This recent attempt to catch foreigners doing something horribly wrong – "degrading Korean culture" (see below) – has failed, but that doesn't stop the Korean media, nor does it erase the damage done.
"The investigation comes following an undercover operation in which police officers, who had been observing members of the comedy troupe for some time, attended Babo-palooza! at Neoreun Small Theater, Gwangalli Beach, Busan."
So the Korean police actually paid people to conduct an "undercover operation" on...on...comedians? They had been "observing members of the comedy troupe for some time"? What? In case a Columbian comedy "mule" tried to pull a joke stuffed in a condom out of his ass and tried to sell it? Or maybe before one of them ran onto a subway car in a trenchcoat and suddenly ripped it open to find not a bomb, but a clown suit? Or maybe in case they were secretly sending funny communiqués to North Korea in order to raise the morale of nuclear scientists disappointed after the reportedly lower-than-expected yield of the recent bomb tests?
This begs an obvious question: Don't the Korean police have anything better to do?
And then an additional followup: Why aren't the police busting all the "illegal performances" going on all over Seoul, especially those kids doing pitiful pantomiming in Daehakno, haggard hip-hop on random street stands, and badass breakdancing (pretty nice, kids!) whereever kids get a chance on weekends? And they all do it in the same place, all the time.
In the end, the guys who got in trouble were right – this is politically motivated, selectively targeted. The fact is that this isn't some common visa violation such as illegal teaching, nor is this something small-time or independent Korean artists don't do all the time. But this comes at a peculiarly convenient time, now, doesn't it?
It works like this: the Korean print media picks up a story somewhere (usually something blown way out of proportion or factually inaccurate) and then reports it. The broadcast media then links it to some pre-existing sentiment or generalized stereotype of foreigners – the brown ones are taking all the jobs (not true) or the white ones have lower sexual mores than us or are (a normative statement, but one I consider to be, natch, untrue – ahem, "Republic of Prostitution") – then it gets picked up by the broadcast media as if it were reality or even fact. Now, it's already in the minds of most Koreans that said event actually happened in this way, and adds to the fodder of "facts" that support pre-existing stereotypes of most foreigners:
- That "we" are all white.
- That "we" are any more sexually loose or free than Koreans (can we say yugwan rooms, pay by the hour?).
- That foreigners are all unqualified bail-jumpers (actually, I think the pool has been getting better and better since 10-12 years ago, when this was actually kind of scarily true, but no one Korean and in charge seemed to care).
Need examples? Let me go in reverse chronological order of the ones that stick out in my mind:
SCANDAL CREATION ATTEMPT (SCAT, a.k.a. "bullshit"): English teachers sexually Korean children at the ill-conceived English Village in Paju and exposes Korean children to foreigners' low sexual mores, according to the Kyeonggi-do branch of the Korean Teachers' Union. WRONG: It was two Korean nationals who were accused of inappropriately touching two kids. No major corrections that there was misreporting, and the KTU refused to retract it's statement. ANGRY JAB: To that inability to look reality in the face and eat crow, I say "fuck you, KTU" – show me even a single, documented example of any pattern of foreigners engaging in illegal sexual improprieties with their minor students (illegal and immoral) at all, or with adult students (legal, unethical, and usually completely hearsay) on anywhere near the scale that Korean professors do.
SCAT: After the "English Spectrum-gate" broke, Korean newspapers scrambled to showcase examples of skanky foreign types, e.g. the picture of a Korean woman posing with two white men at a wet T-shirt contest in a Hongdae club, or the idiot white boy some television station got to go on television and brag about all the Korean women he slept with. WRONG: No matter what extreme examples you can dig up, at least these were all consenting adults, and that young lady's right to privacy was seriously violated in the name of protecting "our" women from being "degraded." ANGRY JAB: If that's the concern, then perhaps the Korean men who made an online promise to assault any white man they saw with a Korean woman (hey, what about me!? – *SNIFF*) should do the same to Korean men in the red light districts, business clubs, room salons, barber shops, saunas, "mi-in" clubs, "sexy" bars, handjob places, and even prostitiution van delivery services. There's a van full of 5-6 scantly clad women picking up a couple women from my officetel every night in front if the 7-11 to drive them to who-knows-where. I got pictures to prooooove it! Shall I invite them over to stake out my place as well?
SCAT: "English Spectrum-gate" showed how immoral foreigners were and how yes, they really were trying to sleep with their students. Look! Some guy wrote a manual about it! WRONG: So every foreigner is held up to the standard of one seriously fucked up netizen? Don't even get me started on what Korean netizens say about different races, places, and faces every day. Again, show me the money. Where are the reported or documented cases of teachers – at the elementary, middle, high school, and college levels – sexually harassing, raping, or even running a sex ring with their students out of a major university? ANGRY JAB: Oops! That's right – those were all Korean "educators" I read about in the newspapers getting caught in 원죠교재, raping their own middle school students in a noraebang, or even one professor at Waedae, where I lecture, who actually says in class that "the shorter the skirt, the higher the grade." He's a legendary figure on campus and all the students know who he is and about that policy. Please – if there had been any serious, substantiated – real – accusation of sexual improprieties involving a foreigner, it would be front-page, Chosun-to-OhMy, headline, eyewitness news team, stop-the-presses news, dude. Korean media just mad 'cuz they can't find nuttin.' Based on the actual cases and examples of sexual harrassment, assault, and all manner of sexual improprieties, I'd have to conclude that it was actually Korean teachers and professors who had no low sexual mores and no sense of professional decency. 근데 그렇게 얘기하면 기분 나쁘겠지? Well, try the shoe on the other foot, then.
I could go on. Perhaps my readers would like to add to the list? SCAT, WRONG, ANGRY JAB. Let it all out, people.
But before I go, I'll just say that it's awfully convenient that the media is bringing up this trumped-up case of "foreigners insulting Koreans", and the police went to an awful lot of trouble in the recent case to dig up some dirt. Undercover cops? Drug tests? It's a comedy show, not a Communist rally. This ain't Miami Vice, and I ain't seen no Koreans named Crockett and Tubbs.
Undercover? Drug tests? Does this constitute a "Babo-gate?"
But I coined the term.
I got first!