Thursday, 3 April 2008

Holy cow it's a proper crime wave!

soundtrack: hit play and start reading.

Evig Pint- by The Kaizer Orchestra, a Norwegian band that might be described as "The Pogues meet Tom Waits while watching a rescue crew attend to a Norwegian carnival accident"

A little doom and gloom before the weekend. . .

This is pretty startling.

I've never heard so much (local) carnage in the newspapers as the last two months here in Seoul.

I started reading the newspapers daily last year when I started teaching adults, and friends, things are getting raw over here in Korea!

Some recent headlines (mostly from Koreabeat, a site dedicated to translating Korean news articles into English), and these are just the ones that turned up in a search: my students have told me about other, incidents bad enough to bum me out for an entire morning.

A burgler/rapist in Incheon (one of Seoul's satellite cities).

Popstar Lee Dong-gon's brother murdered in Australia:

A dirty old man attempted to kidnap and rape a little girl. The police responded as if it were just some drunken disturbance, and basically tried to bury the incident, even warning the child's mother not to go to the media. This guy's pretty mad about it, and even the President of Korea personally headed over to the police station to knock some heads together when the media started reporting the story and criticizing the lazy, half-hearted police work.

Here's a ridiculously disturbing video of the incident. It's pretty violent, so don't watch it if you don't have the stomach. Not like you see blood or anything, but it's shocking to see a grown man cutting loose on a little girl this way.

Right on an apartment building CCTV! Fortunately, he was caught. Unfortunately, he was a repeat-offending, convicted child-rapist out on parole, who'd slipped off the radar.

A former Korean pro baseball player commits a multiple murder/suicide.

A runaway kid.

An "educational civil servant" accused of rape is back on the job.

Scads of kids are going missing, too.

Parents are upset and worried to high heaven; the Joshing Gnome found this picture of mothers waiting by their children's Elementary School gates to meet their kids and bring them home safely. It's sad and touching and kind of cute and cause for concern, all at the same time.

After making excuses and prevarications, a dude confessed to killing two little girls in a province not far from Seoul. It was pretty grisly . . . I don't really want to talk about it much. In response, these folks are working to keep the streets safe by escorting elementary school kids home (that's touching and awesome. Yay grass roots!)

(these are the Tiger Grandpas, from Songpa, the area where I used to live, out to make sure the kids are all right.)

I teach adults, and dear readers, they're upset. They're calling for law and order and heads to roll, literally: I even read an op-ed piece in the paper calling for the death penalty for child killers.

Yes, indeed, things are getting rough and raggedy over here in Korea.

Now a couple months ago, when Seoul's Sungnyemun Gate burned down, this article in the Korea Times attracted a lot of scorn from a lot of people. Using the principles of "Oriental Topography" (basically really, really large-scale feng shui), it predicts that with the loss of Sungnyemun, known as the "fire gate" for blocking fire (hot-tempered) energy from entering the capital, crime in the city would rise.

Mysterious Energy Linked to Blaze

By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

Oriental topography experts said the fire at Seoul's 600-year-old structure may have something to do with the mysterious ``fire-torching'' energy from a mountain in southern Seoul.

. . . Jeon Hang-soo, head of Korea Oriental Topography Research Center[, says,] ``Basically, Seoul is more densely filled with the energy than any other cities due to the shape of mountaintops surrounding the city ― spiky and sharp. . . .'

In Oriental topography, spiky mountaintop stands for ``fire'' and ``hot temper.''

. . . Kang Whan-woong, 74, a professor at Sejong University in Seoul, said ``Namdaemun was constructed with the hope of blocking the `aggressive' and `fire-inviting' energies [from sharp-peaked mountains nearby] from sneaking into the palace.''

. . . If the gate had not existed, a blaze would have broke out at the palace and even the presidential office, Chung Wa Dae, the professor said.

. . . Some experts in Oriental topography said the number of crimes in the capital might increase in the aftermath of the gate's collapse.

``As Namdaemun, having served as a guardian restraining the `hot-temper' and `easy-fighting' energies from Mount Gwanak disappears, we will see the number of crimes in the capital escalating until its restoration,'' predicted head of the topography research center. ``The restoration of Cheonggye stream has largely contributed to mixing the hostile energy with peaceful one from the manmade waterway, resulting in weakening the violent energy.''

It seems that the crime increase is occurring all over the country, rather than just in the downtown: Sungnyemun must have been more important than we thought!

For poor old Park Si-soo and the geomancy experts, it must be nice to be vindicated, but I'm sure they'd rather have been wrong, and had a little more rule of law in the streets.

Scoff if you like. . . anybody have a better theory on why this is happening? It's a little disconcerting, and between this and North Korea puffing and strutting and saber-rattling again, my students are getting restless.


elizabeth said...

considering in Holland some of this is becoming legalized and made into legally recognized parties, i would say what Christians have always said. Satan. Who wants to destroy.

i feel like much of the worlds cultures are deteriorating at such a rapid rate but that most are not noticing. i am encouraged to see that people where you are Rob are noticing and still have a problem with it.

perhaps my comment will seem extreme, but evil really exists. the question is whether we believe that something greater than the evil also exists.

gordsellar said...

Uh... or maybe these things are just being reported more often? I mean, the ranting, wailing, hair-pulling Christians like Elizabeth always get hard/wet in the knickers when they see such evidences of evil, but there's plenty of evidence that humans were much more routinely, callously brutal throughout prehistory. Genocides, cannibalism, mass rape, slavery... their relative rarity today says a lot about how much culture can do to restrain all-too-common mammalian behaviours. The actions of communities in response to these crimes, when they were made known, show the real state of society, which is more altrusitic, more voluntarist, and more compassionate than ever before.

I told the same to a student who came to me about this (for an essay topic): how do we know things are worse now than fifty years ago? The news in Korea is actually reporting such events, and the majority of citizens are disturbed (and many are even angry about it)... I see that as a major step forward past denial.

It's not Satan, it's just our own endless struggle against the outliers on the human bell curve, who have always been there, but who in the past hid in shadows cast by the niceties of society, or by lack of means to communicate events. They are the vampires and werewolves and demons of our mythology: psychopaths and sociopaths, born to look like us but with radically different wiring in their heads.

Don't damn us all because human nature isn't as simple as your scripture suggests, Liz. Read. Learn more. Question. Think harder.

rwellor said...


I took a quick look back at Rob's excellent post and he mentioned:

Runaway and Missing Children, and:

I'm curious as to which of these are being legalized in Holland?

Roboseyo said...

See, Elizabeth, whether Satan exists or not, I don't know if I want to let the people off the hook who are actually committing these crimes. In the same way, I'm not ready to completely blame society when something terrible happens. I more think these kinds of horrific choices are like a big old pot of spaghetti sauce, with a lot of different ingredients working together to create that particular effect: some childhood trauma, a little mental disease, a recent disappointment, an obsessive nature, a tract he once read that provided an easy scapegoat for the world's ills. . . etc..

I'm even ready to believe that evil exists, but I think every human has in them the potential for good and evil, and our choices set patterns that can lead us either way. I like the way Gordsellar calls it "the outliers of the bell curve."

As far as the cosmic Good and Evil stuff . . . it's harder to say whether Satan's there inside my head, throwing his weight around to tip the balance in the choices I make. I usually get in over my head when I start swimming in those waters, but I DO know that we humans have some stake in our own actions, and I like Gord's point that the way society reacts to horrific events these days is much more compassionate than in days past: numerous countries have banned the death penalty entirely now, where back in the day, King Henry VIII himself commanded the execution of 72 000 people! (according to wikipedia)

elizabeth said...

ah. sorry i did not check back sooner. Rob, i totally hear you; people do have responsibility. without doubt.

there is an official legal party for pedophiles in Holland now.

but it still is true that the devil wants to destroy; i wrote more about what i was thinking on a blog post if that helps...

i love that someone i do not know assumes i must be a fundamentalist. God bless you. i am actually a convert to the Orthodox church and i hope by my comment that i have not made the Orthodox church appear fundamentalist.

just in case no one goes to my blog, which is fine, the thing that is greater than evil is GOD. His love, His humility, His creative acts, His joy...

as i said before, i am heartened to see parents where you live taking action; so much of culture today seems very passive and that is troubling...

Rob, you know me in the past and i am still that person, though we always change. you still have my respect, please know this. of course my comment was not at all meaning to be disrespectful, which i think you know. :)

Roboseyo said...

Elizabeth, I didn't feel a whit disrespected, bothered or annoyed by your comment. In fact, I love that you're turning my monologue into a dialog, and that from there, it became a full-on discussion.

I was not aware of the legal pedophile party in the Netherlands; I know the man-boy love association has stirred up controversy in North America (you can look it up on Wikipedia).

As you know, if you've been following my blog, I've been putting a lot of the beliefs I was raised with, and the institutions I was raised IN under a great deal of scrutiny -- if you don't seriously consider the possibility you might lose a faith, how can you be sure you really HAVE it, you know? And I've always been the kind who takes the long way home. . .

but until then, I am also heartened to see people taking action, taking control of their own destinies and their own communities, rather than blaming society, the government, the devil, or some other scapegoat.

Take care, Elizabeth, and seriously, thanks for weighing in.

Gordsellar and Rwellor: thanks also for sounding out. I've enjoyed this interchange quite a bit, and it's given me food for thought.