Immigrant wives diversify S. Korean theatre

Via Yonhap a nice article on how a fledgling theatre company is aiming to help give a voice to the struggles immigrant women in South Korea face. 

 “When someone tells me ‘you scared me,’ I reply, ‘You scared me, too,'” Berera says with a laugh.

 Berera is a main member of the [Salad theatre] company begun earlier this year. Funded by the United Nations Development Program, Salad aims to create jobs for immigrant women like Berera who left their homeland and wed Korean husbands.

“We thought it would help immigrant women to tell their stories on stage rather than just talk about the difficulties they face in Korea,” said Ahn Soon-hwa, co-chairman of Salad and a Chinese immigrant, at the company’s rehearsal room in northern Seoul.


Harold Koh on Sharia law

An article disputes attacks on Obama’s legal appointee Harold Koh over his comments regarding Sharia law and the U.S. legal system.

I was in the room with my husband and several fellow alumni, and we are all adamant that Koh never said or suggested that sharia law could be used to govern cases in US courts. The subject of his talk was Globalization and Yale Law School, so, of course, other forms of law were mentioned. But never did Koh state or suggest that other forms of law should govern or dictate the American legal system […]

Koh’s commitment to the rule of law is what really offends the hard right. His belief in the supremacy of US law has put him in direct conflict with some of the conspiracists’ favorite folks. Dean Koh testified before Congress against the nomination of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General because of Gonzales’ support for torture. He also challenged the right of George H.W. Bush to house innocent Haitian refugees at a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Koh’s opponent — then-Solicitor General Ken Starr — argued that US law did not apply at Guantanamo, and thus the Haitians had no rights. Koh argued that both U.S. law and U.S. morality certainly applied there.

Jon Stewart and NK Dongs

(HT to Marmot)

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Students protest high tuition

Cutting hair to cut tuition

Cutting hair to cut tuition

Per Yonhap: April 10, SEOUL, South Korea — A female university student has her head shaved in Seoul on April 10 in a protest rally organized by student leaders to demand the government reduce tuition fees.

Today in Korean history – street lights and the Great Han Nation

1900 — Hanseong Electric, the country’s first electric energy producer, which was established two years earlier, installs street lights for the first time in Jongno, the central district of Seoul, where the royal palaces of the Joseon Dynasty were located.

1919 — The Provisional Government of Korea, established in Shanghai earlier to restore their homeland’s sovereignty from Japanese colonial rule, meets for the first time and adopts a modern name for their country, “Daehanminguk.”

1957 — Law students from Seoul National University announce a class boycott to protest the admission of Rhee Gang-seok, the adopted son of President Syngman Rhee, to their school. The president’s son was accepted to the highest-ranking university in the country without taking admission tests.

Why are US bases in Korea?

John Feffer talks about attitudes towards the US military presence in S. Korea and the thinking behind last month’s joint exercises.

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Today in Korean history

1975 — Eight South Korean men convicted of trying to overthrow the government are executed just 20 hours after a court sentenced them to death. They were among a group of 23 arrested on rebellion charges as part of a government crackdown on dissident movements.

An article by Bruce Cummings in the Hankyoreh from 2007 details the event and notes the eight were cleared of the charges in 2007.

A court ruled that the government pay compensation in the amount of 63.7 billion won (US$67.4 million) to 46 members of the families of eight men who were once accused of being members of the Inhyeok-dang (People’s Revolutionary Party, or PRP). The men, who were found innocent at a retrial held in January, were executed in 1975 for what the government cited as anti-government activities and cooperation with North Korea.

The eight were arrested on charges of treason and violating the National Security Law in 1974, when anti-government student protests spread across the nation. Student activists and opposition leaders demanded an end to the military dictatorship and the repeal of the Yushin Constitution, in force from 1972-1979, which had been revised to allow then-President Park Chung-hee, the father of current opposition leader Park Geun-hye, to stay in power indefinitely.

Park Chung-hee ordered cruel, nationwide crackdowns on political dissidents and student activists in order to further solidify his power. Those who were alleged to have been part of the PRP had grown up together as friends and acquaintances in the region near Daegu, and were arrested in the round-up on false charges of having formed the PRP in order to overthrow the government.

The People’s Revolutionary Party was later found to have been a fabrication of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency, which predates today’s National Intelligence Service, and the fear with which it became associated became a strong tool for Park’s ruthless, authoritarian rule. Those accused of being part of the PRP were not only tortured into confessing that they had formed the group, the KCIA also alleged that group members had confessed that their eventual goal was to build a socialist government in close cooperation with North Korea, in violation of the National Security Law, which prohibits both communism and the recognition of the North as a political entity.

Eight of the accused were sentenced to death and dozens of others were sentenced to 15 years to life imprisonment. The eight men who were handed death sentences were hastily executed less than 24 hours after the final rulings by the Supreme Court were issued. Human rights organizations, both in South Korea and abroad, have criticized the execution as barbarous, and have long called for reinvestigation of the case.

The eight men, Woo Hong-seon, Song Sang-jin, Seo Do-won, Ha Jae-wan, Lee Su-byeong, Kim Yong-won, Doh Ye-jong and Yeo Jeong-nam, were acquitted of all charges in a ruling handed down in January of this year.