Sorry to be on a bit of a negative streak – who, me?! – but after having gotten burned by that rag of a "newspaper" the Kyunghyang Shinmun myself, in an article that spun half-truths and misrepresented information into a completely false picture – all in the name of anti-American, anti-Japanese, and anti-foreigner sentiment – I can't say I put too much stock into their accusations of "degrading Korean culture" in the case of the Pusan parody performance that has become the suspiciously convenient story of the hour.
My "scandal" arose when it was implied that I was teaching some pro-Japanese/anti-Korean curriculum in my history class at Yongin Foreign Language High School, because page 945 of the textbook referred to the "Sea of Japan" in a diagram mapping troop movements in the Korean War in the Cold War chapter.
As if educational publisher Longman USA gives a rat's ass.
For those of you who've heard this rant before, bear with me. There is a point here, above my continuing personal bitterness about the matter. Here's the picture they published with story:
Do I look white or female? Did they present the context that nothing went on in that class that isn't standard procedure in every Korean school across the country (sticking the one hour of a useless class onto the one they're taking the big test for to give students extra time, that is)?
And that's the point here – context. Foreigners "degrading Korean culture" in a clearly artistic venue is the complaint? And people are asking me to "calm down" and "don't misunderstand" the Minyeodeului Suda Incident, which was clearly out-of-bounds and on national TV?
Anyway – my little textbook incident was a railroading and a political attack, using the fact that it was a foreigner teaching a sensitive subject (using The American People textbook, written by respected American historian Gary Nash, who also happens to the most well-known textbook critic in America, having even won a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi that went to that state's Supreme Court).
Well, after that, the Ministry passed a law outlawing foreign teachers from teaching anything other than English conversation during normal school hours. So a Harvard-educated economist come to teach for the Econ AP (as if that would happen, but just stick with me here on the hypothetical) would have to teach conversation. Great policy.
So even as the Korean media continues to whip up a lather about the phantom menace of the the "underqualified, oversexed foreign English teacher" – it prevents any actually qualified ones from teaching in their schools.
Anyway, Korean journalism doesn't adhere to very high ethical standards, being full of cash bribes, kickbacks, and favors, on top of it being standard practice to repose pictures, submit stories on events the reporter never attended, and quote people without having even recorded the interview or having had taken notes.
Am I anti-Korean? No. Do I think the state of journalism in Korea is abysmal. Abso-fucking-lutely.
I've been misquoted in the Kyunghyang Shinmun in an article that misspelled everything except my name, as well as got all my basic information wrong. No surprise, since they conducted an extensive interview with no notes and attributed long, detailed quotes to me saying things I wouldn't have even known how to say in Korean back in 2003.
Anyway, I do know one thing for sure. From what I've seen, the Korean press is totally unprofessional and barely adheres to ethical standards of journalism, is totally caught up in anti-foreigner sentiment to sell newspapers, and the Kyunghyang Shinmun is a worthless rag I wouldn't use to wipe my cat's ass with.
Oh no! Is this going to get me sent to the Visa Nazis? I've made $20.76 from Google Adsense since I signed up two months ago. I live in Korea. Each month, I've made enough scrilla to buy myself 5/6 of a dried squid anju at my local bar. I must be one of them foreign companies making big bucks off of Korea completely legally and stuff. And I surely must lead life of wine and wimmin'. Because that's what all foreigners do.
Do foreigners' very existence constitute an insult to or the "degrading" of "Korean culture?" And God help us if we actually fight back, if we actually say anything. We might get booked for it!
I wonder if the Kyunghyang Shinmun's editor is going to call up her best friend's next door neighbor's second cousin who is dour immigration officer out in Mokdong to stamp me for "special treatment" next time around. Maybe I'll make the newspapers as having "slandered Korea's national honor in criticizing the state of journalism" – that'd be a pretty typical move.
So come get me, immigration! I've made money in Korea through scathing criticism of this society!
"Bad boys! Whatcha gonna do? When they, when they come for you?"
(If you see me on TV being jumped by Korean cops outside my officetel, with my belly flopping out of my T-shirt as I struggle to git 'em off me, be sure to crack a 40 open for me and pour some out in my honor. I'll throw my cellphone at the camera and curse for ya to show my appreciation).
This is so stupid.
I'm gonna watch out for cops tonight – and if I see 'em, I'm gonna do the ole "banana in the tailpipe" trick. Hehe.
(What was that? A drug reference? A homosexual allusion? Another sign of the "low morals" of foreigners?)
Stop the presses! Scandal!
Instead of responding to the smallest perceived slight against "Korean culture" and continuing to distort the image of foreign peoples in the press, perhaps if most Koreans recognized just how distorted their view of US was, they'd have less to say – 할말이 없을 걸.