Year: 2018

Parallel 38/Part III

Parallel 38/Part III Remember I told you I was split two ways: My grandmother’s father was a Freedom Fighter in colonised Korea When we were Korea Not Korea, South/North Not Korea, Republic of/Democratic People’s Republic of Not South Korea/North Korea Like we see on the census slips and dropdown boxes Just Korea He and his country fought back against the Japanese The people who told us We could not use our own names We could not utter our own language We could not wear our own clothes But we must dress like the white man Because that’s who they learned their tricks from A sadomasochistic cycle of submission and domination On 15th August, 1945 We were made a free country On 17th July, 1948 We declared our Constitution On 15th August, 1948 We became a Republic And when my country became a Republic my great-grandfather became a criminal Because he was A Communist One of Them Granny said, then they came and took all our land and our money Overnight I went from going to …

Parallel 38/Part II

  Parallel 38/Part II For three Christmases I had a German lover We spent Summers sitting on the balcony grilling Bratwurst Christmases eating deviled eggs and saying, Mahlzeit New Year’s Eve shooting firecrackers into the sky and screaming and kissing He told me Did you know It took twenty years For us West Germans and East Germans To marry amongst ourselves In the same numbers As we married foreigners We’ve been told our whole life, look at this country across the world Remnants of the Cold War, testaments to ideological warfare Your twin We know how it feels When people walk all over us with their dirty boots and say Thank us, beg us, revere us For pitting your people against your neighbours Because they’re wrong in the head And implant a seed of doubt for the coming three generations They tell us Look If the Germans can do it, you can You hardworking Koreans who rebuilt your country The only OECD foreign aid receiver turned donor, at the turn of the millennia But they …

Parallel 38/Part I

This is part one of three in a series I wrote while watching the Inter-Korea Summit broadcast on JTBC. Parallel 38/Part I It is only natural for me to be split Two ways It started when foreigners split the country of my mother and my father Two ways Took a yardstick and swung it across Arbitrary lines of their own science And called it Peace Order Necessary Told us we were free To run around in our little divided up cage Asked us to play nice and to obey In return we would get Democracy Freedom Reparations For what they did to us, raping our souls and pitting us against one another Threw money and milk and honey our way Put their feet up Told us This is freedom You have newspapers You have shipyards the size of mountains You have free elections and banks and delegations in The Hague Leaving out the part where they Split up mother and daughter, brother and sister, grandfather and grandson Dug up trenches along the heart of our …

“My Body My Choice” – My Story of Reproductive Privilege

Tomorrow I’m getting the second IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) of my life. Something going into my uterus is as personal as it gets, but as a researcher who should be starting a PhD on Sexual Health and the Internet in South Korea (one of the cases being the IUD) next year, it is, as we say: “The Personal Is Political”. With under 20mg of levonorgestrel, the Kyleena (and the Skyla/Jaydess) emits 1/10 the amount of hormones than do oral contraceptives. They’re cost-effective (130€ in NL and FR), and once they’re installed, they last five years – bringing their monthly cost to a mere 0.5€. For many women, they come with fewer side-effects than does the Pill. It is particularly effective for young and sexually active women because of its low failure rate and because of the convenience it offers. IUDs are offered fully free of cost to women under 21 years of age in NL and FR. *  *  * In France and in the Netherlands, I am free to choose a contraceptive method. I am …

Owner of Soranet, South Korea’s Biggest Porn Hub, Taken into Custody After Three Years on the Run

The Prosecutor’s Office states: “The [site’s] administrators illegally earned profits totalling tens of billions of KRW (approx. millions of USD/EUR) over the past thirteen years” An owner of Soranet, a man identified as Mr. Hong, was taken into custody on June 18th, 2018. He is one of four owners, two couples identified as the Hong family and the Song family. The owners are accused of not only distributing pornography, but also engaging in its production. They have been on the run, living in New Zealand and Australia, since the South Korean police launched an official investigation back in 2015. They’ve also appealed and lost the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s decision to confiscate their passports and to stop them from re-applying for one. The remaining three owners will be served subpoenas for investigation. The illegal website, which ran from 2003 to 2016, is known for brokering underage prostitution and drug trafficking, violence against women including genital mutilation and conspiracy in gang rape, defamation, and extortion (Read more about my account of Soranet’s activities here). The site …

Yeonmi Park becomes the first North Korean refugee to speak on Comedy Central

Follow this link to view the video at Comedy Central. Yeonmi Park is the first North Korean defector to speak on Comedy Central, on Jordan Klepper’s The Opposition (Link). No, she isn’t debuting her career as a stand-up comedian. The humour game is subtle and strongly lined with political messages. She discusses her disappointment at the Kim-Trump Singapore summit on June 12th, her life in North Korea being taught to “hate American bastards”, and feeling confused at the idea of people being able to love anyone else besides the Dear Leader when she saw the movie Titanic for the first time. When asked what pushed her to leave the country, she responds: “hunger”. She shows solidarity to displaced peoples by saying “Refugees are people too. No one should be punished for their birthplace”, and warns that “freedom is not free – we have to fight for our freedom”. Ms. Park has already expressed her disappointment at the June 12th summit on Foreign Policy: “He should have asked for some concessions from the North Korean side. If Trump …

[Music] Enter eAeon, South Korea’s Modern Rock Prodigy With a Haunting Sadness

Singer-songwriter eAeon (이이언) has been creating music since 1996. One of my favourite artists of all time since I discovered his band “Mot” in 2006, he has since come on my radar once again for defending a South Korean voice actress who was fired for wearing a feminist t-shirt. A mysterious character whose private life is closely guarded from the public, eAeon sometimes goes months, or even years, without social media presence. Having studied electrical engineering at Yonsei University and music technology at Korea University of Arts, he originally wanted to become a computer programmer, but chose music for its creativity. He often uses words such as “architecture” and “structure” when talking about his music. His team members complain about how difficult it is to reproduce his written music in play (Huffington Post, March 2016), and were recruited by eAeon for having a solid understanding of music theory. His signature sound mixes electronica and jazz, while always giving us that synthesised, sad, ephemeral tone. Most of his solo music is produced entirely by himself and …

2018 Oslo Freedom Forum

I was hired to work as an interpreter to the North Korean delegation at the Oslo Freedom Forum for the second time (the first time being 2016). This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the Oslo Freedom Forum. In a nutshell, OFF is a a forum and a community of people dedicated to protecting and improving fundamental human rights around the world. It’s fun: There’s always an art performance, and since a few years an ethical fashion show (whose models are human rights activists and speakers from past years), booths by tech companies who offer services which can be used to protect civil rights activists in repressive regimes, and lots of opportunities for people to connect. Human rights activists have a platform to voice their hopes, obstacles, and plans. Philanthropists come to learn more about projects activists are currently running, to ask in-depth questions about what they need, what they plan to do, and what their current challenges are. Entrepreneurs can pitch their technologies to activists and the general public. This year, I was …

[Video] Anti-Spycam Rally Shakes Up Seoul (by dotface)

On June 9th, 30,000 women gathered in the university district of Hyehwa to protest against the biased investigation practices of the South Korean police. The rally’s roots go back to May 2018, when a male nude model’s picture was illegally circulated on a single website. Within a few days, the woman who uploaded the picture was arrested. This incident is in stark contrast to the thousands of spycam videos and upskirt pictures (“molka”) of women which are taken by men and circulated through hundreds of social media and web channels, and which are chronically dismissed by the police as “beyond our scope of investigation”. The protesters are seen chanting slogans and carrying pickets such as “No Dick, a Criminal” and “A Dick, Not a Criminal”, “The South Korean Government Is a Co-Conspirator In Raising Sex Criminals” and “My Everyday Life Is Not Your Porn”.

[News] South Korean women rise up: An interview with Nayoung Kim

Nayoung Kim is a feminist academic and attorney whom I’ve had the privilege to meet and discuss feminist issues with. An unapologetic feminist, Nayoung has worked towards ending sexual and physical violence against women for nearly a decade. In this interview, you can find all the key issues South Korean feminists face today, from restricted reproductive rights (abortion being illegal), digital sex crimes (including revenge porn), the backlash against feminism in South Korea, and much more. “In every sector of South Korean society, women are assigned second-class citizenship and deprived of equal opportunity. South Korea has the highest gender pay gap among OECD countries, with women earning 63 per cent of what men earn in 2017. Only 56.2 per cent of women are employed. Women are grossly underrepresented in positions of power, holding only 17 per cent of seats in the National Assembly and 10.5 per cent of management positions in the private sector.” “In 2016, a study of 1,050 men revealed that 50.7 per cent had paid a woman for sex. This is a conservative estimate. K-Pop is …