K-pop fans against racist politicians


This 22 June 2020 video says about itself:

K-pop fans and TikTok teens troll Trump with fake registrations for first campaign rally in months

US President Donald Trump’s first campaign rally in months took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20, 2020, but only hosted only a fraction of the number of supporters his staff expected. Some of the no-shows may have been teenagers who registered to attend the rally but stayed home. Days before the event, calls went out on social-media apps TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, asking Trump opponents who had no intention of going to the rally to sign up anyway. The message spread among teens, including many fans of Korean pop music, who have recently pivoted their networks to support political causes including the Black Lives Matter movement.

This video has been updated to change a visual element.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

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.”

More and more political

According to Veldkamp, ​​the actions of the K-pop fans are only now noticeable because our eyes are very focused on the USA. “But you can see fan involvement shifting towards more political goals for some time now. Eg, fans from Chile drew attention to the deaths during protests against right-wing President Piñera at the end of last year.”

Researchers already predicted that supporters would continue to use their tight online infrastructure for these kinds of political goals. In particular the fight against racism.

That goal also fits in well with the diverse fan base of K-pop, says Verbij. “Many fans have diverse cultural backgrounds or come from the LGBTQ community. They feel very committed to the fight against racism. They want to make the world a better place with their idols.” …

Fight for appreciation

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. …

South Korea

While the idols speak out clearly about certain social issues abroad, they keep quiet about many problems in South Korea. Afraid to lose sponsors and advertisers. “Eg, the subject of homosexuality is very sensitive and they do not speak out against discrimination against children of mixed parents in South Korea,” says teacher of Korea Studies Elmer Veldkamp.

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.”

Korean music against Dutch racist politician Wilders


This 2017 music video is called Top 10 Girl Groups in K-Pop.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

#WildersDoesntMatter: K-pop as an online protest

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 action on Twitter and other social media follows a tweet in which Geert Wilders launched the hashtag #ZwartePietMatters yesterday. Thus, the PVV leader appears to be responding to the BlackLivesMatter protests.

Wilders and his PVV party support far-right racist politicians in other countries, like Trump in the USA and Marine Le Pen in France.

Zwarte Piet is a blackface character in some Dutch Saint Nicholas celebrations, not liked by anti-racists.

The K community is more often committed to protest actions on social media. The strength lies in the closeness of the fan base, which can mobilize extremely quickly to spam the aggressive. This has happened several times in recent days.

On May 31, people massively shared K-pop videos when the Dallas police asked to send videos of “illegal activity during the protests.” The special police app was quickly taken offline due to ‘technical difficulties’.

That reminds me of when Donald Trump asked people to report ‘illegal aliens’ to the police. The site where they could be reported became overwhelmed by people reporting ‘criminal’ Martians, Venusians, Daleks, etc.

In the past few days, the fans took action again. They hijacked the hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter. Underneath, white squares were initially placed – a response [by white supremacists] to the black squares that were shared en masse to support the anti-racism protests. Soon, videos of South Korean pop bands appeared everywhere under that hashtag.

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?”

Koreans accuse religious cult of spreading coronavirus


This 2014 video is called Korean Cults – Shincheonji 신천지.

This blog paid attention to the South Korean Shincheonji religious cult before.

Their leader is 88-year-old Lee-Man-hee, about whom the organisation claims he is immortal and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

They are known for, eg, having a pseudo-peace movement. Allied to, eg, the Bahrain dictatorship, which, far from bringing peace, wages war on most of the Bahraini people who want democracy. And which stokes war in Syria and in Yemen.

Now, more Shincheonji news.

The entrance of the Shincheonji church in Daegu gets coronavirus decontamination, Associated Press photo

This Associated Press photo shows the entrance of the Shincheonji church in Daegu getting coronavirus decontamination.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

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]

Parasite film, first ever non-USA Oscars victory


This 11 February 2020 video says about itself:

A ‘Foreign’ Film Just Made History At The Oscars

Parasite‘, a South Korean movie about inequality made history at the biggest movie award event.

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]

Japanese anti-Korean xenophobe fined


This 11 December 2016 video says about itself:

Japan: Anti-Korean nationalist rally met by anti-racist counter-protesters in Tokyo

Hundreds of anti-Korean nationalists marched through central Tokyo, Sunday, to express their anti-Korean sentiment. They were seen carrying ‘Rising Sun’ flags used by the military forces of Imperial Japan during WWII and Japan’s Self Defense Forces.

The nationalists were opposed by a group of counter-protesters carrying banners reading “Tokyo against racism” and “Stop the hate and go home, racists!”

From Japan Today, 28 December 2019:

Man fined ¥300,000 for online hate speech

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.

Trump sides with anti-Korean Japanese right-wing government


This 19 June 2019 South Korean TV video says about itself:

South Korean government proposes compensation for Japan’s forced labor victims

After a 7-month review, the South Korean government now has a proposal in regards to a Supreme Court ruling on forced Korean laborers under Japanese colonial rule.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Lee Ji-won is on the phone for us.

Ji-won, tell us more.

Daeun, the government on Wednesday announced that it proposed to Japan, that the sued Japanese firms, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries should voluntarily contribute to a fund to compensate victims with the help of several unspecified Korean firms.

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.

Japan rejects Korean fund plan to compensate forced wartime labor: here.

By Peter Symonds:

US alarmed over end to South Korea-Japan intelligence sharing

30 August 2019

The Trump administration has expressed serious concern over South Korea’s announcement last week that it will abandon its intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan which is due for renewal in November. Seoul’s decision is part of the deepening rift between Washington’s two military allies in North-East Asia over economic and strategic issues.

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:

Japan′s hate speech rallies against Koreans rise sharply ′혐한 구호′ 또 등장…뒷짐 진 아

Ultra-right wing groups in Japan are going all out with hate speech rallies targeting ethnic Koreans.

While local governments are calling for legal measures to stop the rallies, skeptics accuse the Shinzo Abe administration of turning a blind eye.

Hwang Sung-hee reports. Insults against Koreans fly across the streets of the Japanese capital, Tokyo.

“Let′s get rid of cockroach-like Koreans.”

“Japan should cut diplomatic ties with Korea.”

The number of hate rallies against some 500-thousand ethnic Koreans has risen sharply in Japan.

The campaigners say they cannot tolerate the privileges, such as the right to vote and access to welfare, bestowed to Korean residents.

They justify the racial discrimination as their “right to freedom of speech”.

“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.

But the Abe administration has remained passive, saying the issue is under review.

Since the beginning of the year, 24 local governments have taken the matter into their own hands, pressuring the central government to take legal measures.

The Peter Symonds article continues:

Significantly Japan announced its first trade restrictions at the opening of the campaign for the upper house election, in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing for support to revise the constitution and remove restrictions on the country’s military. …

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.

That the US Trump administration sides with the right-wing Abe administration in Japan in this is not so surprising. As the Trump administration prefers Adolf Hitler-loving neo-nazis to anti-fascists.

As for the Abe administration and anti-Korean racist Adolf Hitler lovers:

Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inada

These pictures from Japanese neo-nazi leader Kazunari Yamada’s Facebook website show him posing with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and Abe’s party’s then policy chief, Tomomi Inadalater minister of war … sorry for forgetting to use the euphemism ‘defence’ … of Japan.

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]

War profiteers defraud United States taxpayers


This 19 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Pentagon waste on booze and lobster revealed

Rick Sanchez breaks down the Pentagon putting your tax dollars to work: Lobster, crab, alcohol, golf carts, tubas and trombones – the list goes on! Then constitutional attorney and president of the Rutherford Institute John Whitehead joins to weigh in on the colossal waste of tax money that the US “defense” budget represents and which puts the country ever deeper in debt.

By Jay Jackson, Big News Network, 31st March 2019, 00:47 GMT+11:

Two companies confess to rigging bids on U.S. military contracts

WASHINGTON DC – Two South Korean companies on Friday pleaded guilty to rigging bids on contracts involving the U.S. military.

In a stunning development, the companies Hyundai Oilbank Co. Ltd. and S-Oil Corporation

According to Wikipedia, mainly owned by Saudi Aramco, of the murderous and warmongering Saudi Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Mohamed bin Salman.

have agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges and pay approximately $75 million in fines for their involvement in a bid-rigging conspiracy that targeted contracts to supply fuel to the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bases in South Korea for a period of about ten years.

In separate civil resolutions, the same companies have agreed to pay another $52 million to the United States for civil antitrust and False Claims Act violations related to the bid-rigging conspiracy.

The Criminal Case:

On Friday, the Department of Justice unsealed a three-count superseding indictment from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio that was returned in September last year. According to the superseding indictment, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service are two U.S. Defense Department agencies that contract with South Korean companies to supply fuel to the numerous U.S. military bases throughout South Korea.

Count One charges Hyundai Oilbank, S-Oil, and the seven individuals with participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition during the bidding process for the fuel supply contracts.

The individuals, all residents and citizens of South Korea, are Hee-Soo Kim, Tae Ho Cho, Jiwon Kang, Young-Ho Yoon, Byung Kuk Kim, Byungik Moon, and Eul-Jin Hyung.

Count Two charges Hyundai Oilbank, S-Oil, and the seven individuals with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful function of the procurement processes for the fuel supply contracts. As part of its plea agreement with Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil, the Antitrust Division agreed to move to dismiss Count Two against the two companies upon sentencing.

Count Three charges Hee-Soo Kim with tampering with a witness by use of intimidation, threats, or corrupt persuasion, with the intent to hinder, delay, and prevent communication with a law enforcement officer of the United States.

Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil have agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation. The plea agreements are subject to court approval.

The investigation began based on a tip to the Defense Logistics Agency Inspector General (IG) Hotline. The IG office developed the information, interviewed the complainant, and then referred the case to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. …

It should be noted, an indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A criminal violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and a criminal fine of $1 million for individuals and a maximum criminal fine of $100 million for corporations. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

A criminal violation carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

Today’s pleas are the fourth and fifth respectively resulting from an ongoing federal investigation into bid rigging, price fixing, and other anticompetitive conduct targeting U.S. Department of Defense fuel supply contracts in South Korea. The criminal case is being prosecuted by the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section and the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio, in conjunction with the DCIS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Army CID, the Defense Logistics Agency Office of the Inspector General, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

The Civil Case:

The Department’s Antitrust Division on Friday filed a civil antitrust complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and at the same time filed proposed settlements that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit against Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil for their anticompetitive conduct targeting the U.S. military in South Korea.

As a result of this conduct, the United States Department of Defense paid substantially more for fuel supply services in South Korea than it would have had Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil competed for the fuel supply contracts. The proposed settlement provides that Hyundai Oilbank pay $39.1 million and S-Oil pay $12.98 million to the United States to resolve the civil antitrust violations. In addition to the payments, Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil have agreed to cooperate with the ongoing civil investigation of the conduct and to abide by antitrust compliance program requirements.

The payments will also resolve civil claims that the United States has under the False Claims Act against the two companies for making false statements to the government in connection with their agreement not to compete. The Civil Division has entered into separate settlement agreements with the companies to resolve these claims.

Except where based on admissions by defendants in the criminal pleas, the claims resolved by the civil agreements are allegations only.

The civil settlements were handled by the Antitrust Division’s Transportation, Energy, and Agriculture Section, by the Civil Division, and by the Civil Fraud section of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Ohio.

The United States’ civil investigation resulted from a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Those provisions allow for private parties to sue on behalf of the United States and to share in any recovery.

Basketball and peace in Korea


This 5 July 2018 video says about itself:

North And South Korea Court Peace With Basketball Diplomacy In Pyongyang | NBC News [USA]

Two teams drawing on a mix of players from North and South Korea met in an exhibition game in Pyongyang.

From daily The Morning Star in Korea:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

North and South Korea prepare for joint basketball games

DOZENS of South Korean basketball players arrived in North Korea’s capital today for a series of games the two Koreas hope will foster a spirit of detente generated by the recent North-South summit meetings.

The 50 players arrived in Pyongyang on two military aircraft.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung Gyon headed the delegation, which included 20 government officials and support staff and dozens of South Korean reporters.

North Korea’s Deputy Sports Minister Won Kil U led the North’s welcoming party.

The South Korean male and female basketball players are expected to play four matches with North Koreans tomorrow and Thursday. It was not clear whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would attend any of the games, but he did make a prominent appearance at a concert put on by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang earlier this year.

The exchanges are the latest result of a diplomatic outreach to the South that Kim announced during his annual New Year’s speech. That led to the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February and two summits with South Korean President Moon Jae In.

Kim has also had three summits with China’s leader and met US President Donald Trump last month in Singapore.

Cho, the South Korean unification minister, said he felt “deeply moved” upon arrival because he could sense the change in relations in the past few months.

Basketball diplomacy has something of a history in North Korea.

Basketball made international headlines from Pyongyang when former NBA player Dennis Rodman arranged a game there in 2014 for Kim’s birthday.

South Korea’s Hyundai company built a basketball stadium in Pyongyang during the “Sunshine Period” of engagement between the North and South and a joint game was played there in 2003.

Two rounds of inter-Korean basketball games were held before that, in 1999.

TWO KOREAS BEGIN MOVING LAND MINES Troops from North Korea and South Korea began removing some land mines along their heavily fortified border, as part of a pact to reduce tension. [Reuters]

South Korea announced last weekend that the UN Security Council had finally granted an exemption from sanctions for its plans to work with North Korea on a joint survey as the first step towards reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas severed during the Korean War of 1950–53. While the US did not use its veto in the UN Security Council to block its ally, the Trump administration is increasingly dissatisfied with moves by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to foster closer relations with North Korea prior to a deal on its denuclearisation. Washington effectively delayed the planned survey in August, and again last month, by declaring that it could violate UN sanctions: here.

South Korean workers fight for their rights


South Korean Hyundai workers vote to take strike action. They want a 5.3 per cent pay rise

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Hyundai workers vote for strike action

Korean workers are rising up in militant struggles, with unions at the motoring giant Hyundai voting overwhelmingly to strike for a 5.3% pay increase. The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) organised a national workers’ rally for the abolition of irregular jobs on Saturday 30th June.

Police spying on trade unions at the Samsung IT giant has also come under judicial investigation and the strike at Oracle Systems Korea, the Korean unit of the US-based IT giant Oracle Corp, is approaching its 50th day.

About 80,000 workers participated in last Saturday’s rally under the banner of: ‘The abrogation of the revised Minimum Wage Act and the declaration of a general strike and all-out struggle in the second half of the year’. The rally was the biggest one since President Moon Jae-in took office in May 2017.

The demonstrators denounced the slow and lukewarm attitude of the Moon Jae-in administration in the conversion policy of irregular jobs into permanent positions. KCTU president Kim Myung-hwan told the rally: ‘The pledges made at the Square (“candlelight revolution”) have faded away and our waiting (for a society where labour is respected) also came to an end.’

Hyundai shares slid to eight-year lows after the union said on Monday that nearly three-quarters of its 44,782 voters voted in favour of the strike action. ‘We have not been able to narrow differences in key issues, making it difficult to reach a preliminary (wage) deal easily’, the union said in a statement.

Union negotiators later on Tuesday decided to hold off on starting the strike until July 10, when they will discuss a strike plan again, a union spokesman said. The union walked out of the wage negotiations in late June, after Hyundai Motor proposed wage increases and bonuses which the union said fell short of expectations. The union is demanding a 5.3% increase in the basic monthly wage and it also wants performance pay totalling 30 per cent of the automaker’s 2017 net profit.

The demands come at a time when South Korea’s vehicle production fell 3% in 2017, its lowest level since the 2009 global economic downturn. Hyundai shares fell 3.2% on Tuesday to their lowest level since April 2010, before ending down 1.2% in a flat wider market. Hyundai Motor executives said over the weekend that recently-announced 25% US tariffs ‘would be devastating’.

Prosecutors raided the intelligence office of the National Police Agency last Wednesday as part of a probe into allegations that a high ranking officer worked with Samsung Electronics to hamper trade union activities at one of its subsidiaries.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office sent investigators to search for evidence related to the officer’s involvement in the alleged sabotaging. The officer, identified by his family name, Kim, who has long been in charge of gathering labour-related information, is suspected of tipping Samsung Electronics Service officials off about trade union movements among its employees.

Prosecutors suspect Kim was bribed by Samsung’s after-sales service unit in return for such information. Prosecutors are widening the probe into the alleged systematic sabotaging of labour union activities by Samsung as there is suspicion that some ranking public officials were involved.

They raided Samsung Electronics’ headquarters in Suwon on Sunday and arrested a former aide to the labour minister early last Wednesday for being involved in the alleged scheme.

When Jo Jang-hee, a restaurant manager at a Samsung amusement park, tried to set up a trade union in 2011, human resources managers gathered him and some 60 colleagues into a basement seminar room. Showing pictures of Detroit’s foreclosed houses and rusted car plants on a big screen, the officials had a message to deliver – unions were to blame for the downfall of the US car industry.

‘Everyone: Decide whether it is better to have a union or not’, one of officials said, according to a transcript provided by Jo, a 22-year veteran at Samsung’s Everland theme park. ‘Then managers offered to give me anything I want – better pay, promotion, you name it’, Jo said.

Jo says he was fired days after he went on to start a union in July that year. Samsung said his repeated violation of company rules was the reason for the layoff, according to court documents.

But five years later, the Supreme Court ruled the sacking was retaliation against Jo’s union activities and the company reinstated him.

‘The company has respected the Supreme Court’s ruling that the layoff was excessive although some grounds of its disciplinary action were accepted and the company has completed measures such as reinstatement’, Samsung C&T Corp, the unit that runs Everland, said in a statement. It denied Jo’s claim that he was offered better pay or a promotion.

Samsung’s union tactics are now being investigated after prosecutors obtained company documents in April allegedly showing another Samsung Electronics unit discriminated against subcontracted workers for joining a union. Samsung Electronics, the flagship company of the sprawling group, said in a statement that its repair unit was fully cooperating with the investigation.

The firm declined to comment further as the probe was still underway.

The scrutiny is the latest setback for Samsung, which has faced allegations of bribery and corruption in addition to its activities against unions. Some Samsung employees say there is too much risk in joining a union. Some evidence in Jo’s case showed Samsung was countering attempts to organise a trade union.

A document, which the court said was written by Samsung Group, details plans for managers to profile potential ‘troublemakers’ who are likely to try to set up unions.

Samsung claimed the document should be excluded from evidence because it did not specify the author, but courts overruled that argument. Once such workers were identified, managers were advised to make them ‘allies’ by offering a promotion or pay rises, or prepare severance packages if they violated company rules or performance was poor.

Samsung also set up ‘paper unions’ led by pro-management employees, before independent unions could be established, according to the document tendered in court.

Until 2011, only one union was allowed for each company under Korean law. Park Jong-tae, a former Samsung Electronics employee, recalled a session where a human resources official claimed Hyundai Motors powerful union was on strike for more than half of every year and was trying to bring down the company.

‘The message was – union activity is bad and globally successful companies don’t have unions’, Park said. Samsung Electronics said around 2010 it provided education about major companies’ organisational cultures, including some content on labour relations.

In a rare move, Samsung Electronics Service in April pledged to turn about 8,000 subcontracted workers into regular staff, and recognise their 1,000-strong union, in the wake of prosecutors’ probe into the unit. The deal has yet to be finalised. The union of Oracle Systems Korea, the Korean unit of the US-based IT giant Oracle Corp., has been on strike for the longest number of days in the history of foreign IT companies operating in South Korea, in protest against low wages and too much pressure on individual performance.

The workers have been striking since May 16 arguing that their basic salary has been frozen for the last decade and they are under too much stress to achieve excessive targets as almost half of their payment is tied to individual performance. Among the company’s 1,200 workers, 500 are unionised. The union said that they failed to reach an agreement with the management despite several negotiations.

The workers recently filed for a petition with the Ministry of Employment and Labour for investigation into unfair labour practices. Oracle has been dominating the nation’s corporate database market with almost 90% of Korean firms using Oracle products.

The company has been in a legal battle after the National Tax Service slapped a corporate tax of 315.7 billion won ($281 million) in 2016 for alleged tax evasion. The tax authority suspected the company avoided corporate taxes of about two trillion won through a tax haven in Ireland.

South Korean unions angry at the death of a young worker: here.

Football, Korea-Germany 2-0, Hitler reacts


This satiric video says about itself:

Hitler reacts to Germany’s defeat to South Korea and elimination from the 2018 World Cup

27 June 2018

(Note the film Downfall goes to the respectful owners)

After hearing the news that Germany failed to advance to the knock out stages after a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, Dolfy goes to rant town.

Meanwhile, Hitler’s political heirs in Germany, the AfD party, blame the defeat on players of African and Turkish ancestry in the team.