Koreans commemorate crimes against ‘comfort women’

This Dutch language video says about itself (translated):

January 12 2017

Sometimes they were raped 20 times a day, 200 thousand Korean “comfort women” who were brought to Japan between 1910 and 1945 to sexually serve soldiers. This statue in Busan symbolizes the drama. But as [the governments of] South Korea and Japan want to bury the hatchet, the government threatens to dismantle the statue. Hans Aarsman about the protest which that decision causes.

Korean Buddhist monk’s self-immolation in pro-‘comfort women’ protest

This video says about itself:

23 February 2016

South Korea and Japan signed a landmark deal in December 2015 to resolve the issue of the so-called “comfort women“, a euphemism for sex slaves used by the Japanese military. Student activists in South Korea have taken turns camping out on the streets of Seoul to protect the “comfort woman statue” in memory of the women. The students say they are afraid the statue will be removed as part of a deal to end a decades-long row over the so-called “comfort women”.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

South Korea: Monk sets himself on fire at rally for Park’s sacking

Monday 9th January 2017

SOUTH KOREA’S latest mass rally demanding President Park Geun Hye’s permanent removal from office was shocked at the weekend by the self-immolation of a Buddhist monk, who remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The monk, who suffered third-degree burns and serious damage to vital organs, made his dramatic protest against the government’s settlement with Japan on compensation for wartime sex slaves.

Police said that the man described Ms Park in his notebook as a “traitor” over the settlement. Under the agreement, Japan pledged to fund a Seoul-based foundation to help support the victims.

South Korea undertook not to criticise Japan over the issue and to address Japanese disquiet over a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy.

Students have been holding sit-in protests next to the statue for over a year, suspecting that the government might try to remove it.

Tokyo recalled its ambassador on Friday after a similar statue appeared near its consulate in Busan.

Endangered Chinese crested tern discovery in Korea

This 2011 video is about Chinese crested terns mating.

From BirdLife:

A tern for the better

By Shaun Hurrell, 6 Jan 2017

Asia’s rarest seabird has been discovered breeding in the Korean Peninsula. This new stronghold could help the Chinese Crested Tern bounce back from near-extinction.

“Our hearts raced as we saw them,” recalls Yunkyoung Lee and Se-Kyu Song. Amongst the hustle and bustle of a Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris breeding colony, the scene was a squawking mass of grey-and-white feathers and black-tipped bills. But in the chaos something looked different. If their eyes were not deceiving them, the researchers were looking at a bird never before seen in South Korea. They focused harder, knowing that less than 100 individuals of this species are known to exist in the world…

As part of a routine survey undertaken by the National Institute of Ecology of Korea, the team were on a rocky islet in the Yellow Sea, seven kilometres off the coast of southwestern South Korea. It was there, amongst the sparse short grass, that they spotted an anomaly happily sitting amongst the gulls in the Spring of 2016. “When we saw the distinctive headcrests we couldn’t believe we were looking at two pairs of nesting Chinese Crested Tern”, said Yunkyoung.

Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini is one of the rarest birds in the world – possibly the rarest seabird in the world, and certainly in Asia. Only rediscovered 16 years ago on the east coast of mainland China, after its assumed extinction since 1937, only three breeding sites were known of this Critically Endangered tern, all on islands south of China. That is, until this year: as well as a new site confirmed in the Taiwanese Strait, one chick has fledged from another, a South Korean colony all the way across the Yellow Sea.

“The return of Chinese Crested Tern as a breeding bird in the Yellow Sea is an extremely nice surprise,” says Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer for Asia, BirdLife International. Yet there is another twist in the tale: the situation in which the South Korean birds were found, breeding amongst a gull colony, gives new hope for the rare terns. At other discovered breeding sites (Matsu Islands, Jiushan Islands, Wuzhishan Islands and the recently-confirmed Penghu Islands), Chinese Crested Tern are found breeding in mixed colonies of Greater Crested Tern Thalasseus bergii. Chan explains the importance of the new discovery amidst the gulls: “There are no breeding colonies of Greater Crested Tern north of the Yangtze estuary, so we previously thought that Chinese Crested Tern would not breed in the Yellow Sea region before their numbers reached a threshold large enough to form their own colony. The new site means the future of this species looks more promising now, as there are more colonies where it can nest.”

But there are still many questions to answer before its future is safe, says Mike Crosby, Senior Conservation Officer, BirdLife International: “Given this potentially larger range, we need to understand why the species is so rare – could it be caused by egg collecting and human disturbance at the nesting colonies?”

Rapid response

Realising the importance of their discovery, the Korean researchers quickly sprung to action to protect the terns. “We immediately requested the Ministry of Environment to restrict all civilian access (even researchers), and to secure the area until breeding success was confirmed,” said Yunkyoung. “The Ministry also took action to help the birds.” By proposing conservation regulations and information on breeding behaviour, BirdLife is now supporting the Ministry to turn this designated Special Island for Protection into a stable breeding ground for the Chinese Crested Tern.

BirdLife restored the Jiushan Islands breeding colony, using decoy birds to attract Chinese Crested Tern, and hope to use this successful method again in South Korea. In 2014 and 2015, thirty chicks fledged from the Jiushan Islands site, carefully watched over by a dedicated BirdLife team. But this year, the fragile colony unfortunately failed to produce chicks, meaning the species is far from safe, and new breeding sites need to be secured.

Discovery in North Korea?

Inspired by the new discovery in South Korea, Simba Chan delved back into the history books in search of answers. “After careful study of an old record of a crested tern collected in 1917 from an island situated in present-day North Korea, I can deduce that the specimen was no doubt a Chinese Crested Tern.” So perhaps the latest discovery by the South Korean researchers is not the first time Chinese Crested Tern has been found breeding on the Korean Peninsula. In fact, further evidence suggests that there is indeed another, unknown, breeding site somewhere else in this region; in late August 2016 four Chinese Crested Terns (two adult and two fledglings) appeared in Qingdao, Shandong, northern China. As there was only one fledgling from the newly discovered South Korean colony, and this is far south of Qingdao, it suggests that the Yellow Sea could be much more important for this Critically Endangered species than previously thought.

Japanese government angry about Korean ‘comfort women’ statue

Flowers atop a 'comfort woman' statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, July 22, 2015

From TIME magazine in the USA:

Japan Is Recalling Its South Korea Envoy Over a Statue Commemorating ‘Comfort Women

Kaori Kaneko and Tetsushi Kajimoto / Reuters

1:53 AM ET

Japan would also postpone bilateral “high-level” economic dialogue with South Korea

(TOKYO) — Japan said on Friday it was recalling its ambassador to South Korea over a statue commemorating Korean women forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War Two and that the statue violated an agreement to resolve the issue.

The two nations agreed in 2015 that the issue of “comfort women”, which has long plagued ties between the two Asian neighbors, would be “finally and irreversibly resolved” if all conditions of the accord — which included a Japanese apology and a fund to help the victims — were met.

The statue, which depicts a young, barefoot woman sitting in a chair, was erected near the Japanese consulate in the southern South Korean city of Busan at the end of last year.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden in a phone call that it was important for Japan and South Korea to carry out the agreement, and not constructive to go back on it.

Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the statue was “extremely regrettable” and that Japan was temporarily recalling its ambassador.

He also said Japan would also postpone bilateral “high-level” economic dialogue and that Japan was suspending talks on a new currency swap arrangement with South Korea.

“Without building relations of trust, it won’t stabilise,” Finance Minister Taro Aso reporters, referring to the currency swap arrangement.

The term “comfort women” is a euphemism for girls and women, from South Korea, China, the Philippines and elsewhere, forced to work in wartime Japanese military brothels. South Korean activists estimate that there may have been as many as 200,000 Korean victims.

South Korea’s Finance Ministry on Friday expressed regret that talks on the currency swap agreement had been suspended due to political reasons.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called on South Korea to remove a statue of a “comfort woman” which has reignited a diplomatic row over Tokyo’s wartime sex slavery: here.

South Korean artists blacklisted for opposing corrupt president

This video says about itself:

Hallway News: Can you be Blacklisted as an Artist by the Korean Government?

29 December 2016

Months ago, I thought the bombshell announcement of a blacklist of Korea’s artists would get President Park impeached. Well, apparently it had to take the Choi Soon-sil scandal to get to an impeachment vote. But will the blacklist of some of your favorite artists like Cannes Award-winning film director Park Chan-wook be the smoking gun that removes President Park from office?

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

South Korea: Artists blacklisted for supporting the wrong party

Friday 30th December 2016

SOUTH KOREA’S burgeoning investigation into corruption in impeached President Park Geun Hye’s administration spread to the arts yesterday with claims that thousands of artists were blacklisted for political reasons.

Ambassador to France Mo Chul Min, who was education and culture secretary in 2013-14, was summoned by police for questioning about the blacklist, by which actors, theatre directors, painters and musicians were prevented from using state venues and denied financial support.

Former culture minister Yoo Jin Ryong alleges that Mr Mo passed the blacklist to his ministry, while Gwangju Mayor Yoon Jang Hyeon has reported government pressure not to display art satirising Ms Park.

Mr Yoo accuses current Culture Minister Cho Yoon Sun of having created the blacklist, but she denies any knowledge of it.

Some of South Korea’s most influential cultural figures, including film director Park Chan Wook and poet Ko Un, were apparently blacklisted for activities such as signing a statement critical of the government’s conduct during 2014’s lethal ferry disaster or publicly backing opposition candidates during elections.

Investigators looking into claims that President Park’s shady guru Choi Soon Sil extorted money from businesses in return for political favours also summoned Samsung sports marketing director Jim Jae Youl for questioning yesterday.

He is accused of sponsoring Ms Choi.

And they have also requested an arrest warrant be issued for former health minister Moon Hyung Pyo, who is charged with putting pressure on the National Pension Service to back a merger deal between two Samsung affiliates despite it costing the fund hundreds of millions of pounds.