just normal to them. That's just the way they are, so they can't see where they are going wrong.

I recently an example of this in the Korean media. In one case, there was a very famous kvetchpat blogger participating in a round table discussion with three other people who were Korean. This was an English language network on Korean television. I'm pretty sure that he is kind of aware that he is coming off as a bit awkward and offensive because he has toned down a bit from his earlier media appearances. Ironically, this individual is someone who could get a good job in the U.S. based on his educational credentials, but chose to come back to Korea for some reason yet continues to complain about how awful it is. During the round table discussion, you could tell that the other participants were kind of offended by this blogger because of his negative demeanor and somewhat harsh comments about Korea. At the same time, you could also tell by his facial expressions and unnaturally subdued manner that this blogger was aware of this and a bit embarrassed by it, so he toned it down a bit compared to what you would normally read on his blog, which is very emphatic and aggressively negative. This is a case of someone being a victim to their own dysfunctional thinking and not being able to do much about it in the moment because it has become such an ingrained part of him. You can't just be respectable the rest of your life while being hateful and degrading in others. Those things reverberate in ways that you may not expect or be conscious of. So it is important to be conscious and critical of one's thoughts and words otherwise you will create a life that you don't want and blame others when it really is your responsibility.

Keep blaming Korea and let's see how much better your life will get. The people who have a great life do so because they choose to take responsibility for it, not because they expect others to create it for them. Opportunity is what you make of it, not just what is presented to you.

June 14, 2014

Technical difficulties

My main blog, Monster Island (actually a peninsula)*, has a glitch or two and should be fixed sometime this month.

January 13, 2014

A Grave Injustice in the Dallas Dog Poop Shooting Case

Trial begins for Dallas man accused of murdering neighbors in dog-poop dispute (1.7.14)

Dallas jury hands down verdict in dog-poop revenge killings (1.9.14)

Fatal shooting tied to quarrel over dog feces

Man claims dog poop feud killing was self-defense

Recently, Chung Kim, an elderly Korean American man was sentenced to life in prison for shooting his neighbors over an ongoing conflict over poop, urine, and noise. To call it a simple dispute would trivialize the matter. Originally, there had been tension over noise and excrement, which his neighbors had consistently  dropped or sprayed into his yard by hosing down waste in their own balcony, which was over his.

"It is well-documented that Jackson and Stafford frequently washed dog feces from their balcony onto Kim’s. The condo’s homeowners association received reports of dog-poop dumping dating back to August 2012.
Kim provided photos of his balcony’s poop-streaked windows, floors and walls to a variety of entities. Animal control eventually took the couple’s dog away, but the poop problems didn’t end. In December 2012, after Jackson gave birth to her fifth child, the couple began tossing dirty diapers over their balcony and onto the unit below them.
Kim and his wife owned their first floor condo and had lived there for more than a decade . . . . . In addition to voicing his complaints with the condo association, Kim reported the excrement issues to the Dallas Police Department, the City of Dallas Health and Human Services Department. Condo maintenance supervisor Keith Morris said he was aware of the ongoing dispute between Kim and his neighbors.Morris said he had personally cleaned Kim’s balcony on at least two occasions, and once used a power washer to remove the poop (Culture Map, 1.7.14.)."

He had brought this matter up with the police, the health department, as well as his homeowner's association. Unfortunately, they did not do much in the matter except for clean his balcony in the case of the homeowner's association. Animal control took the neighbors' dog away but after their fifth child was born, they "began tossing dirty diapers over their balcony" and onto his unit (Culture Map, 1.7.14). After a year and more of aggravated stress without much resolution to the problem, the man decided to confront his neighbors after they had dumped dog poop on his front door and patio. According to the Star-Telegram:

"Investigators believe that Michelle Jackson and Jamie Stafford, both 31, dumped their dog's excrement at the front door and on the patio of downstairs neighbor Chung Kim, 75, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
During a subsequent argument, Kim "produced a handgun" and fatally shot Jackson as she stood outside her front door on her balcony, the affidavit stated."

On 1.7.14, Culture Map also reported that:

"Carlata Robinson, the condo’s HOA president, testified about the extent of the animal and baby feces on Kim’s property. She said the amount, location and frequency of the feces made it a health issue.
On January 31, 2013, more poop appeared on Kim’s balcony. This time, instead of being washed down from the balcony, it appeared to be piled up deliberately on Kim’s property.
“This issue has been ongoing for months,” Robinson wrote in an email the same day to the HOA board about Jackson and Stafford’s behavior. “Mr. Kim is about to reach his breaking point.”

There was a heated confrontation and he shot several bullets, which ended up killing the couple. I don't condone the way he handled it, but I don't think his neighbors were without fault either. It was not a simple matter of a crazed man who decided to "settle" things through violence. He had taken all the reasonable measures to settle the matter by going to the police, the health department, as well as his homeowner's situation. But they did not do much except for get rid of the dogs. Evicting the tenants is not always such an easy process. There are legal standards that need to be met, which may take a long time. I don't understand why the police could not charge the neighbors with a harassment violation or a violation of the public space like vandalism. I'm not sure that vandalism would warrant jail time, but I think that it might have been a deterrent to the harassing behavior of his neighbors and might have given his homeowner's association more legal ground to evict them. Graffiti vandals do get charged, so I do not understand why something that is much worse than graffiti, a public health violation as well as the intentional infliction of emotional distress, not up to legal scrutiny. Unless laws in Dallas are grossly different from those in the rest of the United States, we have a case of incompetence by the authorities. We have an elderly man who felt overwhelmed by his living situation and the constant, daily emotional distress it caused him due to the incompetence of the legal system. Thus, the old man had to put up with this torment for a long period of a year and several months. Some people say that he should have just moved out, but that is very blasé. Not everyone has the means to move out. This was a retired old man on a limited income, so just renting another place may have been a strain on his resources. His defense attorney, "Warren[,] pointed out that Kim had no prior issues with the homeowners association. 'He's been there for years, and this couple comes in and in a matter of months, shakes up his world (Culture Map).' " There was no mention of previous issues with Mr. Kim during the trial, which the prosecutor would have brought up because it would have bolstered his case, so I think we can safely assume that he had no prior issues before these neighbors moved in. It was only after he had gone through all the legal channels available to him and finding poop on his front door and balcony did he decided to confront the neighbors on his own.

You can look at a matter like this and say that it is silly, but if you can imagine having to deal with the emotional distress of poop flooding your yard on a daily basis and not just clean poop that you can pick up and throw away, but poop that is drenched in water so that your whole yard becomes a poop drenched mess, then I think you would be more sympathetic. The man had been through a lot at that point. He was weak and elderly. People don't appreciate how vulnerable elderly people can be. Their bodies and minds are weak so they just can't take these kinds of assaults in the same way that younger people can. If he had been a forty year old man, it would have been a different story, but I still think the neighbors would have been culpable for some of the situation. Just looking at pictures of the man, you can tell that he is of a frail mind and body. That doesn't excuse shooting people at any hint of anger. There should be consequences for what he did. At the same time, he was under severe emotional duress and so the shooting was aggravated. By the actions of the neighbors and the inactions or impotence of the legal system, he was made to feel that he had no recourse. Elderly people spend a lot of time at home and so it's important for them to have a peaceful environment as any change in their environment would affect them greatly. This situation was not just a minor inconvenience. It was vigilant harassment and emotional terrorism. His neighbors felt free and audacious to "get him back" for having their dogs taken.

One can make an argument for dog poop laying on the ground to a certain extent as that's where dogs need to go. That still does not excuse leaving dog poop on the ground. However, one cannot make the argument for a child's feces to be on the ground when his parents intentionally throw it over their balcony or drench dog poop with water so that it floods into their neighbor's balcony. Can you imagine having to deal with that day in and day out? Dog poop, repeatedly thrown not just a pile thats easily swept up, but liquefied dog feces [poured] on the windows, walls and doors, multiple times. Over and over again, Mr. Kim tried to rectify this in a civil manner (Culture Map, 1.9.14.). In an earlier article, it was mentioned that "Kim provided photos of his balcony’s poop-streaked windows, floors and walls to a variety of entities (Culture Map 1.7.14)." Can you imagine being an elderly person who spends a lot of time at home having to live around such people and having to deal with their concerted harassment day in and day out? Older people are generally weak, so it would have been a great hardship to have to clean up his whole yard EVERY SINGLE DAY or perhaps every time the child's diapers got changed. Can you imagine that? It would be difficult for anyone, young or old, to deal with on an emotional and practical level. The old guy felt trapped because he had taken all the measures he knew how and I don't believe that he should have had to do more than calling the police to rectify the situation although it would have been the best for him if he had not shot his neighbors. He did much more than most people would have done by contacting the police, the health department, and the homeowner's association. I can see how any reasonable person, especially one of such advanced age, would have been taxed by the situation on a legal, emotional, and practical basis. The fact that the jury indicted him for capital murder is a grave injustice and suggests that they really did not take into his emotional capacity at that time.

What he should have gotten is the insanity defense as he was under great emotional distress and limited mental capacity. The guy is 76 years old and so, he does not have much longer to live. Even without that consideration, he should have gotten the insanity defense and sent to a facility for evaluation until he was deemed to be mentally stable by a psychiatrist.  He had to endure a lot of emotional distress on a daily basis for months and months, which caused him to reach his breaking point as Robinson, the president of the homeowner's association warned of. I just think it's sad that he gets life in prison for something that he was greatly aggravated into doing. He did not shoot at the first sign of dog feces. He went through all the legal channels to get the matter resolved, but the authorities were too inept or impotent to take any effective action, except for getting rid of the dogs. I cannot understand why the housing association could not evict the tenants after fair warning like maybe two times, but there are certain mandates that need to be upheld in such a process and without the backup of the authorities like the police to charge the tenants with anything, I don't think there was much they could do unless it was explicitly stated in the housing contract.

It is sad that there are children that will grow up without their parents, but at the same time, these people need to be held accountable whether or not they have children. It was unfortunate that the authorities were too inept to do anything about these individuals, but there are consequences to affecting others in a negative way. Based on the reports of how the neighbors acted, I really don't think their children are going to miss out on great role models. These are people who acted as animals, throwing feces on a daily basis over their neighbor's balcony. These are people who willing trashed their own balcony by leaving or throwing feces onto it and washing over it with a hose so that the water would flow into and drench their neighbor's yard with fecal matter. These are people who chose to "take revenge" on their neighbor because the authorities made them give up their dogs as a result of their own negligence and harassment.  These are people who feel that they can do anything they want without regard to the consequences. These are not civilized people who have the basic understanding that other people need to be treated with respect. These are individuals who feel that they can do whatever they want and will only comply if it threatens their personal interests or you have power over them. They may be nice to their family and friends, but have little regard for others who have no value in their eyes. These are the people that the elderly and vulnerable man had to deal with for months on end on a day-to-day basis, so I do not have much sympathy for them. Sometimes, the response to an action may be too much, but at the same time, if one does something that is hurtful to another, one cannot be outraged when the other person reacts in the only way they know how to protect themselves. We cannot say, "No, you have to protect yourself in this way." We can say, don't go crazy in how you deal with something, but some people are led to that point by their aggressors like in the case of this man. If the old man were more emotionally resilient and mentally tough, perhaps it would be reasonable for him to "rise above" the situation and find other ways to deal with it. But in this case, he was frail and elderly and emotionally exhausted due to the situation and he took all the reasonable channels to address his concerns yet they were not resolved. I believe that he did the best he could based on his age, physical and emotional condition, as well as resources. The conditions he was forced to deal with on a day to day basis would have brought about charges of criminal neglect had he been a parent or caregiver of someone that was mentally ill. But in this case, there were no such charges. So he had to deal with the matter the only way he knew how.

I don't believe that he set about to kill the neighbors, but he did have to arm himself as he needed to deal with these barbarians and that is saying a lot as I am generally not in favor of guns in the home. This was an extreme situation. Had the neighbors been civil enough to just take responsibility for their mess and leave it at that, the matter would have been resolved, but instead, they chose to continue to inflame and instigate the matter by continuing their ongoing harassment of the old man. If you are ever in this situation, obviously, guns are not the answer. But I don't know how much presence of mind you can expect from someone like this man in this type of situation. It would certainly be different if he was in his forties. One would certainly expect more presence of mind, but by the time one gets to this man's age, typically there is a feeble mindedness that occurs unless one is proactive about their health. He wasn't a super healthy old man, but one that was frail and at his breaking point.

I hope that he appeals his case, which I am sure that he will do based on the comments he made in the second Culture Map article. and that he testifies to the new jury so that they can see the kind of emotional distress he had to endure after going through all the proper legal channels and still not having the matter resolved. I believe that if he had testified in this trial that the verdict would have been more fair to him. But because the jury was only told of the poop incidents from second hand sources, they did not get a real understanding of the suffering and injustice he had to go through. There have been cases where soldiers who had fought in Iraq were acquitted from mass killing due to post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, of course, the man was not threatened with violence, but the emotional distress is the same. He did not go off and kill some unknown civilians like those other cases. He went to confront his neighbors over a long simmering dispute and ended up shooting them in the process. He would not have had this distress if they had not consistently harassed him for months on end. So they are not innocent victims, but guilty of bringing about the type of situation where they would have been confronted with violent emotions. They were willful agitators of his emotional distress and are guilty of that part in his "crime". You don't want to set a precedent where people are blasé about shooting anyone at a hint of anger. At the same time, you have to be understanding of certain cases where the individual had been put through so much stress that they could not have the presence of mind to make the rational decision. I would say that his lawyer would have an argument in temporary insanity. By the time the old man had confronted his harassers, he was literally at his wits end. Mix that with gun possession and you have a dangerous situation. 

November 11, 2013

The Core Problem With The Korean

The Korean has hurt and offended a lot of people through his blog. He does not recognize this because he feels justified in his humiliation and intimidation of others. To him, life is a game where there are winners and losers and it justifiable to do whatever you want even if it means harshly crushing weaker opponents. That's why he felt so justified in attacking Malcolm Gladwell. It is evident from his tone when writing about his problem with Gladwell that he really relished and enjoyed putting a New York Times bestselling author "in his place". But when gently corrected by Chris Kahn about an error in his own writing, The Korean sheepishly bowed out of the conversation, downplaying how wrong he actually was. Because on same level, The Korean knows that the same harsh judgment that he attacks others with can be used on him. Yet, he refuses to learn from that and give others the grace that he cowardly requests of them when he errs. I have read The Korean's blog from the beginning and recognize now that he is just a bully who gets off on one-upping others. He's not really interested in the truth about Korea or anything. He just wants to show off how much he "knows" to feel better about himself. And he will do whatever he can to assert his own superiority because deep down, he is a very insecure person who is not willing to look at his own shadow. That's how he is able to write humiliating posts of people who send him grammatically incorrect emails and even threaten readers when they disagree with him.

He believes that he is so superior because he was able to learn English in two years to fluency. I know of a guy who learned Japanese in one year and got good enough that he was hired by a Japanese company where they only spoke Japanese. As great as that is, he is not arrogant and genuinely wants to help people, giving free advice to others who want to learn as well. Compare that with The Korean who looks down on and feels justified humiliating native English speakers who don't speak as well as him because he thinks that it is due to laziness. I have news for him. Not always. Some public schools in the U.S. are so poorly funded and staffed that they are like third world countries. A lot of students get passed even when they lack basic reading and writing skills. But do you think Mr. Know-it-all recognizes this? No. Because he is so stuck in his ivory tower believing that everyone has the same privileges and opportunities as him. Not all Korean parents are able to whisk their son off to America because he has problems adapting to high school in Korea. The Korean claims to have gotten good grades and I can believe that, but in that case, most Korean parents would not be so indulgent as to whisk their son off to America because he has problems with the Korean school system. He wrote about this and later removed it from his blog, but it sounded more like an attitude problem on his part than anything. He also wrote that he scorned the other Korean students at his American high school for not working hard to learn English as quickly as him, neglecting the fact that it is their right to learn as they please and he was not exactly learning for the good of humanity. He had to learn English for his own SELF-INTEREST so that he could do well in high school and go to a good college. He even bragged about being privileged to attend a predominantly Korean high school where he was able to submit a biology exam in Korean and still get a good grade on it. So he will take full advantage of the opportunities when they suit him, but look down on others who don't. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do well, but that does not give you the right to look down arrogantly on other people and be mean to them as a result of that. You can water down your writing so that it makes you appear more "modest", but ultimately, it is what is in your heart and mind that determines that. If you are truly a modest person, then you wouldn't have to fumble with your tone so much because your writing would naturally appear that way. Saying "I don't mean to be immodest" does not take away from your arrogant tone and people can tell when they read your writing whether you are being sincere or not. It always comes through.

Ultimately, it comes down to an abuse of power and a lack of integrity on The Korean's part. Based on his later re-edits of his blog to present himself more modestly, I really don't believe that he has the intent to look at himself honestly and be a good person. He can't see the truth of who he is because he is someone who is very caught up in his own self-glorification and will abuse his power to get that. As long as OTHERS see him as a good person, he is satisfied that he is. Even with all of his legal education that provided a lot of training in critical thinking, he is unwilling to apply that to his own life and his own self. If you're not willing to be self-critical, how can you take full responsibility for your actions? You can't. You're just going to do whatever you want regardless of the consequences. The Korean has hurt a lot of people through his blog whether it is through the actual posts or comments section. He has verbally abused, intimidated, humiliated, and degraded others through his speech and he is unwilling to take responsibility for that.

He acts like he is so progressive and so open-minded, but the truth is that he is quite bigoted in a number of respects. He has tweeted that he hates people from a certain region of Korea. But more than ethnic, I believe that he is a political bigot at his core. He claims to be for freedom of speech, yet he is disrespectful and intimidating to those who disagree with him respectfully. He's an internet bully who will use his credentials to challenge and threaten others yet cowardly sneak away when his own errors are brought to light. The Korean is one of those selfish people who believe they are good because they are nice to their friends and family and go to church. But how does he treat others that are not of his circle? Not very nicely based on what I have seen. The people around him may be oblivious to his flaws because he is so nice to them, so it is up to others to tell him he is wrong and hold him accountable for that. That's part of the reason I wrote this post because I believe that if no one says anything, then The Korean will continue to be as he is, abusing his authority and hurting other people. I believe that people should be critical about whatever they read on the web, especially when it comes from an anonymous source. But people may write all they want. Ultimately, it is up to The Korean to decide how he will act. As long as he sees something, he can't feign ignorance. He can dismiss all the criticism as nonsense or he can actually be self-critical. Whatever the case, I'm pretty sure it will take a while before he really behaves because old behaviors don't just fall away so quickly. The Korean is too satisfied to live in his own self-glorified cocoon of Korean "authority", but I believe that some day, he will have to face his own darkness with true humility. He has stated before in the comments section of his blog that he believes that he does not have to apologize for things that have long past. That somehow time negates all wounds. This is very ironic coming from a lawyer whose responsibility is to understand the true meaning of justice. Of course, this is not always practiced and from his own behavior, it is evident that he has no qualms about abusing his authority and power. It is so disappointing to see people who have been given the great advantages of a good education squander it away for their own personal gain and ultimately, their own moral decline. I really think people like him should not be rewarded. It would be great if people stopped reading his blog, but I admit that he does write some interesting things even if I don't always agree with him. 

October 02, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video: Part 3

They wanted to commit the "perfect" crime, but they were not able to pull it off. Because no matter how "perfect" it seemed to them, they were not able to get away with what they did. The video is out there for everyone to see in Korea, America, and the rest of the world. And even if they aren't recognized, they will continue to live with this in their minds. It wouldn't be that hard for someone who knew them casually to recognize their voice and what was shown of their faces and put two and two together. The video they had taken for their own pleasure will always be a source of fear, regret, and shame, so in their original purpose, they failed because in the end, they did not get a video that they could enjoy. Every time they watch the video, they will be reminded of that night and  what happened in the aftermath.

After that night, I'm sure the young Korean woman in the video woke up in a haze with a sense of deep pain over something she did not remember. It was a rude jolt in a life that was already depressing. That is why she had drunken herself to a stupor and that is why the video makers chose her to target for their video. She was a lone, drunk woman who would not have put up a lot of resistance. She would not have the wits or defenses to be able to, so these guys could go through with their plan and get the "perfect" shot for the fetish video. But drunken hazes are interesting because sometimes, people do remember little bits and pieces after a while. But who knows how this thing will turn out?

The reason that these guys were able to make such a video is because they are sociopaths. They lack a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience. They are psychopathic, showing extreme egocentricity and failure to learn from experience. This video does show them doing something that is amoral and antisocial. They certainly did something criminal by sexually harassing that young woman. They were able to do all of this because they were extremely selfish to the point where they could dismiss the humanity of another person, in this case, a young, drunk Korean woman. Basically, their life is about getting what they want without regard to how it affects other people. Other people do not have value unless they can give them something that they desire. Other people are props in their life that they can do with as they please. This is the mentality that you would have to have in order to make a video like this. But now, these guys are scared because their own sense of survival is being threatened. Nothing matter until it affects THEM on a certain level. They have the right to do as they please however it affects other people, but when something affects them and keeps them from doing what they want, there is a problem.

To be honest, I really don't think the backlash from this video will turn them into saints overnight. I think they will be more careful in what they choose to do in public. But otherwise, they will continue to be the same selfish bastards that made this video. Immature, whiny kvetchpats who will continue to go on to Dave's ESL and express their sociopathy to the world wide web. There, they will find like-minded compatriots to egg them on in their disgusting bashing and degradation of Korea. That's what's wrong with the whole kvetchpat scene. Instead of helping eachother out to make the most out of their time in Korea, they really bring out the worst in eachother by encouraging eachother to hate and bash Korea. Yet they wonder why they continue to have such a horrible time? Not a hotbed of geniuses. That's for sure. What they can't face is that their problems in Korea are largely due to their own dysfunction, their own inability to adapt to a different culture and language and life as whole. Because they come from multi-racial countries, they are under the illusion that it somehow makes them progressive and open-minded when the truth is that they have only experienced diversity on a shallow level. They don't really understand other cultures or races. Because they have seen other races in person does not make them an expert on diversity more than a Korean person who lives in Itaewon an expert on other countries. The truth is that their understanding of multiculturalism is very superficial like a tourist who buys trinkets from a gift shop and believes that it gives him great insight into that culture. No. You've experienced other cultures as a CONSUMER, not a true student.

That's the whole problem with kvetchpats. They come to Korea with a consumerist mentality. What can I get, get, get in Korea. And when Korea does not give them everything they want, they throw a hissy fit. It's just pure selfishness, plain and simple. Korea has to give them everything that they demand, but they have no responsibility to respect or understand its culture, language, and people. Sounds like a fair deal there. The real problem is that they lack the maturity and personal responsibility to adapt to a different culture. They think that everything should be handed to them and that they shouldn't have to put forth any effort. The real truth is that Koreans don't have to be nice to them, trying to understand them when they don't speak the language. A lot of kvetchpats use this as an excuse to not learn Korean and blame it as the source of their own lack of motivation. They also say how useless it is for them to learn when they are the ones relying on their Korean girlfriends, friends, coworkers, and strangers to translate in various situations. I guarantee you that they wouldn't feel so entitled if they had to deal with a society that looked harshly upon those who  did not speak the language well as many English speaking countries do. You have a country where the main language is Korean. You need to communicate with Koreans, most of whom do not speak fluent English. You would think that is a no-brainer, right? But the most diehard kvetchpats will continue to make excuses, excuses because they are lazy and self-entitled and another year will pass in Korea and another and another. They don't grow. They don't really learn anything from their time in Korea. They are just living as perpetual tourists in a country where they expect to be treated like Koreans while getting all the foreigner privileges with none of the Korean responsibilities. They are wasting their lives with one excuse after another. All the while, their bitterness continues to grow. The longer they stay in Korea, the more bitter they get. And they falsely believe that it has something to do with Korea. Never taking responsibility for the lives they have created. They could always take a plane and leave, but then they would no longer have Korea to blame and actually have to take responsibility for their lives. Next . . . 

October 01, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video: Part 2

Even if the kvetchpats acting in the harassment video, did several takes of the same scene, I wouldn't call it acting. It would be similar to hiring someone to play themselves in a movie according to how they would actually be in real life instead of a context imagined by the writer. So it would not be such a stretch for a clubbing alcoholic to play drunk and hung-over after going to a nightclub because that is how they would be in real life. Likewise for the creators of the nightclub harassment video. They were just acting the way that they did in real life although I'm sure they used a script to make sure they got to say everything they wanted to say the way they wanted to say it. That way, they could replay the video and relive their fantasy of how they degraded a Korean woman. Nothing in life occurs in a vacuum and I don't believe that this was the first time that these guys acted this way toward a Korean woman. But this time, they were calculated enough to devise a script in their head about what they wanted to say and how they wanted to say it to live out their ultimate fantasy of degrading a Korean woman. The motivation was not something that they needed to work on like real actors because they already had the motivation to degrade a Korean woman. That is how they are in real life. If you put them next to a computer, I'm sure that they would naturally go to Dave's ESL or some other Korea bashing site and  degrade Korean women. I'm sure that this was not the first time that they had gone to a Korean nightclub or the particular nightclub in question. They had been out enough to know where they wanted to film, where they could find a lone and drunk Korean woman to harass, where it would be so loud that no one would pay much attention to them and disrupt their filming. They knew where they could get away with filming such a video. It wouldn't be a place where Koreans mainly went to with their friends. It wouldn't be a place where there were few foreigners so that they would stand out. It would be a place where there were lots of foreigners, lots of loud music, and lots of lone, drunk Korean women to prey upon.

This just goes to show the kind of people that made this kind of video. They were so unhappy in Korea that their greatest pleasure was making a fetish video degrading a lone, drunk Korean woman. They had become so unhappy and frustrated at their lives in Korea that they chose to displace it on innocent Korean strangers that they had never met before. Instead of dealing with whatever difficulties they had in a smart and mature manner, they chose to blame all Koreans instead and degrade all Koreans to relieve their own frustrations about their own lives. People can say that Dave's ESL or those other Korea bashing sites are harmless. I do not. Some expats say that they are simply relieving their own frustrations, but when you keep posting the same types of things over and over again that bash other people, it does have an effect. It affects the people reading your trash and it affects you because you are perpetuating the kinds of attitudes that make it okay to degrade Korean people. There are people on those sites that have been at it for years. You can just look at their post count and how long they been on that site to see how invested they have become in the whole process of bashing Koreans. The more you do anything, the more it becomes ingrained in your mind and your life. I haven't met any Dave's ESLers in real life, but I do know that they would not be pleasant to be around. Some people are so mindless to think that their attitudes are private. But if you repeat the same thoughts over and over again, they become part of you and that is what you project to the outside world, so it wouldn't surprise me that these guys continue to have bad experiences in Korea, because that is what they attract. Unpleasant people attract unpleasant situations. They make the smallest inconvenience that MOST KOREANS FACE AS WELL an assault on their foreignness. No, Korea is not inconvenient for foreigners because it has something against you. Korea is inconvenient because you are a foreigner who does not know the language or culture well and because you aren't willing to learn. And sometimes, Korea is just inconvenient for everyone, not just foreigners, because some people want to save money and not provide toilet paper, etc. or because that's just how things have been done so far and people are used to it. Yes, some Koreans don't like foreigners, but that doesn't mean that is the case every time and to rush to that judgment in every situation just makes you a person with a bad attitude that lacks critical thinking skills.

Instead of taking responsibility for themselves and their own lives in Korea, the video makers chose to live their ultimate fantasy by degrading a long, drunk Korean woman and filming that interaction. And the poor, drunk Korean women had to endure hours of agonizing degradation as these guys were trying to "perfect" their sick fantasy. That is how they sick they are. That is how degraded they are. And that is what you need to recognize when watching the video. It was not a one time shot, but something that was played out several times over. We only saw a few minutes, but the interaction with the young, drunk Korean woman went way longer than that. 

September 28, 2013

The Truth About the Nightclub Harassment Video

If you have been keeping up on kvetchpat news, you would have discovered the posting of a video of several Western (white) men harassing a drunk, Korean woman at a nightclub. Max Fischer wrote about this after discovering it through the Korean media after it was posted on Facebook. Then, it spread to several other English news outlets, the usual kvetchpat watering holes, and other Korea related blogs.

Recently, Max Fischer wrote an update saying that he had seen alternate footage of the same scene from the video. He falsely concluded that because there were several takes of the scene that the whole video was acting. Wrong. I do believe that the makers of this video re-shot the scene because they were making a movie and wanted to get the "right" effect. The makers had already rehearsed how they wanted it to play out and wanted to get the desired response from their victim, so of course, they would repeat the same dialogue. And of course, a woman with limited English skills who was drunk would repeat the only English she knew how to respond with. There was a commercial in Korea a few years back making fun of how mindless some Koreans can be when learning English. In the commercial, a young Korean man gets hit by a car. A Western (white) driver comes out and asks, "How are you?" The young Korean responds, "I'm fine and you?" when he has just been hit by a car. The Western man looks at him bewildered. This commercial reflects how some foreign speakers will respond the same way to certain questions because that is all they know to say. It was obvious from the video that the Korean woman's English was not great.

I know that the makers hope this movie idea will exonerate them, but I know much better. Just because the creators were shooting a movie does not mean that there were no victims involved. This was not a standard filming where ALL actors knew they were going to be filmed and were willing participants of the movie. The young, drunk Korean woman was not conscious enough to make that decision. The other participants of the movie were. They set out to shoot a movie degrading Korean women and found an easy target. "Strong men" who felt empowered to approach a Korean woman as a group, but would be too cowardly if there was one more Korean woman. The young Korean woman in the video was alone with very few people around her. It was a loud nightclub, so unless you were close, I don't think you would have been able to catch on to their conversation and how degrading it was even if you spoke fluent English, which many Koreans don't. These guys AMBUSHED this lone, drunk Korean woman because they wanted to use her in a fetish video degrading Korean women. These guys were trying to do something similar to "Black Out Korea" by finding people they could humiliate by capturing their image on camera. They looked for a drunk Korean woman who was alone that they could BAIT into their degrading scheme. I would not be surprised if there are other videos like this. I know that the creators of this video hope that the pretense of shooting a movie will get people to back off so that they can continue to be whiny ESL teachers who hate on Korea and victimize unwitting, probably drunk Korean women. But I have news for you guys. It doesn't.

This whole scenario reminds me of Joe Francis and his "Girls Gone Wild", an American video series that showed women taking their top off in public. Now, I'm sure that there were some women who did this voluntarily out of some exhibitionist streak, but there were actually others who were ambushed by the crew by having their tops pulled up without their consent. There was a class action suit made by a woman who did not realize that she was on one of their videos after one of the crew members pulled up her shirt. There were testimonies from other witnesses that said that they had had the same thing done to them or seen it happen to someone else. They won the lawsuit and Joe Francis and company had to pay a lot of money. Were there several takes in the shooting of this series? Yes, because the videos did contain outtakes that were added to another video. I only saw commercials of these videos with the boobs blurred out. Some of the women in this lawsuit were drunk as were others. Just because something is a movie doesn't mean that there are no victims. Child pornography is one example. Filming sexual contact without the other party knowing is another. I'm pretty sure that the drunk, Korean woman in that video was not able to give her consent because she was drunk. If someone made you sign a contract while you were drunk, should it be legally admissible? Absolutely not.

The lengths that some kvetchpats will go to in order to "protect" their own. The more you reinforce this kind of behavior, the more it will be perpetuated. The mentality that justified "Black Out Korea" is the same one that fueled this video. Only these guys took it a big step further. Who do you think it hurts? You can continue to blame the Korean public for being "xenophobic", but until you take responsibility for yourself, then nothing will change. This is the kind of mentality that kvetchpats love to trash Korea for, but unfortunately, they aren't willing to be self-critical and prove to be the biggest hypocrites of all while exalting how multicultural and tolerant their own countries are. Even if that were the case, they certainly aren't the best examples of that from their own country. Koreans are self-critical for the most part when a Korean does something bad overseas, so netizens will criticize that person for shaming the country instead of choosing to blame it on the environment or the victim. Just goes to show that until kvetchpats take responsibility for their behavior and hold others accountable in their community, they will continue to perpetuate the cycle wondering why they don't get respect, trashing those who have a good time in Korea as Korea apologists. I've watched some videos of people who had a great time in Korea and what I've noticed is that they actually make an effort to understand Korean people and culture and learn the language as well. I can't really say that about kvetchpats who take no responsibility for their bitter and negative attitude. It is not Korea that makes you such a negative and toxic person. It's you. You control how you choose to live your life and the fact that you continue to live as a bitter and hateful person in a country that you are miserable in says a whole lot about you. You CHOOSE to LIVE in Korea and yet you complain about what a miserable life you have.

The only thing that the video makers are sorry for is getting caught and they haven't even apologized for taking part in the video. It was just a movie, they say as a lame excuse. I know that they would continue to make such videos if they weren't caught. They probably thought that they could make a bunch of videos that would be semi-anonymous and indistinguishable from the rest of Youtube. Videos that they could enjoy with their kvetchpat buddies, making fun of how stupid Korean women are and trashing Korean society as a whole. Only it backfired in their case and they received a lot of backlash. Now, they are really scared for their jobs and life in Korea. But as scared as these cowards may be, they don't know a hundredth of the pain that the young woman in the video is suffering. Her face was exposed and this will negatively affect her career and marital prospects. No respectable Korean family will want her to marry into their family even though she did nothing wrong in the video. She was drunk at the wrong place and the wrong time. I know of Korean women who lost job offers after receiving negative media coverage, so it's not a stretch to say that this is likely for her. Those ESL cowards did not reveal their entire face and I'm sure that multiple takes were done to give them some anonymity in the videos. They set out for a nightclub in Seoul where they planned to target a drunk and unassuming Korean woman that they could degrade with their antics. They kept retaking each scene until they got what they wanted. The Korean woman did not speak much English. She was drunk, so it is highly plausible that she would repeat the same answers to the same comments and gestures. If you don't speak a language well, that is what you are going to do because that is all you will know how to do. This actually makes it MUCH WORSE than if they were randomly at a club with a camera and just being spontaneous. They actually PLANNED this CALCULATED ASSAULT in order to create a video that they could use to get off on degrading Korean women. It's like Dave's ESL on steroids. Dave's is a place many kvetchpats go to in order to get off on degrading Koreans for their own twisted pleasure, because they are living miserable lives in Korea and choose to blame Korea instead of their own bad attitudes.

Now, these cowards are scared because they got their hand caught in the cookie jar. They are afraid of being discovered by their co-workers and Korean "friends". That is what they have most to be afraid of. Because most people watching these videos will not know them or be able to recognize them on the street. But the people that see them everyday or on occasion will have enough familiarity with their face that they will be able to put the pieces together. So I have news for you cowards. Be afraid. Be very afraid. If you are really that scared, you can always get plastic surgery like you degraded the Korean woman into doing. Get plastic surgery and stop being cowards. How does that feel, idiots? Plastic surgery or not, you know these guys will continue to keep looking over their shoulder the whole time they are in Korea and maybe afterwards. Frankly, I don't understand why they didn't just let this thing blow over. Now, they have left a big electronic trail with a number of people. You have one "reporter", Sam Power, writing for the English edition of a Korean newspaper vouching for them before any "evidence" showed of a film, which makes me think that he actually knows them as a friend or is just really invested in the expat image. If he is as fictitious a character as some on Marmot's Hole claim, I bet he is someone that works for the newspaper, but chooses to mask his identity. Someone should really check this out. You have Max Fischer writing about how he saw a clip of several takes of the same scene, which does not contradict that the woman was still a victim. You have a fake Facebook profile of a "Korean film director" who supposedly shot the movie. It is so easy to make up a fake Facebook profile and I don't know how that could be taken as evidence of a "Korean movie director". Of course, there was an exchange about making the movie. They had been planning it all along. Anyhow, I am glad that the video got out and that part of the cowards' faces were shown so that their acquaintances can more easily identify them. I am glad that there are a number of copies of the video on Youtube, The Washington Post, and other media sites as well as blogs.

You think you got away with this? You didn't. You think that you can stay in Korea and enjoy your miserable life here? You can't. As hellish as your life may have been before, it will get even more hellish like a raging inferno that you cannot control. That is what happens to people who have their conscience awakened with a rude awakening. And for guys like these who had a very low mentality to start with, I am pretty sure it was a VERY rude awakening. The poor young woman did not ask to be part of this. You made her. You chose to act like idiots and you need to face the consequences. YOU did this to YOURSELVES and you cannot blame Korea for that. Keep living in Korea looking over your shoulder because at some point the truth will come out. You have no idea how much you have hurt others a thousand times more than the fear that you are feeling. She is someone's daughter, granddaughter, and perhaps sister. How do you think she feels and how do you think her family and friends feel after she was degraded and humiliated by you? What makes you more important than the young woman you harassed? What gives you the right to stay in a country where you assault and degrade its people? What gives you the right to earn a living in this country that you hate and despise and degrade for your own pleasure, influencing young Korean minds? I'm pretty sure the young woman has lost her career at this point, so what makes you better than her? Why should Korean parents trust their children to you? Korean teachers are respected for the most part. English teachers don't have that reputation because so many of you guys have frankly MESSED IT UP. That was not the case in the 60's with Fulbright Scholars who actually gave a damn about the job, but unfortunately, too many people look to make money from hagwons and do not want to invest the time and money to vet English teachers properly. If nothing more happened than you guys losing your teaching jobs and having to leave Korea, then you should consider yourselves very lucky. Why are you in Korea if you hate it that much? Consider it a blessing that you are able to go back to your multicultural and progressive America or whatever country you came from so that you can live amazing and wonderful lives. But for some reason, I don't think your life in your home countries would be that great, either. The location may change, but YOU are STILL the SAME PERSON. Koreans may forget and so may other people, but God never forgets and you will get what is coming to you long after you think that everything has blown over.

I am sure that the young woman has a case and is able to sue you. I am sure that your school also have cause as well. Korea is not your playground, so you better shape up or get out. The police can be made aware of this even if no private party intervenes and they have every right to subpoena Facebook and other sites for this information. Korea has a highly skilled Internet agency that is trained to root out people like you. You should be jailed for harassment and invasion of privacy, both of which are against the law in Korea. 

False Modesty, Backpedaling, Damage Control, and Where Gladwell Went Wrong

"Good Writer, Bad Writer" on AAK!

Well, I thought the dust had settled on the matter. The Korean had posted a "final word" on the culturalism debate with Gladwell: "Until those questions are resolved, I am standing by what I wrote." This  was from his last post in his series of articles regarding Gladwell and his "culturalism". But somehow, the final word is not truly final. He manages to add more to the conversation by suspiciously writing about how readers ask him for writing advice in " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!". Because he had addressed this question earlier on his blog, it is rather strange and suspicious, considering the timing. I believe that it is a ruse to go at greater length about the Gladwell debate without making an official post about it, just a way to sneak it in while pretending to have moved on from the issue. I haven't seen the blog "Good Writer, Bad Writer" referenced on many other sites after doing a Yahoo! search for it, so The Korean probably found it by tracking links connecting to his site. Interestingly, the vast majority of sites that seem to mention it are Korea-related sites that note "Ask a Korean" and his article " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!". The remaining few  that don't mention "Ask a Korean" are an obscure site on education and a site administered by Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where the author teaches, and perhaps a few others. The blog may be popular otherwise, but the writer teaches at a college that is not particularly well known, so I find it highly doubtful that The Korean would have stumbled upon it if the author had not written about him.

Luckily, Mr. Shawn Doyle, who is a writing teacher, has been generous enough to use my recent post, Culturalism, Gladwell and Airplane Crashes as an example of effective writing. At his blog, Good Writer, Bad Writer, Mr. Doyle has reproduced the post, and kindly provided a play-by-play on the rhetorical strategy that the Korean has employed as he wrote the post. If you happened to be one of the folks who thought the Korean's writing was worth emulating, the post at Good Writer, Bad Writer would be helpful. 

Self-praise disguised as appreciation of another blogger. This is really just a self-congratulatory post to make him feel better about what he wrote because I am sure that he is aware that he did not present the best argument.

You would have to be drinking a lot of Kool-Aid to believe that The Korean does not put that much effort into his posts or that he truly thinks that his writing is not "up to standard" or even "up to his own standards". Look, no one is forcing him to blog. And he blogs out of pleasure, so he is only going to post what he feels good about. His pride is too big to allow him to post anything that would make him feel inept. It is very evident through his tone and how he pontificates at length about his credentials that image is very important to him. He has constantly trumpeted how he has learned English to a level higher than most native speakers. I don't think he would be so bold in stating that if he did not take pride in his own abilities. Believe me, he does take A LOT of pride in his ability to speak English. A LOT. If you don't believe me, go read his posts on that. Unfortunately, I know that he has re-edited and deleted parts of one post that was particularly egregious in trumpeting his accomplishment after reading the previous post on this blog. Why, after all these years would he re-edit it? Damage control. So I don't believe in this false humility. It is just an attempt to do damage control to a situation that has escaped him.

He starts off his post  " 'Good Writer, Bad Writer' on AAK!" like this:
The Korean frequently receives questions along the lines of: "I think your writing is great? How do I become a good writer?" For a few times, he has tried writing a post in response to such questions, and felt too embarrassed to continue. To be sure, the Korean does have a number of principles and guideposts in his mind when he writes. He does strive to be a better writer each time. But the truth is that his writing is still much lower quality than he would prefer. Because this blog is a hobby, he never does put in the amount of effort that he feels sufficient. Consequently, a reader with sharp eyes can usually find persistent errors and rooms for improvement in the Korean's writing. So it felt a bit silly to talk about how to write well, when he was not even living up to his own standards.

Notice the woe-is-me, whiny, and self-deprecating tone and how wishy washy it is compared to his usual tone. Reading his later articles after this post, one can certainly notice a tonal shift. Now, if you have read The Korean, he certainly is not a wishy washy guy and has VERY strong opinions, so I know that this is not genuine. Why does he do this? To protect his pride and excessively large ego. To show what a humble guy he is, to garner the sympathy of readers. A far cry from his usual chest-thumping and braggadocio that he douses us with. There have actually been a few readers that have mentioned this aspect of his personality in his comments section in much earlier posts. But his last post did receive a lot more attention than usual as he was making accusations about the famous author Malcolm Gladwell. "Ask a Korean" was known before then, but not as much as after he had started the debate with Gladwell. Now, you are bringing in a whole new set of readers who did not know or care about The Korean until someone of interest, Gladwell, was brought into the equation. I haven't checked his comments lately, but I did notice that he did receive a lot of disagreement from readers at one point. So it is disingenuous to say that "based on the reception the post had, it appears that the strategy worked this time." Maybe for some readers, but definitely not all. He tries to make the reader believe it through that statement. Nice try, but I am not buying it. I really don't believe that he was trying to emulate Justice John Roberts unless he is as arrogant as The Korean. I have never read anything by Justice Roberts, but I find it highly unlikely that someone in his position would write something so ham-fisted and arrogant. Correct me if I am wrong. Regardless, we must judge The Korean based on his own arguments and not some false comparison to someone else. I did not find his argument "amazing" though I did find it "infuriating" because of the arrogance displayed.

So it feels amazing (and a bit infuriating) when he finishes reading an opinion by Justice Roberts, and feels halfway convinced of the Justice's arguments before snapping out of it. Accordingly, the Korean attempts to deploy this style when he tries to write a strongly opinionated piece. Based on the reception the post had, it appears that the strategy worked this time.

He starts off his post by feigning humility and insecurity in his own writing abilities, but in the above passage, his ego returns once again. He uses the weight and authority of a Supreme Court Justice to give credibility to his own argument, saying that it is his writing style that we need to be understanding of and not how he constructed his argument. He covertly tries to get the more discerning reader to change their opinion about his argument this way: Reader, if you felt put off by my argument, here's why: I try to emulate the style of Justice Roberts who writes in a way that could be construed as a chain of trains crashing down into a "conclusion [that is] undeniable." Nice dodge there. So his writing is not a bloody axe wielding against Gladwell, but an emulation of "one of the greatest writers that the Supreme Court has seen since Robert Jackson." So one should not be critical of The Korean because his writing emulates the chaotic and bombastic style of Justice Roberts who is a writer of great magnificence, so by extension The Korean's writing should be lauded so highly. Yes, no false modesty there.

One tip that the Korean would give about writing is: have an arsenal of several esteemed writers whose style you can emulate depending on the purpose of your writing. For the purpose of the Culturalism post, the Korean was consciously trying to write like Chief Justice John Roberts, who is considered one of the greatest writers that the Supreme Court has seen since Robert Jackson. I think Justice Roberts writes  like a freight train coming down a hill. At first, the train would be stationary, sitting on top of the hill with no freight on it. Justice Roberts would begin his writing by adding freight piece by piece onto that train. After a certain point, the train would start slowly rolling downward, unable to bear its own weight any longer. By the time the train reaches the bottom of the hill--i.e. the conclusion of his writing--it moves with such momentum and speed that makes the conclusion undeniable. 

The Korean is being disingenuous here. Instead of choosing to take responsibility for his own bloody axe and deeply flawed argument, he chooses to lay the blame on Justice Roberts. Look, if you really believe that it is important to imitate "several esteemed writers whose style you can emulate depending on the purpose of your writing", then you should choose them wisely and The Korean is smart enough to do that although he does not take responsibility for this. I don't believe for a second that The Korean tried to fully model his argument on the style of Justice Roberts. I believe that it is possible that he has studied some of Roberts' writings and that may have affected his writing somewhat, but no one is forcing him to imitate anyone. He chose of his own volition to write that way whether it was an imitation or not and for that, he has to take responsibility and not blame some writing style. If a style doesn't work for you, don't use it. And The Korean cannot blame his lack of English skills as he may be tempted to do because he knows that it is good enough to judge nuance and the like. So no, he cannot have his cake and eat it, too. You can't say how great you are at something a billion times and then, say that you are not good enough. The Korean is very arrogant about himself and his own abilities, so to pull the false modesty card is disingenuous. He does not care about truly being modest and respectful. He only cares about his image and ego and I bet, he is not so audacious offline because he has a reputation to maintain and an image to uphold. People who are so focused on image just don't get it. Instead of focusing on image, why don't you just BE whatever you want others to see you as? Then, you would actually BE it instead of PRETENDING to be it and you wouldn't have to try so DAMN HARD. Big difference. He just keeps digging his own grave and I believe that it will be a long time before he actually understands the magnitude of his actions and how they have affected other people. If Justice Roberts truly writes that way, he has a horrible writing style and I don't understand why anyone would try to emulate him, especially a lawyer who is paid to know better and prides himself on knowing better than everyone else. He must not be a savvy lawyer because he does not really know how to separate "smoke and mirrors" from making a strong, solid argument. He's just too caught up in the game.

The Korean ends his post with this statement:

Thank you very much, Mr. Doyle, and thank you everyone for reading.

"Thank you for buying my b.s. everyone" is what he is really saying. Thank you, Mr. Doyle, for giving me a way to validate my posts to readers who may be more critical. Thanks for giving me the "proof" to show that my argument was well reasoned. So even when he is wrong, he's still not. If you want to see the flaws in his reasoning, you can look at my previous post. His post is really just about distorting the reader's perception so that he or she will believe that his argument only appears flawed because of his own lack of effort and writing style and not due to any other critical errors in his reasoning. Yes, I may have erred a bit. But please forgive me as this blog is only a hobby and I was trying to emulate Justice Roberts who has a style that can be described as a 'freight train coming down a hill'. So even when it is my fault, it really is not my fault. Even when I make a flawed argument, I am not really making a flawed argument. It is all justified and should be justified in your head, reader. I see.

As a lawyer, he needs to be a "master" of discourse, but it really is not that hard to see where his argument fails if you actually look at what he is saying and how he is saying it. The only thing he masters is confusing sheep-like readers who hang on to his every word unquestionably as well as overwhelming your mind with so much verbiage that you may get confused and concede if you are not astute enough. Instead of arguing his point, he chooses to use a blowhorn so that you can't even reflect on what is being presented to you. He chooses to dominate the whole conversation so that you will be overwhelmed and give in to his "argument". Because he is THE Korean and so he must know everything about Korea. His "Good Writer, Bad Writer" post really hit it on the head and further confirmed for me that he is really not interested in the truth, but doing a shadow dance of smoke and mirrors. I did mention in my earlier post that he is not interested in the truth, but controlling the narrative. So he is not simply stating an opinion, but generating his own propaganda. This is much worse than the kvetchpats I have written about, which you probably know that I don't have great love for. MUCH WORSE. Because he is not some lost and confused English teacher muttering about his lot in life. He is a well-educated lawyer who is spouting off his opinions as if they are credible and legitimate. That is much more dangerous and much more worse than an embittered English teacher who is just whining out of his own self-inflicted misery. He is presenting his own opinions as if they are irrefutable fact and it is misleading to readers who buy it hook, line, and sinker.

The reason I decided to write about this debate even though I had long been aware of The Korean's style  is due to the sheer audaciousness and hubris displayed by The Korean, which was much more than he usually displays on his blog and that is A LOT. I really do think that he gets off on knowing that he has some influence over the media and the public because he has a well-known blog and believe me, he really does care about how many people read his blog despite his contrived and often unsolicited denials. He is able to be so audacious and arrogant because he is anonymous and able to say whatever he wants without any fear of recrimination and consequences to his own personal or professional life. On the other hand, Malcolm Gladwell is a well-known figure. His face and name are known. People would be able to recognize him on the street. Plus, he has made a career out of writing. That is his bread and butter. The Korean does not rely on his blog for a living though he has made professional contacts and connected to professional opportunities through the blog. So he gets all the perks of fame without any of the hassles. He can write whatever he wants without being held accountable to it. The most that can happen if he went too far is that his host deletes and shuts down his blog. He can still write and still blog if that happens. Gladwell cannot continue writing as before. His credibility is marred as a journalist and too many people lack the critical thinking skills to notice how flawed The Korean's argument is. At least, Gladwell takes responsibility for what he writes and is in the line of fire if it doesn't work out. The Korean isn't. He chooses to abuse the power of anonymity so that he can say whatever he wants without any sense of regard or accountability towards others. And that is why he is so open and brashly audacious and arrogant. It is highly doubtful that he would be that way in real life because he is smart enough to know how that will be perceived.

For all his braggadocio, The Korean fails to recognize that he isn't the best person to argue for his superiority based on his terms, which are about academic achievement and career success. Sure, he did attend some nice schools, but that was after he was having problems at a Korean high school and forced his parents to come to the U.S. to have a future. (He wrote a post about this where he bragged about how he learned English in two years and what preceded that. I have tried to find it, but he deleted and edited out that part.) He had mentioned that he had hated Korea at that time and had problems with the school system, which caused him to have difficulty adjusting despite getting good grades, so he had both failures and successes in his high school career. I'm sure that older readers of his blog will remember the difficulties he mentioned, but it has been edited out from his blog. I would not be surprised if The Korean had gone back and re-edited many of his posts so that they would appear more modest than originally. Because he did re-edit one such post. Success or not, one doesn't have to be a jerk about it. That's a large reason why some people don't like him. There are some people who make you feel like greatness is possible and inspire you. There are others who use their own success to diminish others. Obviously, the Korean is from the latter camp. I'm fucking amazing and YOU SUCK, little people. One would think that someone who has gone through their own humbling experiences would be more understanding of others. More like, so long, suckers!

As for Gladwell, I'm sure that he will continue writing books. I am not the biggest fan of his work, but I have enjoyed some of his writings. The main flaw that I see with him is that he sometimes oversimplifies things. I can understand wanting to create an elegant explanation for something that is easily accessible, but some things just aren't that simple. His writing is about elegant simplicity, but you can't always apply that approach to developing an argument. What Gladwell should have done is consulted with more Korean language and culture experts to get their input on it because culture isn't always so obvious to the outsider. He incorrectly assumed that he would be able to discern it as one would studying an animal or some other physical phenomenon, but culture is not that obvious. Even if he is good at understanding a lot of his own Western culture, he would have to understand Korean culture to determine what role it played in the plane crashes. He might have interviewed a few experts for the plane crash chapter of his book "Outliers", but it wasn't enough. I get that he was saying that it was the hierarchical ASPECT of Korean culture that interfered with communication between pilots. The problem was that he said that it was Korean culture that was the problem. That is what The Korean and some others had a problem with and that is why they labeled him "culturalist". I won't go that far, but as a writer he should have been sensitive to the error of overgeneralization or at least, the perception of such.

I felt that it was important to share my thoughts about The Korean because he was so audacious . I know that no one in his real life would have criticized him because he presents a different persona in real life. He really needs to understand what he is doing to others and has done for a long time. He is not just overly picky and critical. He outright bludgeons dissenters with a bloody axe until their voice is murdered. As an internet critic, he is a mass murderer worse than OJ Simpson. Strangely, he will allow people who openly insult him like calling his wife a "Mongolian" in the pejorative sense to continue commenting on his blog, but go on the attack with people who have granular differences in opinion. It is a twisted sense of libertarianism. It's like he hates and bashes you if you disagree with him, but will put up with a direct insult for some reason. Disagreement is a threat to his sense of being right, but an outright insult can be dismissed as wrong, so he doesn't care as much, never mind how civil the disagreer may be. It's totalitarianism of thought. The Korean is a totalitarian about his beliefs. There is no contradiction between his libertarian aspect because that is what he has deemed as acceptable and right. But for many things, his vision is very black and white. My way is the right way and there is no room for disagreement when it challenges my sense of rightness.