Saturday, January 19, 2013

Park Achieves One of Her Election Goals Before Taking Office

"People are not robots"
President-elect Park Geun-hye has managed to achieve one of her election goals before even taking office. According to results from a survey taken this month by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, many part-time workers in Korea earn less than the minimum wage, and only 63.4 percent of part-time workers actually have a contract.

Park had campaigned on a platform of 'economic democratization' during her campaign, which had been presented as a plan to get more workers to participate in the economy by allowing lower wages, which would in turn enable companies to employ more workers for their money, increasing the number of 'economic voters'. "People who don't earn money can't vote," explained a spokesman, "so lower wages ultimately widen economic participation and therefore economic democracy."

According to the economically dictactorial Labor Standards Act, people working for four to eight hours apparently must be given 30 minutes of break time, and those working eight hours or more are entitled to an even more self-indulgent and anti-social one hour break. But to bypass these draconian laws, Korean companies have moved to what have become known as Ultra-Short-Term Contracts, or USTCs, where employees work for eight hours before being laid off for 30 minutes and then being employed on new contracts, sometimes at lower rates depending on the competition for the position.

Working conditions are especially bad in convenience stores, which hire many students as part-time staff. Some 35.3 percent of their part-time workers earned less than the minimum wage last year, and 41.7 percent did not get paid overtime. A spokesman and woman for the Mom-and-Pop Stores Association 'MaPSA' said that the students "just didn't seem to learn", before blaming the illegal practice on large so-called super supermarkets (SSMs) unfairly taking business away from them. Last year the government moved to prevent SSMs such as E-Mart, Lotte and the British-owned Homeplus from opening on alternate Sundays in a bid to protect the rights of those earning less than the minimum wage after it was discovered that the SSMs were causing wage inflation by complying with the Labor Standards Act instead of ignoring it.

In a bid to increase economic democratization, during her campaign Park had even taken the plan to its logical conclusion after it was revealed that many people from the 'general public' – the name given to those who still support her late father, General President Park Chung-hee - had worked for Park for no pay in a move that Park called an inspiration to all after her election. However, despite the massive increase in economic democratization since her election, Park's transition team say they will study initiatives such as Ultra-Short-Term Contracts to see if they will affect the calculation of Korea's unemployment statistics.

Related Links
Many Part-Time Workers Earn Less than Minimum Wage
Mom-and-pop stores to face new pressures
Most Mom-and-Pop Businesses Make Very Little Money
Court rejects bid to nullify store closings
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Universities Cut Fees as Part of Government Campaign

More than nine out of ten colleges and universities say they expect to either freeze tuition fees or even reduce them this year, though they have declined to say which.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology reported that over 300 universities and colleges in Korea will join the national campaign to reduce the enormous financial burden on students and their parents which the government, colleges and universities increasingly subjected them to over the last two decades.

The Ministry, colleges and universities are keen to stress that the move is not connected in any way with the demographic shift the country is undergoing, which has seen low birthrates gradually lead to fewer young people available to charge, leading to speculation that educational establishments will increasingly have to compete on price to attract students.

A Ministry spokesman said "The government has listened to people and is taking strong action to ensure that tuition fees are reasonable, or at least no more unreasonable than last year."

Related Links
Universities to Freeze or Cut Tuition Fees
Campaigners Against Tuition Costs Investigated for Treason

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

North Korea Fingered in Cyber Attack on Dokdo Times

North Korea was behind a hacking attack on the ultra-right Dokdo Times newspaper in June last year, according to the National Police Agency's Cyber Terror Response Center.

The isolated regime, which only has two Internet links to the outside world – one through China and the other through South Korea's Ministry of Defense – launched a massive so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on the newspaper's Windows XP Professional server in parallel to another attack against a major Korean bank, which was reportedly abandoned when the hackers discovered it had no money.

According to cyber police, the North Korean hackers infiltrated the Dokdo Times' computer on December 20 last year using the user name 'kim' and the password '12345'. These were the same codes which had been used in attacks on Korea University e-mail accounts in 2009. Later, the hackers used the Dokdo Times server to attack the newspaper's production system, bringing printing to a halt. The newspaper's Korean language website was also defaced with a picture placed on the homepage of a white foreigner grinning. The National Intelligence Service say they do not know who the man is, but they will try to gather more information to see if his identity can provide further clues to the nature of the attack.

This image appeared on the Dokdo Times website

However, in accessing the newspaper's server the North Korean hackers themselves fell victim to viruses and spyware embedded in 'ActiveX' components on the Dokdo Times homepage placed there by the newspaper and its advertisers, enabling the cyber police to trace the source of the attack to North Korea's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. But hopes that pictures of the attackers would be sent back to South Korea were dashed when the spyware apparently detected they were male, which doesn't trigger its automatic webcam component to secretly take photos or stream video.

Despite minor disruption to the Dokdo Times operation, it is believed the North Korean attack ultimately caused significant damage in North Korea - South Korean cyber police were able to access North Korean computers for several hours, allowing them to steal back a large number of Seoul's highly-confidential military and government plans which had apparently fallen into Pyongyang's hands. Experts also say that exposure to the newspaper's rapidly-flashing homepage graphics during the attack may have caused lasting damage to the hackers' eyesight.

Related Links
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

"Dokdo Oath" Proposed for Foreign English Teachers with AIDS

The Government have announced that foreigners who come to teach English in Korea despite not really being wanted here will soon be required to verify that they are not suffering from An Ignorance of Dokdo Syndrome, or AIDS as it is known. The condition - which is known to afflict many foreigners – renders a person unable to explain why Dokdo is Korean territory and why it is so important. Koreans do not get AIDS.

Under the Dokdo Oath, foreigners will solemnly promise not to teach lies in the classroom, such as those invented by Japan and funded by Tokyo in the history and geography departments of some foreign universities as part of its ridiculous claims to the Korean islands in the East Sea. Previously, foreign teachers have been criticized for – perhaps unwittingly given their general lack of wits – trying to indoctrinate Korean students with perverted versions of history and geography at odds with that proved as factually correct by the government-backed Northeast Asian History Foundation.

It is hoped that by ensuring they are AIDS-free, foreign teachers will no longer expose students to the kind of factual harassment that if left untreated could spread like a dangerous forest fire through Korean society. Some native English teachers for example have been said to have openly flouted socials laws by telling students to consider there are two sides to every debate even though clearly there can only be one side when one side is clearly right and the other is clearly wrong, or lying.

The Dokdo Oath will be conducted in addition to various medical checks, including those for HIV, which have previously been welcomed by most of the HIV test positive foreigners living and working in the private-cram school or 'hagwon' sector in Korea.

However, there are signs that the problem may have spread beyond Korea's ill-regulated hagwon industry and reached more formal educational institutional levels. In raids of several international schools earlier this week authorities were shocked to discover materials proving that incredibly these so-called educational establishments were teaching foreign curricula such as the anti-Korea International Baccalaureate which failed to highlight Korea's historical importance or its sovereignty over Dokdo, Daemado, Ieodo and large parts of what is now known as China. It is not clear how long this blatant affront to Korean sovereignty has been taking place.

One child's essay even suggested that the reason for the historical animosity between between Korea and Japan over its colonial period was that Japan had simply "gotten there first". Linguistic experts are now working to translate the rest of the essay, which was only written in English with no Korean translation. Under questioning, some students at the international schools have admitted that they were even regularly taught in English even though the schools are in Korea, making a mockery of government plans to promote the Korean language to foreigners, which the schools would otherwise seem ideally placed to do.

Some foreigners have bravely spoken out about the rampant indoctrination of predominantly foreign children in international schools, but they have been unfairly dismissed as donuts-obsessed fringe characters who don't know what they are talking about.

The government is hoping to move forward with its plans for foreigners to take Dokdo Oaths later this year. There had been fears of delays as the Oath – which for obvious reasons can only be made in Korean – would not be understood by the vast majority of those taking it. However, on Monday the Supreme Court informally ruled that there was a considerable body of legal precedent holding foreigners to Korean-only contracts they did not comprehend and the Dokdo Oath would be treated no differently if such a case was ever brought before it.

Related Links
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Are multicultural schools a problem waiting to happen?
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Is Korean History Being Lost?
Why does Daemado (aka Tsushima) belong to South Corea?
Anti-English Spectrum Rejects Foreign Members
Is Your English Instructor Really English?
Foreigners Who Have AIDS Should Get Tested Urges KFAP
Koreans Advised to Masturbate to Prevent AIDS
The Shocking Reality About Relationships With Foreigners
Two Koreas Demand Be Officially Recognized

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