Monday, June 11, 2012

Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women

Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
Part 6: The 'Ask The Playboy' sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children
Part 10: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 11: "Middle school girls will do anything"
Part 12: Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'
Part 13: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1

Part 14: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 15: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 16: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 17: 'Regret' over t
he scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 18: "Korean men have no excuse"
Part 19: "Unfit foreign instructo
rs should be a 'social issue'"
Part 20: 'Clamor' at foreigner English education site
Part 21: Foreign instructor: "I want to apologize"
Part 22: No putting brakes on 'Internet human rights violations'
Part 23: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 1
Part 24: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2
Part 25: Don't Imagine
Part 26: 'Foreign instructor' takes third place
Part 27: Art From Outsider's Point of View
Part 28: U.S. Embassy warns Americans of threats near colleges
Part 29: Internet real name system debated
Part 30: Dirty Korean women who have brought shame to the country?
Part 31: Foreign instructor: "In two years I slept with 20 Korean women."
Part 32: Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over

On January 25, 2005, the Chosun Ilbo finally published an article (on page A12 in its hard copy edition) on this incident, titled "Regarding 'foreigner low quality posts,' nothing can stop innocent Korean women from being victimized in the online court of public opinion." As you can tell from the title, the article focused on the suffering of the women at the hands of netizens. This same article was translated and posted at's English site with a different title and a bit more context given in regard to the celebrity x-file incident. One untranslated paragraph has been added in, but otherwise the English version is actually a bit longer than the original.
Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over

Before the "entertainment x-file" hit cyberspace, the hot issue among local Netizens was a post by an English teacher in Korea who wrote that local women treated him like a king and were easy to sleep with. Oddly, however, it was not predatory foreign men who came under attack as a result but Korean women.

On Saturday, the Chosun Ilbo met with the 28-year-old manager of a club near Hongik University. She had become another victim of character assassination by Internet when photos her and eight regular customers taken at a party began making their way around the web. It was a "sexy costume party" held at her Mary Jane club last November. Some 70 percent of the participants were Korean men and women, while the rest were foreign men and women.

"Two customers were on the verge of quitting their jobs, and another was seeking psychiatric counseling," she said Saturday. "Another customer had a job offer taken away. Our club is preparing to close. This is clearly an act of murder."

In mid-December, photos from the party were posted on English Spectrum, a website frequented by foreign English teachers working in Korea. They had been taken by some of the foreigners who attended the party and depicted Korean women and Western men dancing together in a suggestive way, Korean women revealing their breasts or underwear, as well as Western men and Korean women touching and kissing.

The photos escaped public scrutiny until 10 days ago, when they sparked an outcry at the height of the cyberspace hysteria about "foreign teachers degrading Korean women." Several inflammatory comments posted on English Spectrum by English teachers living in Korea even lead to the formation of a movement to expel foreign teachers from the peninsula. When the photos were discovered, it was like pouring oil on an open fire.

[As the low quality posts posted at a site where the foreign instructor party photos were published (are) spread, a 'movement to expel foreign instructors' is coming together.]

Online rage switched targets from foreign men to the Korean women in the photos. Some online media described the pictures as "scenes of women openly enjoying sex with foreigners." These stories were often accompanied by malicious comments like, "Whores, are Western bastards that good?" and, "The English you learn from selling yourself is body language, not real English." Even more frightening was that calls for the women's names, work places, email addresses and phone numbers to be made public were promptly answered.

The club manager describes the pain that followed as "trampling on her life." "I get anonymous threatening phone calls at the club all the time. 'Why don't whores like you just die quietly,' 'Foreigners' whore! Why don't you shut down your club?' 'We will hold a picket demonstration in front of your club'... I get nervous anytime I hear the phone ring."

A 27-year old also in the pictures said, "It's true that I enjoy dancing to relieve stress, but isn't it going overboard to treat me like a whore?" Fighting back tears, she said, "My co-workers point at me behind my back." "I don't know how they got my email address, but I get tons of emails with frightening titles, so I don't even turn on my computer these days." Another girl pictured said she was offered a secretarial position in early January, but because of the photos, the job offer was withdrawn.

The same paradox - of the victims of Internet revelations being degraded again in vicious Internet attacks - was also at play when Korean entertainers were attacked following the publication of unsubstantiated rumors about them in the "x-file." Meanwhile, there is no word on whether the men who left the degrading comments on the site were ever held accountable.

The victims are suing the Internet media behind publication of the pictures. Their lawyer Im Sang-hyeok said, "Just as the tsunamis in South Asia left wretched survivors in their wake, Korean women were left as victims in the places swept by excessive Internet enthusiasm."
The article has some more ugly comments written by the netizens and further interviews with the owner and the women, as well as a comment by their lawyer, which is the first confirmation that the women had actually gotten a lawyer. It's also about the only confirmation of this. This article is in fact the last article about the English Spectrum incident itself; from here on in begin the many articles scrutinizing foreign teachers in Korea that we are quite familiar with today. In the next installments of this series, we will see the rise of the 'unqualified foreign teacher.'

No comments: