Friday, 8 October 2010

Violence in Itaewon; Important Message To Koreans about "외국인, 이태원에서 한국 노인 폭행 '논란'"

So Hi Expat continues to pull out interesting stuff: this time it's a video of someone who seems to be an American GI ("I fought in Iraq for six years!"), punching an old Korean man in the head.  Warning: the video includes swearing and violence.  It's pretty shocking.

It's up on Naver, blurred and stuff, and collecting hits.  (see also daum TV)

This video, and the old lady attacking the young girl earlier this week (see here)

These two videos, in the same week, make me think:

1. Holy COW!  What the hell is happening?  Why is violence breaking out on video, all over Korea?

2. I hope other Korean seniors planning on picking on youngsters see these two videos, and choose to pick on a younger Korean instead of a younger foreigner... because many foreigners haven't been trained from birth that abuse from a senior must be borne silently.

3. The young guy throwing punches at a senior citizen's head: this guy shouts that he has been in Iraq for six years, so he may be dealing with much bigger things, personally, than an annoying old guy who won't back off -- I don't know the story about the old guy, or what led up to this incident...

However, I'd like to take this moment to address any of my Korean readers, who finds this blog post after getting upset about foreign (alleged) soldiers punching Korean seniors in the head:

Important Message:

Hey everybody.  In the comments about this video, a lot of people will say a lot of nasty things about foreigners, Americans, and especially American GI's.  I hope that somebody out there puts in a word for us foreigners living in Korea.  Many of us can't speak or write Korean, so we can't speak for ourselves very well in Korean internet comments.

See, there's a stereotype of foreigners who criticize or mock Korea, who live here, but talk as if we hate it, but really, most of the foreigners who hate Korea leave.  The foreigners who DO live here?  Most of us like Korea a lot.  Most of us are shocked and upset by a video like this young GI or ex-GI, punching an old Korean man in the head.  Most of us are peaceful people who like and respect Korea, and who find healthier ways to deal with our frustrations.

Moreover: we are not responsible for this guy's behavior, and we don't approve of it.  We wish this guy would have stayed home and gotten drunk with his friends at home, instead of going out and making an ass of himself in public, and around strangers.

So please do not think that "all foreigners are like this guy" -- all the rest of the foreigners in Korea would like you to know that almost all of us are not like this guy.

And finally, think of the worst night of your life.  Think of the night when you did something really stupid: something you regretted for a long time.  Now imagine that stupid mistake you once made when you were young, and imagine that someone filmed you having your ugliest moment, and put the video on the internet.  Now imagine that everyone in America is watching that video and saying, "All Koreans are exactly like this person in the video.  All Koreans have the same ugly character as this person in the video."

That judgement of YOUR character would be wrong, wouldn't it?  After all, it was the worst night of your life, and the worst mistake of your life.  And judging EVERY person in Korea by that one video would be even more wrong, wouldn't it?

Please don't judge all foreigners, all Americans, or all GI's by this one video.  That would be wrong.


p.s.: any reader is welcome to translate my message into Korean, and post it on the comment boards where people are discussing this video.  In fact, you're invited to.  I'd like you to.  I'd love you to.  Just give me credit, and a link, and I'm happy.

Update: Marmot's Hole reports, the old guy was willing to forgive the young guy, and the young guy was not a GI.  He WAS thirty one, an age at which there remains no excuse for behavior like that.


chiam said...

The younger dude is NOT a GI.

Chris in South Korea said...

So let's see if we figure things in the proper time order, thanks to the Marmot's Hole post:

Old guy accidentally hits young guy with pool cue.

Young guy wanted an apology, and didn't get one. Things escalated outside. some point the video camera came out, making the assumption that A: people wouldn't be so stupid when there's a video camera trained on them, B: to provide evidence for whatever would happen.

Video shows a young guy pissed off and an old guy either unable or unwilling to walk away. The responsibility for defusing something like that is shared, meaning both had the chance and both failed. Young guy snaps, punches old guy.

Korean police find them, get statements. Old guy *may* have realized that the chain of events started because of an accident, and thus decided not to press charges.

Video goes up on Youtube, Daum, etc. and goes viral. Police ask the old man again if he wants to press charges and old man again says no. End of story.

While I'm thankful the old guy chose to forgive (thus affirming he is in power) after the fact, wouldn't it have been easier to apologize before the fact (if he accidentally did hit young guy with a pool stick)? Perhaps old guy felt he didn't need to apologize? Well, he did.

Foreigner Joy said...

He just ruined it again for all of us.

Adeel said...

I can take a stab as a placeholder until somebody who actually speaks Korean comes along. I feel like the person at a travel agency who gets stuck speaking in English to the white guy who shows up.

I wasn't able to translate all of it. I felt like eventually it would turn into gobbledygook.

한국 여러분 안녕하세요?

동영상 댓글에서 외국인, 미국인, 특히 미군인 관련 아주 나쁜 말을 있을게요. 저희는 대답 하고 싶지만 한국말로 대화 할 수 없어요.

한국에서 외국인 100만명 있어요. 그 중에 원어민 영어 교사 여 2만명 있고, 미군인 3만명 있어요. 수 많은 사람 중에 나쁜 사람 반드시 있어요.

외국인들이 대부분 대한민국을 좋아해요. 우리가 한국을 싫어하면 귀국 해야겠어요. 그래서, 외국인들이 모두 이렇게 범인 아니에요. 그런 생각 하지마세요.

이 동영상들이 우리 제일 나쁜 인상이에요. 미국인들에게 한국의 제일 나쁜 것을 보여주면 부당한 것 아니죠?


Lou said...

Why do you feel the need to rationalize the actions of this one individual to greater Korean society?

Why the need to pull-out the 'Most foreigners don't act like that and enjoy Korea.'

I'm not responsible for the actions of another human being and neither are you, so why the need to be the anointed spokesperson for the foreign diaspora here in Korea?

You've got an asshat drunk clown and and a retard suffering from an overinflated sense of machismo.

Nothing new to see here, move on...

Roboseyo said...

Lou, it's obvious I'm not talking to you with this post. Nothin' to see here; move along.

I'm not justifying anyone's behavior; I'm asking not to be painted with the same brush as that asshat.

Because minorities DO get painted with the same brush as their worst members, all over, and in Korea, right or wrong, a lot of people like to think in categories: I'm asked "What do foreigners think of Korea" as often as I'm asked "What do YOU think of Korea?" - as if I'd know what ALL foreigners think. That kind of categorical thinking is the reason even the Korean government offered an apology to Virginia Tech Uni. after Cho Seung-hui's shootings, and Korean-americans were afraid of reprisals (none of which happened) - because they assumed Americans thought as categorically as they did, and would hold Koreans, or Korean-Americans responsible for the shootings.

It doesn't matter if YOU don't think in categories; I wasn't writing to you.

and as long as some Koreans' response to a video like this is "let's go find some foreigners and punish them," (see link below) you better believe I'm not going to treat this as if it's nothing, because the foreigner they find to "punish" might be you, might be me, might be my kid.

I'm sure YOU don't hold foreigners responsible for the actions of other foreigners... that's why I'm not addressing you. But some people do, and maybe this message will reach a few of them.

NoFatChicks said...

Rational people don't make broad judgments based on what one person did on a video. Of course, many people are not rational, but what can you do about them?

For example, a few months ago, I argued online with a few people named Youseok, Lousy Korea, Korean Rum Diary, Solomon MacLoser, etc., but I don't judge all hagwon teachers based on what those irrational idiots wrote. They were just sad losers unhappy with their situation in life (not to mention unable to come up with a coherent argument) and lashed out at Korea. And now they're gone because they realize how stupid and wrong they were.

Constructive criticism against Korea is accepted and appreciated. Simple, valueless hate like what this guy did, and what anti-Korea blogs expressed, is recognized as an aberration. Koreans move on. And everyone will move on.

Ja-young Row said...

I couldn't agree more.

Roboseyo said...

Jayoung: agree with whom?

Who gave you the right to draw the line and decide which blogs are constructive, and which ones deserve to be hounded until they shut down their blogs, nofatchicks?

If I had hounded a blogger using their freedom of expression, until they feared for their lives or their friends lives, because I disagreed with them, and shut down their blogs, I'd be ashamed of myself.

My own opinion: these aberrations don't deserve any of your attention, and should be ignored, and left to their miserable lives, if they really are as miserable as some of those blogs make their writers out to be.

Lou said...


I wonder if you might want to consider reevaluating your underlying assumption?

I get the feeling that you read Mike Breen's opinion piece after the Virginia shooting, and somehow that has become your jumping off point for any argument that has to do with reprisals against foreigners.

In addition, linking the old lady giving a beat-down on a teenager is certainly not going to win you any 'brownie' points with the Korean community, nor is continually bringing up the Virginia shooting. People will simply say your comparing apples and oranges and to a certain degree you are.

Again, any person that has an axe to grind is simply going to justify his or her actions regardless of what some blogger writes. More to the point, I would suspect these types of individuals aren't really into reading blogs written in English full of youtube clips.

Anyhow, it's your blog, you can write what you want, but I still think you might want to step back and re-think your tendency to pull-out the Virginia Tech card.

Roboseyo said...


1. a link to that breen article would be useful.

2. saying "you're making assumptions" but not naming them is unhelpful.

3. That both videos came out in the same week means they are linked, by chronology. "Two videos of street violence in one week? WTF" was the connection.

4. The reason VT came into play is because of the comment translated from Korea Beat, "Let's find some foreigners and punish them" - which is EXACTLY the categorical thinking I'm addressing in the message. There are few cards I like pulling out less than the VT card, but you're the one asking, and it's the same categorical thinking that I'm addressing here, so there it is. And it wasn't in the original post, it's only here, where a person to whom the message wasn't aimed, has challenged me about why I would address readers other than him in a different way than I would address him.

5. to quote something I wrote discussing my facebook link about this topic:

you're right that the people who REALLY need to hear that message aren't reading my blog. However, people who might end up talking to those people are, and if they've read a clear, well-articulated statement about it, it might empower them to engage instead of just saying nothing. We know that the shrieking racists can be loud, but if we say nothing (even though we already know they're not listening), we've allowed them to carry the discourse completely, and if the shrieking racists are allowed to carry the discourse completely, Korea will become a country where I have to fear for my kids' safety, if my (Korean) wife and I decide to have some. I sure don't want that.

Am I preaching to the choir? Maybe. It'd be better if I knew enough Korean to make the statement in Korean, for sure, but there still is a point to saying it, I think -

What's gonna happen from this one incident? Maybe nothing. Probably nothing, but eventually this stuff will reach a breaking point in public discussion, and at that time, I want the side arguing for me well-armed with statements and arguments like the one I blogged, so they're ready to put a strong word forward, and make the racist fools look like proper fools.

/end quote

and no, Koreans aren't the only people guilty of categorical thinking. Some mosques were vandalized and some arab kids were bullied in USA after 9/11, but if it occurs here, because I live here, I'll address it.

Roboseyo said...

sorry: lou, not leo.

NoFatChicks said...

Roboseyo, I did not "hound" anyone. I expressed my opinions, and that's it. And no one "shut down" those sites. They shut themselves down after a few (probably harmless) internet threats. If they really believed in what they were doing, they would not have been such cowards. For example, any prominent American political blogger gets daily death threats, and ignores them.

Free expression has consequences. I can go up to a 4-year-old girl and call her stupid. I have the right to do that. But society has a right to condemn me. Koreans had the rigth to condemn those blogs. No freedom was lost when they volunatarily shut themselves down.

Roboseyo said...

Then I have the right to condemn your behavior, and that of your colleagues as bullying, and as an embarrassment to the country you're trying to defend, and more reminiscent of the behavior of a thug like Chun Doo-Hwan, than the global-minded world leader that Korea wants to be.

If I put a gun to your head and say "get in the car" is it voluntary? "probably harmless threats?" that's bullshit.

See also this post:

Get over yourself, and realize that you are not the final arbiter of what is good and bad for Korea, and you have no right to act as if you are, and that your behavior creates an image of Korea as a country full of shrieking defensive nationalist extremists, not "the courteous country to the East" it was once called. Is that really the image you want to project of Korea?

Roboseyo said...

Given the time you posted this: 3:14am Korea time, I doubt you even live in Korea, which gives you even LESS right to behave as you and your friends did.

NoFatChicks said...

Roboseyo, you're right, I don't live in Korea. I'm not even Korean. So I have no right to criticize sites like Lousy Korea which called people monkeys and trash? Now who is being arbitrary?

Look, we don't disagree much. I remember on Lousy some guy Solomon got his panties in a bunch about the definition of "criticism." By the dictionary definition, criticism includes threatening someone's children or calling a rape victim a whore (which also happened then). Now that doesn't make it right. I don't think those people deserved to have their lives threatened. But I also don't think their sites were anything more than hate sites, a la Nazi sites, so good riddance I say. Do they have a right to exist? yes. Am I sorry they're gone? no.

And internet threats are hardly a Korean phenomenon. Any American political blogger gets threats from those who disagree. Gay sites, anti-war sites, etc. get death threats all the time. I'm a blogger with experience. Threats to Lousy simply reflect the nature of the internet, not Koreans.

And I didn't threaten anybody. Don't lump me in with people when you have no facts. Like I said I'm not even Korean, just a guy with an opinion who doesn't like racism. I didn't need to threaten anybody. Just showing their hypocrisy and inability to form a coherent argument was enough for me and most people.

falconcues said...

I've known JJ for a long time and he has a big mouth on him.. even though he is older he got what was coming to him... lol.. My good Friend Paul put a foot in his chest and gave him a good choking one night up at Friends club.. And I assume he deserved that 2.
And does it really matter if the guy was a US soldier.. He may have been .. I'm ex army and I live here in Korea maybe he was to or was on leave here in Korea well from the video he looks to have a cast on his arm.. Less talk more action especially on video...I like alot......