Sunday, March 03, 2013

Fast Times with USFK

When PSY's anti-American lyrics made the news, the Korean wrote that there have been plenty of occasions with the U.S. military in Korea that were enough to make Koreans to lose their temper and say, "fuck these people." In the Korean's opinion, that does not excuse the excessive severity of PSY's language, but that does help one understand where he was coming from.

What happened recently in Seoul is exactly the type of thing that the Korean was talking about:
According to Seoul's Yongsan Police Station, police received calls shortly before midnight Saturday that two American soldiers, including the injured, were threatening civilians with an air gun in the multicultural district of Itaewon.

The two U.S. soldiers were approached by Seoul police near Itaewon Station, but they refused to identify themselves and fled in a vehicle, leading to the car chase through the capital city.

When they came to a dead end in southeastern Seoul, police fired off a warning shot and three rounds of bullets as the vehicle tried to rush through police officers despite warnings. The car's driver was hit by one of the bullets and another officer was slightly injured in the process, according to police.
One U.S. soldier shot by police in car chase [Yonhap]

The news report in Korean is more detailed. The car with U.S. soldiers topped at 170 km/h (~93 mph) and the chase lasted between 10 to 15 minutes. At the dead end when the police finally stopped the car, the U.S. soldiers attempted to get out of the jam by running over the police. After being shot by the police, the soldiers actually drove away and escaped into the base, and in the process ran over the police officer's foot. Why were they so desperate to get back to the base? Because once they are in the base, Korean police cannot interrogate them unless the USFK voluntarily turns them over. By the way, one of the soldiers was a staff sergeant.

So, to reiterate: a foreign army is occupying the middle of the city, and some of them are dumbasses who were threatening civilians with guns, engaged in a late night car chase, tried to kill a police man and got away with only injuring him in the process. And Koreans cannot do anything about it unless USFK voluntarily turns the soldiers over, and good luck getting that to happen. 

Try putting the shoe on the other foot here, and imagine something like this happening, say, in the middle of Manhattan around once a month, for decades. How fast do you think somebody in America would say, "fuck these people"? How long do you think it would take before a celebrity singer, who lets his emotion run high and does not quite think things through, makes a song about killing them?

The Korean cannot tell you to feel one way or the other. If you feel that, even under these circumstances, nobody may ever be forgiven for making an ill-advised, excessively emotional song, go on and feel that way. But one does have to wonder how reasonable that position is.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

42 comments:

  1. I was under the impression that the Korean police impressed those scumbags. Thanks for the post. Hopefully USFK will hand over those soldiers.

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  2. Yeah, I was pretty annoyed to be an American when I read this story on my reader this morning... I wonder what the excuse the soldiers will come up with.

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  3. It happens right here, in the states with Indian reservations. Check it out.

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  4. "I wonder what the excuse the soldiers will come up with."

    Well, funny you should ask:

    "이들은 어제까지 아랍계 괴한이 쏜 총에 맞고 차량까지 빼앗겼다며 혐의를 부인했던 것으로 전해졌습니다."

    http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=034&aid=0002471784

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    1. Google translate turns this into garble. Help, please?

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    2. "Reportedly, they denied the allegations, claiming that they were shot by an unnamed assailant of Arabic descent, who also stole their car."

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    3. oh America.... wow that's embarassing. Douchebags. Of course they try to blame it on an Arab too. Just... gaaah.

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    4. Yeah. I read that too. but NOT in the English language newspapers in Korea. The soldiers were SHOOTING AT PEOPLE with an air rifle and rammed the police officer then sped away to go hide in the US base in Yongsang. I have to commute by there everyday and it pisses me off just thinking about how their actions ruin the image of not only Americans, but all Westerners here in Korea.

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  5. but the us military will investigate right? i hope i catch updates. itd be nice to know if they get served

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  6. I think it is time for the American soldiers to be forbidden from entering Korean territory so they would have to spend all their off-duty time at the base. That will solve all the problems in my opinion.

    Why can't Korean authorities insist on implementing this simple but necessary rule? Your new president should definitely make some changes. After all, if worse comes to worst, it would be American soldiers who will shed their blood defending Korea from the North.

    Oh, and I hope president Obama calls Kim (whatever his name) and talks to him about basketball.

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  7. "So, to reiterate: a foreign army is occupying the middle of the city, and some of them are dumbasses who were threatening civilians with GUNS..."

    Reminds me of the time a neighborhood kid tossed a 50 cent smoke bomb that he bought at a fireworks stand into this neighbor lady's yard to mess with her dog . . . and she called the police and reported that someone had "tossed a BOMB into my backyard." The police showed up with the SWAT Team, the ordinance disposal team, and several regular cops. When they realized it wasn't a real BOMB, they questioned the lady and asked her why she didn't describe it as a **smoke** BOMB. She acknowledged that she knew it was only a smoke BOMB and it didn't pose any actually danger. But she wanted the police to do something about the kid who tossed it into her yard because she felt he was a nuisance, and she thought the police would be more proactive if she only described it as a BOMB.

    I guess the Korean likes to play the same game. Rather than say, "threatening civilians with pellet GUNS," he simply describes them as "GUNS."

    I mean . . . the level of lethality is basically the same whether it's a water GUN, a pellet GUN, or a real GUN. So why make the distinction?

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    1. Think a little bit about the difference between the neighbor lady's perception, and the perception of the folks in Itaewon involved here.

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    2. The perception of the folks in Itaewon? The Korean news has played the recording of the 119 call where a Korean citizen initially reported the incident and it's fairly obvious from the tone of his voice and his relatively calm demeanor that it wasn't THAT threatening of a situation. If it had been real gunfire - he would have been much more animated or more likely freaking out.

      He said:

      "차에서 공기총인지 뭘지 모르겠는데 사람들한테 쏘고 있거든요."

      "I'm not sure if it's an air gun or what, but they are shooting at people from a car."

      You can hear it at the 36 second mark of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_wpSCHyz80

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    3. Key word there is 공기총, which is more properly translated to "air rifle," which is a type of gun that Korean hunters typically use for shooting at birds. That's how the folks at Itaewon perceived the situation.

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    4. I'm still stuck on the whole comparing a naughty kid to trained (and adult) U.S. military personnel thing ...

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    5. And what do you make of the the high-speed chase?

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  8. Once a month for decades? Really? Occupying Army? I didn't think the Korean had become so blatantly biased as to employ such gross exaggeration.
    KORUS relations have been challenging enough for decades. To say USFK go on monthly rampages is simply a lie.

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    1. I never used the words "occupying army," which has a significantly different connotation from "occupying the middle of the city" (which is what I wrote.)

      You are welcome to try and find just a single month in the history of the Republic of Korea when there was not a single crime committed by the USFK.

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    2. You used the words "foreign army is occupying the middle of the city", which has a significantly different connotation from "foreign soldiers stationed in the middle of the city" which is more accurate in connoted meaning.

      As far as a single month in the history of the ROK when there was not a single crime committed by the ROK, are you elevating allegations to convictions, counselor?

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    3. "foreign soldiers stationed in the middle of the city" might pay taxes to the country of the land they are occupying. Since they're not, and never have, and won't leave, this is called occupying.

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  9. And that is exactly what my father did -- shoot birds -- with these 'air guns' when we lived in Korea. He'd have them roasted for supper. Once my brother killed a good-sized hawk with one and we had it stuffed and mounted. If someone had been shot with an 'air gun' of that sort, death could easily have been the result. While I do not know if that really was the type of weapon used here, even a BB gun is only fun util 'somebody has an eye put out'. Would you alow a bunch of rowdy hoods to shoot off pellet guns of any kind around your family, because it really wouldn't be THAT threatening of a situation? Didn't think so. For you to try to minize this incident and shift blame onto Koreans overreacting makes you look like a retard, guitard.

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    1. Sam wrote: "For you to try to minize this incident and shift blame onto Koreans overreacting makes you look like a retard, guitard."

      Sam ~ very lame attempt at trying to obfuscate the main point of my post. And on top of that you say I try to shift blame onto Koreans??

      For starters - point out in my posts where I tried to shift blame on Koreans. (this should be interesting!)

      Now to get back to my original point: the Korean knowingly referred to an air rifle/pellet gun simply as a "gun." That's deceitful at worst and stupid at best. One implies something that *might* be harmful if shot at a person (with a really well aimed shot, from close range, etc.) - a "gun" on the other hand, implies almost certain traumatic injury and very possibly death if shot at a person. This is a distinction that I am quite positive is not lost on the Korean.

      Side note: Be sure to let you brother the hawk hunter know that hawks are protected in Korea as a class 2 endangered species (멸종위기야생동물 2종).

      I gotta give you major props though for that stinging zinger you tagged on the end of your post with the rhyming "retard, guitard." If you ever get tired of your day job - you have a bright future in poetry young man.

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    2. the Korean knowingly referred to an air rifle/pellet gun simply as a "gun." That's deceitful at worst and stupid at best. One implies something that *might* be harmful if shot at a person (with a really well aimed shot, from close range, etc.) - a "gun" on the other hand, implies almost certain traumatic injury and very possibly death if shot at a person. This is a distinction that I am quite positive is not lost on the Korean.

      Based on that silly distinction, would you argue that Dick Cheney was not hunting with a "gun" when he accidentally shot his hunting companion? He was carrying a shotgun loaded with birdshot, which usually is not enough to kill a person even in case of a direct shot. (Which comports with the actual turn of events.) Or how about this? Is shotgun loaded with rock salt no longer a "gun"? Rock salt load *might* be harmful if shot at a person, but rarely does it result in traumatic injury or very possible death. If you are threatened with a shotgun (without knowing what kind of load it was carrying,) would you think that you were NOT threatened by a gun?

      Think a little bit before you accuse people of lying.

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    3. Wow. Straw-man much? "Gun" connotes deadly force. So yeah, you can call Dick Cheney's weapon a gun and not lose intent for your purposes.

      I don't dispute the asshatery of the GIs. I think that for them to brandish a pellet gun is dangerous because people can mistake for a deadly force Dick Cheney type gun. You in your column, after the fact, and with the clarity of hindsight, however, should make the distinction.

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  10. "And Koreans cannot do anything about it unless USFK voluntarily turns the soldiers over, and good luck getting that to happen."

    Two of the soldiers have been turned over, and both have admitted to most (or all) of the accusations. The soldier who was shot by police is in a hospital and is expected to be turned over once he is healed. I think you should update this and acknowledge that USFK has handed over the accused (within 2 days of the incident at that).

    If English teachers and other expats in Korea get into trouble, they might face fines, jail-time, or deportation. Therefore, smart expats familiarize themselves with the culture, laws, and some of the language so that they don't find themselves in trouble with the police.

    I think all enlisted soldiers should need to complete a lengthy training seminar on Korean culture, language, and laws before they are allowed the privilege of leaving base. It seems many of them do not understand that when they leave the base they are entering a foreign country with different norms. If they don't like the idea of that, they should stay on based.

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    1. That sounds like a good idea. They are in another country; it's important for anyone in another country to at least know a little about their culture and laws. What if an American arrived in Ireland and tried to drive on the right side of the road, because that's what they're used to?

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  11. I don't know the reason why those two soldiers shot at the people with an air rifle (besides general assholery), but it makes me glad they didn't have easy access to their issued M-4/M-16. Maybe you should link this news to your last gun control post.

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    1. Your logic suggests . . . if they're stupid enough to buy a 25,000 won pellet gun and shoot at people . . . they are also likely to be prone to shoot at people with a high powered, combat assault rifle. Isn't that a bit of a leap?

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    2. That is a bit of a leap, if that is what my logic suggests. But no, I only suggested that if their intent was more malicious and they had easy access to their weapons, it could've had deadly results. I only asserted that so far, their reasoning for their actions was your run of the mill douchebaggery.

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  12. What a couple of dumbasses. I don't disagree that these morons deserve the Fuck These People comment but as we already discussed at length, that isn't what Psy said. You can dismiss his lyrics as "Fuck these people" comment but there will be people who disagree with that flippant paraphrasing.

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  13. I am from germany and found this post rather interesting. Mostly because there are a considerable number of US soldiers based here (about 60k)and i have never heard of similiar issues before. I find it hard to believe that the US soldiers here are behaving better. It is unlikely any group of armed young men herded together would be able not to cause trouble. Its not like the press here would refrain from reporting on it, given the general glee with which critizing the US is done. It does seem to me, that this could be a bit of mass psychology generating more sensation and outrage, because how well a story like this resonates with people.

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    1. US bases in Germany tend to not be smack in the middle of a major city. There are probably less contacts and less chances of incidents between Germans and American servicemen in Hohenfels than there would be if the US had an Army garrison in Mitte district of Berlin.

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  14. Unbelievable.If this is what they are doing in Korea, I don't even want to think about what U.S soldiers are doing in places like Afghanistan. Is it normal for army personnel to be allowed to leave their bases? They shouldn't be IMO.

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  15. '...a [group] is occupying the middle of the city, and some of them are dumbasses who were threatening civilians with guns, engaged in a late night car chase, tried to kill a police man and got away with only injuring him in the process.

    Try putting the shoe on the other foot here, and imagine something like this happening, say, in the middle of Manhattan around once a month, for decades. How fast do you think somebody in America would say, "fuck these people"? How long do you think it would take before a celebrity singer, who lets his emotion run high and does not quite think things through, makes a song about killing them?'


    Guess what does happen every week in the middle of most American cities, mostly without calls for genocide?

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    1. And what [group] occupies "most American cities," as you put it?

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    2. If I had a specific one in mind I would have said so.

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    3. In that case, there goes that analogy.

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    4. I need a specific group to describe a general aspect of human nature? OK, drag queens.

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    5. What I am saying is that before there is a "call for genocide," there needs to be an identifiable group to which people would focus their anger and resentment.

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    6. KWillets, you're making a categorical error.

      Drag queens making asses of themselves in the US are AMERICAN teenagers who're annoying other AMERICAN citizens. The transgressors (drag racers, etc.) pretty much have the same standing in the eyes of the law as the transgressed (bystanders).

      American soldiers in South Korea have a very different relationship with that of those around them - Korean citizens. American soldiers have some measure of diplomatic immunity, and the soldiers use said immunity to cowardly attempt to escape the consequences of their actions.

      This is not lost on Korean citizens. I hope you get why you've made a categorical error.

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  16. It's time to consider again withdrawing USFK troops altogether.

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