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Airdre Mattner says she was drugged, abducted & raped in Seoul last September, but after dealing with South Korean hospital staff & police, including a recent Facebook post by police that revealed private information regarding her case, she says she's been devastated her even further. Korea FM spoke with Mattner & the Korea Herald reporter that's been covering her story to learn more about how both foreign & Korean victims are treated by police & other authorities while seeking justice. Find more information on Airdre Mattner's story at http://GoFundMe.com/JusticeForAirdre.
Interview answers, both in audio & written form, have been edited for length & clarity. ----------
Two recent English language articles from the Korea Herald have shed light on the issues foreigners face while reporting a rape in South Korea, with a specific focus on one woman who says Korean police mishandled the assault claim she made last year here in Seoul.
My name is Airdree Mattner and I'm an Australian primary school teacher currently working in Japan. I decided to visit Korea last September with my boyfriend and other friends, but they were not able to stay as long as I could. On the evening of September 25th, I attended an organized pub crawl in Hongdae, where I believe I was drugged at the third bar we visited. I was then taken to a hotel far away and raped by a man who was not a member of the pub crawl and I only saw for the first time while regaining consciousness in the taxi we took to the hotel. I woke up the next day naked in the hotel room and discovered that all my money was gone.
After realizing her money had been taken, Airdre Mattner says she took a taxi to her hostel where the staff paid the driver & placed her in private room where she could calm down & rest. She then traveled to a medical facility to speak with a doctor & file a police report. As she had visited South Korea while on vacation, Mattner was in a difficult position, & decided to return to her job in Japan while staying in contact with Korean police to pursue the case.
Before I left, I made sure the police had my email address and was told they would send all updates through that address, including my medical results in two weeks. However, on the 23rd of October, the embassy finally received the medical report, and I had to resort to asking the embassy to act on my behalf in terms of securing this medical report because it was not sent to me. Additionally, police were not replying to my questioning to their direct email address, which is the same address I had sent the screenshots of the man who tried to add me on Facebook, so I had no choice but to go through the embassy. And I have continued to have them act on my behalf since September of last year. And when Airdre Mattner finally was able to see the files on her attack, she says the information the police & medical professionals gathered was not what she had expected. The medical report shows that no evidence was collected from my nails, mouth or hands, and the only area the police attempted to collect evidence was from my chest. There is no explanation in the report as to why they didn't follow procedure and try to collect DNA evidence from other areas. There are large sections that are completely blank and not filled out. The medical report has also clearly been falsified with them implying I was out on my own late at night and that I had become drunken and that I didn't remember what had happened to me. And this completely contradicts my police statement.
On April 1st, the police station in charge of the investigation posted an open letter addressed to Airdre Mattner on Facebook to defend their handling of the case. In the letter, the police refute Mattner's claim that proper procedures were not followed while collecting DNA evidence, noting that a sample of the suspect's DNA was collected & sent to the National Forensic Test Lab. Mattner's claim of being drugged at a bar in Hongdae was also challenged with blood and urine test results the police say show no drugs were in her system, and while they were able to locate CCTV footage of the man she identified at the hotel, their investigation concluded that he was not a suspect. Video footage of Mattner's statement to police was also cited in the post, with police saying that they've confirmed through the recording that no insulting questions were asked, and explained their lack of direct contact with the victim by noting that as Matter immediately left Korea, and also due to language barrier, the Australian Embassy was used to send her medical results and other notifications during the investigation process. However, Mattner says she eventually had to pursue other means to bring her attacker to justice due to a lack of support form Korean Police.
There were various reasons why I decided to resort to using GoFundMe. The first and the primary reason was that on the 18th of January, I was notified that police had decided to close the case and mark it unsolved until there were new developments. This was particularly devastating and shocking for me given how much I thought I had provided to the police for them to be able to work with and conduct a full investigation. So I decided to take things into my own hands in terms of attempting to fundraise to produce legal action in London where we believe the man is residing. And also additionally because I decided it would be a good platform to share my story and what had happened to me in terms of attempting to spread awareness not only of the high right of incidences like this in Seoul but especially how these cases are dealt with when they are reported to police.
And that goal seems to have been achieved as one writer Korea FM spoke with has continued to cover the story.
My name is Laeticia Ock and I'm working for the Korea Herald. I also cover legal and social affair issues. I learned about her story through the expat community, so I went to the GoFundMe page and saw her allegations about how the police treated her and how the hospital handled the case. I thought it was very problematic and I heard those allegations from other rape victims in the past who also accused hospitals and police of wrongdoing, so I decided to write a story. Especially because foreigners are very vulnerable because of the language barriers and because they don't know how to access information and how to defend themselves. According to what victims told me so far, police should have treated them with more dignity and because they were victims, they should have avoided questioning them in what they called an "insulting manner." And they should have informed them of the investing process and results through the embassy or directly. They should have done that. But according to what I heard, it seems like police kind of failed to do so, though in their defense, police said they tried to reach the victims as well as Mattner, but there must have been some miscommunication or because of the language barrier. That was the exact wording they gave me. But, many Korean women are also suffering from secondary damage. It was hard enough for them to suffer from these sexual attacks, but during the investigation process, they were treated like they were lying, basically blaming the victim.
And in addition to the problems Airdre Mattner & other Korean & foreign victims say they have faced after reporting their attack, Mattner now faces an online campaign from police to discredit her story.
They were posting comments on my GoFundMe page directing me to their public Facebook post addressed at me. It was shocking. I felt harassed and unsafe because of the amount of information they had released that I had never previously released myself to anyone, anywhere. And I had not given them permission for this information to be made public, either. And I'm not going to engage in the public standoff that they seem to be looking for. That's all I can say really.
Laeticia Ock agrees.
I was basically shocked because it was kind of against common sense. The police posted an open letter to a rape victim revealing her information and case. And all the comments were very supportive of her and very negative about the police decision to post the letter on Facebook in public. And I talked to the police actually, and they said to me that they had to take action because Mattner went on to the GoFundMe page to "defame the police." That's what they said. So police said that they had to publicly post an open letter to her to explain and clarify some misinformation, that's the word they said, "misinformation."
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Hello everyone! This morning, my husband and I went to the immigration office in Busan to process my F6 (spouse) visa extension. When I processed my spouse visa a year ago, I was only given a 1-year sojourn. However, I heard that if you attend the Happy Start Program sponsored by the immigration office, you would be given a 2-year sojourn. Since my F6 visa expires in June, I had to extend it ahead of time to avoid paying the penalty for not renewing it before the expiration date.
Here are the requirements we submitted at the immigration office:
2.) ARC (alien registration card)
3.) Medical Certificate
4.) Family Registration Certificate (I don’t know what they call it in Korean.)
5.) A proof of my husband’s Korean citizenship.
6.) Spouse Visa Extension Fee: 30,000 won
For F6 visa holders who have kids with their Korean spouses, the immigration office usually gives a 2-year extension. Applying for visa extension is quick. You can get it done in less than 30 minutes.
You can see on the back of my ARC that I was granted a 2-year sojourn. That means I can stay in South Korea for the next 2 years. Thank God! I don’t have to go back to the immigration office next year!
The trees are stretching arms above the road
These too-familiar turnings let me dream
Adrift in thoughts that never make a sound
Above glass beach I hear the Puget Sound
The crashing waves that once were called whale’s road
And wonder if a fish can ever dream
From autumn wind, the sky becomes a dream
While naked branches dance, mad with the sound
Of raindrops pelting gently on the road
In dream, I run along the road—with silent steps that never leave a sound.
My Predictions and Expectations for the Upcoming South Korean Parliamentary Elections: The Left will get Hammered
This is a re-post of something I wrote a few days ago for the Lowy Institute. I thought it would be helpful to put some predictions out there, with a logic for why I made them.
That map to the left is the last South Korean parliamentary election’s distribution of seats. Red and blue are conservative parties. Yellow and purple are left-wing. Gray is independent. The reason red (the Saenuri Party) looks so dominant is because rural Korea is empty. So the parliamentary districts in the countryside are very big in order to capture the necessary number of voters. You can see this in the US as well, where the geographic expanse of urban congressional seats is much smaller than rural ones.
In brief, my prediction is that Ahn Chul Soo’s upstart left-wing party will throw lots of seats (10-30?) to the right by fragmenting the left-wing vote. 82% of the National Assembly’s seats are won by plurality voting. So all the right has to do is stick together under one roof, and they win while the left fragments its votes. The Diplomat interviewed me on this, and I said the same: Ahn doesn’t want to admit that he is sucking away votes from the main left-wing (Minjoo) party. So Ahn is the Jesse Ventura of South Korean politics, a vague, apolitical who-knows-what-he-believes purposefully damaging the larger effort of the left for his own egomania. (To be fair, parties to the left of Minjoo – typically pro-North Korean – also have a record of pointlessly splitting the left’s vote.)
The full essay follows the jump, but you probably shouldn’t listen to me anyway. My wife, naturally, won’t have any of this and will vote for Ahn, because he’s new… or something… I just don’t get the Korean liberal voter…
All 300 seats in South Korea’s unicameral National Assembly are up for election on April 14. 246 members are elected in single-member, first-past-the-post (FPP) districts, while the remaining 54 seats are elected on a separate ballot via proportional representation (PR). The vote comes amidst a tense security situation on the peninsula. North Korea’s many provocations this year, including a fourth nuclear test in January, have made national security much more salient than normal. Elsewhere, Korea’s export-driven growth continues to stumble amid a cooling-off period in Chinese development and a weaker yen. Youth unemployment remains high.
South Korea’s Electoral Law
Despite the tough situation on the ground, the ruling Saenuri Party (새누리당, or ‘New Frontier Party’) is in good shape heading into the elections. Korean president Park Geun-hye has enjoyed steady approval ratings around 40%, despite a number of scandals at home and an unpopular comfort women deal signed with Japan late last year. Within her own Saenuri Party, her approval rating is an impressive 78%.
Saenuri currently holds a 152-127 majority in the National Assembly. Like their president, the party has also remained popular. Saenuri is up 5% since January, polling at 41.5% approval. It has maintained an average favorable opinion lead of 14.6% over the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea (더민주, or ‘Together Democratic Party’), currently polling at 28.6%. Korea’s voting system for the National Assembly is similar to the German Bundestag. It is a mix of PR and FPP single-member districts. The FPP seats dominate the Assembly and, following Duverger’s Law, have created a mostly two big-tent party system between Saenuri and Minjoo.
However, the existence of a handful (18%) of PR seats routinely tempts outsiders and malcontents to form mini-parties nipping at the heels of the two majors. In 2012, a total of 25 parties were registered with the national election commission right before the election. That number shrank to seven right after the 2012 general election. As of this writing, there are 23 parties registered in Korea, up from 16 a year ago. The PR seats offer the only realistic representation chance for these small outfits.
The upshot is what one might call a 2+ party system, in which the PR seats regularly seduce political entrepreneurs to break with the main parties in personalistic efforts to build their own parties. The formal requirement for representation is not that high – 1 FFP victory plus 3% of the PR vote. (By contrast, Germany requires 5% of PR and Turkey a punishing 10% to enter the legislature). And in this cycle, this is precisely what has happened – left-wing entrepreneur Ahn Chul Soo has broken from Minjoo after a lengthy, high profile leadership struggle, to form his own Goookmin Party (국민의당 – literally the ‘People’s Party’).
The South Korean Left and Duverger’s Law
PR-driven factionalism has plagued Korean political parties for decades; Korea always seems on the cusp of an American-style two-party system but never quite gets there. Notably though in recent years, the left has suffered from this much more than the right, particularly since its crushing defeat in 2008. Ahn and Minjoo barely submerged their differences for the 2012 Korean presidential election, and nearly two dozen Minjoo politicians have recently defected to Gookmin, including party co-founder Kim Han-gill. Ahn has also strictly ruled out coalitions between Minjoo and Gookmin. This will threaten Minjoo’s ability to win FPP seats, because the left’s vote will now split. Nevertheless, Ahn’s party should cross the low representation threshold to enter parliament. This prediction in turn raises the biggest issue of the election: factionalization on the left may ‘throw’ perhaps a dozen or more FPP Assembly seats, which the left should otherwise win, to the right. If Ahn does not change course soon, I predict a large Saenuri victory.
The logic of Duverger’s Law is very clear and powerful here: splitting ideologically similar voters across multiple similar parties allows the other side, if it stays concentrated in one big tent party, to win an FPP race. The most famous example of this is the 2000 US presidential race in Florida. There the combined left of Ralph Nader (Green Party) and Al Gore outpolled George Bush. Bush took the state anyway, because Nader drew voters from Gore, thereby giving Bush the most votes and ‘throwing’ the election to the right.
This logic repeats itself regularly in Korea too, where conservatives have a better record of realizing that the large predominance of FPP seats in the Assembly incentivizes party discipline and punishes factionalization. Korea does not have a formal party primary system, but Saenuri’s internal losers for leadership and the presidential candidacy have notably not exited in recent years, creating threats to otherwise safe Saenuri districts (minor, short-lived exception here). Ahn promises to do exactly that this year to the left, a dynamic that has plagued the (not)unified left for many years already. In the past, schisms on Minjoo’s left were a routine problem, as ‘progressive’ voters flirted with an openly pro-North Korean party. That party, the Unified Progressive Party, received 10% in the last legislative election, before it was broken up as unconstitutional by the Korean high court in 2014.
Why the Left Especially?
The inability of the Korean left to get its act together, its constant drama of division and infighting, is a recurrent theme in Korean politics. Why is a great question for any interested graduate student working on Korean domestic politics. Here are my own two hypotheses:
1. The Korean left intensely dislikes authoritarianism, and that reduces the party discipline FPP races requires. The Korean left has a long, admirable history fighting right-wing authoritarians in the Republic of Korea’s history. In the democratic period since 1987, it has continued to fight for important liberal causes such as the expansion of press freedom and limits on domestic surveillance where the right’s record has been often embarrassingly bad. (Under Korea’s last two conservative presidents, the ROK’s press freedom score from Freedom House has slipped badly.) Perhaps this undercuts the ability of left-wing leaders to tell others to get in line; that rings of the bad old days.
2. Saenuri is unified around issues as the left is not, and that undercuts right-wing entrepreneurship, because the entrepreneur would not add anything which the main candidate is not already saying. As the chart below suggests, Saenuri voters are tightly clustered around hawkish foreign policy beliefs and character, while President Park’s opponents are all over the place on preferred issues.
Other hypotheses welcome!
Filed under: Domestic Politics, Elections, Korea (South), Lowy Institute, Political Science
These days, Holi is a worldwide event. It’s often known as the festival of colors or festival of sharing love. In layman’s terms it signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. You wear a white shirt and throw colored powder at strangers and friends.
The organization, Indians in Korea (IIK) organizes several buses to Busan to celebrate Holi on Haeundae Beach. All nationalities and ethnicities are encouraged to participate. And for a 10,000₩ registration fee, they’ll give you a package of colors and a cap to wear. You could also purchase an additional three packs of colors for 5,000₩, at the beach. I didn’t register but brought my own colors to the beach.
It was free, messy fun on the beach. We were really lucky to throw our colors and dance for an hour, and then left before it started to rain. I had fun and encourage people to take part of this festival if it’s near you. It really did feel like I was celebrating the arrival of spring and more good times.
For 11,000₩ you can crack open a chocolate dinosaur egg dessert (공룡알빙수) at Dala 100% Chocolate in Seomyeon. Inside you’ll find a chocolate ice cream “yolk” and chocolate dinosaur. It’s on top of more chocolate and shaved ice. I can’t believe this place is within walking distance of my apartment and how affordable it is for a fun, quality chocolate dessert.
Location: Take line two to Jeonpo Station. Go straight out exit 7. Walk for two blocks and then turn left, down a slight hill towards Seomyeon. It’s located on Jeonpo Cafe Street (전포동카페), on the left side as you walk up the hill.
Address: 달아, 부산광역시 부산진구 전포대로209번길 18
18 Jeonpo-daero 209beon-gil Busanjin-gu Busan
In the past, one had to go all the way to Itaewon and its surrounding areas to get a taste of craft brews (which may or may not be one of the reasons I moved there), but fortunately, as craft beer has become more mainstream, even general supermarkets keep certain varieties in stock.
Yet nowhere is the nation's growing fondness for the beverage more apparent than at the Great Korean Beer Festival.
Established in 2013, the festival will once again provide beer lovers the opportunity to sample diverse craft beers from breweries throughout South Korea all in one place. The sixth edition of the festival is slated to be held from Wednesday, May 4 to Sunday, May 8 this year at the outdoor plaza of COEX Mall in the heart of Gangnam.
As the first and largest craft beer festival in South Korea, GKBF is beloved by craft beer enthusiasts. So much so that last October's GKBF attracted around 74,000 visitors over the course of four days.
But contrary to what some may think, the biannual festival isn't just about getting smashed.
Brew masters from around 18 small, independent breweries will be on hand to introduce their creations (beer lineup changes daily—see event website for details), while some of Seoul's favorite restaurants such as Spain Club, Original Chicago Pizza, On the Border and Suji's will serve up diverse eats and treats from all over the world.
There are also other various attractions for beer lovin' visitors. At the "Meeting the Brewer" event, brewers will share their beer stories and beer philosophies, and visitors will have a chance to ask questions about craft beer. Famous faces from international craft beer communities will also be in attendance.
Furthermore, live music sets (see the lineup here) and activities such as balloon art make the event appropriate for the whole family.
The Great Korean Beer Festival is open to all, and admission is free. Visitors can directly purchase beer and food from each booth, or opt to buy a beer sampler package, which enables one to sample multiple beers, at the festival office. (Just don't forget your ID!)
Don't miss your chance to taste the best brews from around the peninsula in one place, while soaking up some sun and socializing with Seoul's finest.
Date: May 4-8, 2015
Time: Daily 1-10pm
Location: Outdoor plaza of COEX Mall in Samseong-dong
Website: Click here
Facebook: Click here
Participating Microbreweries: Weizen Haus, The Hand and Malt, Jejusien, Ka-Brew, Platinum, Korea Craft Brewery, Magpie Brewing, Playground Brewery, Barbarosa, The Booth Brewing, Gorilla Brewing
Hosts: Media Paran, Gangnam-gu Office, COEX MICE Cluster Committee
Sponsors: Korea Tourism Organization, Visit Korea Committee
Get There: From Samseong Station (Seoul subway Line No.2), take the passage directly connected from exit 5 or 6 to Coex mall through the Millennium Plaza.