South Korea reported 279 new coronavirus cases on August 16, 2020, the biggest surge since March. The new infections centred around the Sarang Jeil Church led by Reverend Jun Kwang-hoon. The controversial right-wing pastor had encouraged his followers to join an anti-government protest in defiance of a ban on rallies.
Footage has emerged of a South Korean pastor beating and slapping her followers. The video also appears to show family members being encouraged to abuse each other. Pastor Shin Ok-ju led 400 of her followers from South Korea to Fiji where it is alleged she was using them to work without pay. Shin was arrested when she returned to Seoul from Fiji in August. The footage in this video was first aired by Seoul Broadcasting System’s investigative program ‘Unanswered Questions’.
The Shincheonji cult has been linked to 5,200 infections, 36 percent of all coronavirus cases in South Korea. According to the indictment, Lee refused to share information with the authorities about the 200,000 members and where they meet. This made it more difficult for health services to contain the outbreak.
Lee previously called the coronavirus “an act of the devil”, who supposedly wanted to put an end to the growth of his cult.
Trolling Trump and hashtags disruption, online protests by K-pop fans are getting louder
They claimed responsibility for the many empty seats at the Trump election meeting, made a large donation to the Black Lives Matter movement, and flooded the hashtag WhiteLivesMatter on Twitter with gif pictures of their favourite Korean pop stars to crowd out other [white supremacist] messages. K-pop fans have been making themselves heard in recent weeks. In the Netherlands, too, they went against Wilders and Johan Derksen [a Dutch racist politician and a racist soccer commentator] on social media.
The social involvement of the fans is not new, says Elmer Veldkamp, anthropologist and assistant professor of Korea Studies. “That started in 2007, when the first K-pop idols called on their fans to stop buying gifts for artists, but to spend the money on donations to charities. Fans immediately took it up fanatically.”
Eg, they donate money to goals they find fit with their idols. For example, in honour of the birthday of a singer, often fondly compared to a squirrel by fans, 37 endangered red squirrels were adopted in Scotland.
But most of the time, fans imitate the donation behavior of their idols. For example, early this month, when it was announced that the band BTS donated a million dollars to the Black Lives Matter movement, the hashtag #MatchAMillion became trending on Twitter. With that, fans collected more than $ 817,000 in the first 24 hours.
“After such a donation, the fans know that the goal is supported by their idols and are going to work for it in other ways,” says K-pop expert Mai Verbij. “This is also how Dutch fans come up with their own actions on social media.”
K-pop has come a long way, but Asian pop is still barely played on the radio in Western countries. “The fans have been fighting for more appreciation for years and use the activism to make the music more known,” says Senders. …
In the country, the actions of the fans are therefore followed with suspicion. “For example, you see in comments in South Korean media that people are concerned about the relationship the USA and South Korea,” said Veldkamp.
He thinks the success at the Trump gathering – an initiative by US American fans – will give them a taste for more. “There is a strong infrastructure that fans can use for everything. It is a group that does not just leave and that we will hear more about.”
TIKTOK TEENS MOBILIZE AGAINST TRUMP TikTok users who are angry over Trump’s threat to ban the China-owned social platform are bombarding his campaign app with terrible reviews. Unpopularity isn’t necessarily enough for Apple to remove an app, but the reviews make for interesting reading. [HuffPost]
The hashtag #WildersDoesntMatter is trending on Twitter today, thanks in part to a group you don’t immediately envision as a protest group: K-pop fans. What does Korean pop music have to do with activism?
The strength of the K community lies in the enormous reach of the Korean pop groups and the fanaticism of fans of boy bands such as EXO and BTS. Between May 26 and June 1, BTS was mentioned nearly 9 million times on Twitter, EXO 1.9 million times.
But why are the K-pop fan armies so committed to the BlackLivesMatter movement? That has to do with fans worldwide understand what it is to be discriminated against, says Natasja van Knippenberg, herself a big K-pop fan. “You often run into prejudices about K-pop. That those artists supposedly cannot make good music, that they are a kind of robots. Among the K-pop fans there are many members of the LGBTQ community, who often also face discrimination.”
In 2013, there was a wedding on the occupied West Bank. The wedding guests were Palestinians. Not just any Palestinians: including Hamas supporters. Israeli soldiers heard Korean music play. They went inside. Not to shoot or arrest anyone: to dance along with the wedding guests, who welcomed them. Unfortunately, Israeli authorities punished these soldiers for that. These soldiers and these wedding guests should instead have gotten medals.
In addition, people of Asian descent, like the black population, also have to deal with racism. “You also see that some K-pop artists support the BlackLivesMatter protest, for example, by giving money to pay the bail of demonstrators arrested in the US. And disapproving tweets by Trump about the South Korean film Parasite [critical of capitalism] , which won the Oscar for best film, do not help either.”
In the Netherlands, it also plays a role that K-Pop fans are very active on social media anyway, because their life as a fan mainly takes place online.
Van Knippenberg support the playful actions on Twitter, such as the one against Wilders’ tweet. “It is important that these kinds of voicesdon’t get unanswered. And if videos of cheerful dancing Korean artists can help with that, why not?”
As South Korea Reopens, New Coronavirus Cluster Traced To Nightclub Visitor | TODAY
South Korea’s closely watched effort to lift coronavirus restrictions suffered a major setback this weekend when more than 80 cases were traced back to one man who went to nightclubs without a mask. NBC’s Kelly Cobiella joins TODAY from South Korea to explain what happened and how officials are responding.
South Korea closes schools again after virus resurgence
In South Korea, more than two hundred schools have to be closed again, just days after opening the doors again. The reason is an outbreak of the coronavirus in a distribution center west of the capital Seoul. In 24 hours, 56 people were tested positive. The authorities are concerned because the infections have been identified near a densely populated area.
As a precaution, 251 schools in the region must be closed. Hundreds of others that were still closed due to coronavirus have yet to remain closed. South Koreans are also called upon to better adhere to the distance rules.
Parks and museums in the Seoul region are closing and people are advised to avoid busy areas.
Dutch daily Het Paroolreports that in Germany, the Robert Koch Institut health authority reports today 741 new coronavirus infections. While yesterday, they reported ‘only’ 353 newly infected people.
Cult in the spotlight after South Korea’s coronavirus outbreak
In South Korea, all eyes are on a controversial church community. Because the number of detected coronavirus infections has more than doubled in the country in the last 24 hours, and most of it is associated with the Shincheonji church. That is an international Christian community, accused of being a cult.
229 new corona infections have been added since yesterday. This puts the total in South Korea at 433.
Nearly half of these have, according to the South Korean health authority, a direct relationship with the closed church community. But the authorities suspect that the share will increase even further. 9336 church members are kept in quarantine, more than 500 of them show symptoms.
President Moon Jae-in has called for a thorough investigation into the funeral of a prominent Shincheonji member. Because that three-day ceremony was held in the funeral parlor of Daenam Hospital in Chengdu – which is now one of two outbreak centers. Together with the nearby millions of inhabitants city of Daegu, where the church holds services.
“Also church in Wuhan”
Surprisingly, the group’s website is said to have said that a church was opened last year in Wuhan, the Chinese metropolis that is considered the center of the global outbreak. The independent Chinese news site Caixin Global writes that this information has been removed from the site. …
If it is true that there was a Shincheonji church in Wuhan, it provides an explanation of the cause of the South Korea outbreak. The health authority is investigating the ties between church members in South Korea and China. …
The church reports on social media that more than 100,000 ‘students’ have been trained. It also says that the movement has 300 centers in fifteen countries, including the Netherlands. …
Followers pray on the floor side by side on their knees. The South Korean health authorities suspect that this has contributed to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
The religious movement has been controversial for years, eg, things because of the infiltration of other churches, critics say. “They infiltrate our churches and try to lure people into their Bible studies. When they sign up for it, it is not immediately said that the lesson is part of Shincheonji”, said a documentary maker from a Christian TV station in South Korea two years ago.
Many churches in South Korea are said to have a sign with “Shincheonji not welcome” at the door.
SOUTH KOREAN VIRUS CASES SURGE The number of coronavirus deaths has risen to 2,619 worldwide. There are more than 79,000 cases globally, and 27 deaths outside mainland China. South Korea announced 231 new cases today, with the nationwide total surging past 830. Over half of those are associated with a religious group. Iran’s health ministry has confirmed 43 cases of the virus, including eight deaths. Lebanon and Israel have also reported their first cases. [CNN]
Coronavirus cases outside China are alarming, global health officials say: here.
TRUMP ASSURES THAT CORONAVIRUS IS ‘UNDER CONTROL’ President Donald Trump tweeted that the coronavirus is “very much under control” in the U.S. and that the stock market looks “very good” — on the day the market plunged 3.5% over fears about the spread of the illness, its biggest drop in two years. The World Health Organization warned all nations to prepare for a pandemic of the virus, officially labeled COVID-19. [HuffPost]
TRUMP COMPLAINS ‘PARASITE’ WON BEST PICTURE Trump complained during a rambling rally in Colorado Springs about the South Korean blockbuster “Parasite” winning the Academy Award for Best Picture. “I’m looking for like … let’s get ‘Gone with the Wind,’ can we get ‘Gone with the Wind’ back, please?” Trump rambled, naming the 1939 epic that romanticizes slavery. [HuffPost]
YOKOHAMA: A Japanese court has ordered a man to pay a fine of 300,000 yen for making derogatory remarks against a Korean resident of Japan in racist posts on Twitter.
The Kawasaki Summary Court on Friday imposed the fine after the 51-year-old man was found by prosecutors to have violated a local ordinance in Kanagawa Prefecture that bans troublesome behavior. It is the first time a criminal punishment has been imposed for hate speech under such an ordinance, the victim’s lawyer said.
“While a criminal penalty serves as a deterrent to an extent, only a small fraction of the damage has been addressed. There need to be laws to punish discrimination itself,” the lawyer, Yasuko Morooka, said during a press conference held in Tokyo.
According to the indictment, the man posted hateful remarks directed at Choi Kang I Ja, a 46-year-old resident of Kawasaki in the prefecture, on Twitter four times between June 2016 and September 2017. Choi’s lawyer said the two had never met.
The posts consisted of remarks such as “the craftiness of showing off their ethnicity pisses me off,” and “I won’t tolerate Koreans living carefree in Japan behind the shield of discrimination. I don’t recognize any of their rights.”
Police had referred the man to prosecutors for alleged intimidation. But they decided not to indict him in February.
Choi then filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors for a suspected breach of the ordinance.
Choi started being harassed online after she advocated against hate speech using her real name in March 2016. The harassment continued until police searched the man’s house in December 2017, according to Morooka.
“It has been a long three and a half years. Even though the posts were written anonymously, (the offender) was identified and he has finally been held criminally responsible,” Choi told the press conference with tears in her eyes.
Earlier this month, Kawasaki became the first municipality in Japan to pass an ordinance bill imposing criminal penalties for hate speech. The new ordinance, to enter into force on July 1, 2020, bans discriminatory language and actions against those from countries or regions other than Japan in public spaces. It makes repeat violations punishable by a fine of up to 500,000 yen.
Korean victims of forced labor have won three court cases since last year, and the total compensation amount stands at 1-point-1-5 million U.S. dollars.
A foreign affairs official told reporters that they considered three factors, respect for judicial authority, the victims and the international regulation.
And should Japan accept this proposal, the government said it will consider accepting Tokyo’s request for diplomatic talks.
Ji-won, any reaction from Japan or the firms? And how will the Korean and Japanese firms divide the payment?
Well, soon after the announcement was made, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Takeshi Osuga, the Foreign Press Secretary, held a press conference. He said that the proposal does not solve South Korea’s violation of international law and thus cannot be a solution.
Japan has been arguing that it’s already compensated the victims when the two sides normalized their ties back in 1965.
On Wednesday, Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top official for Asia, said the US was alarmed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in was ending the pact known as the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). He called on the two countries to ensure their disputes did not impact on security issues.
“The United States has repeatedly made clear to the Moon administration that this decision would have a negative effect on not only the bilateral relationship with Japan, but on US security interests and those of other friends and allies”, Schriver stated. In a thinly-veiled shot at China, he added: “I would emphasise the only winners in the Japan and Korea feud are our competitors.” …
While nominally aimed against North Korea, the GSOMIA is primarily directed against China. Japan and South Korea host large US military bases and are integral to the Pentagon’s anti-ballistic missile system aimed at neutralizing any Chinese counterattack in the event of war. The agreement was designed to facilitate the type of rapid information transfer needed in high-intensity conflict involving missile exchanges. Previously, South Korea and Japan shared intelligence with the US, which then had to pass it on. …
Tensions between South Korea and Japan have been escalating since Tokyo imposed restrictions on July 4 on the export of three key chemicals critical to South Korea’s production of semiconductors and digital displays. Japan has a virtual monopoly of one of the chemicals known as photoresist, which is crucial for many high-end electronic products. Without providing any evidence, Tokyo claimed to have security concerns about the practices of South Korean importers.
This month Japan removed South Korea from its so-called “white list” of trusted countries that are not required to apply for licences to import specified technologies from Japan. It includes more than 1,000 dual-used goods and technologies that could potentially be used in military production, but are essential for much of South Korean manufacturing. Japan again used security concerns as the pretext for its trade penalties. South Korea responded by removing Japan from its own preferential trade list.
While Tokyo has publicly denied it, the reason for its punitive measures is in retaliation for a decision by South Korea’s Supreme Court last year ordering Japanese corporations to pay damages as compensation for forced Korean labour during World War II. The Japanese government has insisted that any such claims were settled in a 1965 treaty, under which compensation was paid to the South Korean government. Seoul declares that the treaty did not preclude individual legal claims.
The governments in both countries are exploiting the tensions to whip up nationalism in an effort to shore up support at home and divide the working class.
This 2015 South Korean TV video says about itself:
“What I′m doing is politics. Some say politics and discrimination is different, but it′s all the same.”
It′s a serious matter that has been taken to the international stage.
In August, the United Nations′ human rights committee demanded Japan add hate speech to legislation that bans racial discrimination.
In December, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by Osaka′s high court, in the city with the largest Korean population, which ordered an ultra-right group pay a 120-thousand dollar fine for its hate-speech rally.
South Koreans have boycotted Japanese goods and held anti-Japanese protests in the wake of Tokyo’s trade measures, under conditions of growing restiveness and strikes by workers.
Washington is particularly concerned that the South Korean government is proceeding to tear up the intelligence-sharing agreement despite entreaties from top American officials. Stephen Biegun, US special envoy on North Korea, and Allison Hooker, director of Korea policy on the White House National Security Council, met with South Korean officials in Seoul on August 21 to urge them to maintain the pact. They were not told that the South Korean government was about to announce its withdrawal from the agreement the following day.
The Trump administration, however, set the precedent for Japan’s actions in its use of trade penalties based on so-called “national security considerations”—previously regarded as being out of bounds in international relations. It has used “national security” as the rationale for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium, and threatened Mexico with tariffs if it did not bow to US demands to halt the flow of refugees.
TRUMP TWEETS VID WITH ‘WHITE NATIONALIST’ LOGO President Donald Trump tweeted an independently produced video touting his record that included a lion logo linked to an anti-Semitic and white nationalist site that the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as an anti-immigrant hate group. [HuffPost]