A History of Michael Bloomberg’s Political Ambitions

Revisiting one of America’s richest businessmen and former democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg.

Michael Bloomberg is not particularly new to the world of politics. The founder of the a billion-dollar financial data company first pursued his political interests in 2000 by self-financing his victorious bid to become mayor of New York City. 

In the midst of the global financial crisis back in 2008, Bloomberg, then-mayor of New York City, realized that the end of his second, and what should have been the final, term of holding mayoral office was nearing. However, taking advantage of the financial upheavals within the city, Bloomberg announced that he would challenge the city’s term limits, thereby running for a third term as mayor. 

New York City had a notoriously strict two-term limit for elected officials–a system with overwhelming support from New Yorkers. There had been two attempts prior to Bloomberg’s to repeal and reform the policy in 1996 and 2002: the former fought to grant  lawmakers only 8 years of service instead of 12, and the latter prevented the rather popular Rudy Giulani from running a third term amid the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Citing his business experience and leadership qualities as his qualifications to help the city persist through the economic upheavals, Bloomberg presented a revision of the term limit laws that would ultimately enable him, the five borough presidents, and the 51 city council members eligible to run for three terms. 

Bloomberg knew better and avoided introducing this proposal to the populace. Instead, he opted to take on a backdoor approach in which he would change the law through legislation in City Council, coincidentally chaired by his longtime friend, Simcha Felder. During his final weeks as mayor, Bloomberg worked to gather support from the rest of the Council members, business leaders, and newspaper editorial boards for his proposal. Bloomberg’s political maneuvering carried great political risk and eventually exposed his efforts to manipulate a core aspect of municipal politics with his wealth. Bloomberg’s proposal was later passed 29-22 by the Council.

Bloomberg’s third-term mayoral campaign certainly strengthens the idea that a porous boundary exists between financial wealth and political power. However, his short yet humiliating presidential campaign suggests otherwise. According to the Atlantic, “Bloomberg spent half a million dollars in the span of 16 weeks, and dropped out less than 12 hours after polls closed on Super Tuesday.” 

Money, sure, allows one to invest a quarter of a billion dollars to flood advertisements in Super Tuesday states and hold fully-catered private events reserved for supporters. Ultimately, Bloomberg’s rather egotistical and stubborn presence throughout most of the crucial debates failed to resonate with the American people. At the end of the day, the only distinguishing factor between Bloomberg and his opponents was money that turned out to be futile. 

With his strong record as New York City mayor and his recent efforts to curb gun violence and climate change allowed him to rise in the polls–that is until Bloomberg set foot on the debate stage in the Las Vegas Democratic Debate. It wasn’t only this single debat that made Bloomberg’s lack of charisma and appealing speech delivery patent. His other debate performances after the Las Vegas Debate were quite disappointing as he failed to effectively respond to his opponents’ questions and displayed a rather arrogant and aloof stage presence. 

Perhaps, Michael Bloomberg’s failed Democratic presidential campaign is a harbinger for the fall of plutocracy, demonstrating that wealth is no longer directly proportional to political capital–at least not to the extent it once was.

Hong Kong’s Autonomy

The Hong Kong protests, explained.

The 1984 Sino-British power transfer agreement stated that China would give Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years as the country would run under the “one country, two systems” principle. With an independent judicial system, the financially thriving country of Hong Kong demonstrates a great model of democracy and freedom.

However, its underlying relationship with neighboring mainland China has proven to invite a myriad of issues concerning universal suffrage, free speech, and independence. The concept of  protesting or organizing mass activist movements in Hong Kong is not a foreign one. In fact, ever since 2014, Hong Kong millennials have initiated protests against Beijing’s increasing control over its legislative and judicial systems. 

Though the protests currently happening in the status quo are unprecedented. Peaceful protests took place early in 2019 grew by June into marches of astonishing numbers, drawing hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers. 

Although the extradition bill has been completely withdrawn, protestors are fighting for “The Five Demands” to be fulfilled by the Hong Kong Government. The Five Demands include investigations against police abuse and universal suffrage. The greatest public demand is conduct direct elections where legislative and presidential candidates do not have to be prescreened by a body of politicians from Beijing. 

With all the chaos among protestors, Hong Kong police, and Chinese politicians, I was fortunate to interview two of my friends in Hong Kong who both wish to remain anonymous for their individual safety. While the two are currently enrolled in international schools in Hong Kong, they both hold a strong sense of attachment and devotion to Hong Kong’s heritage and sovereignty. 

For the people who don’t understand what’s going on in Hong Kong, can you provide some background information on what’s currently going on with the recent protests?

A: The protests in Hong Kong began due to a very controversial extradition bill, which would essentially allow China to step into Hong Kong’s judicial system and try [Hong Kong] criminal cases in China. This sparked a lot of outrage among citizens who first started protesting peacefully. Over time, the protests have escalated. Although Carrie Lam has officially withdrawn the bill completely, the protests evolved into a debate about Hong Kong freedom and independence as well as overall dissatisfaction with the government in general. There are several points of contention, some condemning the police for their actions taken against protesters and others who are calling for Carrie Lam to step down. One of the main points behind the protests is that they are fueled by general dissatisfaction and disappointment with how Hong Kong is currently being run in accordance with China.

B: I’m sure most people know about it, but the protests basically revolve around this extradition bill that was introduced ever since a Hong Konger killed his girlfriend in Taiwan. Even though this bill might properly prosecute that individual, it means that China can interfere with Hong Kong’s judicial system and extradite Hong Kong criminals to China. There was a lot of opposition against this bill and basically this is where all the protests originated from. The bill was withdrawn a few months ago, but Hong Kongers, especially the young ones, are still demanding for free elections and transparency in the police department. 

How are you, your friends, and family reacting to these protests? 

A: I definitely know some of my friends who have attended, and I’m very supportive of their attendance, that being said protests have generally escalated far more now, with more police involvement and violent clashes. At the current state of the protests, it’s more difficult and dangerous for students to participate. While I don’t think I would go out and protest, those that I know that do go and protest, I hold immense respect for their bravery and dedication. I’ve seen footage and stumbled across police barricades and it is sometimes quite frightening, but it also just makes it all the more clear how important going out and participating is for the people of Hong Kong. 

B: I’ve been told by my parents to avoid certain streets, subway stations, and landmarks. [My parents] are a bit passive and they don’t talk about the protests unless they tell me to be careful. They also get frustrated when the protests are blocking major roads and create traffic, but that’s all. A few of my classmates were really passionate, but now the protests are quite violent. Most of my friends who are foreigners immigrated to Australia and Singapore because the police are beginning to even harass foreigners or anyone who doesn’t speak Mandarin. 

How is your school responding to the protests? (ex. safety, potential student absences) 

A: My school is farther removed from the protest areas, so we are currently not having too many safety requirements regarding protests. Typically, during weekdays protests are scarce as they mostly occur during weekends. They haven’t actually disrupted our school life all too much, but our school has held an assembly to address what is going on in our city and offer different perspectives on the protests. Although the school is an international school and mostly neutral, it holds respect for both the protesters cause and the government.

B: My school has been closed for the past week because the protests these days are extremely dangerous. There was a college student who was shot on Monday as well as a man who was set on fire. These days, the protestors are even beginning to enter areas where protests never took place. 

Have you ever considered participating in a protest? 

A: I would say that myself and the people around me are generally more removed from the protests since not many of us are actually from Hong Kong and we always have the opportunity to return to our country of origin. That being said, most of the people I know are sympathetic to the protests. Although the protests have had a significant impact and inconvenience on our lives, we understand the necessity of this cause for the Hong Kongers. Most of us are hoping for a peaceful and nonviolent end to this cause with resolution soon.

B: Nope, I haven’t and I never [will] protest because it’s really dangerous with the tear gas and rubber bullets. A bunch of students got shot and a pregnant woman was physically assaulted by the police. 

In truth, Hong Kong has a bleak future. 2047 marks the 50th year since Britain’s return of the country to China, encouraging a higher degree of Chinese control and autonomy over Hong Kong. The rubber bullets, bloodied heads, and broken umbrellas all symbolize Hong Kong’s brutal and prolonged fight for freedom, but defeat is inevitable unless the West fixes its disappointing response to this cry for democracy. 

–Hannah Jo (’22)

Meet KIS’s Young Artist Group: JSL Entertainment

JSL Entertainment is KIS’s first ever entertainment group that quickly gained popularity among students. The two impassioned middle schoolers, Janghyun Lee (8) and Sean Lee (8) founded JSL Entertainment in the summer of 2018 and it’s now the home to music groups such as Everyone’s Generation and Boys’ Generation.

JSl Entertainment released its first music video, “Honey,” covering an oldie of the renowned singer and entertainment group executive, JYP. With its sappy rhythm and catchy lyrics, the music video did serve justice to the iconic song. The video has amassed 1,494 views and the majority of the comments appear to be from the HS and MS student body here at KIS.

The entertainment company is now back with another debut single, “Gee” under a newly-formed group, Everyone’s Generation. Everyone’s Generation is a gender-mixed music group with Janghyun Lee, Alina Cho, and Leia Jung.

In hopes of properly responding to the rising curiosity and admiration for this group, I met with four of its group members, Alina, Sean, Janghyun, and Tanishq.

So, let’s start with the basics, how was JSL Entertainment formed?
Sean: I asked Janghyun if he wanted to do music with me as a duo, and he agreed with my proposal and basically that was JSL Entertainment’s birth. We agreed on the name JSL and decided to recruit more people; it was our first expansion.
Janghyun: Yeah, basically it all started while we were messaging each other on Twitter, nothing fancy. Like, yo you wanna do music?

What are the groups under JSL Entertainment? Are you willing to take in auditions from students who want to be in these music groups?
For now, the most recently active group was Boys’ Generation.
Sean: Currently Boys’ Generation, Everyone’s Generation, and LUO, soon to have its debut.
Janghyun: Yes, we’re open to anyone willing to join
Tanishq: Yes, we are willing to take auditionsJanghyun: In fact, we even have an audition form which you can find on our website

Can you talk about your new single, “Gee?”
So “Gee” was actually my dream project ever since I started JSL, as I’m a big fan of SNSD (Girls’ Generation). It was originally supposed to be a Boys’ Generation project, but since the other members didn’t want to do it because it was too “girly,” I decided to make Everyone’s Generation as a sister group. It was kind of embarrassing wearing skinny jeans and dancing at Homeplus, but I feel like it was worth it. It’s my childhood song, after all.
Alina: Yeah, it was really embarrassing to wear skinny jeans and dance in Homeplus. But it was a really good experience to sing, dance and be a part of JSL.
Janghyun: Yup, we just got almost 800 views in 4 days.

How does each member of JSL Entertainment contribute to the making of music videos?
Sean: we fight for the best option, ‘cause we lack employeesJanghyun: The filmer is actually different every time, we just take whoever is available. Philip Park filmed Honey and Emily Roh filmed Gee.
Tanishq: Each member is either videographer, an actor, or lyrics, or editor.
Janghyun: I edited both videos and do most of the promotion on social media.
Sean: I taught Tanishq how to pronounce Korean and taught the dance of “Honey” to the rest of the members.Tanishq: Thanks, Sean. Hey, Janghyun taught me.
Sean: I perfected it.
Janghyun: Okay..okay..

Are you guys open to a JSL Entertainment fan club?
Janghyun: Lol, of course, that would be nice.
Sean: if there are ACTUAL fans.
Tanishq: I’m not sure about that. I’ll let Sean and JH answer that.

With JSL Entertainment’s platform, what kind of message and influence do you guys want to spread?
Honestly the reason why we started JSL was that it was our passion to sing, dance, and make music. We just wanted to have fun. And I hope everyone else is encouraged to do the same, whatever their hobby is.
Sean: I am thinking of ([this is] the first time I’m revealing this) producing and releasing a song dedicated to the 100th year of the March Movement and the establishment of the Korean temporary government on March 1st.
Tanishq: We want to send a message of whenever it is, however it is, and whatever it is, music will always help you through your hard times, especially K pop. Music is the only thing that will change according to you. That is why I bought into JSL Entertainment.
Janghyun: Yes, as Sean said, next time we will be back with JSL’s first original music.
Sean: We all have different viewpoints for this question, mostly why we fight due to our different fundamental vision of JSL.
Janghyun: But I think our passion to keep making music, whatever that may be, is the same.
Sean: Although I wouldn’t think that parodies are “making” music.
Janghyun: Yes, if you actually witnessed Sean and I debating about JSL, it’s really hilarious.
Tanishq: I would know that especially *ahem.*
Janghyun: Here we go again…
Sean: You are witnessing what we do every day: talk, criticize, fight, repeat. Since we are friends, we get personal.

Hannah Jo (’22)

Featured Image: JSL Entertainment

Sexual Assault Allegations Shed Light on Korea’s Speed Skating Community

“I came here so that there will be no more victims like me.”

South Korea’s speed skating world has garnered international praise and a loyal following as the community boasts its 24 gold medals, toppling the record of other countries such as Canada or the Netherlands.

In the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, perhaps the most noticeable win came from Shim Suk Hee when she secured the astonishing first place after stunning her Chinese opponent, Li Jianrou in a tense move on the final lap.

Many Korean citizens extolled the young, decorated speed skater as she led the women’s 3,000-meter track in the Pyeongchang Olympics to an ultimate victory. Yet, behind the poignant tears and gold medals lied the veil cast upon the community’s troubling flaws.

Back in September, Shim and her fellow teammates accused their former coach, Cho Jae-bom of physical assault. However, these accusations were then followed by the winning streak in the Pyeongchang Olympics; they were shadowed by these accomplishments. The accusations simply failed to get national attention. Nonetheless, The coach was fired shortly before the Pyeongchang Olympics after persistent accusations of mistreatment against Shim and her other fellow teammates. He was then sentenced 10 months in prison after being charged with physical assault against four elite skaters.

Former coach Cho Jae-bom being escorted to the courtroom for his interrogation.

Just last month, Shim has presented accusations against her ex-coach once again, immediately heightening the urgency of addressing the issue. According to these new allegations, Shim has been raped by Cho on a frequent basis since the age of 17.

Shim’s complaints have completely obliterated the rigid walls of Korea’s ultra-conservatism, sparking fury and shock throughout the entire nation. Furious citizens flocked to the Blue House petition website, demanding for a harsher sentence if Shim’s allegations are proven to be true. The Moon Jae-in administration has responded to this growing unreset, expressing its shame and revulsion: “[t]his unveils the humiliating underside of our country’s glorious facade as a sports powerhouse.”

In South Korea, it’s common for professional athletes to skip school and live with others in dormitories for the sake of dedicating every bit of their lives to their sport. Unfortunately, the frequent absences from school inevitably leave these athletes with a “one-way path” in their careers. This system strips athletes from their social and educational lives, tossing them directly into the hands of their coaches‐ without a sense of dependence. Those who speak out against their coaches are castigated as “traitors” and this pretty much sums up the persistent reluctance of these athletes to come out with their cases.

Coaches ostensibly train their trainees to success by utilizing certain measures to discipline and train them. Though, considering the cases of broken fingers and concussions Shim suffered from her coach, these “measures” are definitely inhumane and unnecessary.

I asked a KIS student-athlete on her thoughts on the relationship between an athlete and a coach to hopefully gain insight into the true role of a coach.

She says, “Even though the athlete and coach have to be in strict, disciplined terms in order to be successful, it should never be a fear-and-harm relationship. There are definitely lines between the two that either of them shouldn’t cross.”

Today, people around the world are observing this gradual momentum on addressing abuse and sexual assaults even in the Olympics arena. One year ago, the American gymnastics national team doctor, Larry Nassar, was sentenced to 175 years in prison after over a 140 victims delivered their testimonies in court. For decades, Nassar has been sexually abusing young gymnasts under the guise of medical treatment.

Shim’s allegations are giving us a renewed opportunity to reevaluate what South Koreans value through looking at competitive sports of great national pride and importance. On a broader note, this latest development will continue the momentum in South Korea for the broader movement seeking justice for countless victims of sexual assault.

– Hannah Jo (’20)

Featured Images: The Korean Herald