Archive for the ‘bloggers’ Category

Surprise! Now I live in Incheon

July 21, 2016

An internet friend who has blogged for a few years in Korea has moved back home and hung up his keyboard. He writes:

… I’ve felt less compulsion to blog, perhaps not just due to a lack of time, but also because I’ve become extremely familiar with this country that I now feel is truly my second home.

I’ve felt the same way.  In Gangwondo, I was one of only a few English language bloggers and felt I filled a needed niche.  Plus, the place was weird.   Now I am comfortable in Korea and I moved to a giant city with many bloggers.  I don’t know but I guess I posted five or ten things since I moved to Busan six years ago.

Some of those posts were good.  I am proud of my discussion of libel in Korea.  But I just didn’t feel the urge to blog here.

I deliberately unlocked my blog from a location.  My previous blog was titled ‘Gangwon Notes’ and once I left it, I felt strange in adding to it. Surprisesaplenty is supposed to be open.  Maybe it is too open.  For reasons hard to explain my creativitiproject blog has been going well. Open in location but focused on subject matter seems to be the way to go.

My wife was recently transferred to Incheon and I have moved there to join her. My life is currently very befitting the title of this blog as my life is in a state of flux. What will I do next? Teach?  Take the plunge and write full time?  Organize my blogs so they fit together?

I’m not giving up on this blog but I don’t know where my adventures will lead.

Best Teachers and tests

March 16, 2014

I read a post by one Wangjangnim at KoreaBridge and raced off a quick comment. Briefly, Wangjangnim appears to be a hagwon owner and his post attacked teachers for two things – claiming to be skilled, to be the Best Teacher and for making and using tests that aren’t appropriate.

How do teachers measure their effectiveness, and here you will slowly realize why I am against how they do it.  Scores.  Teachers effectiveness are measured by the students scores, but there is a problem.  These tests are created by the teacher.  The lesson are prepped by same teacher.  The lessons are given by same teacher.  The test is given by same teacher.  The test is corrected by same teacher.  Anyone with half a brain immediately understands the problem.  Anyone with a smidgen of understanding of HR practices and ethics revolving around test taking knows that this is simply ineffective.

Tests cannot be objective under those circumstances.  OOOO you say, but that is why we have SAT tests and the like.  Generalized tests that are the same for all students and not dependent on the teacher.  Really?  Those tests are made by teachers.  At least, as far as I understand the Education Industry, tests are manufactured by those mostly occupied with the profession of teaching.  Nothing wrong with that.  Everything wrong with that.

My response there (very slightly edited to remove the silly typos):

There is a real problem with judging how effective a teacher is and I don’t think there is any good method to judge all teachers.  Well, there is no easy method.  If you want to judge a teacher, first test his/her students when they arrive, inform the teacher precisely what you want from him(skipping the ‘/her’ for the rest of my comment) and then test the student again after some time has passed.  Also, do this to more than one teacher so you can see if one is doing better than the other.  Then, make sure you understand, and use, statistics to properly decide if improvement has been made

You will soon find that making and administering a good test takes a whole lot of work.  As you appear to want communication skills instead of grammar and vocab, I suggest asking students oral questions or long answer written questions.  Then you will need to read every essay or listen to every single answer.

I don’t know any teacher that wants to teach TOEIC.  My students are required to take a TOEIC test and that affects their grade but we have never seen the test nor know when our students take it.  Administrators seem to like because it is the opposite of what I described above: it is easy to administer and easy to grade.  If you make a better test of English communication that is relatively easy to administer and grade, you will make a lot of teachers very happy.

I haven’t read your posts before, Wangjangnim, and I don’t know you or your place of business.  Your writing shows you have better English than most of the Hagwon owners I have known.  I am not attacking you personally, but your claim that:

“General Tests are scams.  Huge scams with children, an parents, as victims”

is probably true but, only in the same way, “Hagwon owners are scammers.  Huge scammers with children and parents as victims.” is.  Teachers teach to the test because parents and hagwon owners (and some university Deans) require them to.

I just feel you are attacking a group – teachers – that is not a free agent on the issue.  If you can make a better test, I really want to see it.

Now, there are parts to his post that I like and suggest I may have been too hasty in attacking it.  for example, how to do well in a job interview:

If you truly love your profession, a better strategy would be to show me your passion for teaching and to give indication to things you helped master in- and outside of the classroom.

And he includes some kernel of an idea of how to fix the problem:

We will only know who is truly a great teacher, once teachers stop evaluating themselves, and start being evaluated by the results they achieved with their students through proper assessment tools.  Until then, the ESL mess we are in will remain unchanged.

Teachers are indeed somewhat at fault with poorly learning outcomes in their students.  At the same time, many teachers are often given close instruction in how and what they are to teach.  I am mostly grateful for that as I could really get sidetracked into teaching zombie epidemic survival skills and anti-religious rants, neither of which have much value outside of Youtube comment threads.

On the other hand, I have been told to teach TOEIC skills from a TOIEC book and many teachers here are expected to do the same.  I have taught at a hagwon where the owner required me to be the parrot for movie lines.  We spent months watching Avatar, repeating each line “three to five times”.

I don’t know this Wangjangnim but I would sincerely love to hear if he has a test that can accurately test student’s abilities even when teachers do not ‘teach to the test’. One valid test I can think of would be to parachute students who have finished classes into central Canada and see how quickly they get out.   Ah, maybe a more urban area would be appropriate – we are testing English not wilderness survival skills.  I guess we could test for student’s motivations and their strengths to see how much immersion they can handle but then we run into the Hagwon problem – the owner has two clients: the child and the parent and the latter seems to want TOIEC.


I want to be fair to Wangjangnim and I really want to hear what a fairly articulate hagwon owner really thinks.  I hope that my attacks on his post are not fueled by the standard hagwon teacher/ hagwon owner tension and will be following his blog for a bit.

Wangjangnim’s original post.

Serious issues spoiled by incoherent ranting style

July 17, 2012

Child Abuse camp as advertised on the Democratic United Party blog and protected by corrupt police soon to be exposed

By [name redacted] and translated by Surprisesaplenty

My ‘translated by’ claim above is snarky, but I am starting from the man’s Facebook claims and following other links.  His writing is … challenging.

A sample from various locations (1,2) on Facebook (these are from large groups on Facebook so I don’t think they are private utterances.  The latter link is to “Every Expat inKorea” which sounds like it should be considered a public space):

“Korean Conman with no degree is touted as professor on the Korean Democratic United party blog, that also names his business that prior to that time had been in the papers (Korean Herald) for human smuggling US citizens with fake visas to work for free in his illegal unlicensed English camps the Jeju City Office of Education yet again has filed more changes against this week.

The full truth is not in the 1000s of newspaper report about this illegal business 제주국제영어마을 – that it includes pedophile activity and stupid foreigners who profit from job ads saying they get bonus money for working their kids, which should have been a know brainier that that is against the law.”

A “know brainier” indeed.  These 100+ words  in two sentences were separated in the ellipses by a citation.  Oh, alright, here it is: As seen On KBS News and 제주가 보인다 2012.2.1.

Still, [redacted] is passionate about his claims; so much so that I had to dig in and try to understand them.

Okay, I’ve looked into the claims and they are too hot – criminally hot – for me!

At 3 Wise Monkeys is a good description of the problem.  Giving real names and identifying businesses , even if the claims made are true, is considered libel.

The Korea Herald has reported as much as it dares here.  Dare I say it, the reporting is as well done as it could be without risking exposure to libel.

A second problem with discussing [redacted]‘s problems are their variety.  3WM and the Herald discuss (1)immigration and contractual issues, but [redacted] also claims (2) sexual abuse of the students, corruption among the (3) police (The Herald article looks at this) and (4) a political party and (5) death threats he has received*.  They might all be true but if too many claims are stacked like this, why not add one more: “(6)And he cancelled Christmas!”

I feel there is something wrong here and that [redacted] has been mistreated, possibly criminally, but I am honestly afraid to write further.  Korea’s libel laws are clear.

This is a serious issue and I feel for [redacted] but at the same time I must retreat into snark again and say that if his writing is a good example of his English communication skills, I would not much want to hire him either.

* Search for information from 3WM… You can find this claim if you wish.

Paperless? Well, less paper anyway

October 28, 2011

I have used blogs to relay information to my students for years now.  I am happy to avoid wasting paper but also to prevent any “I lost the form” or “I missed class, I didn’t know what the homework was.” claims in class.  In this way, it leaves a sort of (non)paper trail that shows my students had all the information they needed.

The blog, or any online communication platform for students, should be more than that, of course.  In the past, I have pushed the internet tools part of class as far as I could and found diminishing returns very quickly.  In my current classes, I can only use ten percent of the student’s grade for homework.  Having the students sign in to a common website and share information and consistently spend time at is difficult to impossible to motivate.

Still, I use the blog to its full extent.  Class and university information is posted there as well as English Cafe events.  Often, but not for every week, I post the presentation slides on the blog.  In fact, they are usually up early so students could check them out before class.  Finally, sleeping students are photographed, their faces obscured so only classmate will recognize them, then posted on the blog.

As a result, I don’t hand any paper out to my students.  However, I do expect them to hand in assignments in hard-copy.  I don’t know if there are any word processors that offer ‘grading’ features that work simply.  It is far easier to use a red pen (or pens of varied colors) to underline and circle and jot notes, then to use a word processor’s capabilities to highlight offending passages, offer corrections and the like.  Maybe I could do that in image manipulation programs.

Anyway, I find it easier to offer commentary in pen than via a word processor.

This year, my second year students are blogging their homework.  I like what I am seeing but I have the same problems.  Their work is paperless, but my grading works best on hard copy.  This is for the reasons set above, but also because I wish to be circumspect in publicly pointing out student’s errors.  On my student’s blogs, I routinely add comments on the content but don’t mention which parts I find confusing or have bad grammar or the like.


On a similar subject, I am now reading Pencil Me In, a wonderful story, told in an elaborate and satisfying metaphor, of using modern technology in the classroom.  The story is set in the early 1900’s and Techno Tom is advocating for the use of pencils in his classrooms. The older teachers don’t see why students can’t just use slates and chalk, and the parents are concerned that the students will just use the pencils to play games (hangman and some form of Bingo).  On nearly every page, I see teachers, techniques and even the terminology of this era accurately described and thought out.  In an inspired section, students save their work in folders.  Some accidentally save their work on the desktop and one student absent-mindedly places his in the trash can.  I was honestly startled in recalling that all these are real world objects, not merely icons on my computer.

Spencer, the author has many blogs that are aggregated here.

If you are interested in paperless teaching, follow Spenser or Shelly Blake-plock for ideas and such.

blogging as teaching tool (part 6 of conference remarks)

October 20, 2011

Melissa Shaffer had a seminar on “Blogging and Bravery” and Christie Provenzano displayed a poster on a similar theme.

Here is Provenzano’s display:

Provenzano gave me permission to photograph her poster and I think I asked her if I could post it my blog.  If she wants it removed, I’ll pull it down fast!

I have used a teacher’s blog for years and am experimenting with student blogs this semester.  I agree with Provenzano that a teacher’s blog is good for “eliminat[ing] the “I was absent so I didn’t know what to do for homework” excuse.”  Well, it eliminates the validity of such an excuse but, as a few of us at Dongseo U have noted, it doesn’t eliminate the excuse.

We are wondering, my university coworkers and I, if the online form of notes holds less urgency or importance to the students.  Midterm exams just finished and perhaps a tenth of my students admitted that they didn’t visit the website and look at or print out the exam questions.  I don’t know how that compares to students in classes where questions and study notes were handed out in paper form in class, but a coworker claimed to see a decline in studying after making the switch to online.

Back to Provenzano.  She describes a few forms of blogs her students can use.  Group blogs allow students to feel supported by classmates and make it easier for the teacher to find all the content. Individual blogs can carry on after class is completed and allows students to find a unique voice.

She also mentions some gadgets: dropbox and an unnamed one that monitors extensive reading.  My photo is terribly blurry but it seems to be a part of library thing (here is a pdf that discusses using librarything for extensive reading) .

Shaffer’s seminar was on Sunday afternoon and was poorly attended although I found her content useful.  I am not sure how the ‘bravery’ in “blogging and Bravery” applies.  Perhaps everyone can use encouragement now and then.

In her classes, students needed to write one blogpost and two comments a week and were graded as “yes/no”.  She compared her desires for the blog component to the desires of Korea coworkers.  She wasn’t interested in accuracy or technical skill as much as the Korean English teachers.  She was eager to give her students freedom to be creative but the Koreans wondered why the emphasis on creativity and wanted to assign topics.  The Koreans, in short, were interested in the product and she was interested in the process.

I feel they were both right regarding creativity.  The information I have read suggests a blank page inhibits creativity and that some restrictions enhance it.  Assigning topics might have increased creativity.

In her first semester using blogs, she allowed students to use any platform they wanted.  Many chose Cyworld, which is a good platform but sometimes annoying for teachers to navigate and use.  I personally have had trouble with RSS feeds from cyworld blogs.  In her second semester, she used edublogs.  Whichever platform used, it is challenging to do this with a large number of students.

Libel in Korea and elsewhere

September 5, 2011
New Content here:
The Korea Herald recently looked into libel:
Truth does not offer absolute protection from prosecution, reflecting the Korean Constitution’s provision that “neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons.” The burden of proof is on the defendant to prove his statement to be true and “solely in the public interest.”

“The rationale here is that even true statements are fully capable of tarnishing a person’s reputation, and if such true statements serve no public purpose, they are defamatory in nature,” said Kang Ju-won, an attorney and member of the Seoul Bar Association. “The aim is to protect the reputation of the individual unless it is outweighed by the public’s need for disclosure.”

—————Original content here————–
Below is a somewhat lengthier version of an article I wrote for Busan Haps.  One of the Haps’ editors asked for it and told me I could also put it on my blog.  I handed it in just over a week ago and told him I would put it up on my blog on Sept 5.  Here we are but I don’t see it there.
The article was supposed to be around 800 words but, after vigorous cutting  came out at about a thousand.  One thing I did not include in the article was my opinion of what should or could be done.  I don’t like Korea’s libel laws – or the UKs, etc- but the article was mostly a review of problems without any solutions offered.
Let me discuss my conclusions first for people who came here from the Busan Haps article  Below that is the article itself.
Blacklists: Blogger McPherson tried to warn ESL job seekers about the school he worked at and was sued for his trouble.  I follow McPherson’s blog and have met the man; I trust what he says and if he told me to stay away from a position, I would do it.  I can’t say that for everyone though.  Blacklists can become a way for crappy teachers to get back at their schools.  Also, a way for crappy schools to punish teachers.
I think Dave’s ESL Cafe (does anyone still go there) had a blacklist but can’t find one now. I did find this exchange:
[Cazador 83 asked:] Is there a thread on this website or is there another website that lists all the hagwons that are blacklisted? I tried searching but the search function on that site isn’t so great. 
[And Provence replied:] The main problem with creating a thread that blacklist hagwons in Korea is that it is illegal. I would love to warn everyone about my hagwon but I am worried they will find out it is me since I am the only foreign this school has had in 3 years. It wouldn’t be hard for them to figure out who blacklisted them. Basically they can blacklist you but you can’t blacklist them, welcome to Korea.
The Marmot discusses blacklists by hagwons of teachers here:
Marmot’s Note: One wonders how long this is going to last before it runs into legal problems. I mean, I know teachers run their own blacklists of hagwons, so what’s fair is fair, but my understanding is that in Korea, printing names like that could be problematic even if the accusations are true. The other thing is that the list is being composed by hagwon recruiters based on claims made by hagwon owners, two groups not known for their business ethics….

UPDATE 2: In our comments section, a real live lawyer says:

The blacklist is quite unlawful. Not only is it a criminal defamation violation under the Criminal Code, but the Labor Standards Act forbids employers to share blacklists. These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.

Chris Backe in South Korea also warns against starting a blacklist here.
I’m on the fence.  A single blog post or newspaper article on a company or product, explaining why it is bad, a post with supporting evidence offered, seems appropriate. A wide-open list of products or companies that a similarly wide-open variety of authors dislike, for whatever reason offers less valuable information.  In short, blacklists are as useful as your knowledge of the person writing the information – caveat lectorem.
Another concern I have is with people charged-but-not-yet-convicted of various crimes.  At the Asian Correspondent, Nthan Schwartzman translated an article  about a (Korean) teacher molesting students.  At first, I wanted to know the name of the teacher especially as the parents wanted the teacher transferred.  If he is transferred, I really want to know his name.  Then, aware that even the suspicion of such a crime is poison, I realized that no one wants the name published until after a trial – at which point I hope they do publish it and not merely transfer the teacher.
I guess that although I do not like Korea’s libel laws, they certainly are defensible.  Play differently, lose differently.
——–Busan Haps article on Libel, by Surprises Aplenty——-
If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. -Thumper’s Mom
A commenter at KoreaBridge wrote: “if you have an understanding of the American Constitution, you will have heard of freedom of speech. He is quite free to write whatever he wants…”
Thinking you have the legal rights freedoms here you would have if you were elsewhere is a good way get in trouble.  Indeed those legal freedoms, as relate to libel, aren’t so broad as you may think, in Korea or elsewhere.  A friend who has recently returned to Canada after more than a decade here adapted quickly to local libel laws by taking a toy store to task.  It appears he has since taken his post down (I think this was routine, he typically removes personal content after a week or so) but in it, he named the store and its specific location -just outside of Toronto with the recommendation that people not shop there.  I believe his post contained useful information, was honest, the facts were correct and specific and was written to help other shoppers.  If he posted it here in Korea, he could have faced a fine and possible deportation.Generally, a written work is libellous if it defames someone identifiable and living, is given to people other than the victim and the victim reputation or income suffers. (Libel defined.  And here.)  Usually, if the material is true, it is protected.  Results of court cases can be described, for example. Satire can be protected…if it is blunt or obvious enough.  Pubic figures, like politicians are less protected so discussions about them can be as free as possible, but media personnel and celebrities are also in this group.  Opinions are protected, but as with satire, it had better be clear that you are stating an opinion.To avoid libeling someone you could use a pseudonym or avoid using a name altogether. This is NOT a free pass, however.  If the person can be identified by your description, you could still be charged with libel.Why did I begin to care so much about libel that BusanHaps mistook me for an expert?  Because of one apparent difference in the way libel works here: truth is not a defence in Korea.  Well, that point plus the strangeness of the exceptions or loopholes that the media seems to follow.As a moderator for KoreaBridge, I needed to judge a post about a recruiter that a new poster disliked.  “beware of [Korean city][district of that city][English nickname], aged XX.  …doesn’t care about the teacher…JOBS SUCK!!”   This post, with the raging ALL-CAPS ending, is clearly an opinion but far too descriptive of the recruiter.  The owner of KoreaBridge confirmed we couldn’t accept the post as it was too specific.

Joe McPherson is a blogging acquaintance of mine who had some trouble with a hagwon he worked at.  After considerable time and effort, he won a court case against them.  To assist others, he blogged about his experiences and named the hagwon.  Back to court for him, this time as the defendant. Read The Libel Trap at the Joongang for details.

These examples demonstrate the problem I have with Korean Libel laws.  Although the first example is a little overwrought, the first two are attempts at public service announcements.  These people are trying to help others avoid their mistakes.  Apparently, you can’t do that here.  No blacklists.  Also, be careful with satire:

Michael Breen was recently sued for libel by an organization that is too big and scary for me to name.  Let me throw The Marmot under the bus. Breen was also interviewed here at the Haps in April.

Professional media sources know this and tailor their articles accordingly.  Investigative journalism is toothless here.

Consider the ‘Babyrose’ scandal.  Babyrose, a Korean ‘power blogger’ raved about an air sterilizer  and many purchased the product.  Turns out, the sterilizer had some unhealthy flaws and Babyrose pocketed money from every sale.  Korean news outlets had a field day.  Hats off to the Korea Herald which alone of the three papers I read  included the blogger’s real name, but none of the papers named the unsafe sterilizer.  That would have been a good thing to know.

In June, I read a news article about three ‘bad’ universities.  Again, no names were given. The Joongang attempted good investigative journalism but the attempt is useless without the names.

So we know that at least one kind of sterilizer is unsafe and there are at least three bad universities in Korea.  One is in Gangwondo and another in Jeju.  The malfeasant institutions are relatively unharmed, but all in their niche are suspect.

Updated on Sept 7, 2011: Asiaone has news of 43 universities being blacklisted.  One Gangwon university is named:

Kwandong University expressed similar complaints.

“The whole school is shocked and confused,” said one official. The university is one of major four-year universities in Gangwon Province.

original article:

To further confuse the issue, or maybe out of fear, newspapers have at least once hidden the identity of a person I don’t feel was protected.
Back in 2007, during the problems with US beef being imported, a man, presumably a Korean cattle farmer, threw cow manure over American beef at a Lotte Mart (original here).  In the photo, you can see many photographers on hand: clearly this was a PR event and journalists had been invited.  Look at the man throwing the manure.  If he planned this event and invited the media, why is his face – and those of the other sash-wearers- pixellated?

Another complication is described by Chris Backe.  He wants to know why the Anti-English Spectrum group has not been charged with libel. The AES has stated in the past that “that foreigners engage in “sexual molestation,” and that they “target children.””  Backe wonders who and how to sue:

Who is the guilty party, though? The AES as a whole? Naver, for not shutting down a website that is against the law / their own principles? The person / people whose posts are allowed to promote a racist / xenophobic agenda? The lawmakers who go on record with the same racist / xenophobic agenda? And how has a foreigner’s reputation been damaged? Both of those things would have to be figured out before a libel case could go forward.
In politics and crime stories, everyone knows what is happening in the US – often better than they do in their own countries or in Korea.  I started this article with a comment from a person who seemed to think American freedoms are defended here.  That commenter should also be careful in other countries.In the UK, the reporter Simon Singh let slip the word ‘bogus’ in an article about chiropractic.  He lost his first court case but eventually won.
“Simon is likely to be out of pocket by about £20,000. This – and two years of lost earnings, which he can never recover, is the price he has paid for writing an article criticising the BCA for making claims the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled can no longer be made. In the game of libel, even winning is costly and stressful.”  
Indeed, the UK is known for libel tourism.“one of the favored venues for restrictive and chilling judgments is England, where libel laws are heavily weighted toward the plaintiff, placing on the defendant the entire burden of proving that a statement was not false and injurious.”In Canada, Dr Jeffery Shallit from the University of Waterloo, describes ‘libel chill’ in this article.  “…if the court finds you told the truth but your intent was malicious, you might lose anyway.”  At The New Republic, libel in China and Singapore is mentioned, mostly as a tool used by the government to control dissent.  In the US, it does seem you are well protected from libel; at least senators are.  Jon Kyl seems to be fine after claiming 90% of Planned Parenthood’s business comes from abortions.  The correct number is 3%.  The Colbert Report had fun with this one.

blogs and traditional media; In Korea, neither has legitimacy

July 15, 2011

The local English Newspapers are excitedly reporting on ‘babyrose’, a Korean blogger who turned out to be a shill for an ozone-producing sterilizing device.

The problem is, Korean libel laws prevent anyone from reporting on things in a way that negatively affects a person or company.  That negative effect is usually measured financially, but might be considered in other ways (IANAL*).

So, it is mostly legal to report or blog about something you like, but not to warn people away from it.

Now, I’ve told you generally what the issue is.  Let’s look at what the newspapers have to say:


The uproar over a popular blogger, Babyrose, who gushed about and peddled an unsafe product in exchange for money has sparked soul-searching within the country’s blogosphere….Unlike in other countries where bloggers have come to challenge the traditional media structure and have been legitimized as an alternate media outlet, few in Korea seem to consider its bloggers the same way.

“Blogging is neither journalism nor a form of media outlet,” said Professor Lee Gun-ho of Ewha Womans University. “Bloggers are not trained to report information objectively, and they are not trained to filter what’s trustworthy information and what’s not.”

The Herald:

They said 46-year-old Hyun Jin-heui, running one of the nation’s most visited blogs, had arranged sales of an electronic gadget that could harm people’s health and bagged a fortune in commission. The blog,, has more than 50 million accumulated hits under the ID babyrose. 

According to the “victims,” Hyun induced 3,300 people to purchase 360,000 won ($305)-ozone sterilizers through her web site over the past 10 months. But the device turned out to use an excessive amount of ozone, which could make people sick, according to the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards. Nonetheless, the company refused to give refunds citing lack of scientific evidence. 

The Times:

The controversy was stirred by a blogger nicknamed Babyrose, who runs a popular blog about cooking on the country’s biggest portal Naver. The wife-turned-blogger was a superstar online,…

On top of recipes, she often held a group shopping event….

However, an ozone sterilizer sold through her blog turned out to leave an excessive amount of ozone, which could harm people’s health, according to the Korea Agency for Technology and Standards. …

Those who purchased it through the Babyrose blog sought a refund and it was revealed that she was paid 70,000 won in commission for each ozone sterilizer sold, priced at 360,000 won.

Again, the Joongang:

Ms. Hyeon, a 47-year-old housewife, is a famous homemaking blogger in Korea better known as “Babyrose,” her online ID. She was recently found to have recommended and sold a product after being promised hefty commissions by the manufacturer.

Hats off to the Herald, which printed the bloggers full name and blog address.  Few reports based on blogs report the URL.  Notice that no other report offers more than “Ms. Hyeon” and many less than that.

 Quick Quiz: what is the name of this dangerous ozone sterilizer?  That’s right.  No name is ever given.

Now, the reporters are onto a good story.  This blogger received 70,000 won, nearly 20% of the price, for each sterilizer sold.  I don’t know but that seems excessive.   The question now is, are these sterilizers sold at Hi-Mart?  At Home-Plus?  We don’t know; no name is given.

This blogger, at best made a mistake, at worst knowingly endangered people’s health.  The latter is a tough sell as there is no reason to believe she knew the dangers – I feel the huge commission is a bit of an indicator.

Is the solution to dismiss every blogger because one (even a famous and popular one) acted unethically?  If so, we need to visit Brian in Jeollanam-do’s Blog.  Not to dismiss him, but to look at his reports on Korean Journalism.

Two posts from Shoddy Journalism:


““Most of the native English speakers don’t have much affection toward our children because they came here to earn money and they often cause problems,” Park said.”

a quotation that was later revealed to be fabricated by the reporter.


As mentioned on Gusts of Popular Feeling earlier in the week, the Hankyoreh issued a correction and apology for their article “Over half of native English teachers quit job after six months,” …

As blogged on this site, it was one of several articles that spread false information regarding native speaker English teacher retention rates that claimed that many—and in the Hankyoreh‘s case two-thirds—of NSETs quit their contracts early. Dated October 13th, the correction titled “Less than 5 pct. of native English teachers quit job halfway” reads in part:


Korean television isn’t much (any) better.  Recently, Koreans learned that long-running restaurant tourism shows that visit local restaurants and rave about their food received kickbacks before visiting the establishments (here, 2nd article, about halfway down).

I would describe myself as a niche blogger -even though I really don’t know what my niche is.  I guess, because Korean reportage of issues that affect ex-pats is relatively weak – and incorrect, as described above – many foreigners depend on blogs to get real and useful news.

One does need to be careful and it helps to confirm news reports from a few sources before trusting it completely.  But that has always been always true, regardless of the media source.  I trust Korean newspapers somewhat with tourism articles (if only they could give more than one day’s notice when a festival is taking place) and with most news.  If I want international news, I go to international news websites.  And finally, if I want to know about issues that affect English speaking foreigners in Korea, I go to the blogs.  On the blogs, I know that GI Korea‘s reporting will be more or less completely accurate but with a right-wing slant.  The Marmot is the first place for news, although sometimes actual commentary on that news is lacking. If you want to visit Gangwondo, you must visit Gangwon Notes** first; even though it is not being well maintained these days, it is still the best source for Gangwon Info.  Once you know how a blogger thinks, you can determine his/her accuracy just fine.  I think people who consistently read newspapers or watch specific news programs use the same kind of discrimination as for needed with bloggers.


*I’ve never used the acronym before.  I think it means I Am Not A Lawyer and not that “I’M ANAL”!

** Yes, that’s me.

I like the Donga Ilbo

October 9, 2010

But seriously, Tweeter? (My bolding)

When Tweeter’s role caught on, Mark Pfeifle, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, said that without Tweeter, the Iranian people would not have been able to join hands to fight for freedom and democracy. He added that Tweeter should receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Can social media sites such as Tweeter and Facebook genuinely spearhead social revolution? Amid the widespread introduction of smartphones, the number of users on social networking services has surged, with that of Tweeter topping 150 million and that of Facebook exceeding 500 million. Considering the sheer number of subscribers, such services could change the world. There are skeptics, however. Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian-born journalist and bestselling author, has provoked debate by saying social media is merely “a disorderly crowd lacking both central authority, leaders and a sense of consolidation” in the latest issue of the magazine The New Yorker.

That Gladwell article is here and I may touch on it, with regard to Dong-a’s article.  I am on Twitter, mostly to follow friends and haven’t really sent any ‘tweets’ myself.  I do know that individual messages are called ‘tweets’ though and that the network is called ‘Twitter’.

The Dong-a usually seems to have more of a weekly format, where articles are less about sex and more about facts and discussions.  I like it.  This article just caught my attention.  Oh, and the “Next year is the year of Darwin’ article they kept a link for on the main page for two years or more disappeared a month ago.

Alright, the article itself is a little interesting:

Tweeter allows contact among people who have little chance to meet each other in the real world and to exchange thoughts and feelings real time. Via Facebook, a member can have hundreds of “friends” with whom he or she has never met. Gladwell, however, says it is very difficult for people to share critical minds over pending issues that hold weight and values big enough to prompt them to bet their money, time, career and life and show a sense of consolidation to tackle them given weak relations in cyberspace.

Korea’s situation seems to be different, however. Yonsei University journalism and mass communication professor Yoon Young-chul said, “Koreans who have a similar propensity tend to gather together.” Unlike people in other countries, likeminded Koreans form communities from the very beginning and share information, he said. When sensitive issues such as a dispute over a person’s educational background flares up, Koreans tend to band together and consolidate through social networking services. A case in point is the netizens’ group “Tablo, We Demand the Truth,” which questioned whether the singer Tablo studied at Stanford University in the U.S. as he claimed. Gladwell might have overlooked Koreans when making his criticism of social media.

This seems a error in scale.  The Iranian revolution – failed- affected directly millions of people. Tablo’s (entirely correct) claims that he studied at stanford… not quite so important.  The Tablo networks feel more like those old Urban Legends, like  ‘Clean the internet day‘ or ‘post office charges for email‘.

It was a group of people who – seeing as their claims were false- seemed to be malicious in their attacks claiming that Tablo’s degree was forged.  I might support a group asking Tablo to get a less annoying name, by the way.

Oh, the Korea Herald article (linked above as ‘entirely correct’) spells Twitter correctly.

“Dokdo is ours” is unhappy with the Korea Times

August 30, 2010

He is shooting at an easy target, but also one in clear need of shooting.

The Korea Times has a short article about Jennifer Aniston.  A quote:

They move down to Atlanta, Georgia, and have become a hippi couple. The couple who want to be free from the world, the cloth will be handcuffs for them.

Dokdo Is Ours interviews the copy editor to try to find an explanation for the remarkable English.  He is right to do so, but if things change at the Times, his own job will become that much tougher.

Oh, he also includes a screenshot of the article which is wise because it should be pulled soon.  I noticed it this morning and am surprised it is still up nine hours later.

This is goshdarned strange!

July 9, 2010

I recently wrote a blogpost about malaria and the death of two entertainers from South Korea who contracted malaria in South Africa.  I have Google reader set to look for posts about Gangwondo, as I used to live and blog from there, and found another blog had picked up my content.

Verbatim.  pasted twice into one post.

Well, not verbatim.  The title now had two words added: weight loss. They had randomly added the word ‘health’ with links to other posts they had written.  The blog claims to be about ‘health care’ and my post discussed the subject but there was no added commentary nor links back to me or this site.  They also killed the various links I had placed in the post – referring to the newspaper article and other blogposts on the subject.

A few quotes (oh, I should link back to them; that’s the polite thing to do, after all):

Heck, it’s my blogpost: I have quoted a long section and added one thing.  Bolding to their added links.  The paragraph does start as “wonder..” Did I skip the “I” or did they somehow remove it?

wonder so very glamorous life in the mid-level Korean entertainers are the problem. Extra! Korea posted recently about a newspaper article about an entertainer incomes and living arrangements. I also did it years ago at Gangwon Notes *.< p style = “text-align: left;”> ——< p style = “text-align: left;” > * Yes, I linked to me twice in this post. I do not know how many people read this and what percentage of them also read Gangwon Notes, but I have discussed malaria on my blogs for four or five years, and SurprisesAplenty. does not show that the background. Also, I’m a great writer and you should feel lucky to have a chance to read further in my work.

Tags: traffic, health, malaria

This entry was posted on 9 July 2010 00:32 and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.Du can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are two reports in the news about Korean dancers in South Africa staining of malaria.

Spelling proposed the “stain” after me wrong

wrote “die” – certainly their words mean to add

color for clothes and such though. What is the right word?

first, my condolences to the families of Koh Eun-joo and Kim Su-Yeon.

Secondly, how can it happen? The Korea Herald article (KH is no longer appears on my browser as a malware site) about Miss Kim is short and simply reports her health care name and occupation. The JoongAng article on Miss Koh throws more light. I dislike using such lengthy excerpts from a newspaper article, but malaria is a serious matter.

Kim Su-Yeon, 27, was one of two artists in the 45-member troupe to contract the disease, and one of eleven members who had received chloroquine, a malaria pill that is “not very effective in Africa,” said an official of the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who asked to be identified only as Im.

“The pills were prescribed by a village doctor before they left. The health other 34 received medication prior to their departure from National Medical Center,” Im said. “It would have been better had they been better informed before this happened because this information is not hard to get. It’s on our Web site .”

Im said 11 artists given chloroquine were all from Namwon the National Center for Korean People’s Performing Arts is located. He said mefloquine is usually prescribed as a protection against malaria.

Kim began to show signs of malaria, 3 June, but thought it was simply a cold. The day after she returned to Korea health from Egypt, 5 June, a hospital diagnosed her as suffering from the mosquito-borne parasitic diseases, illness, said Park Min-Kwon from the Korean Culture and Information Services, who directed the Korean Cultural Festival.

“Another member was also diagnosed with symptoms worse than Kim, but she is doing better now,” Park said. “All 45 people got malaria pills before we left .”< p style =” text-align: left; “> Okay, more news on Malaria in Korea and elsewhere: Gangwon Notes *, CDC and Wikipedia’s page of chloroquine.

Now prevention is better than cure, as there are few good health care cures for malaria. Part of prevention is through drugs, but I wonder if the dancers were also preventing mosquito bites. Net or fans are important at night (to avoid malaria is more important than fear fandeath, after all) but these are for affordable housing. Prestigious hotels should have been properly sealed room with AC where necessary – there should have been no need to open a window at night.

wonder so very glamorous life in the mid-level Korean entertainers are the problem. Extra! Korea posted recently about a newspaper article about an entertainer incomes and living arrangements. health I also did it years ago at Gangwon Notes *.< p style = “text-align: left;”> ——< p style = “text-align: left;” > * Yes, I linked to me twice in this post. I do not know how many people read this and what percentage of them also read Gangwon Notes, but I have discussed malaria on my blogs for four or five years, and SurprisesAplenty. does not show that the background. Also, I’m a great writer and you should feel lucky to have a chance to read further in my work.


So, what should I do? What is this about?  Ideas?