“Watching a movie should be hassle-free”, a spokesman - standing in front of a large 51-star American flag - argued in a grainy video posted on a radical website, “but not for most followers of English – peace be upon it. In Seoul the movie posters are written in Hangeul, and even the title of American movies are normally just Romanized translations... which makes it very hard for followers of English, whose beliefs prevent them from learning the Korean alphabet because it is a sin. Most Korean films are not shown with English subtitles. These are clearly attacks by Korean cultural crusaders determined to impose their Korean language on people living in Korea.” The speaker then launched into a tangential diatribe listing all the ways followers of Eslam were persecuted by the authorities, before returning to finish on the subject of movie theaters 30 minutes later - “Unbelievably, the discrimination continues at the ticket box, with staff often refusing to speak English to followers of English wishing to buy tickets.”
The speaker in the video – who was wearing a mask and can not be identified - did not say what action would be taken if the Korean government failed to bow to its demands, but the group is believed to be holding a number of Korean women against their will.
During the last decade the number of radical Eslamists in Korea is thought to have grown exponentially, but the movement has been hard to track due to the frequent internal splintering of members – partly over ideology but mostly because of the poor organizational and interpersonal skills inherent in the teaching community from which Eslam draws most of its members. The most radical splinter group – an uncompromising faction known as the ‘English Speakers who Love America’ - or ESLAM - wants to create a worldwide English-speaking state known as the Amerifate where people will be free to practice their own strict interpretation of sheer Eslam.
Popular Korean films are rarely shown with English subtitles. Last year, after earlier calls from Eslamist splinter groups, Korean politicians suggested that American movie theaters start showing popular movies with Korean subtitles, but the Motion Picture Association of America refused. A Ministry of Culture spokesman said at the time “Until a reciprocal agreement can be reached, we are reluctant to make a unilateral move on the off-chance that a native-English speaker might come to a Korean movie theater to watch a Korean movie.”
The Ministry had pointed out that while the number of people who identify themselves as followers of Eslam in Korea has been increasing, putting subtitles of any language on a Korean movie was often distracting to the normally entirely Korean audience who can understand the dialog perfectly well. The spokesman also released statistics showing that there are more Koreans living in America, than Americans living in Korea, making the American refusal to place Korean subtitles on its movies all the more shocking. However, a government minister was forced to resign when he suggested that Eslamists should move to a country where English is spoken if they wish to live an English-speaking lifestyle.
In an attempt to placate the increasingly vitriolic attacks from radical Eslamists, some theaters have shown Korean movies with English subtitles, but the followers of English have refused to accept this apparent olive-branch, which some in the movement have said risks distracting them from their goal of creating an Amerifate where only English-language movies will be permitted by the cultural authorities in Hollywood. “The creation of foreign-language movies and products is insulting to Eslam.” ruled Seoul-based Eslamic scholars.
The demands are unlikely to be limited to the movie industry. Eslamic scholars have also called for the creation of separate Eslamic judicial system in Korea. “Eslam teaches us to respect the laws of the country we live in, but it’s time for Korea to cease legally and culturally repressing believers of Eslam.” The Ministry of Justice said it already operates a separate judicial system for foreigners, but followers of Eslam want to adopt so called ‘barrier’ law where English-speaking foreigners are tried in separate courts by other English-speaking foreigners and Eslamic punishments are dealt out to offenders. However, the government is not supportive of the system since it does not allow people to get stoned in Korea. It is also feared that Eslamists eventually want to see barrier law applied to Koreans as well as native-English speakers. Eslam already has its own security force, which patrols Korean streets searching for the incorrect use of English.
Using a derogatory term for non-English-speaking Koreans, the spokesman ended the video with the chilling words “These Kofirs should end their corrupt ways, stop worshiping their false language, and embrace an American way of life.”
In recent years Korean authorities have become increasingly concerned that radical Eslamists may pose a security threat, but attempts to control the group online have been unsuccessful. After websites and blogs which advocated violence were shut down, it is believed radicals infiltrated more mainstream sites like Eslcafe, which Korean security sources told us is now little more than a front for radical Eslamic elements.
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