Thursday, 17 June 2010

Journalism in Korea and the Cheonan incident

There has been not so much post for some considerable time. Nobody cares, me neither, I guess. It's obvious that there are an awful lot of web pages up in the air. And having been aware that some of them are absolutely rubbish, I've got no intention to add another one to those. (not sure if this time is different though) But that's not the main reason for lack of blogging.

Paradoxically, there have been too much to write. Too much to think about, and too much to read as well. Roughly I spend around three hours reading news, trying to catch up almost every issues that pops up everyday. There are so many 'what' and 'why', 'who' and how'. I feel I'm living in a 'flood of news'. But still, I don't feel I've got enough news. Of course, that's what this modern-complex-high technology-society are supposed to be, but there are some bigger problem beyond that in this particular Korean society.

Some of you may already sense what I mean by that... Some of you don't. So let me just explain it. First, I'm pretty sure that most of foreigners will be shocked by the fact that how Korean society keep moving so dynamically, when they actually experience it by any chance. Korean government doesn't do the right thing very often (only as far as I'm concerned), but naming 'Dynamic Korea' as the main 'nickname' of this country is, surely, one of the right thing they have done in some respect. Because it really is! The pace of life in Korea is extremely fast. Possibly faster than you could ever imagine, I bet. One of my friend once told me, when he firstly arrived in Berlin and started to find his feet in a new circumstance, that it seemed the river in Germany even runs slower than Seoul, for instance! Everybody is in a hurry, doing their job without knowing what they're really doing and why. Speeding up is what Korean is concerned most, rather than questioning and reviewing what they've been doing. The whole picture could look dynamic or enthusiastic or something, but the micro view tells us a different story. Anyway, in that sense, perhaps we don't have time to look at what's happening around us. Including me myself sometimes.

Secondly, and more importantly, we don't have enough channel to access all those news which we should know. That doesn't mean we need more media companies or bigger companies, as some people keep saying it. That's not the heart of problem. What we're lacking is very simple: a healthy-journalism. With three heavily-capitalised-and-privatised major 'media' group (I don't even feel comfortable with using word 'media' here) dominating over 70% share of its market, it's really hard to see people realising what's actually going on in this little peninsular. I once thought that, at least, a journalist in Korea will never get bored, with millions of things to write. But that doesn't appear to be true! Without going any further than expecting them to 'report', not 'analyse', simply they don't do their job. I don't know if they're finding it hard to catch up every issues like many of us, too, but that's not a proper excuse at all. They've got power and money, time and mission. I mean, they're simply not doing their job. All those debate on Cheonan incident is a very good example of that. It just shows us what happens when journalism abandon its job. With government's propaganda all over the place, there has to be some group of people who keep asking "WHY". While nobody is really convinced with what is said to be a 'smoking gun', most of the big company were just writing down that ridiculous fuc..k... Oh, well... Let me just take a breath.... Hm....
Anyway, my point here is that journalist in Korea don't do their job, which is problematic in democratic society. I'm sure you know what I meant... In that context, I'm determined to do that job. That's what I'm willing to do and what gives me a huge inspiration.



To those who would like to know more about Cheonan incident and all those conspiracy, or, rather 'reasonable questions', go to those links below. That's what PSPD (People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy), one of the biggest NGO in Korea, reportedly sent to UN Security Council's fifteen country and UN general secretary. And what is being said by Korean government on this occasion is quite amazing. They don't even know what NGO is all about. Oh, dear...

* all issued by PSPD

[Cheonan Incident] The Urgent Statement for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

[Cheonan Warship Report1] The PSPD's Stance on the Final Investigation Report on the Cheonan

[Cheonan Warship Report2] Eight Questions Needing Answers on the Investigation of the Sunken Naval Corvette Cheonan

[Cheonan Warship Report3] Six Problems on the Investigation Process of the Cheonan Sinking

Healthier journalism, better life for the people!

-_ -)//

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A statement from UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Announced the day before 30th anniversary of Gwangju Democratization Movement(5.18).

Where are we now?


Full text of the press statement delivered by the UN Special Papporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue, after the conclusion of this visit to the Republic of Korea

Seoul, 17 May 2010

I visited the Republic of Korea from 6 to 17 May 2010 at the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Korea and went to the cities of Seoul and Gwang-ju. Prior to this visit, I had previously visited the Republic of Korea in October 2009, where I learned that the Republic of Korea has one of the highest broadband Internet connectivity in the world.

I am grateful for the invitation extended to me by the Government of the Republic of Korea, on the basis of its standing invitation, and for the cooperation provided to me throughout my visit with a view to examine the situation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the country where the use of the Internet has become widespread, and assess progress in promoting and protecting the right since my predecessor visited the country fifteen years ago.

However, I would like to express my deep disappointment given the critical importance of freedom of opinion and expression in building strong democratic State that I could mot meet with the President, the Prime Minister, nor a single Minister of Government. In addition, despite my requests, I was unable to meet with the Prosecutor General nor members of the National Intelligence Service, despite the fact that I came to the country on an official invitation. My disappointment is not a personal matter, but it is due to the importance of the issues that are entrusted to me by the Human Rights Council in the exercise of my mandate. While I always welcome meetings with technical experts who have substantive and detailed knowledge of the issues, I believe that it is also important for a Government to convey its political commitment to human rights and to freedom of expression by arranging meetings with individuals in decision-making positions. I am also disappointed by the fact that despite numerous requests, I was unable to meet collectively with the Commissioners of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea(NHRCK).

Nevertheless, my twelve-day visit was incredibly rich and extensive, comprising meetings with sixteen State institutions. I met the Secretary-General to the Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and officials from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of education, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, Ministry of National Defence, and the National Police Agency. I also met with officials from the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, the National Election Commission, Korea Film Council, Korea Communications Commission, Korea Communications Standards Commission, and members of the National Assembly. I also visited the Seoul Detention Centre to meet with individuals who have been accused of violating laws related to my mandate, and thank the Government for facilitating this visit.

During my stay in Gwang-ju, I visited the Mangwol-dong national cemetery, which constitutes a memorial for those who gave their lives for democracy in the Republic of Korea exactly thirty years ago in May 1980. I also met with officials from the National Tax Service and officials of the Gwang-ju Metropolitan City and the May 18 Foundation.

In both cities, I met with representatives of civil society, including human rights organisations, journalists and writers' associations, trade unions, academics, women's organisations, and the Korea Bar Association. I also met with individuals who are facing criminal or civil charges for what they believe constituted a legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression. However, in this press statement, due to space limitations, I will only mention some cases that serve as examples in highlighting my concerns on various issues. I would however before continuing like to thank the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for facilitating some of the logistical aspects of my mission.


The Republic of korea has come a long way since the restoration in 1987 of a multi-party political system following decades of authoritarian and military regimes. It now plays a key economic role in the region as a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and will host the G20 summit in November of this year. In addition, it plays an active role internationally including as a member of the Human Rights Council, and has ratified the majority of international human rights treaties, including those allowing for individual complaints.

The Constitution of the Republic of Korea recognises fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and the press, and freedom of assembly and association, which is guaranteed in article 21 of the constitution. Freedom of expression is not only important in its own right, but is also a vehicle to promote and protect other human rights, and generally to ensure justice, accountability, and transparency, fundamental to true democracy. Respect for human rights, and in particular the right to freedom of expression, is thus the measure of democracy in any country.

I am concerned that in the last two years, there has been a shrinking space for freedom of expression in the Republic of Korea, Primarily due to new and more restrictive interpretations and application of existing laws. For the Republic of Korea to be a leader internationally, it must not only show the world its economic and technological prowess, but also its commitment to a truly democratic model of governance with full respect for human rights.

I have been struck that many of the debates surrounding issues related to the right to freedom of opinion and expression are highly politicised. However, as I have stated throughout my mission, human rights, like justice, have no ideology. Human rights transcend political ideologies, and its respect should constitute a common aspiration for all individuals in the country.

Due to concerns among certain sectors of society regarding "unregulated" and "harmful" expression, I would like to highlight that international human rights law does recognise that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression comes with certain responsibilities, and that it can be limited under certain exceptional situations. However, any limitation must be strictly within the parameters of articles 19(3) and 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Tights (ICCPR). Any limitation must first be established by law, which is clear and unambiguous; second, it must be necessary for the intended purpose and must have the demonstrable effect of protecting that purpose; and third, the restriction must be proportionate to the aim it seeks to achieve.

I am fully aware of the fact that the courts in the Republic of Korea have played an important role in upholding the right to freedom of expression in cases where there have been limitations to the right. However, I would like to caution that the increasing number of prosecutions creates a chilling effect to exercise the right to freedom of expression, regardless of the outcomes of the decisions by the courts.

Freedom of expression on the Internet

As mentioned previously, the Republic of Korea has one of the highest levels of Internet connectivity in the region and the world, where more than 80 percent of households have access to fast, broadband Internet connection. I have been impressed by the level of active "Netizens" in the country and the emergence of an active and vibrant online culture, including the exchange of diverse views and opinions on online discussion forums. The Internet has thus become an indispensable tool to exercise the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas and to mobilize social change. However, I am concerned that during the past two years, there have been increasing criminal prosecutions and restrictions on freedom of expression on the Internet, which I will now briefly outline.

Prohibition to spread false information

Article 47 of the Framework Act on Telecommunications prohibits individuals to make a "false communication" over the Internet with the intention of harming the public interest, punishable by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of up to fifty million won. Although this legislation had not been used for decades, in January last year, blogger Park Dae-sung, Known as "Minerva", was arrested for violating this provision after he posted online articles predicting the economic crisis and criticising the Government's economic policy. He was accused of "posting fraudulent information on the Internet that harmed public welfare by negatively influencing South Korea's foreign exchange markets". Although he was found innocent, the Prosecutor's Office has appealed this decision. The case has been put on hold until the Constitutional Court gives a ruling on the legality of this provision.

There are two concerns that I would like to raise in relation to this issue. First, terms such as "false communication" and "public interest" are not clearly defined and are thus subject to undue limitations on the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Second, no one should be prosecuted for the mere expression of opinions, even though it may be incorrect. In this regard, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has expressed that the prohibition by law of untrue and unverified information constitutes a disproportionate restriction on the right to freedom of expression. I would also like to point out that had the press played a more active role in investigating and criticising the role of financial institutions, the impact of the global financial crisis might have been mitigated. I recommend the Government of the Republic of Korea to abolish this provision.

Arbitrary procedures for the deletion of information on the Internet

Based on the Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilisation and Information Protection (hereafter "Network Act"), any person alleging a violation of his or her privacy or reputation by information disclosed to the public through the Internet may request the Internet Service Provider (ISP) to immediately delete or temporarily block access to the information for up to thirty days.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), established in 2008 and considered to be an independent private body, assesses Internet content on various grounds including obscenity, defamation, threats to national security, and recommends ISPs and notice board operators to undertake correctional measures, such as deletion of postings. If the ISPs reject the recommendation by the KCSC, the KCSC can issue administrative orders to suspend the websites, and thus cases of non-compliance are rare.

I am concerned that the there are no clear provisions to determine whether the information on the Internet violates another person's right or reputation, or other non-permissible grounds, and that the ISPs and the KCSC are given the discretionary power to make that decision. Moreover, the KCSC essentially operates as a censorship body, and there is a risk that information that is critical of the Government may be deleted on the grounds of privacy violation or defamation through an opaque process. According to the statistics of the KCSC, since its establishment, over 2,000 posts have been deleted on the grounds of defamation, and over 1,500 posts have been deleted for violating the National Security Act.

In addition, article 44(7) of the Network Act, which lists the types of information that can be deleted or censored on the Internet, can encompass a broad range of crimes, including the obstruction of business, which itself is problematic. This has been illustrated in the case of 24 members of a boycott campaign who posted a list of companies putting advertisements in three newspapers, which they believed were biased towards the Government. On the basis of article 44(7) of the Network Act, the KCSC ordered the deletion of 58 postings which allegedly encouraged the boycott, and some of the individuals involved were sentenced to imprisonment, or were fined.

I have also been informed that a Catholic priest, Mr. Choi Byung-sung, posted articles on the Internet exposing that the cement used by certain companies contains electronic waste products with carcinogenic substances. The KCSC ordered the deletion of these articles on the ground that they defamed the cement companies, despite the fact that as a result of his articles, the National Assembly deliberated on this issue and requested a notional audit to be conducted, which has resulted in improved safety standards. In this case, the public interest and the obligation of the Government to protect the health of its population should outweigh the protection of the reputation of a particular company. I am also aware that other types of online information that are in the public interest have been recommended for deletion by the KCSC.

I would like to stress that States should never delegate the responsibility to private entities on such matters. Any guidelines and the decision to determine what articles can be deleted or temporarily blocked should be made by and independent State body.

Real name identification system

The Network Act requires identity verification in order to post messages on websites with more than 100,000 visitors per day. The Public Official Election Act also stipulates that online newspaper notice boards must register users and confirm their real names before they can post messages prior to elections, to prevent the spread of false information or slander, which risks undermining the freedom of expression of political views during the election period, when public debate s essential.

In February 2004, the NHRCK adopted a decision that the real-name identification system "clearly qualifies as pre-censorship, restricts freedom of Internet-based expression rooted in anonymity, inhibits public opinion formation, and contravenes freedom of expression".

Although the specific details of the real name identification have been changed since July 2007, I am concerned that the real name identification system has the potential to undermine individuals' right to express opinions, particularly criticisms of the Government, as well as the right to privacy. While there are legitimate concerns regarding crimes that are perpetrated via the Internet and the responsibility of the Government to identify such persons, I recommend the Government to consider other means to identify a person and only after a crime has been committed, rather than a prior requirement, so as to minimize the infringement of human rights.


In the Republic of Korea, defamation is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code and an "unlawful act" under the Civil Code. Although criminal prosecutions have decreased, the filing of civil defamation suits and accusations of criminal defamation exert a significant chilling effect on freedom of expression.

During my visit, many cases of defamation have been brought to my attention. This includes the case of four producers and one scriptwriter from the Munwha Broadcasting corporation (MBC)'s investigative programme, PD Notebook, who reported on the alleged risk of mad cow disease associated with beef import from the United States of America and criticized Government officials who were in charge of negotiations. As a result, they were arrested and charged with defaming Government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture in 2009. Although the Central District Court acquitted all staff in January 2010, the Prosecutor's Office has appealed, and the case is currently pending.

In another case, Mr. Park Won-soon, director of a non-governmental organisation, was sued for allegedly defaming the "nation" by stating in an interview that the National Intelligence Service (NIS) is pressuring corporations not to financially support civil society groups. This is an unprecedented case in that the "nation" itself has filed a lawsuit as a plaintiff and is claiming two hundred million won in damages.

As stated in article 19(3) of the ICCPR, the protection of the reputation of individuals is a legitimate ground for limiting the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. However, to fulfill the criteria of necessity and proportionality, there are specific conditions that need to be met.

First, the statement must be intentionally false, and must injure another person's reputation. Secondly, public bodies and public officials of all kinds - including all individuals of the legislative, executive or judicial branches of Government or who otherwise perform public functions - should be prohibited altogether from bringing defamation actions. Public office entails public scrutiny, as part of checks and balances of any democratic system. Thirdly, States should abolish all criminal defamation laws. The threat of harsh criminal sanctions, especially imprisonment, exerts a profound chilling effect on freedom of expression, which cannot be justified particularly in light of the adequacy of non-criminal sanctions in redressing any harm to individuals' reputations. Such measures include an issuance of apology, correction or reply, or publication of any judgment which finds statements to be defamatory.

Hence, I recommend the Government to remove the crime of defamation from its Criminal Code, and to promote a culture of tolerance regarding criticism. Moreover, I would like to emphasize the principle that defamation cannot be brought by a third party or a State institution as a plaintiff.

Freedom of assembly

The right to freedom of expression includes the right to collective expression in the form of peaceful assemblies. In the Republic of Korea, this right is guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution, which explicitly prohibits a license system for assemblies. However, although the Assembly and Demonstrations Act stipulate that individuals should only report assemblies beforehand to the police , there is a de facto license system whereby assemblies may be banned and deemed illegal in advance for fear of traffic disruption and probable violence. I would like to highlight the June 2009 statement made by the former Chairperson of the NHRCK that "the Government claims to protect peaceful assemblies and demonstrations and only prohibits ones that may giver rise to illegal and violent actions, Yet, by presuming that certain demonstrations will become violent and cracking down on them before violence occurs, the Government violates the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and demonstration."

In addition, the use of Seoul Square and Gwang-hwa-moon Square for assemblies, including press conferences, requires approval from the Seoul City Government, and acted upon by the National Police. I have been informed that since the candlelight demonstrations in 2008, only one assembly has been permitted in Seoul Square, which happened to take place during my visit.

I welcome the decision by the Constitutional Court that the prohibition of assemblies after sunset and before sunrise in the Assembly Act is unconstitutional. The National Assembly has thus been requested to revise this law by June 2010.

While I recognize efforts made by the National Police Agency to investigate allegations of the use of violence by riot police officials, I am concerned that investigations and prosecutions of allegations of excessive use of force is hindered by the fact that there are no visible name badges, identification numbers or any other identifiable information on the uniform of riot police. I have also been informed that the police do not wear badges, which makes it impossible to bring individuals to account. I therefore call upon the Government to ensure that all law enforcement officials must wear some form of identification that is clearly displayed during assemblies and demonstrations to prevent impunity.

Freedom of expression before elections

Article 93 of the Public Officials Election Act prohibits individuals to distribute or post photographs, documents, drawings, printed matter, "or the like", which contains contents supporting or opposing a political party or candidate with the intention of influencing the election from 180 days before the election day to the election day. At the same time, article 58 of the Act provides that a simple statement of opinion or manifestation of an intention on the election do not constitute an election campaign and is thus allowed.

On 26 April 2010, the National Election Commission (NEC) issued guidelines entitled "Announcement on the activities of various organizations with respect to election issues", which prohibits organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious groups, from installing, posting or distributing advertisements, posters, photographs, documents "or the like" on the main election issues. Hence, some of the activities of NGOs and religious groups have been restricted, as they are not permitted to disseminate information or hold a rally on key election issues such as the "Four Major Rivers Restoration Project" and "Free School Meals".

I am concerned that the restrictive interpretation of the provisions of the Public Officials Election Act in the recent guidelines may limit communication on key election issues and public policies. I am also alarmed by the fact that such activities are prohibited sit months ahead of elections, and as there are two elections per year in the country, there is an all-year-round prohibition to disseminate information regarding important policy issues.

National Security Act

I am very much aware of the security concerns faced by the Republic of Korea, particularly in light of the recent Cheonan incident, and believe that all States have the legitimate right and obligation to have national security laws in place to protect its population. However, any national security law that restricts the right to freedom of expression must fulfill the criteria that I have mentioned previously, including the requirement that the law must be clear and drawn narrowly. Thus, while I welcome the fact that the number of charges and prosecutions on the basis of the National Security Act has decreased, I would like to reiterate the recommendations made by my predecessor fifteen years ago, by the UN Human Rights Committee, and by the NHRCK to revise article 7 of the National Security Act, as it remains vague and can be misinterpreted.

In addition, the Human Rights Committee has found the use of the National Security Law to be in breach of the right to freedom of opinion or expression in three individual cases (Mr. Tae Hoon Park, Mr. Keun-Tae Kim, and Mr. Hak Chul Shin). However I have been informed that the measures have not been taken to give effect to the Human Tights Committee's Views, including two other cases where the Human Rights Committee found a violation of article 19 of the ICCPR (Mr. Jong-Kyu Sohn, Mr. Yong-Joo Kang), and the dialogue remains open in all five cases. I hope that the Government will demonstrate its commitment in upholding international human rights standards by implementing the Committee's Views.

Although this case is not directly related to the National Security Act, I would like to draw attention to the banning of 23 books by the Minister of National Defence in the military in July 2008, as these books were considered seditious. Seven military judicial officers filed a Constitutional Complaint regarding this prohibition, and as a consequence, two were expelled from the military on the grounds that they did not adhere to internal regulations and procedures of the military. Currently the case is pending before the administrative court, as well as the Constitutional Court. I would also like to stress that the right to seek and receive information includes of September 2009, "one's status as a human being takes precedence over one's status as a soldier in uniform". The banning of books is an undemocratic practice in any part of the world.

I would like to underscore that the strongest nations of the world are those that are truly democratic and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms, and therefore encourage the Republic of Korea to ensure that its national security policies go hand in hand with the respect of human rights.

Public broadcasting

There are also signs that the independence of the public broadcasting corporations and the diversity of the media are being undermined in the Republic of Korea. I would like to stress that to ensure the independence of public broadcasting corporations, there must be and effective appointment procedure which ensures that its head and management does not change from one administration to the next. I am aware that the Act on Development of Newspaper, etc., and the Broadcasting Act were proposed by the ruling party and adopted in July 2009 by the National Assembly in breach of regular deliberation procedures. I am concerned that there legislation allow conglomerates, newspaper companies and foreign capital to enter the broadcasting sector, which is contrary to the principles of diversity and plurality of the media.

National Human Rights Commission of Korea

Since the establishment of the NHRCK in 2002, it has played an active role in advocating for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Republic of Korea. I welcome the decisions of the NHRCK in finding a violation on thirteen cases related to freedom of opinion, expression and assembly between 2004 and 2009.

However, I am disappointed that since the appointment of new Commissioners in February 2010, the majority has allegedly maintained that the Commission should not adopt a decision on three key cases involving violations of the right to freedom of expression on the basis that the Commission should wait until the cases are resolved in the courts. This includes the defamation lawsuits filed against the producers of MBC's PD Notebook; the prohibition of assemblies and demonstrations after sunset; and the case of Mr. Park Won-soon. However, it is my understanding that the Founding Act of the Commission stipulates that it has the power to submit its opinion to the courts even when the cases are still pending. Given the crucial role of the Commission to enhance human rights protection in the country, I hope that the Commission will play a more proactive role to adopt decisions in the future.

I also look forward to the improvement of the appointment process of the Commissioners, and note that the Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the promotion and Protection of Human Rights stated in its most recent report that the process of appointing Commissioners does not provide for formal consultation in the recruitment and scrutiny of candidates nor for the participation of civil society. I would also like to add that the appointment of Commissioners with human rights expertise is essential in ensuring a strong and independent NHRCK.

The right to freedom of opinion and expression of public officials

I am concerned that public officials, including Government officials and teachers of public schools, are prohibited from expressing their opinions on the basis that they should remain politically neutral. However, based on the principle of neutrality, I would like to emphasize that no one should be prohibited from expressing an opinion including public officials, especially on an individual basis and after working hours, even if they are a member of a trade union.

Concluding Remarks

As I have stated throughout my mission, my objective is to always compare the current situation of the country with its past, rather than to compare the situation with other countries. International human rights standards serve as a yardstick to measure whether the country is advancing or regressing in its human rights record.

Although the Republic of Korea has achieved significant gains in human rights since 1987, I would like to express my concern that during the last two years, the full respect for human rights, and in particular the right to freedom of opinion and expression, has been diminishing. I hope that I can continue to engage constructively and openly with the Government of the Republic of Korea to reverse this trend, and my mandate stands ready to provide any assistance as may be required.

To conclude, I will present my full report on this mission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2011, which will include a more detailed and exhaustive analysis of my preliminary findings, I therefore welcome any additional information from Governments, individuals and civil society groups even following my departure.


Pretty much embarrassing...

But an accurate observation, I have to admit.

We're in a big trouble!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

David Harvey BBC HARDtalk interview, 2010 (1/3)

He's one of the busiest person at the moment. Rightly so!

"Capitalism will never fail on its own,
it will have to be pushed.
The accumulation of capitali will never cease,
it will have to be stopped.
Capital class will never surrender its power,
it will have to be dispossessed."

Check his website out.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Mixed around

Time does fly. It really does.

Thoughts are flying, things are yet to sorted out, and minds are still not made up.

All mixed around.

Friday, 26 February 2010

middle of nowhere

As far as I can remember, this time around last year was a lot colder than this.

Spring, which I'm supposed to be (kind of) excited about, comes earlier than expected.

I feel like I'm still somewhere around cold-freezing-snowy winter, though.

Is it 'middle of nowhere'?


Anyhow, Starbucks was full of those who rushed to grab iced coffee and Frappuccino, while there was something going on MBC when everybody's attention was arrested to Yuna Kim's somewhat magical show.

I had, so to speak, one of the busiest day, in many ways.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

At the Heart of the Empire

Like once I already mentioned on this blog in the past, I'm not a big fan of Starbucks.

Also I'm still feeling uncomfortable with the fact that USFK(United States Forces Korea) are occupying vast amounts of land in Korea.
(Those issues surrounding the debates on its justification or whatever people argue are another matter.)

And now, you know what...

I'm working at Starbucks, located just inside of Eighth U.S Army, in Yongsan.

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Sounds weird enough, kinda...?

I applied for this job, for this particular branch though, to tell the truth.

1. I was eager to learn how to make coffee,
2. thought I need to build my sociability more, (you know what it means to me)
3. and felt the progress had been rarely made on my English, especially speaking part of it.

As soon as my application was accepted, with all kinds of interviews and paper work things etc, I started working as a part-timer from last week.

So far, not too bad.
I cannot make a cup of coffee just yet, but I think I'm doing just OK. Reasonably acceptable. Not brilliant, but not disastrous, shall I say. Hundreds of thousand things to memorise, as it stands, that's the real worry for now though. Things will be all better as time goes, as it is, I hope.

One good thing about working at Starbucks anyway is that your money won't be spent. On the other hand, however, your labour force will be theirs resources.

Bearing in mind that, I'm just trying to get maximum of what I'm allowed to get. I've got a right to have two cup of coffee when I work, which I never miss. That's just a small part of it, anyway.

My thoughts on both organizations will remain unchanged, while I think it won't be a bad experience, will it?

Fingers crossed. :0

* Title is from one of my friend's quote:
"You're just at the heart of the empire."

Am I?

Monday, 8 February 2010

iPod Classic

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I miss my iPod Classic.

iPhone is smart and neat, no doubt about it,
but still, I don't feel comfortable when I listen to music with iPhone.
It's just kind of feeling that I'm not used to do so.
To short, iPhone has got iPod-function in it, but obviously it's NOT iPod.

Perhaps I've been missing it since I sold it off so hastily.
There are hundreds of occasions which remind me of iPod Classic...
Which is sad enough.

I knew that I'm gonna miss it.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 2.
(for part 1, click here)


There were five London teams playing in a first division of English football league. Arsenal and Chelsea share their world-wide reputation whilst Tottenham Hotspur, Westham United, and Fulham FC with a national reputation. One of those fine afternoons on Saturday, I was walking down on the street, somewhere around the centre of city, trying to find something interesting enough to spend rest of the day. There was always something attracted me in London so I used to go out without any plan, with no concerns. Then I saw people shouting and cheering themselves in front of screen at the pub. They were watching the live coverage of football match! From my point of view, they looked a bit mad or crazy, but I found as well that they really enjoy themselves. With a cup of beer on a hand, they were singing, shouting, laughing and talking. There it is! I decided to go into the pub. But in less than five minute from I went in, I found that I am an alien with no team to sing a song for! I felt that I am completely excluded from those who are enjoying their time. So what? I am kind of force to decide which team to support.

Given the choices I had, it was not much difficult for me to choose. Even though I had never been Gunners or identify myself as a supporter of Arsenal, I used to watch their game and liked the way they play football. Also I had an Arsenal replica shirt already, which I bought in 2003 with no kind of loyalty to the club. I knew several players and their name in the team, I knew how they like to play, I knew who the manager is, I knew a little bit of their history and so on. So there were enough reasons for me to be an Arsenal supporter! After that decision, everything was already set up for me. I joined the Red Membership which guarantees the basic accessibility of the every match tickets including some exclusive items such as DVD, book of previous season’s review, and Arsenal-logo-printed bottle opener. And I will never forget the moment when I felt my newly-made identification for the first time. After such a long waiting period, I finally had a chance to get involved the whole mad crowd when I visit Emirates Stadium, of course the home ground of Arsenal, for the very first time. The atmosphere inside of the stadium was just amazing. Over 60,000 people shouting and singing, chanting player’s name together, it was incredible experience for me. I had a similar one in the past when the World Cup was held in Korea in 2002, but I felt, this one is for me something special. I think the difference that separate two occasions and make latter feeling special for me was because I thought that is my decision! Nationality is, of course, out of my choice, but I thought that somewhat I decide to be Gunners, I thought I have the control in shaping my own identity. It is true that identity involves some active engagement, but the there is something beyond my choice. The process of identification is more than my decision or choice, I found.

There are much more elements which effect what I called ‘my decision’. I might have chosen Arsenal because of their continually promoted images, because of the image of success, or even because of the fact that while most of Korean people support Man Utd., I probably try to identify myself as a person who is aware of nationalism, in other word; I am a ‘real’ football fan! Those elements are countless and also it has to be said that any decision we make in shaping our own identity is sometimes beyond our self-consciousness. There is a moment when identification process is kind of force to developed, especially when it links with commercial benefits. If you just want to go into the stadium, then you just pay for the ticket. That is fine. But that is not fine from the football club’s point of view. Basically they are doing business. In order to sustain their business, it is fairly important for them to have stable basis of revenue. Apart from match day’s gate receipt, there are hundreds of ways where they make money from. In case of Arsenal, they made a profit of 36.7 million pounds in 2008 , and while most of profit was made from gate receipt and TV broadcasting deal, it has to be pointed out that retail part played a significant role as well. Supporters are often encouraged to show their loyalty to the club by spending their money on those commodities and services provided by the club. To be an Arsenal fans, I spent a lot of money. Especially considering my length of time as a supporter, I felt I had to spend my money to show other fairly loyal supporters my loyalty to the club. Yes, I have made a decision, but after that, to develop my identity as an Arsenal fans, I had not much choice. I had to buy an Arsenal shirt, pay for the membership and subscription of Arsenal TV Online Service, and of course, for the match tickets. So it is not far wrong to say that I might just have ‘bought’ my identity. In this modern society, you can ‘buy’ your own identity.

Although I decided to be a supporter of Arsenal and thought that was in my control, but now it seems to me that it is no longer in my control. Identity is often produced and reproduced by consumption in many ways. Therefore as long as we are living in this capitalistic society, the process of identification is hardly in our control in many case.

(End. kinda. -_ -)


* I think now that I was born to support Arsenal. That's just what it is, you know...

** I don't spend that much money to 'buy' my identity any more. There are several reasons.

1. Here, in Korea, there are not much things to spend my money on. It's all Man Utd. world, you know. Even Seoul is one of those 'official' sponsor of Man Utd. I don't want my tax to be spent in that way. I've never approved it, no way. Just weird. :(
2. I don't feel I have to prove my loyalty to the club any more because I'm just feeling it with my heart. (Oh God... What have they ever done to me?)
3. I don't or can't buy a match ticket. Of course I'd love to if I could.

*** I'm considering whether to extend my Arsenal TV Online subscription, which cost me 45 pounds a year, or not. 45 pound is not nothing although it's worth spending. I'm fed up with listening to those one-sided Korean commentary. Nationality has nothing to do with English Football!

Monday, 1 February 2010

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 1.

after being so frustrated by yesterday's performance....

How I Became the Gunners? - Part 1.

I am the Gunners. I am proud to admit that I am supporting one of the most successful football clubs on earth, playing the most beautiful football in the entire world. And that is Arsenal Football Club (Arsenal). Gunners is the name everybody call us. I have been supporting this club (with such an awful lot of loyalty) for about 3 years and being an Arsenal fans has been a huge part of my life. It really is. Every weekend I sit in front of the computer, watch them playing football so beautifully with a live commentary which is provided from the official homepage of Arsenal. I like to submit what I think of ‘our’ game and how should ‘we’ improve etc during the match by emailing ‘our’ commentator in minute-by-minute. I really like the feeling that I am one of those who support the best football team around the world. There is a sense in many occasions that WE share something. From UK to US, from Africa to America, from Islington, where the club has its home ground, to a small town in Ivory Coast, there are millions of people whom I share something with. And I am one of them. It is just like I have got millions of friend and I really love that feeling.

At this point one might argue that given the fact that Arsenal is take their home in a small town in north London, then how did I become such an insane supporter of that club? How do I identify myself as Gunners? And also there are thousands of football team in the world, even in Korea there are several football team including Daejeon Citizen FC which has its home ground in my hometown. But I know almost nothing about Daejeon Citizen FC. So why is that? How it works? Obviously the way I became supporter of Arsenal is not a miracle. There is every reason to look at how it works, I mean, how I became supporter of Arsenal, not Daejeon Citizen or any other club else. Now you may get a little bit of clue from the remaining part of this short-essay.

In the summer of 2007, I landed at the Heathrow Airport, in London, with all the excitement and great deal of expectation ahead of me. I was going to stay in London for a year with a great ambition of beating English. At that time I was just normal football fan. There were general interests in English football and European football in Korea, mostly affected by the fact that Ji-Sung Park, one of the heroes of Korea national team in the World Cup 2002, joined Manchester United (Man Utd.) which is one of the most famous football clubs in the world, and was playing very nicely. With a kind of feeling that ‘our’ player shows his ambition and ability to play in that high-level football team and league, every journals in Korea started to bring extravagant amount of report and news from England to Korea, insisting that ‘we’ can now be proud of that. He got a huge amount of support from Korean people, and soon became the hero for almost every football fans in Korea. Man Utd. is regarded just as the another national team in most of reports, Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager of Man Utd., became more famous than anybody else in the football world. From that context, I was aware of sort of nationalism so I really did not like that general mood. But at least, I have to say that from that moment, my interest in European football has been broadened. Although I was supporting none of those teams, I enjoyed some fantastic football in general. Things had to be different however, when I started to find my feet in entirely different life in London. First of all I just wanted to be a Londoner, not a visitor. I was trying to go deeply into their life to look at how they live, how they think, what they like, and even what they eat. I thought that is the best way to spend my time in London. What I wanted to learn is much more than English which makes sense a lot to me. Spending such a huge amount of money then you get clumsy British-accented English, knowing almost nothing about their culture? I was not convinced with that at all. And that kind of thought led me to become highly madly addicted football fans in the end.


* Part Two will be followed in the very near future.

** Come On Arsenal!
"We've got to stick together."
Rightly so.

*** Ji Sung Park killed us once again.
Ooops... we've already got enough killers against us.
Too many, actually.

**** Was Denilson just jogging yesterday, anyway?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Little Person

"Little Person"
- from OST of「Synecdoche, New York」

Official trailer (with HD quality) is here


* This movie was actually on the screen in 2007,
but it's arrived in Korea quite late.
Just lucky enough to watch it.

** I'm having the busiest winter break.
The happiest one as well, I must admit.

*** Disaster affected one of the world's poorest country.
"Tragedy beyond imagination", Mr. Brown said.
Some said that it was predictable.
Brothers and sisters are dying.