The atmosphere is cautiously festive this morning on Seoul’s most prominent subway line. At the subway station, I nearly shed a tear when I witness two elderly ajeossis fighting over who can enter the subway platform turnstile first. Upon closer observation however, our two heroes were actually quarreling over whom would yield to whom first. Truly festive. The holiday cheer seems to be infecting even the roughest of Seoul’s brawny subway riders. As the doors to the train open, a waft of hot air and humanity exits (mixed with the odor of red ginseng tea if I’m not mistaken), and I find my place among the economically active. It’s still too early for the cruisers, shoppers, job-less students and diddling housewives to be on the train. At this hour, it’s all business. I open my newspaper and study it with anticipation.
The first story is sure to delight professional kiddy fiddlers around the world, by confirming that 12 is Korea’s official age of consent, at least according to a recent court ruling here in the ROK. The article (online link here) tells the story of a randy Korean elementary school teacher who try as he might, just couldn’t help but be seduced by one of his pupils. Never mind the fact that the child in question is 12 years old. After having sex with the child a number of times, the amorous instructor was cleared of all charges because the child “loved him” and didn’t wish to press charges. What more would one expect in a country where the nation’s top prosecutors are busy fucking criminal defendants in motels in exchange for doling out lighter sentences.
The teacher in question, whom if he were a foreigner, would have been jailed immediately, was not even stripped of his teaching credentials. The school in question dismissed said teacher, but due to Korea’s world class privacy laws (please understand our culture), future employers will know nothing of the fact that the teacher likes to fuck children. Nor will parents be notified of his employment at his next school of choice. Nor for that matter, will he be prevented from going back and fucking the same child again, now that he isn’t employed at the school anymore. Got a child in elementary? Perhaps it’s time to have the old “The teacher’s penis doesn’t belong in your mouth” talk. The legal system, after all, isn’t doing anything to prevent further such crimes from happening and by protecting the identity of the offender, you might actually say they are encouraging such crimes.
The above leaves much confusion about Korea’s ‘age of consent’ laws, with this particular case clearly illustrating that if a 12 year old child consents (or is threatened/bullied into consenting) to sex with an adult, charges will not be pressed. Furthermore, the offender will not be barred from teaching at other schools. What if the student were 10 years old? What is a 29 year old man doing fucking children at an elementary school? And what happened to the Korean government’s drive to get tougher on sex crimes?
A quick page turn reveals yet another article about kiddie sex, this time with the Korea Times telling potential pervs the best locations to shop for it (online link here). According to the article, the best places to shop for kiddie sex are Juan station in Incheon, Suwan and Bucheon stations, and in the vicinity of the Sillim station in southern Seoul.
A Korean professional acquaintance recently told me that she’s tired of reading about sex crimes in the newspaper every day. I have to say that the feeling is mutual. Mercifully, the nation’s most celebrated newspaper has given us a break from kiddie sex news in the Tech Section, where the Korea Times maintains a permanent anti-Apple column with the most recent headline reading “Apple verdict ‘technically wrong’”. The KT’s anti-Apple strategy usually involves (A) Finding a person with white skin (from Harvard or Yale or UCLA) who is willing to make anti-Apple statements. (B) Plastering a big picture of said person at the top of the article to make it seem as if “Hey man, it’s not us Koreans making these statements, it’s white people!” and (C) Somehow, mysteriously, for unknown reasons, mentioning the name of Judge Lucy Koh as many times as possible in each and every article. The Anti-Apple column is a welcomed break from kiddie sex news, and is always good for a laugh.
Meanwhile, the AP has published a “Gangnam Style” article that isn’t so flattering. The article states that likely one-hit-wonder PSY has barely made any actual direct profits from his music in Korea. The popular song itself has reportedly only generated about $60,000 in profits from online sales in the singer’s home country, while raking in over $2.4 million from Apple’s iTunes, and over $870,000 from Youtube advertising. Of course the chubby crooner rakes in millions of dollars from plastering his face on all sorts of less-than-cool products from Samsung refrigerators to Chinese made rice cookers. I suppose that’s why so many K-pop artists seek success abroad, as those who succeed only in Korea must rely on advertising, endorsements, and near daily appearances on variety shows to make any money at all. Sad prospects indeed.
Anyone interested in how the finances of k-pop break down might be interested to know that Korea’s total per capita spending each month on entertainment hovered around 6% as of the 3rd quarter of 2012, while Japan is at around 15% and the USA 12%. Americans outpace the Koreans on entertainment spending by almost double; while the Japanese surpass Koreans by nearly triple. This doesn’t mean that Koreans are any less entertained than the Americans or Japanese, it simply means they aren’t spending as much on it, which translates into less earnings for directors, singers, actors and other entertainers. (Source: Samsung Securities)
Further data: The entertainment industry in Japan is worth USD192.8bn as of 2011, the second-largest after the US. It accounts for 41.7% of Asia’s entertainment industry and is also five-times bigger than Korea’s. Due to a well-developed domestic market, the weighting of Japan’s entertainment exports is somewhat less than Korea’s. For example, So-net (Japanese music label) depends on exports for only 10% of sales. In contrast, SM and YG, Korea’s top-tier entertainment names, generated respective 43.7% and 40.8% of sales from exports in 2011. Given the bigger overseas entry, their weighting of overseas sales should rise further to 62.1% for SM and 44.6% for YG in 2012F. (Source: Samsung Securities)
With so much revenue coming in from overseas, it’s probably best that articles like this be swept under the rug, as overseas audiences may be more sensitive to racism than those locally in Korea.