Archive for the ‘Profiles’ Category


Rest in peace, President Kim.

August 18, 2009

근조 김대중


International Herald Tribune publishes a false report on the June 28th protest.

June 29, 2008

Choe Sang-hun, a South Korea correspondent of International Heread Tribune (IHT), writes today that “The demonstrators hurled rocks and swung steel pipes while the police beat them back with plastic shields.” But it was police that hurled rocks and kindred things, as we reported yesterday. And the claim that protesters used steel pipes is a complete lie, a lie that even radical right-wing propagandist daily newspapers in Korea would dare not publish. Choe’s report intentionally misleads the readers into thinking that police violence was a result of responding to prostesters’ violence, which only exists in Choe’s imagination.

New York Times, which owns IHT and regularly publishes Choe’s articles in their entirety, has wisely published Choe’s report on the June 28th protest with that false claim edited out. Choe’s reports on Korea have always been skewed to the right. If, as is reported by Reuters, “The New York Times is developing plans to merge the Web site of the International Herald Tribune with that of The New York Times, in a bid to expand their global reach and deepen their appeal to advertisers“, it’d be wise of NY Times to reconsider publishing articles on Korea by an unreliable reporter like Choe.


PressianTV is inaccessible from abroad.

June 7, 2008

In the previous post we reported on the scheduled launch of PressianTV. Unfortunately, PressianTV is being broadcast through Afreeca, a popular Korean internet TV network, which remains inaccessible from abroad.


Pressian is scheduled to launch its own guerrilla TV.

June 6, 2008

Pressian, a South Korean news site well known for its thorough analyses and strong and independent voices, announces that it will join ColorTV, OhmyTV and other guerrilla TVs for broadcasting street rallies live through the web from June 7 to June 10 (starting at 7PM each day).

Guerrilla TVs share a similar format: one or two reporters accompanied by a staff of cameramen, notebook carriers and some logistics people broadcast in real time every single action of protesters and the police alike with occasional interviews. And they have been extremely popular among Korean citizens: ColorTV, a media project of the New Progressive Party and the pioneer in this new, 21st century form of activist journalism, has reportedly reached an audience of 310,000 people in a single day.

PressianTV will feature a liberal political pundit, Kim Min-woong, as one of its reporters. It would be interesting to compare Kim and the star reporter of ColorTV, Jin Joong-gwon.


Agora is hacked, or something’s wrong with it.

June 5, 2008

If there is what might be called a command center for the on-going political rallies in Korea, it is the public discussion forum called Agora, especially its free discussion room, where mostly liberal people—collectively known as Agorians—exchange in real time all kinds of information and opinion about current and future rallies.

However, Agora’s free discussion room has stopped functioning properly for more than four hours. Normally those posts that get most recommendations are selected and shown in a special box at the top of the discussion room on a regular basis—about every five minutes or so—for those users who didn’t get a chance to read them due to a huge volume of postings. (During high traffic periods tens of posts are uploaded in a second.) But the top box for best postings has been showing the same posts since around 4:25AM (June 6, in local time), when people started questioning the role of those who participated in rallies in their “reserve army” uniform. (In Korea, the uniform is a sign of having served in the military, and some reserve army members have been participating in rallies wearing the uniform.) Since then, all those posts that raised the same doubt have been erased.

Agora has had some instances of malfunction (largely due to excessive traffic volumes), but the host company, Daum, has always posted public notices of problems and fixed them promptly. But this time, Daum is said to be still figuring out what the problem is, more than four hours and twenty minutes after the incidence.

Agora seems hacked. Or something of that sort has happened.


“Stars and Losers of Candlelight Vigils”

May 31, 2008

Korea Times‘s staff reporter Bae Ji-sook writes a pretty accurate report on who have lost and who have gained since the candlelight vigils started in April:

candlelight girlsTeenagers in school uniform join a candlelit vigil against U.S. beef imports. Teenagers have emerged as the main proponents of candlelit vigils.

By Bae Ji-sook
Staff Reporter

Some rose to stardom, while others stumbled over candlelit vigils held to protest the resumption of American beef imports.

First, the spotlight shone on teenagers. Conventionally indifferent to social issues, these teens took to the streets calling for their right to choose what to eat. They created online communities where they shared information on mad cow disease and denounced the government for allegedly making a hasty deal.

Outstanding among the throng of students was a high school senior with the online ID of “Andante” who led 1.3 million people to sign a petition to impeach President Lee Myung-bak, showing “teen power” and its influence on politics. Police questioned him for articles he wrote on a Web site, but said he would not stop criticizing the government. Internet users tried to change their IDs to Andante to protect him from further police tracing.

Then came Lee Sun-young, a housewife in Atlanta, who became an instant star after she expressed her opinion in MBC TV’s “100 Minute Debate” via phone. In a very logical and calm manner, Lee spoke of advanced meat recovery products and said that not all Americans are happy with the meat they. Internet users assessed her later as a lot better than the panelists in the debate program.

She later called up the organizers of the candlelit vigils and expressed her support. All participants welcomed her logical, sensible yet passionate speech.

It was the Internet that brought people together to the vigils and real action rather than sitting and complaining., and’s Agora page became the busiest Web sites after the vigil.

There, members shared information on the disease, vigil schedules and how they should act, and criticized other government policies. Especially, the Daum portal managed to differentiate its image as progressive, “right,” and “well listening.”

The protest turned hatred into love, in other ways. Prof Chin Jung-gwon of Chung Ang University always walked a very fine line between most loved and most hated. Since last summer when he scorned some Koreans’ blind patriotism over Shim Hyung-rae’s movie “D-War,” it was quite clear that he was the latter.

However, when the critic appeared on a string of television, radio programs or newspaper columns criticizing the government’s beef deal, he became almost a pop star to fans.
During the vigils, Chin broadcast the protest live on the Internet and how the police dealt with participants. He alleged that he was hurt during police “suppression.”

However, where there is light, there is also shadow. There are several who lost popularity.

President Lee lost a lot. He had support of almost 20 percent last month, the lowest ever in history for a president in his “honeymoon period.”

He was widely criticized for saying, “If you don’t like meat, then don’t eat it.” He was then accused of not taking the protests against the beef deal seriously.

Lee apologized later that he hadn’t manage to communicate with the people well enough to tell them the truth about American beef. However, some people denounced that he was weeping crocodile tears.

Commissioner General of the National Police Agency Eo Cheong-soo also earned public “hatred” when he ordered his officers to end the vigils if any “political,” or “aggressive” action was seen.

Recently, MBC News Desk reported that his brother owned a brothel in Busan and netizens are moving to impeach him.

For Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Director Lee Sang-gil, the vigil and whole dispute have been a nightmare. The public booed him when he appeared on “100 Minute Debate” and defended the government. He alleged that there was nothing wrong with U.S. beef and that people should trust the inspection process.

During the protests, protestors called him names and mocked him, calling on him to resign.

However, according to ministry sources, Lee has the reputation of being a nice, gentle, honorable and decent man.


“Rain tears are falling”

May 29, 2008

A liberal Korean daily newspaper, HanKyoReh, published today a moving letter by a school girl named Han Chae-min. Here’s my translation followed by the original):

Letter from a Candlelight Girl, Han Chae-min, “Rain tears are falling”

I am a Candlelight Girl, Han Chae-min. I first attended candlelight vigil on May 3, and today was my 14th time. It rained today. Rain tears are also falling in my heart. A lot of big sisters, big brothers and other adults who cried, laughed and sang with me and us Candlelight Girls were arrested today. We Candlelight Girls express deep gratitude and greetings of love to the men and women who sacrificed themselves to protect us despite the fact that we started vigil. Those who were forcibly arrested should be returned to their places. We hold candlelights, but carry nothing else. We hold candlelights, but we are peace. (…) We promise the people who are now going through tough times in police stations: We’ll be with you till the end, we’ll be with you till you return to your beloved ones.

촛불소녀 한채민의 편지 “눈물 비가 내립니다”

저는 촛불소녀 한채민입니다. 5월 3일 처음 이곳에 나와 오늘까지 14번째 참석했습니다. 오늘 비가 내렸습니다. 제 마음에도 눈물비가 내립니다. 저와 함께, 저희 촛불소녀들과 함께 이 곳에서 울고 웃고 노래하던 언니,오빠,어른들이 많이 연행되었습니다. 저희 촛불 소녀들이 처음 시작했지만, 지금은 저희를 지켜주기 위해 희생하시는 어른들게 진심 어린 감사와 사랑의 인사를 드립니다. 강제연행된 분들은 제자리로 돌아와야 합니다. 우리는 촛불 하나만 들었을 뿐, 맨몸입니다. 우리는 촛불 하나만 들었을 뿐, 평화입니다. (중략) 지금 경찰서에서 힘든 시간을 보내고 계시는 분들께 촛불의 마음으로 약속 드립니다. 우리가 끝까지 함께 할 것입니다. 사랑하는 사람들 곁으로 돌아오실 때까지 함께 하겠습니다.