Gusts of Popular Feeling is doing a great job of researching and pinning down the stories I'd heard of foreigners being murdered by Koreans FOR being a foreigner. Yes, it has happened, on several occasions, but most of us don't do the do-diligence and research. Often, there seems to be a bare minimum of reporting around these incidents because, basically, the Korean news media doesn't like reporting such things.
Another thing to look into -- and there would be more records on the US military side -- is the murder of an African-American Army doctor in Itaewon around the same time; he was a victim of multiple stab wounds by an attacker that the paper said was assumed to have been mentally ill. From what I remember reading, it was broad daylight, he had been with companions, and the Korean man simply jumped him from out of the blue. I never saw a followup to the story, nor any information about the attacker.
Another point to pin down is the Army captain who was assaulted by 3 attackers in 2002 and stabbed, I believe, 17 times by 3 attackers on his way home from night duty. This was reported in both the US Embassy warnings being issued at the time as well as on 60 Minutes. He was clearly attacked, completely unprovoked, and the doctor said it was amazing that he was alive.
And two reports that DID make it into the Korean media but were grossly distorted to the point of near-falsity was the tattoo-covered GI pictured in the "Shinchon Stabbing Incident", in which, as reported to the Korean public, 2 American GI's just went crazy in Shinchon for no apparent reason, trying to stab people. As stories like this go, it's instantly suspicious -- where's the motive? It makes sense to a Korean-media-based logic, that GI's just go on rampages against Koreans for no reason, but that doesn't happen in reality. When you look below the surface in the public stories related to rampaging GI's rampaging without apparent motive, you see a very different picture. Like in this case, the fact that it was 2 GI's and a Korean KATUSA who went to Shinchon, were attacked by 5 drunk Korean males with no words exchanged, and it was when one attacker was atop the knife assailant's buddy with hands around his neck, THAT is when he removed a knife in his pack and stabbed him multiple times in the neck.
None of these facts are in dispute, and are in the official trial transcript. The only question in this case was whether the stabbing was done in self-defense. That they had been jumped, that there had been 5 attackers, that they had been drunk -- none of those facts are in dispute. Regardless of what one thinks of the decision to use a knife, it wasn't rampaging GI's, but 5 against 2 (the KATUSA had run off) and a raving crowd behind them that had obviously joined in. Had it been me, I'd have been scared out of my mind; would a knife have helped? According to the testimony, and the fact that YES, GI's DO know that there have been incidents in which GI have been violently attacked or even murdered in civilian areas for no apparent reason other than the fact that they were a GI, something that seemed to be happening to them at that very instant, I can't say it wasn't a case of self-defense. But you know what? It wasn't a case of the "rampaging GI."
The other major case of the "rampaging GI" comes from 1995, when a GI supposedly came onto a subway in the middle of a weekday, started feeling on a girl's ass, and refused to stop when confronted. Huh? Now, that just didn't make sense to me. I've seen GI's be assholes before, or be drunk, and yes, sometimes on the subway (remember, at that time the number 5 and 6 lines were still under construction and did not exist, so there WAS no Itaewon stop and the nearest was Samgakchi, which was generally NEVER taken by anyone other than the more explorative and curious GI on the weekend for trips around the city, but far, far out of the range of any drunk GI's concentrated in Itaewon; and no matter how much one assumes GI's are crazy drunkards, not generally in the middle of a weekday), but even the biggest of dicks don't generally behave that way.
Turns out, my hunch was right -- the "attacker" was the woman's HUSBAND, and when some drunk ajussis (I've seen far, far more drunk ajussis midday on a workday than any GI's, who generally keep to the base area, anyway -- and how many uniformed GI's do you see in Seoul on a given weekday even TODAY?) started harassing his wife, cursing at her loudly, and getting pretty belligerent, the guy punched one who had come close enough to do so. Well, as they said in the old South, "when the nigger starts to when, then we all jump in" -- when a foreigner is in the midst of a brawl, it's always the foreigners' fault, right? Especially when it's usually 4 or 8 against 1 or 2 dudes?
Yeah, that makes sense, too. Because I always like to start fights in which I'm outnumbered, right?
Even the BLUE HOUSE issued a press release to stop reporting such a blatantly false incident on the news, which apparently was being done just to worsen Korean-American relations, and was being completely distorted beyond anything resembling the truth. Here's a former minister's interview from the Monthly Chosun:
2002년 06월 >> "인물과 인터뷰"
[특별인터뷰] 孔魯明 (前 외무부 장관)의 통렬한 金大中 외교노선 비판
『일부 美軍 범죄가 국민감정에 좋지 않은 영향을 미칠 수 있겠지요. 그러나 3만7000명의 美軍이 주둔하고 있는데 범죄가 없을 수 없다는 것을 생각해야 합니다.
개중에는 과장되는 면도 있는 것 같아요. 제가 정부에 있을 때 지하철에서 美軍이 한국 여성을 性추행한 사건이 TV에 크게 보도된 적이 있습니다. 당시 美軍 측이 우리에게 알려 온 바로는 美軍이 性추행했다는 한국 여성이 바로 자기 부인이었다는 겁니다. 지하철 안에서 엉덩이를 만지고 한 것이 문제가 된 것인데 이것은 문화적인 차이 때문에 생긴 것입니다. 한국적인 문화에서는 자기 부인이라고 해서 남이 보는 데서는 그렇지 않잖아요. 그런 것을 모르고 TV에서 「美軍 性추행사건」이라고 대대적으로 보도한 것입니다. TV뿐 아니라 신문에 그러한 사실을 알려줘도 전혀 訂正 보도를 해 주지 않더군요』
No Korean ever believes me until I send them this overwhelming proof that the story is quite nearly a blatant fabrication.
And that's the point: the majority of "incidents" that your average Korean "knows" about, either through media or associated rumors, are actually NOT. Ask your average Korean over 30 about the subway groping, or most people about the Shinchon stabbing incident, or even about GI's fighting with a taxi driver, or for a time, even getting into a VERBAL ARGUMENT with a taxi driver was grounds for getting into an international newspaper. Add a couple truly tragically true incidents like the decade-old murder of a prostitute, or the more recent rape of grandmother in Hongdae by a GI, and you get a pattern.
Not an inevitable side-effect of the fact that yes, if you have 30-60,000 young soldiers stationed here, there are bound to be incidents, but mostly that fall within the bell curve of most crimes -- lots of petty crimes as in scuffles and assaults, many related to alcohol and being young and stupid, some rapes, and even a few murders. But does it occur at the high rate that the Korean media thinks it does? Or even above the rate of the Korean population?
And given the fact that the majority of incidents constituting what Koreans "know" about GI crime, or foreigners being drug dealers, or child molesters -- are either blatantly false or gross distortions of readily-available facts, or in the case of child molestation, there exist no incidents and are complete creations of the Korean media -- one can't chalk these stereotypes to anything other than the Korean public extreme proneness to believe any wild tales told about foreigners, even as there is criticism and suspicion about the media in other areas, such as politics or Korean domestic issues.
But if there's a foreigner involved, those critical faculties are turned off.
Koreans are not stupid, but there is a tendency to believe, in the absence of a media or often even a physical presence in the average Korean person's world of a foreigner at all, anything. And if it confirms a pre-conceived notion or Hollywood stereotype -- for example, that "foreigners" have no sexual mores or that we are wild bar crawlers or what-have-you -- this "makes sense," since that is all that many Koreans "know" about foreigners.
And if you speak Korean -- thereby having access to Koreans who haven't inevitably spoken, worked, and made both professional and personal ties with actual foreigners -- you'd be surprised at the level of "knowing" that exists about "us." And in a culture in which I can go on a nice first date with a Korean woman, sit down to dinner, and she warns me, "I don't sleep on the first date like American girls do," before the salad comes, I wonder what other Hollywood notions of me she has. And when people say, with a completely straight face and with no intention of causing harm or inkling of why it might be offensive, that we should go to karaoke because "all blacks are good singers" or are surprised to see I can't play basketball for the obvious reason of my skin color, or "foreigners naturally like to have more sex" than Koreans, or any of the ridiculous things that are surprisingly simplisitic and often dehumanizing -- it's no surprise that people buy these newspaper whoppers hook, line, and sinker.
We have a yellow journalistic system reporting only along the lines of what Koreans "know" about foreigners, and upon reading these mostly exaggerated, often false, and very occasionally true tales in the media, these beliefs are confirmed. And the cycle just gets stronger and stronger, to the point of near-ridiculousness: YTN declared Hongdae a Mad Max-style warzone, with foreigners running around assaulting and groping people in the streets, as too dangerous to walk alone, with the police running scared. Now, no matter what you think of the matter of media distortions of GI's in Korea, we all know that Hongdae isn't a post-apocolyptic nightmare. And then, the very next week, YTN does a followup report showing that Hongdae was like a pastoral haven, after the US military declared the area off-limits -- which it has done numerous times before. From Mad Max to Freedomland in an week. Riiight. This is the same YTN that reported Bill Gates had been murdered in his sleep. Oops! Stop reading the Onion, YTN!
And this goes without even talking about the multiple serious assaults and rapes perpetrated on both foreign civilians and American GI's -- yes, there are female GI's, remember? And there seem to be as many cases of American soldiers being raped by Korean civilians as the other way around. Perhaps even more, given how bad things have gotten with violent assaults and rape attempts against women in general these days.
In the case I most recently remember, the taxi driver who took the GI straight from her cab at Incheon and deceived her into a motel and then raped her -- he didn't even get a jail sentence. It's not rape if you don't resist, and if it's not violent enough, right?
All my fellow American lefties and feminists, ya feel me? Where's the outrage?
It's funny, though, how many lefties (I consider myself one) come to Korea and buy the Korean left's obviously biased and often racist bullshit without a critical neuron being fired. From vilifying the US military in the 2002 incident over a traffic accident in which apologies and compensation were offered from the git-go (but the Korean media out-and-out lied and said weren't offered), to the multiple assaults and rapes that go on here (remember how no one believed Winter when she was reporting it through the blogosphere, but it was only when she brought it up on national television that the Korean public very, very reluctantly did?), and the obvious race-baiting that goes on in the media here -- it's disappointing that so many American lefties wanting so hard to be accepted by Korean lefties who generally dislike the USA, give up their own critical thinking skills when it comes to the deep-rooted racists and sexist stereotypes held by so many Koreans.
I guess it's part of their American guilt-complex. Sure, the US has been a neo-colonial force here in Korea, and blah, blah, blah about all the other stuff we surely already agree on -- but turn on your fucking thinking caps when it's the other way around, please.