Good old days..
South Korean education
and other memorable pictures
Yes, I’ve been saying this for more than 10 years.
A closer look at human rights in the Korean Peninsula
It’s time for human rights groups to encourage the government of South Korea to examine its repressive laws
When we talk about human rights in the context of the Korean Peninsula, international media organizations and transnational human rights groups project by default the issue of human rights violations and curtailment of freedom to North Korea alone.
This significantly situates the country as one of the most repressive regimes in the world. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in modern times. These include extermination, murder, slavery, torture, arbitrary arrest, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. North Korea also operates prison camps where perceived opponents of the regime are sent to face torture and other forms of abuses. Collective punishment is used to silence dissent. The absence of independent media, civil society, and freedom of religion are also observed.
In 2016, an American college student, Otto Warmbier spent 17 months in detention for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. The Korean regime claimed that he contracted botulism and was never tortured. Unfortunately, he died a few days after he was released in coma.
The regime, however, never ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. And even if it did with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (IESCR), Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and Convention on the Rights of the Child – it still fails in periodic reports.
Nevertheless, as we put significant attention to these cases of human rights violations in the North, we can have a holistic understanding of human rights in the peninsula by also taking a closer look at political rights violations in South Korea in the context of dissent against its government. South Korea, after all, claims to be a democratic state.
According to Amnesty International, one of the most important human rights issue in South Korea continues to be the National Security Law, which is used arbitrarily to curtail freedom of expression and association, providing long sentences or the death penalty for loosely defined “anti-state” activities.
The human rights discourse in the peninsula illustrates that human rights violations against democratic freedoms also exist in South Korea. These, however, happen based on varying and distinctive socio-political differences of the two Koreas, and their shared common factors.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report that there is a worrying trend of increased arbitrary use of the National Security Law (NSL) in South Korea since 2008 by law enforcement agencies, in the name of security and public safety. This undermines citizens’ right to freedom of association and freedom of speech.
Data showed that the number of NSL cases increased by 95.6% from 46 in 2008 to 90 in 2011. The figure of those charged under the “vaguely worded clauses” of the law significantly increased by 96.8% – from 32 in 2008 to 63 in 2011.
These data show that the South Korean government, through the NSL, has been justifying the act of arbitrary arrests of individuals by imposing clauses of the law in the name of security. In one particular case, members of the Socialist Workers League were investigated under the abovementioned law and found guilty on the grounds of violating NSL Article 7(1) “propagating or instigating a rebellion against the State” even if the members conducted a peaceful protest. They were imprisoned for two years and suspended for 3 years.
Also in the case of Kim Myeong-soo, the NSL has been used as reference to curb academic debate on the study of North Korean issues. He was a bookseller and a PhD student questioned for selling 140 books and possessing 170 others “with the intention of endangering the existence and security of the State”. In his testimony, he mentioned that the books used as substantial evidence against him during the trail are materials for anyone who studies North Korea or North Korean literature like any other scholars. In 2012, Kim Myeong-soo was sentenced to 6 months in prison and two years’ suspension, prompting him to abandon his doctoral thesis.
The human rights situation in South Korea might be incomparable in terms of practice, but it only shows that South Korea’s government has been using state-enforced and strict security legislations as mechanisms to justify its violations in order to protect its security interests.
The absence of institutionalized human rights protection policies in North Korea and South Korea’s stringent security legislation provide a space for the further curtailment of human rights in the peninsula.
It is important to recognize that both countries, in the absence of reunification, want to preserve and protect their respective ideological and political standing against each other. Thus, both Koreas possess distinct security concerns and interests that would prevent them from deviating from the status quo.
Undoubtedly, both countries are ready to facilitate repressive tools in order to protect their survival from any external threats.
It is high time for human rights groups to also encourage the government of South Korea to examine the need to modify repressive clauses of the National Security Law, and take a holistic approach in tackling the discourse of human rights in the Korean Peninsula. – Rappler.com
You don’t have to be an U.N. special rapporteur to tell that freedom of opinion and expression in South Korea is severely oppressed.
I wrote about “South Korea’s Limited Freedom of Speech and Five Laws” before. But I admit he brought up another aspect of the problem.
20. Given the potential scope of government access, common forms of online anonymity may be “superficial and easily disturbed.” For example, reliance on pseudonyms or even widely available encryption tools (such as HTTPS websites that encrypt web traffic by default) may be insufficient. Users that have an urgent need to avoid discovery – particularly those who wish to express minority views or disclose sensitive information in the public interest – may be compelled to turn to sophisticated anonymizing software and tools, which can be technically complicated or cumbersome to use. Given the burden and risks involved, many may choose not to speak at all.
21. The mere prospect of government access to customer identity data may also deter individuals from expressing themselves freely in their private communications. As a result, the mere existence of a legal regime that facilitates government access to such data “creates an interference with privacy, with a potential chilling effect on rights, including those to free expression and association.” This chilling effect may have a disproportionate impact on attorney-client relationships, journalists and their sources, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, and minorities and vulnerable groups.
26. Warrantless government access to customer identity data violates the legality, necessity, and proportionality criteria set out above. Instead, such access should only be granted pursuant to legal criteria defined with sufficient precision, and an order by a competent and impartial judicial body certifying necessity and proportionality to achieve a legitimate objective. My analysis of relevant international jurisprudence and practice indicates that this view is shared by respected international and regional bodies and a growing number of States.
KBS (the national public broadcaster of South Korea) fabricated the images in the documentary in order to imprint Koreans anti-Japan sentiments.
I’ve seen too many…
Every time English speaking Journalists such as Martin Fackler and Anna Fifield and Jeffrey Kingston and Jake Adelstein and Alexis Dudden and David McNeill write something about Japan, the words “right-wing”, “nationalist”, “militarism”, and “revisionism” come to mind because, it seems, those are the only thing they can think of.
It shows how English-speaking Journalism are deteriorated and full of racists.
In the aftermath of the recent U.S. presidential election, much attention has been given to the biases and misconceptions of the U.S. news media, not least the New York Times. The paper, like many others, failed to identify depth of American voters’ concerns while also reporting from what many would consider a liberal perspective.
But for Japan observers, this type of bias is sadly predictable. Highly respected American media such as (but not exclusively) the New York Times have frequently and casually employed labels as “right wing” and “nationalist” when referring to the current government of Japan and its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, without giving readers proper context or background to understand whether and how such labels apply.
To better understand the meaning of these epithets and their impact on Japan, I recently interviewed American scholar Earl Kinmonth, who has analyzed the American and European media’s reporting on Japan for many years. Professor Kinmonth is a historian who earned a PhD in Japanese history from the University of Wisconsin and has taught at Sheffield University in the United Kingdom and is now a professor at Taisho University in Japan. He is a veteran scholar of media reporting whose research findings are available in a monograph titled, “Japan’s Image in the Foreign Mass-Media,” and other works.
Professor Kinmonth disagrees with the New York Times’s labeling of Prime Minister Abe, saying, “Judged by American standards, Prime Minister Abe does not fit within the category of ‘right-wing’. He has no religious inclinations and his domestic policies show a penchant for big-government liberalism. Nevertheless, the New York Times as well as many left-leaning Americans doing research in Japan intentionally use the term ‘right-wing’ to convey their disdain. The term is inaccurate and reveals their bias.”
Professor Kinmonth also argues that the use of the term “nationalist” to describe Mr. Abe in U.S. reporting betrays media bias. The term “nationalist” is typically used to describe a person who loves his or her own ethnic group or country above all others, but the term often carries a negative connotation to describe someone with a narrow-minded, ethnocentric outlook.
“If one uses the word ‘nationalist’ according to its ordinary meaning,” he said, “there are no leaders of any nation, including the United States, who are not ‘nationalists.’ Yet, the American media never use this term to describe President Obama because of its negative connotation, while Prime Minister Abe is regularly described as ‘nationalistic’ or a ‘nationalist’. The only conclusion one can reach is that American media are biased against Mr. Abe.”
He also disputes allegations that Mr. Abe is a “revisionist” and a “history denier.” He referred to a March, 2, 2007, New York Times story titled, “Abe rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex,” by reporter Norimitsu Onishi, which offers a striking example of such allegations. Although the Prime Minister denied only the forced recruitment of comfort women by the Japanese military, the New York Times report suggests that Mr. Abe denied the entire existence of comfort women and any Japanese military involvement in the issue, misrepresenting his actual opinion.
Such fabrications and mistakes in reporting by the American media are not limited to the New York Times’ coverage of Prime Minister Abe. The proliferation of distorted reporting continues unabated, with articles claiming based more on inference than on any factual basis, that the Japanese government suppresses freedom of speech, that the movement to reform Japan’s constitution constitutes a revival of Japan’s militarism, and that Prime Minister Abe’s goal is to take Japan back to the 1930’s, just to name a few.
Professor Kinmonth is particularly critical of those American pundits who argue that Japan will “return to militarism” if Article 9 of the Japanese constitution is revised. In his view, this argument is even tantamount to racism. Article 9 of Japan’s constitution is unprecedented in the world in that it places constraints even upon Japan’s own self-defense. Professor Kinmonth argues that the implication that the Japanese people will compulsively launch wars of aggression if Article 9 is not preserved is equivalent to arguing that the Japanese are genetically disposed to exceptionally militant behavior. He finds it exceedingly strange that this assertion is heard even among some Japanese.
Kinmonth goes on to provide an insightful analysis of why these theories and arguments about Japan persist in the American discourse: “Many American scholars and reporters are leftist by American standards and often make anti-establishment assertions. Yet, these specialists are frustrated because they are unable to effect change in the United States,” he said. “I believe they take out their frustrations on Japan, which is an attractive alternative because it doesn’t fight back.”
Those journalists are living in 1940’s and their heads are full of war propaganda!
I really want to know what Alexis Dudden and Mike Honda have to say about this.
They would deny and dismiss because Alexis Dudden is politically motivated hypocrite activist, and Mike Honda is an ass-kisser to the voters in Korean town and China town. I wrote Diggin’ own grave: Rep. Mike Honda 10 freaking years ago and now he is gone because he was “caught trading favors for campaign contributions“. And Alexis Dudden really needs to learn a thing or two from professor Park Yu-ha.
Also, I want Mr. David Kang to do a thoroughly research on these matters and publish a book about it. And I want Martin Fackler, David McNeill, Anna Fifield, William Pesek, Hiroko Tabuchi, Norimitsu Onishi and Jeffrey Kingston to report it.
I’m sick of their hypocrisy and lies and double standard.
South Koreans are notorious for condemning other countries while ignoring own wrong doings. In fact, South Korea has never apologized nor paid any compensations to Vietnamese victims while Koreans are asking apologies and compensations from Japan for Japan’s annexation every month or so.
Now, Vietnam is starting to criticize South Korea…naturally.
Vietnam criticizes Korean leader for honoring war veterans – The Korea Times 2017-06-13
President Moon Jae-in’s recent remarks on South Korean soldiers who participated in the 1960-75 Vietnam War are fueling anti-Korean sentiment in the Southeast Asian country.
In a speech to mark the June 6 Memorial Day, Moon lauded the soldiers who fought in Vietnam for their contributions to economic growth in the 1960s and 70s.
“The soldiers resolutely answered the call of the Republic of Korea. In the middle of the jungle and under sweltering heat, they carried out their duties faithfully. That’s true patriotism,” Moon said. “Their sacrifice laid the foundation for the country’s economic growth.”
Moon spoke about the soldiers apparently to urge people to remember fallen national heroes. However, this angered many Vietnamese, who contend Korean soldiers massacred thousands of civilians during the war.
“We ask the Korean government not to talk or behave in a way that hurts the feelings of the Vietnamese people and has a negative influence on the two countries’ friendship and cooperation,” Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswomen Le Thi Thu Hang said in a press release, Monday.
The ministry has lodged a complaint with the Korean Embassy in Vietnam regarding Moon’s speech, the press release reads.
This is the Vietnamese government’s “first-ever official warning” against Seoul regarding its alleged wartime massacres, Ku Su-jeong, an activist who has long dealt with the issue, told The Korea Times.
“I’ve heard low-key messages from Vietnam through unofficial routes, but have never seen a message like this,” she said.