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English Spectrum

My girlfriend called me the other night about a big internet scandal that had her worried for the safety of foreigners working with little kids, such as myself currently, now that I’m working at an English Camp for elementary schoolkids. She said the Joongang Ilbo had been publishing stories about nasty and pedophiliac foreigners who posted things like guides on how to molest elementary schoolkids, and asked me to, “Be careful,” I suppose simply to avoid anything that could be misconstrued as improper. Not ever being alone with any child would be a start, for example.

Well, I was so tired and frazzled by the camp that I didn’t bother to do the rounds at the Korea Blogs, and simply warned people about it. I even emailed Oranckay, who I thought might have covered it, and he emailed me back saying that Marmot had been covering at already, and that he had not much to say about it. So I went to check out what Marmot, always an excellent source, had to say. Well, what he had to say can be found right here.

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

sums up the majority of the coverage, which is focused on a different, though linked, issue. Marmot’s been mostly covering the English Spectrum postings of foreigners’ nasty comments about Korean women, and photos from a moronic-fratboy-styled party they held at some club in Seoul. Frankly, I agree with Marmot’s closing comments:

If you think the buttheads over at English Spectrum degrade Korean women, they are nothing compared to the Korean media, which regularly depicts women as sexual playthings. I’m not going to get myself tied up in a knot over this, as like any heterosexual male, I enjoy seeing attractive women in advanced states of undress, and I find posting tabloid crap much more rewarding than posting about North Korea. But if the Joongang Ilbo—currently the largest online newspaper in Korea… wants to defend the honor of Korean womanhood against the degradations of barbarian men, it first needs to ask itself what role it has played in fetishizing its own women. And the same goes for many of the Netizens so full of rage about photos and commentary that differ little from similar material you can read in Korean elsewhere. Heck, read through some of the online comments being made. If the original forum and photos represent white male neocolonialism at its ugliest, some of the [Korean] male Netizen responses represent little more than tribal patriarchy. Like I said, having suffered the indignity of surfing through some of this shit, I’ll allow myself that comment.

But you should go read the whole post, not just the comments I’ve copied here. He’s got tons of updates and info up.

One last thing. It seems, though I can’t say for certain since the page at Korean ESL has been taken down, that “How to mollest your students” was intended as some kind of stupid joke. Well, guys, jokes are hard to get across language barriers and this subject is a very explosive one in any culture… maybe it’d be better to joke about other topics? I mean, really, pedophile humor is not really funny to begin with. But if you looked around Korean ESL you’ll find plenty more nasty commentaries making us whiteys look bad; at least, though, there are some others who are willing to take the piss out of these idiots. Me, I wouldn’t have the patience. But on the other hand: did the Joongang Ilbo publish their piece on the molestation guide ignorant of the fact it was not intended to describe reality but instead sick humor? My impression was that it was presented as if it were real. Certainly my girlfriend’s comments on the story sounded as if the “joke” had been posted as a “real” guide.

Ah well, maybe people will stay pissed for a while and immigration and hiring reforms will be pursued, so that fewer actual foreign criminals, pedophiles, and freaks end up coming to Korea? One can hope… but, with 냄비 문화 in effect I think it’ll all blow over soon.

It does amuse me, though, that with such a sexist culture, with such a massive sex industry (which at times has even been defended in the media as a crucial part of trade, in its use entertaining foreign businessmen), Korean netizens are pissed off that these crass white jackasses found Korean girls willing to fool around with them for free. Is it more of the, “What do these girls see in these white guys?” syndrome? Would they prefer the white guys paying for it in cash? Would they prefer some kind of Apartheid?

Wait, I know white people here who want some kind of Apartheid, too. I remember a questionnaire being circulated that asked me if I’d be willing to live in a white gated village in my city, whether I’d want restrictions against Koreans or just against non-anglophones at the gate (uh, what about Korean friends who don’t speak English?) and so on. It was pretty offensive, as questionnaires go, just because it assumed I would want to live among “my own kind”, when in fact I feel safer and more comfortable in the relative anonymity of the way I live now, in some apartment building somewhere among thousands and thousands of Koreans.

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