E. Tammy Kim

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President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol celebrates with supporters in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2022

It is tempting to compare Yoon Suk-yeol, the career prosecutor who was elected president of South Korea last week, to former US president Donald Trump. There’s his lack of political experience, his flip-flop from one party to another, his questionable acquisition of familial wealth, his misogyny, his distaste for the poor and appeals to the rich—even his hairstyle.

Yoon is unlike Trump in one regard: he won the popular vote, albeit by only 247,000 ballots in a country of 52 million. The South Korean system is first past the post, so the margin does not matter. Yoon’s conservative People Power Party won 48.56 percent, while the other major candidate, Lee Jae-myung of outgoing president Moon Jae-in’s liberal Minjoo Democratic Party, garnered 47.83 percent.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los adoptados no deberían vivir con miedo a ser deportados

Cuando a Antonio LeBlanc, el desafortunado protagonista de la nueva película Blue Bayou, lo arrestan luego de una pelea con dos policías, confronta una terrible realidad: un agente teclea el nombre de LeBlanc en una computadora y descubre que no es ciudadano estadounidense, como había creído durante más de treinta años. El Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de Estados Unidos ha ordenado su deportación.

El personaje de LeBlanc, interpretado por Justin Chon, quien también escribió y dirigió la película, nació en Corea del Sur, fue adoptado por una pareja de Luisiana a los 3 años. Después creció, y fue víctima de abuso, en varios hogares temporales.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kim Hye-jeong, deputy head of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, holding up a sign Monday declaring solidarity with the accuser of Seoul’s mayor, Park Won-soon. Credit Yonhap/EPA, via Shutterstock

An elaborate public funeral was held on Monday in Seoul, South Korea, in honor of the city’s mayor, Park Won-soon, a prominent human rights lawyer and confidant of President Moon Jae-in. Mr. Park was found dead last week, by suicide, hours after a personal assistant in his office filed a claim of sexual abuse and harassment against him.

In his suicide note, Mr. Park said nothing about the accusations, but wrote, “I’m sorry to everyone.”

This news, in its painful complexity, has shocked the Korean people, a fifth of whom live in Seoul. Mr. Park, a third-term mayor, was known to his constituents as a friend to the poor and homeless; a man who, as an activist and lawyer, had successfully litigated the nation’s first sexual harassment case and won accolades from feminist groups.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una calle en Seúl, Corea del Sur. Aunque al principio estuvieron escasas, las mascarillas estuvieron más disponibles luego de que el gobierno compró una proporción sustancial de la producción nacional. Credit Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

El coronavirus se desató en Corea del Sur a finales de enero, cuando Yoo Yoon-sook cumplía seis meses en su nuevo trabajo. Ella se acababa de mudar de Seúl, donde pasó tres décadas trabajando en la misma farmacia, para abrir la Farmacia Hankyeol (“confiable”) en la ciudad de Incheon, cerca del aeropuerto internacional. Yoo aún no conocía bien el vecindario que rodeaba su nueva farmacia “antes de que todo esto ocurriera”, me dijo. Todo se centraba en el coronavirus, todo el tiempo.

Las 1100 farmacias de Incheon, incluida la de Yoo, comenzaron a vender las mascarillas KF-94, equivalentes a las N95 estadounidenses, hasta que se agotaron.…  Seguir leyendo »

A street in Seoul, South Korea, last week. Initially in short supply, face masks became more widely available after the government purchased a substantial proportion of national production. Credit Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The coronavirus erupted in South Korea in late January, six months into Yoo Yoon-sook’s new job. She had just moved from Seoul, where she spent three decades working in the same pharmacy, to open the Hankyeol (“Steadfast”) Pharmacy in the city of Incheon, near the international airport. Ms. Yoo hadn’t really gotten a sense of the neighborhood around her new pharmacy “before this all happened,” she told me. It became all coronavirus, all the time.

Incheon’s 1,100 pharmacies, including Ms. Yoo’s, began to sell out of KF-94 face masks, the equivalent of the American N95. So did corner stores and large retail chains like E-Mart.…  Seguir leyendo »

Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images. Wesleyan University Campus, Middletown, Connecticut

LAGOS, NIGERIA—Because of my work in digital communications (social media, less fancifully) for the federal government, I have in the last four years divided my time between Lagos, which I consider home, and Abuja, the federal capital. It’s now clear, however, that I will spend the next few weeks in Lagos—my longest stretch here in years—obeying the #StayAtHome message that now seems to encapsulate the fastest and surest way to defeat this stubborn virus.

That message has been the eureka! for me in Lagos in the last couple of days. It’s where all the public information energy should go, for a viral disease for which there is really no treatment, only the management of symptoms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watching a news broadcast in Seoul, on the second day of meetings between North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, and President Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit Jung Yeon-Je/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Outside the North Korean Embassy in Hanoi, a glass case displaying an array of patriotic photographs was reportedly reorganized just before Kim Jong-un’s arrival. The chairman’s portrait remained untouched at the top of the vitrine, but the images of fruit orchards and fishing boats had been swapped out for those of factories and a satellite antenna. A South Korean reporter, standing outside the embassy, observed that the new pictures seemed “tailored to fit a theme of Vietnamese-style reform and opening.”

Instead, President Trump and Mr. Kim cut short their parley, ending the summit on Thursday with no agreement in hand. Much of the American foreign policy establishment, including Democratic legislators, reacted with smug surprise.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea embracing North Korea’s Kim Jong-un on Saturday, in a handout picture provided by the Presidential Blue House.Credit South Korea Presidential Blue House, via Reuters

On Saturday evening in Seoul, images of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea embracing North Korea’s Kim Jong-un lit up tens of millions of smartphones. The Presidential Blue House announced that Mr. Moon had just met with Mr. Kim on the northern side of the border — their second encounter in a month. At a press briefing Sunday morning, Mr. Moon explained that Pyongyang had made the request, via the inter-Korean hotline, to speak “informally.”

It was a bold recovery for Mr. Moon, who had been perceived as a tragic middleman since President Trump canceled a planned summit with North Korea last week.…  Seguir leyendo »