The Myth, The Legend, The Cho Kuk

It has been a month since South Korea was outraged by the Cho Kuk scandal. Cho Kuk, a professor for law studies at Seoul University, was alleged with the exploitation of Kuk’s social status to help his daughter falsify her academic achievements. This provoked immense controversy as Korea has long been an academically competitive country with millions of students stressing over college admissions. This further aggravated when his family was given a travel ban due to allegations of illegal business practices, investments, and management. Despite all these debates, on September 9th, President Moon officially appointed Kuk as the Minister of Justice. Although Cho Kuk eventually stepped down, the scandal became a momentous subject to the whole nation. 

On August 27th, it was reported that about 20 locations were raided by the prosecutor’s office. The allegation was sparked off from the paper the daughter took part in an international medical research paper (Korea Journal of Pathology), listing herself as the head author, which is almost implausible for a highschool student to accomplish. Despite the fact that she failed her exams at Pusan National University twice, she not only did not get removed from the university but also got a scholarship for over six semesters (2016 to 2018). Moreover, she was accepted to Ewha medical school which triggered even more suspicion. Making matters worse, Kuk’s wife was also charged with forgery of administration documents. 

During an 11-hour long news conference, Kuk did concede to the aforementioned allegations that his daughter gained unfair advantages in her academics while maintaining that he did not violate any legislation. Within no time, students from all over Korea, including students from Seoul National University, protested against Moon’s decision and Kuk’s corrupt behaviors. Surprisingly, this incident led to a nation-wide candlelight protest against Minister Kuk, which was very similar to that of President Park’s impeachment. 

Moon’s presidency centered around the value of fairness and justness, deriving this driving value from Park’s corrupt presidency. Kuk’s scandal, however, proved that inequality still existed within this “just, established” system. Korea was once again was divided: the Democratic Party of Korea (the political party that Kuk is in) had ambivalent responses. Some had criticized Kuk and Moon while others defended him asserting that there are no illegal actions nor does Kuk’s action interfere with his role as the Minister of Justice. 

It has only been two years since Park’s presidency of threatening Korea’s democracy, yet Moon also faces massive outrage filled with protesters seeking impeachment. Cho Kuk resigned due to the massive appeal from the protests, but the heated discussion of current president Moon’s qualification still circulates around the political discussion. Was it right for Moon to impart a position to whoever he wants? Should Moon have also issued an apology or even resignation? But, most importantly, should one’s personal scandals be considered when examining his qualifications as a candidate? 

I still believe that these are the questions that should be asked in these heated political discussions. However, there is no doubt, unlike the past when corruption silenced the people’s voice, that people are more aware of their democratic rights. Citizens directly protest to their leaders if they see a flaw or exploitation in the system-an indication of a healthy democracy. Still, amends are needed in this current government. Like how President Park’s scandal dissolved into thin air, it will be only a matter of time. In such, we can only hope that this scandal prompted Korea’s democracy to be one step further and learn from its mistakes. 

-Mark Park ’20

Featured Image: The Hankyoreh

Extinction Strikes: Why the Youth Are Angry

From September 20th to September 27th, over 6 million people around the globe marched out into the streets to demand climate justice. With 2,500 events scheduled in over 150 countries, the protest turned out to be the largest climate mobilization in world history. The events were intentionally scheduled so that the United Nations Climate Action Summit (Sept 23rd) would be sandwiched between the two strikes, pressuring countries to take ambitious and transformative action.

The remarkable factor that distinguishes the climate strike from any other mass socio-political movement is that it is youth-led. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year old from Sweden, spearheaded the movement when a couple of years ago, she sacrificed a day of school to stand in front of the Swedish parliament and protest. This solitary ripple has inspired a wave of global protests where the youth are taking charge. Many public schools have been supportive of the student strikersmost notably New York City’s public education system that excused 1.1 million students to join the strike.

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In South Korea, more than 5000 people joined the 9/21 Climate Emergency work strike, and 700 for the 9/27 School Strike. Although the turnout rate was lower than other countries, the strikes were the biggest climate mobilization in Korea’s history, indicating significant and meaningful progress in Korean environmental activism. Below is what a KIS student who participated in the strike had to say. 

“When it comes to climate change, people give up saying “What difference will I make.” But we need to realize that everyone can make a difference. Difference doesn’t mean solving the problem immediately. It means moving forward together.” -Alicia Lee (‘20)

The strike organizers chose the Korean government as their primary target, criticizing the administration’s defeatist claims that they were “already doing everything they could.” In response to the government’s investment in six new coal power plants, strikers gave the government a failing grade in the subject of climate action and demanded that politicians entirely halt coal investment starting from 2020.

During the UN Climate Summit, President Moon failed to announce substantial and concrete climate policy, instead making vague promises about ‘clear skies’ and increasing funding for environmental agencies. His response is lackluster at best, and detrimental at worst. It is far too late to enact tepid, small-scale policies such as “increasing funding.” Because behind its dismissive rhetoric that blames China for the entirety of its climate crises, Korea stands as one of the most environmentally careless nations. Korea is one of the top 4 ‘climate villains,’ a term referring to countries that have been most irresponsible and negligent about responding to climate change. It also is the OECD’s fourth largest emitter of CO2 and has the fastest growing rate of carbon emissions. And despite such outrageously deficient political action, there still seems to be a dire lack of urgency coming from the government. 

Behind closed doors, the government has continuously claimed that fulfilling the conditions of the Paris Agreement is realistically impossible and incompatible with economic development. It seems as if Korea’s environmental policies are a tool for advancing the country’s reputation in the global arena, not a genuine political issue of concern. What we need from politicians is simple: an acknowledgement of the climate crisis and the government’s role in aggravating it. Of course individual citizens’ efforts matter, but there is a firm limit to how much change can be incited solely through grassroots activism. In order for humanity to avoid extinction in the coming 50 years, there is no option other than bold, aggressive, and revolutionary political action. The younger generation deserves to live, and we aren’t going away until those in power value us over economic growth. 

– Yoora Do ‘20

Featured Image: Charles Park ’20

What the Kpop Digital Sex Scandal Reveals to Us

The scandal is more than a simple warning that there are perverts in the industry— it’s a reflection of the deeply entrenched culture of toxic masculinity in South Korea.

For the past few weeks, scandal after scandal in the Kpop industry has thrown an ugly picture of its inner workings in front of thousands. The controversy started gaining momentum with Burning Sun, a popular nightclub owned by Seungri, a member of one of K-pop’s earliest icons Big Bang. In November, a CCTV footage showing a woman being violently pulled away and assaulted by club guards and the police was revealed.

Little did the public know, at the time, that the footage was merely a small tip of a mammoth iceberg: beneath it hid years of un-investigated drug trafficking, tax evasion, prostitution, rape, and pornography distribution. Since this first scandal, major K-Pop idols including Jung Joon-Young and Roy Kim have been accused of belonging to a group chat in which members shared sexual videos of women filmed without consent, leading to an outpour of public apologies and early retirement.

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If you think voyeurism is a newly emerging phenomenon, it’s not. Last year, about 1,600 people were secretly filmed in Korean motel rooms and live-streamed online. Seoul’s public toilets are still plagued with illegal spy cameras that are concealed in the holes of bathroom stalls. What’s most concerning is the overwhelming speed at which hidden pornography spreads; the transmission process is facilitated through forums and websites, namely SoraNet, that are dedicated to uploading illegal upskirting videos, spy camera footage, and revenge porn. Most victims are unaware of such recordings until months or years after the first upload, and in the face of an entire empire that helps the industry flourish, feel too defeated to take legal action.

Recently, Seungri has made a statement about the allegations.

“I admit all my crimes.  I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a social network chat room, and acted without feeling any sense of guilt doing so.”

A key phrase deserves our attention here: “acted without feeling any sense of guilt.” His numbness to the inappropriateness of his actions is not necessarily an indicator that he is psychopathic, but rather a byproduct of a culture that taught him to condone sexual exploitation of women and ignore the importance of consent.

The scandal is more than a simple warning that there are perverts in the industry— it’s a reflection of the deeply entrenched culture of toxic masculinity in South Korea: “the idea that the male role involves violence, dominance, and devaluing women.” Whether it’s from the longstanding Confucianist mantra that explicitly supports male dominance, K-Pop lyrics and music videos that normalize the sexual objectification of women, or high school culture that encourages boys to label anything slightly feminine as ‘gay,’ it is no secret that society breeds a dangerously wrongful understanding of what it means to be masculine.

What does all this have to do with the digital sex scandal? Lots. On the most basic level, voyeurism is grounded in the notion that women are closer to objects than humans- vehicles of pleasure rather than people with dignity. And why wouldn’t male celebrities think this when misogynistic lyrics are embedded in the most popular hip-hop tunes? When two-thirds of female idols are pressured by abusive agents to have sex to further their careers? When entertainment companies bind female singers by stringent contracts that dictate every inch of their movement because they are supposed to be ‘role models’ for the youth within their gender role: dainty, dumb, and sexually attractive?

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Take Irene from Red Velvet. In 2018, many fans launched vitriolic criticism against her for reading a feminist novel, Ji Young: Born 1982 (82년생 김지영). Son Na-Eun from Apink was no exception when she was found sporting a phone case that read “Girls can do anything.” Even when one takes into account that feminism does not have a positive reputation in Korea, it is absurd to think that people were so emotionally invested into one woman’s choice of literature or accessory that they felt a legitimate need to burn pictures of her. Would this have happened to an ordinary female? Possibly, but it is undeniable that male fans’ expectations fueled the fire. It was not only a general distaste for feminism that triggered their anger, but the fact that these idols broke out of their “pretty girl that exists to please you” stereotype and began to demonstrate signs of independent thought.

Whether or not it is a result of K-pop’s pervasive influence in society, this culture persists outside of the industry as well. The uncomfortable truth is that Jung Joon-Young’s group chat is not the only one of its kind: there exist several chatrooms with the same nature in schools, workplaces- our very own community. The sexist, careless, and demeaning rhetoric we heard is not exclusive to these K-pop giants: we hear it in our locker rooms, classrooms, and hallways. Non-consensual filming is not unique to Burning Sun: spy cameras are hidden in thousands of other bathrooms in the streets we roam every day. When a controversy involving high-profile celebrities gives the illusion that the issue is distant, it is critical to notice that the same strands of misogyny are present around us. Yes, massive top-down change in the entertainment industry is imperative, but perhaps we should start by holding those around us accountable and finding hidden traces of toxic masculinity within ourselves.

– Janie Do (‘20)

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


A Conspiracy Theory Worth Looking At

Can Korean media be trusted, or is it just conspiring to deceive the public by covering up political scandals? Read on to learn more.

My mom reads celebrity news every day on Naver, Korea’s biggest search engine. One Thursday night, as I was working on my homework, my mom, who had been on her phone for the past few minutes, read out a comment on an article she’d been reading. “Three new celebrity scandals surfaced today. I guess they’re trying to hide the fact that the government just let the Yemenis stay in our country,” the comment read.

I hadn’t heard about any updates on the Yemeni asylum seekers in Jeju Island until she told me. I did a quick Google search, and sure enough, articles from Time Magazine and the Washington Post popped up.

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Of the over 500 Yemeni asylum seekers who landed in Jeju earlier this year, fleeing what the UN calls “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis”, only 339 were allowed to stay in Korea on one-year humanitarian visas. 34 were denied the right to stay, and 85 applicants are still under review. All were denied refugee status.

It took me a while for me to scroll through the results and find any article by a Korean newspaper. I opened up the Korea Herald and searched for “Jeju.” There was one article about the decision on the legal status of the Yemeni asylum seekers from the day before. One dry article about one of the most divisive and controversial issues in Korea today. It was in stark contrast with the biting criticisms by New York Times and its likes; there was no mention of responses from the Korean public, the war in Yemen, the limits that the humanitarian visas placed on the Yemenis’ ability to find work or access healthcare, and the government’s much warmer welcome to North Korean refugees. The Korea Herald uploaded three articles on October 17 and 18 about President Moon’s meeting with the Italian president.

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Korea’s entertainment industry is fraught with sensational (and sometimes baseless) scandals all year round, but the third week of October was an unusually hectic one; the names of a TV producer and an actress suddenly popped up on Naver’s trending searches list, sparking waves of rumors about a possible affair between the two, a member of the popular boy band BIGBANG was caught hugging an actress on a date, and a recently married actor’s was rumored to have an affair with a singer who already has a boyfriend.

The cynical netizen that my mom found isn’t the only one to raise the alarm about the possibility of cover-up by the Korean mass media. Such concerns about government influence on the media is not new; these suspicions were confirmed when “Choigate,” a corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil, revealed Park’s blacklist of media and entertainment figures. This list of over 9,000 people included Korean filmmakers, actors, writers, and artists who had either spoken critically of Park or expressed support for rival political parties. The list effectively excluded those listed from state-funded programs.

I’m not too big on conspiracy theories myself, but the possible relationship between celebrity scandals and controversial political scandals or news is worth a closer look. Research by a Korean student at NYU Abu Dhabi revealed that there is, in fact, “more celebrity news on days where there are political scandals,” and it’s not hard to find examples of this happening.

On March 21, 2013, the same day that comedian Kim Yong-man was summoned on charges of illegal sports gambling, the then vice minister of the Ministry of Justice was implicated in a sex scandal. On November 13, 2013, when the minister was cleared of rape charges, a list of celebrities being questioned for illegal gambling was revealed. When former President Lee Myung-bak was accused of corruption? A relationship between Lee Min-ho and Suzy, two A-list celebrities, was brought to light with an exclusive report by Dispatch, a Korean news agency infamous for infringing on celebrities’ right to privacy for the sake of creating sensational rumors.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that many Koreans are doubtful about the reliability of the media industry; according to a Statista survey conducted late last year, only 52% of Koreans trust traditional and online-only media. Despite this skepticism, news consumption rates in Korea still remain relatively high. 71% of Koreans get their news through television at least once a week, and the weekly rates are even higher at 86% for news consumption online; 70% of Koreans get their news from web-portal sites such as Naver or Daum at least once a week.

We’ll never know for sure whether Korean news agencies strategically release celebrity news around the same time that political scandals are revealed, but harboring a healthy skepticism of what could be a modern version of a “circus” set up to distract the citizenry seems appropriate in the Information Age, especially because so many Koreans now get their news online. 

– Kristin Kim ‘20

Featured Image: Chosun Ilbo

PC Bang Murder: Millennials’ Lack of Anger Management

On October 14th, a PC Bang part time worker was brutally stabbed to death by a customer due to his bad service, yet his punishment has been mitigated, sparking a nationwide controversy in Korea.

On October 14th, Kim Sung Soo, a mentally ill patient diagnosed with impulse disorder, a 29-year-old, repeatedly stabbed a PC Bang part-time worker to death. Although this murder happened more than a week before, it still has shaken everyone into terror, reminding that it could happen to anyone, anywhere. This tragic incident has sparked nationwide controversy in Korea, consisting of hot debates on mental illness and its relation to violent crimes. Netizens have voiced further concerns on the government’s lack of management in mental health.

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Source:Ohmynews

According to surveillance footage, Sung Soo asked the worker to clean his cigarette buds and food plates before he goes to the bathroom. Although the worker did not clean it when he came back, he did eventually clean it up in order to end the small quarrel. However, because of the “bad service,” Sung Soo asked to reduce the fees while verbally abusing the worker. His brother and the victim called the police, stating, “This is the PC Bang, there’s a customer here who keeps cursing. I would like you to come here and do something.” When the cops came, they deemed the fight to be nothing pernicious, thus, left the scene after 15 minutes. As the conflict escalated, Sung Soo left the PC Bang and came back with a knife, threatening to kill the worker. Witnesses started to call the police, describing that the suspect was continuously stabbing the victim while his brother held on to the victim. When help came, the victim died from the injuries of his wounds.

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Source:JTBC

Right after the case hit the news, the role of his brother was put into the spotlight, questioning his intentions of holding the victim. The ambiguity of his actions perplexed the Netizens, prompting to speculate various theories. When the suspect was interviewed, he strongly denied the malicious intentions of his brother, arguing that he made the killing more “difficult.” Still, some believe his brother grabbed him in order to attest his innocence while helping the suspect; on the other hand, others asserted that his brother was completely innocent and maintained good intentions in his actions. Currently, his brother does not hold accountable for the murder but still faces outside controversy.

More than 800,000 citizens signed an online petition attesting against the mitigation of Sung Soo’s punishment due to mental illness (the number of signatures passes the minimum number-20,000 signatures in order to propel a formal response from the president). The petitioner for this case acknowledged Sung Soo’s depressive tendencies from his formal medication but have condemned the system, criticizing “when will this country stop reducing charges against criminals who claim to have depression or mental problems.”

Although the criminal justice system may seem like the sole problem, Korea’s mental health administration should be considered as the bigger flaw of the government. According to Korean Police statistics, one-third of the violent crimes are derived from accidental anger rages, depicting lack of anger management for many Korean citizens. Furthermore, the number of patients with impulse disorder has increased 21.3 percent compared to 5 years ago. This problem has yet to be recognized since there has been no call for action against these dangerous emotional tendencies.

Currently, the mitigation of Kim Sung Soo’s punishment is still hotly debated, questioning if it is acceptable to forgive these violent tendencies from someone who has an impulsive disorder. Although it is necessary to comprehend these disorders as natural incidents, the Korean government cannot mitigate any more “accidental” crimes. Many of these “accidental” and violent crimes are derived from small disorders that could be cured. Thus, it is unacceptable to pardon for mild emotional disorders. On the other hand, crimes caused by severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia should have alleviated punishments. It is apparent that these boundaries are indefinite-the main dispute for this case between among politicians. Therefore, there is only one thing that everyone could say: It matters case by case. The government must deal each case with a basic principle/law, constructing and amending their criteria as they judge more suspects.

So, what’s the case for Kim Sung Soo? Does he run along the lines of severity? Is it his burden to control his emotions when he is diagnosed to be incapable of it? Coming to the final conclusion, a mitigation would not compromise Kim’s deeds as he embodies a feeble mental disorder-impulse disorder. It is at his responsibility to care for himself, including medication and therapy appointments. He has failed to uphold this obligation, thus, bringing the consequences to himself. But what about his brother? In brutal honesty, it is nearly impossible to hold his brother accountable due to the lack of evidence. Despite this mystery, everyone must wait until another tragedy is reported, deemed as “accidental murder,” in order to see if his brother embodies that same sanity.

Featured Image: KBS

– Mark Park (‘20)

Shinsegae Food

Responding to the rapidly changing and increasingly challenging consumer demand, Shinsegae Food, the top Korean food company, now strives to accomplish customer satisfaction and create a healthy food culture. It is undeniable that Shinsegae Food has been widely successful in both its profit returns and shareholding management. The majority of its financial status currently derives from E-mart and Shinsegae Chosun Hotel that make up 46.1% and 8.6% of the overall Shinsegae stock market, respectively. Evidently, Shinsegae, not just its food department, is aggressively pursuing creation of its own brands and the profitable expansion of existing brands. Its business progression is evinced by the growth of Starfield Hanam, established by Shinsegae as a world-class “shopping theme park.”

With this food industry continuously innovating and aggressively expanding its influence in the domestic food market, the company now aims to uphold its corporate social responsibility through a business approach that endeavors economic, social, and environmental benefits while maximizing profits in order to cement its status as a  “powerhouse corporation” that is an industry leader, both domestically and globally. Unfortunately, mere premium dining services and restaurant businesses are too simple for the vision that Shinsegae Food strives to achieve. Most of all, there is a clear need for an effective platform that conveniently connects people to the services they need. Along with its successful moves toward embracing domestic growth​, a feasible future for Shinsegae Food is an extensive vision for international growth.

On its part, SSG already is planning an entry into the American culinary market by opening the “PK market” to provide a wide array of international tastes by 2019. However, its success may plausibly lie in Vietnam.

The demand for the the products offered by SSG is clear. According to The Korean Herald, “Asian production companies and Vietnamese viewers are eagerly emulating Korean lifestyle.” This translates to a growing Korean presence in Vietnam, with investment topping national ranking since 2014. As a matter of fact, more than 4,000 Korean companies, manufacturers like Samsung Electronics and LG, now maintain operations there with double the number of Japanese firms.

What makes Vietnam stand out from various other Southeast Asian countries, however, is that bilateral trade between Vietnam and Korea has already reached $63.9 billion in 2017, which confirms Vietnam as the fourth largest trading partner of Korea. Furthermore, Vietnam’s generally high level of public safety that ensures “good public order, stable politics, and a large number of young workers” further makes it an attractive market.

It is also noteworthy that its populace mostly consists of low-income laborers and workers who rely heavily on motorcycles as their main transportation system. With the number of low income laborers in Vietnam increasing from 53.3 million in 2016 to 53.7 million in 2017, SSG must be mindful of the increase in this population group in the Vietnamese society and create a business strategy that directly addresses the demands of this particular group of consumers. With these factors in mind, through a successful entry into the Vietnamese market, SSG can perhaps better attain its ambitious goal of international expansion.

– Jennie Yeom (’20)

Featured Image: Shinsegae Food

Yes24, the Barnes & Noble of Korea

Although Yes 24 is one of the largest book retailers in South Korea, several obstacles hinder its progress. There are two main components to the issue at hand: online and offline. Firstly, the online applications are far too outdated for an ideal user experience. The mobile apps haven’t been updated in months, resulting in loading problems, crashes, and ultimately an extremely low rating on the App Store. Furthermore, Yes24 currently has separate mobile apps for each of its services: one for movie ticket reservations, ebooks, and concerts. This complex clutter of apps deprives users from being exposed to the other appreciable features Yes24 has to offer. To make matters worse, Yes24 only has offline locations in Seoul and Busan, minimizing its availability to the already shrinking market. This severely pales in comparison to competitors such as Kyobo and Aladdin who have locations in well over a dozen regions.

As a means to win back its title, a pragmatic solution to this book vendor is to unify into one central online platform. Consequently, personalization is projected to increase e-loyalty by 23.7% and customer satisfaction by 10.9%.Consumer recommendations to other people would substantially increase activity. In addition, because the consumer demographics of the Internet shopping industry heavily focuses on  users in their 20s to 30s, targeting such age group that is economically active–people capable and willing to spend money on goods and services especially with current cultural trends–will definitely bolster the company’s value.

Perhaps most notably, the new regulations demonstrated on July 1 decreased the tax on book purchases and live performance tickets, two main areas of Yes 24’s business. Following the introduction of new policies, the sales volume of books even increased 15 percent compared to last year. Subsequently, the CEO of Yes 24, Kim Gi-ho, shared optimistic sentiments regarding the industry’s prospects.

Afterall, Yes24 is Korea’s biggest online bookstore, controlling over 42% of the market. Analytics corroborated that more than nine million registered users purchase around 100,000 books each day. It also sets itself as an attractive choice by selling books , on average, 20% cheaper than those from its physical counterparts, promoting authors and books with interviews or video clips through the country’s fast-speed network, and promising fast and low-priced delivery. As a key differentiator of this bookstore chain, Yes24 annually holds 400 events, namely author talks, book contests, and celebrity signings. Yes24’s ongoing efforts to sustain the industry illustrate a laudable future in expanding its role in society.

– Jennie Yeom (’21)

Featured Image: Yes24

 

Hockey and Reunification

Anything that looks good on paper has unforeseen drawbacks.

On January 20, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the South and North Korean governments’ decision to have a joint women’s ice hockey team for the upcoming event. The decision was made to promote peace and unity on the Korean peninsula, which has experienced precarious situations regarding North Korean missile tests.

During the Olympic games, the joint team will include 23 South Korean players and 12 North Korean players. This is an exceptional moment in history; it is the first time that the two Koreas have joined hands in the Olympics. However, voices of concern are raised that the South Korean government should address in order to have a successful event in February.

The Atlantic reported that South-Korean president Moon Jae-In supports the joint ice hockey team. He said, “Fielding a joint team, more so than North Korea’s participation alone, would be a much better starting point for the improvement of North and South Korean relations,” thereby suggesting that the joint team will help to resolve the current diplomatic tensions between South and North Korea.

Moreover, according to The Korea Times, the president said, “It may require bigger efforts to create teamwork with the North Koreans. However, it will be a historic moment if the two Koreas put up a good fight as one team. I’m sure this will impress not only Koreans but also the whole world.” In other words, the decision to form a joint team will be a symbolic gesture that will promote world peace by fostering camaraderie and cooperation among the two Koreas.

Nevertheless, is it fair for the government to sacrifice individuals for its own purpose? Some people are expressing dismay regarding the fairness of the decision. The Korea Times reported that Coach Sarah Murray of the South Korean female ice hockey team commented, “It’s hard because the players have earned their spots and they think they deserve to go to the Olympics, then you have people being added later. It definitely affects our players.” Also, Channel A broadcasted an interview with the South Korean players who expressed frustration and dismay that their efforts may go to waste.

Indeed, the players on the team have worked hard to earn their spot for the past years. Joongang Ilbo, one of the major South Korean newspapers, reported that there is only one female ice hockey team in Korea, so athletes have to practice hard under dire conditions. According to Joongang Ilbo, the Olympic athletes get paid only 1.2 million won (equivalent to 1,130 dollars) for practicing 20 days a month. An anonymous athlete had to work a part-time job at a restaurant in order to make a living. Considering their efforts and harsh conditions under which they practice, they should be compensated with an opportunity to play during the big event; however, it seems that not everybody will be lucky enough this time.

Many people, especially those of the younger generation, sympathize with the players’ situation. As many young Koreans try hard but fail to secure a job, they comprehend the plight of the players who practice hard but yet get eliminated from the roster. A sports commentator said, “I really feel for the female ice hockey players who had to form the joint team.” It seems like many young people respect fair competition, even more so than reunification.

Also, some people are skeptical that the decision will result in the “best case scenario.” Clearly, the Korean government hopes that this decision will encourage North Korea to have high-level summit talks or multilateral dialogue. However, during an interview with The Atlantic, the former senior South Korean diplomat Kim Sung Han said that North Korea may try to pressure South Korea to cancel the joint military exercise with the United States in exchange for a peaceful Olympic season.

As much as every Korean wishes to have a successful Olympic game in Pyeongchang, people also want to see fairness and thoughtful decision. It is absolutely needed that the Korean government addresses the issues that have been raised and respect the athletes as well as the criticism from the public.

– Willliam Cho (’21)

Featured Image: The Hangyoreh

Busan Teenage Abuse Incident

The recently uncovered Busan teenage abuse incident has not only brought immense fury to society, but also has set a sudden trend in multiple teenage abuse events being exposed in various areas such as Seoul, Gangneung, and Asan. Why?

   Society has been struck with fury from the recently uncovered Busan teenage abuse incident. This issue is the main news flooding the articles and news broadcasts in Korea currently, with the citizens being left in unspeakable horror. Not only is the victim merely a 14-year-old teenager, the ones who assaulted her for over an hour were fellow classmates of the same age.  The girls, who had just only become middle schoolers, were caught smashing soju bottles onto the victim’s head, slamming down chairs, bricks, and pipes upon her body. They hit her continuously until her entire body was found to be completely covered in blood. There had even been over 10 witnesses, yet none of them took action to stop the assault.

Only leaving on undergarments on the victim, they forced her to plead for forgiveness on her knees for “having a disrespectful attitude”. The students continued their cruelty by taking photos of the victim after assaulting her, and sending them to their friends along with flippant comments saying:

“Do you think this is harsh enough…?”

“You think they’ll make me go to jail?”

The victim was in a semi-coma with her mouth and head ripped, the blood vessels inside her eyes pop, and 23 bones broken.

The blood loss was so severe that even with having blood transfusion, her blood pressure continued to drop. And while the victim has suffered through this unimaginable assault, the ones left her that way are unable to be punished by law just for the reason that they are “too young”. The fact that they cannot be punished even after having committed such an extreme, inhumane assault, has filled the citizens with untenable fury.

The victims quickly turned themselves in for this assault, however, during the investigation it was revealed that they had only gone after their friends told them they would be pressed against extreme charges if they didn’t confess now. It was also revealed that because one of the victim’s dad was a police, they were ensured to have the case quietly wrapped-up with no, or mild consequences.

This event alone has brought immense anger into society and yet the outrage is continuing to increase as after the Busan Teenage Abuse has been unveiled, similar teenager abuse cases committed by teenagers are being exposed one by one.

 

In all of a sudden.

 

After the case in Busan, similar teenager assaults by teenagers in Seoul, Gangneung, and Asan have been disclosed. The violence in all of these assaults go to the point where one could absolutely not bear to look at the graphic CCTV footage and what brings this whole case into even more outrage is that the reasons behind all this violence are extremely minor, such as being disrespectful or not giving the money that the perpetrators had demanded for.

The assaults of these teenagers that have been not revealed until now, suddenly being exposed is peculiar in the sense of how the police or news broadcasting sources had just let such extreme violence be shed away from the public until now. Yet, this particular Busan teenage assault set a spark for 3 more consecutive teenage assaults to be uncovered, nearly to the point where it seems that the news is “advertising” this matter in a negative perception. This trend on the issue of teenage assault under the same circumstances being exposed brings a suspicion behind the intentions of revealing this incident, both of the police and the news broadcasting sources. We can only hope that through this Busan teenage abuse incident will imply vital activity of society to raise awareness for such issues like this and prevent further crimes of this kind.

– Sophie Yang (’21)

Featured Image: hindustantimes.com