And while a few comments on the blog post that brought BOK to the Korean blogosphere include sentiments like "Yah, public drunkenness is kind of a cultural embarrassment," others were quick to blame the usual scapegoat: English teachers.
One blog, the subtly titled: "Englishteachersout" even compares the pictures on BlackoutKorea to the photos at Abu Gharib.
Now that's just stupid. The English teachers didn't trap these Koreans, force-feed them alcohol until they passed out, and THEN take the pictures.
Also: the passed-out Koreans' faces aren't shown. I don't know if the writer of EnglishTeachersOut noticed that... so when people aren't personally being singled out (other than the dumb foreigners who DO show their faces in shaming them), what remains is the cultural shame, I guess, of one of Korea's dirty secrets (rampant, extreme public drunkenness) being posted on the internet.
I wrote about the mean-spirited battle between stupid, mean-spirited expat blogs in Korea, and knee-jerk raging K-netizens back when death threats prompted a number of K-blogs to shut down last year.
Those points still stand. In fact, I encourage you to go read them.
A few points, then I’m out:
1. The "hate Korea bloggers" and the "why are you hate the Korea go home" netizens deserve each other.
2. Nobody deserves to have their personal details published, or their life threatened, because of their practicing of free speech. Even if their free speech is offensive to some people.
3. The people in these pictures ought to have thought more carefully about including their faces in the photos: you own everything you put on the internet, forever. Generally, Koreans behaving badly are smart enough not to publish pictures of their hijinks on the internet. They know how the K-internet works: they all remember dog poop girl. Expats in Korea ought to take a page from their book.
4. While it would be nice to let the "Hate Korea" bloggers and the "Why are you hate the Korea?" defenders just cancel each other out, but it doesn't end there. The bad blood generated there contributes to the poisonous English Education atmosphere in Korea, because English teachers are always blamed: notice how nobody suspected any of the expats in the pictures to be investment bankers or engineers. It also raises the pitch of the mutual alienation between the archetypal "complaining expat" and the "crazy netizen defender," and worst of all, sometimes legitimately interesting K-blogs are caught in the crossfire: Korean Rum Diary started off kind of mean-spirited, but as it went on, the tone became much more thoughtful and fair, but because it started off on the wrong foot, the K-defenders kept hounding the writer, and when he left Korea, he took the entire site down. That's a loss for the English K-blogosphere. The fact that the defenders' English may not be sharp enough to catch the nuance, or that they only skim the angriest post (which got linked) and decide to hound the writer, leads to undeserving writers getting treated like trolls, from time to time.
5. Nobody knows the real motivation of Blackout Korea: we've seen before that international attention of an embarrassing kind can be the thing that prompts some self-reflection in Korean society, and maybe Blackout Korea was pitching for bringing it home to Korea that the amount and degree of public drunkenness here is a national disgrace. Maybe the writer tried every other method he/she could imagine before resorting to a stupid blog like Blackout Korea. And yes, I think the blog is stupid.
6. There are better ways to bring that point home.
7. Public drunkenness in Korea IS a national disgrace. It is. Undeniably. Shooting the messenger doesn't change the fact I had to dodge street pizza walking to work at 7am on Wednesday mornings, back when I worked in Jongno.
My final point:
Some people say Blackout Korea is just a funny website.
As I wrote in the Lousy Korea post: Is the laugh that South Park got for taking cracks at Mohammed worth the mutual alienation that develops between Muslim and Western society when their controversial episode airs? I don't know.
Is the laugh that BlackoutKorea got for taking cracks at drunk Koreans in public worth the mutual alienation that comes out of the K-netizen backlash? I don't know, but I'd rather not have to be asking the question.
And to the people whose faces are now on this guy's blog front page (see below): does it still seem like a good idea?
[Edit: the pictures have been blacked out on the English Teachers Out page, so I'm taking it out of this post.]
And memo to all non-ethnic Asian expats in Korea: go ahead and act however you like, but don't put pictures of that shit on the internet, and don't do it in my neighborhood, because you can do what you like (within the law) but I'd rather not be held responsible for your behavior, just because neither of us look like Koreans.
(more background links: Asian Correspondent, Chosun Ilbo (who found the site), the Korean blog of the guy who wrote the EnglishTeachersOut blog, and an interview with Blackout Korea... let's say of all the motivations to create the blog... the ones stated are somewhere at the bottom of the barrel.)