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 »
Son Jong-woo is the creator of “Welcome to Video,” once the world’s largest known child pornography website. In 2015, when he was 19, he started the website in the dark web, warning its members, “Do not upload adult porn.” Over the next three years, the site would balloon to more than 1 million downloads worldwide, trading in cryptocurrency and trafficking videos featuring the sexual assault, including rape, of minors. One of the site’s most popular searches was for “2-year-olds.” By the time Son was arrested and the website shut down in 2018, the 32-nation investigation had caught more than 300 suspects (the majority men from South Korea) and rescued at least 23 children in the United States, Britain and Spain.… Seguir leyendo »
South Korea was the first country to hold national elections amid the coronavirus pandemic. The election drew a high level of global attention, as other countries no doubt wondered how the pandemic would affect their own upcoming elections.
Defying predictions that fears of the coronavirus would discourage participation, the April 15 parliamentary election instead had a remarkably high voter turnout. Media coverage took note of the government’s comprehensive disinfection regimen and social distancing at polling places, a system designed to reduce the possibility of infection.
The ruling Democratic Party’s landslide victory became a cautionary tale to other leaders — voters rewarded the government’s coronavirus testing and tracing efforts.… Seguir leyendo »
The most complicated issue in America right now is how, when and where to reopen the cities and towns that have been sheltered in place. Everyone wants resumption of the mobile life of social proximity we enjoyed a few months ago but balancing this against the competing need to assure both individual safety and — because this is a contagious disease — societal safety remains a substantial challenge.
Fortunately, a new study from South Korea has just been published in «early release» form (it is final and peer-reviewed, just early) in the CDC medical journal, Emerging Infectious Disease.
Titled «Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea,» it describes how South Korea dealt with an outbreak in a high-rise building in the busiest part of Seoul with an early, decisive intervention that included closing the entire building, extensive testing and quarantine of infected people and their contacts.… Seguir leyendo »
South Korea’s legislative elections, held Wednesday, would not normally attract much attention in the United States outside of the foreign policy community. But this year might be different. The plucky South Koreans have just shown the world how to hold an election and protect public health simultaneously.
Covid-19 hit South Korea in early February. The number of cases rose rapidly, climbing to nearly 1,000 new cases per day by the end of the month. Despite this, there was never any plan to postpone the April 15 election. Instead, the nation focused on making in-person voting safe.
The system the South Koreans devised protects voters and poll workers.… Seguir leyendo »
South Korea, the US and the UK all reported their first Covid-19 cases around the same time: on January 20, January 21, and January 31, respectively. How things unfolded from there, unfortunately for the US and UK, has been strikingly different.
Today, South Korea is reporting less than 100 new cases a day, the UK is reporting around 4,000 new cases a day, and the US is reporting around 30,000. But while numbers in South Korea have fallen, in the US and UK they have been rising exponentially (around 20,000 new cases a day a week ago, about 8,000 new cases a day a week before that).… Seguir leyendo »
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 »
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 »
Corea del Sur ha conseguido controlar la pandemia de coronavirus en un tiempo récord de solo una semana gracias al diagnóstico masivo de su población. Parte de la estrategia ha consistido en distribuir una aplicación para móviles en la que, aportando los datos personales (domicilio, edad, sexo y teléfono o correo electrónico de contacto), se gestionaba la información sobre la enfermedad.
En caso de que el diagnóstico fuese positivo, al usuario se le ofrecía una cita para realizar el test. La prueba se llevaba a cabo en un punto de encuentro al que el usuario se desplazaba en coche, y donde los sanitarios hacían el test sin necesidad de salir del vehículo, de forma rápida y bastante segura.… Seguir leyendo »
Some commentators are arguing that China’s coronavirus response attests to the superiority of its authoritarian brand of governance and crisis management. In reality, it turns out that democracies are better suited to protect public health — at least, when they take advantage of their inherent strengths. One country is showing how it’s done: South Korea.
“The advantages of the Chinese system have once again been demonstrated,” the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship paper said in a recent commentary — one that was approvingly quoted in the Wall Street Journal: “China’s battle against the epidemic showed that the CPC, as China’s ruling party, is by far the political party with the strongest governance capability in human history.”… Seguir leyendo »
The world is experiencing a “Korean Wave” — a global pop culture boom that has seen South Korean music, cinema, television and other products find an enormous market worldwide. Earlier this month, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to win a best picture Oscar (a decision President Trump objected to at a rally on Thursday). And on Friday, K-pop sensation BTS released its highly anticipated new album — one that is expected to quickly top the Billboard charts.
This is not a new trend. The world has been gobbling up Korean pop culture for years — and not just music or movies.… Seguir leyendo »
Parasite (Parásitos), del director Bong Joon-ho, es una obra maestra que arroja luz sobre la desigualdad y la pobreza en Corea del Sur. El 9 de febrero se convirtió en un fenómeno al ganar el premio a mejor película en la 92.ª edición de los Óscar. Sin embargo, la película estuvo a punto de no ver la luz del día.
En 2015, el gobierno de la expresidenta Park Geun-hye incluyó en su lista negra a Bong, al actor Song Kang-ho y a la productora Miky Lee junto con más de 9,000 artistas, quienes en su opinión eran demasiado liberales y críticos con el gobierno.… Seguir leyendo »
To many South Koreans, “Parasite’s” historic win at the Oscars on Sunday wasn’t just about a movie winning at an awards ceremony. It was about the entire country gaining global prominence.
The film’s acclaimed director, Bong Joon-ho, expressed it best in his acceptance speech for best original screenplay: “We never write to represent our country, but this is very personal to South Korea.” This was the first time a South Korean film had won an Academy Award, let alone four.
In Korea, the response in the media was largely euphoric. Every major news outlet headlined “Parasite’s” Oscars victory, praising how Bong is now a “mainstream director in Hollywood” and how Korean cinema is “finally standing at the top of the world.”… Seguir leyendo »
Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” a gritty masterpiece that shines an unsparing light South Korea’s inequality and poverty, made waves Sunday by winning Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards. Yet the movie almost failed to see the light of the day.
In 2015, President Park Geun-hye’s administration blacklisted Bong, actor Song Kang-ho and producer Miky Lee along with more than 9,000 other artists, who in its view were too liberal and critical of the government. Just as “Parasite” tells an important story of the contradictions of capitalism, its making teaches an important lesson about how a free society is essential for the arts.… Seguir leyendo »
En Corea del Sur, la muerte de la estrella del K-pop Goo Hara está reabasteciendo la ira contra los delitos sexuales contra las mujeres, y la percepción generalizada de que las fuerzas del orden público no han logrado abordar el problema de manera efectiva.
El domingo Goo, de 28 años, exmiembro del grupo femenino Kara, fue encontrada muerta en su casa de Seúl. La policía aún no ha comentado sobre la causa de la muerte, pero se informó que Goo había sido hospitalizada a principios de este año por un supuesto intento de suicidio, en medio de un escándalo que desató un torrente de abusos.… Seguir leyendo »
According to a congressional aide and an administration official, the Trump administration has requested an approximate 400% increase in the amount South Korea contributes to the maintenance of United States forces in Korea — the «Special Measures Agreement,» CNN reported on Thursday. (Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has refused to confirm this figure, simply saying, «we have asked for a significant increase in the cost-sharing for our deployed troops.») After last year’s talks ended with a one-year agreement, rather than the longer agreements successfully negotiated nine times starting in 1991, it was expected that the talks would be difficult — but this increase is not the start of a serious negotiation.… Seguir leyendo »
For several months, Japan and South Korea, America’s main allies in East Asia, have been going at each other. Japan stripped South Korea of trading privileges; then South Korea removed Japan from a list of favored trade partners. In late August, Seoul announced that it would cancel an agreement with Tokyo over the sharing of sensitive military intelligence, including about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The tiff, some observers argue, marks a low in relations since the two countries normalized ties in 1965 after decades of friction over conflicting interpretations of Japan’s record during its occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 — forced labor, territorial claims, sexual slavery.… Seguir leyendo »
In a rational world, South Korea and Japan ought to be the best of friends. Their cultures and languages are closely linked. Their economies are deeply entangled. And as the only liberal democracies in East Asia (along with Taiwan), they have to contend with the threat of North Korean belligerence and Chinese domination.
But the world is not so rational, and so the two American allies have recently become engaged in a flaming economic row, ostensibly sparked by historical wrongs. Late last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies should compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines during World War II.… Seguir leyendo »
On Friday, Japan announced that it was revoking South Korea’s trusted status, which means that South Korean firms will have a far harder time importing goods with potential military uses. In particular, this is likely to affect the export of key chemicals to South Korea. This, in turn, has huge potential consequences for South Korea’s electronics industry, which relies on these chemicals to produce semiconductors and flat-panel screens. As the Nikkei Asian Review reports, Japan’s actions are leading to a widespread boycott of Japanese goods in South Korea. South Korea has also revoked Japan’s trusted status in retaliation.
This is just one especially clear example of a broader phenomenon that we describe in our new article for International Security, Weaponized Interdependence: How Global Economic Networks Shape State Coercion.… Seguir leyendo »
On July 1, Japan placed export restrictions on three chemicals critical to South Korea’s tech industry. Exporters must apply for a license each time they make a shipment, which can take up to 90 days. The Japanese government is also considering removing South Korea from its “white list” of trustworthy countries that receive preferential trade treatment.
The issue, the Japanese government claims, is that South Korea failed to control hydrogen fluoride — which can be used in weapons development — from being shipped to North Korea. South Korea has denied the accusation.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called this a “grave challenge,” and promised to wean South Korea’s high-tech sector off its dependence on Japanese supplies.… Seguir leyendo »