Friday, March 12, 2010

News from Russia regarding attacks on Korean students.

The Chosun Ilbo writes there have not yet been arrests in the latest attack on a Korean student in Russia, in spite of the Russian ambassador saying otherwise earlier in the week:
Russia has not arrested two suspects who attacked a Korean student in Moscow on Sunday, it clarified Wednesday. The precipitate announcement has raised some eyebrows in Korea.

Russian police told the Korean Embassy in Moscow on Wednesday they have completed composite pictures of the suspects and are confident of their imminent arrest. But a day earlier, Russian Ambassador to Korea Konstantin Vnukov told the Korean Foreign Ministry the two suspects are already under arrest.

The article closes with a source saying perhaps the Russian ambassador lied in order to placate the Korean Foreign Minister. On the 9th the ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry over the murder of one Korean student in February and the wounding of another this month.
"Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-soo summoned the Russian ambassador in Seoul to urge swift investigation into the recent crimes against South Koreans in Russia and efforts to prevent the recurrence of such incidents," a ministry official said.

Russian police said, according to KBS, the assailants likely weren't targetting Koreans:
Russian police say they are questioning two suspects in connection with Sunday’s stabbing of a South Korean student in Moscow.

Russian police said Tuesday that if charges against the suspects are confirmed, stern punishments will follow.

They also said that the attack does not appear to have been aimed South Koreans in particular.

Not that it makes things any safer for Koreans or for foreigners in general.

The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has issued safety precautions for Koreans in Russia.
The ministry made the notice on its Web site Thursday, saying that attacks by skinheads or other ultrarightist groups can target people regardless of age and gender.

The ministry warned Koreans not to go outside alone or at night in Russia.

It also warned that Adolf Hitler's birthday, April 20th, and November fourth’s National Unity Day tend to see more hate crimes than usual.

The Korea Times has more:
The government issued a travel warning to Russia Thursday, following attacks on South Korean students there.

All of the country, except for the southern Kavkaz region, has been designated as a level 1 warning zone ``temporarily'' from March 11 to May 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

A level 1 travel warning advises tourists and visitors to take precautions while traveling.

Kavkaz remains as a level 3 restricted zone due to the possibility of terrorist activities in Chechnya.

A JoongAng Daily article via Yonhap about Russia's mixed messages closes with:
In Tuesday’s meeting with the Russian envoy, South Korea’s vice foreign minister, Shin Kak-soo, lodged a strong complaint over the series of crimes, saying Korea-Russia relations may be strained if the recent rise of crimes against South Koreans in Russia is allowed to continue.

The website for the Korean Embassy in Moscow has posted a message with the following points to heed:
- 야간에 단독 외출을 삼가시고 주간에도 가급적 외진 곳은 통행을 삼가해 주시기 바라며 가능하면 반듯이 단체로 이동하여 주시기 바랍니다.

- 한국인 단체 관광객들 주변에서 이유없이 배회하거나 과잉친절행동을 하는 외국인이 있으면 각별한 주의가 요구됩니다.

- 장기체류자의 경우 출퇴근 경로나 상시 출입하는 장소로의 이동 경로를 주기적으로 변경하시기 바랍니다.

- 만일의 사태 발생시 관할 대사관이나 총영사관으로 즉시 연락을 바랍니다.

After all, these aren't the first two attacks on Korean students in Russia. The JoongAng Daily, among others, mentions more:
In 2005, two Korean students in their teens in St. Petersburg were stabbed and seriously injured, and in 2007, another Korean student was attacked by a group of Russians and died while receiving treatment. Last year, a female university student studying in Russia was terrorized by a group of Russians wielding flammable materials.

Several English-language papers have weighed in with editorials. Here's the Korea Herald:
These unprovoked attacks have caused the roughly 2,000 Korean students in Russia to fear further racially-motivated assaults. The Korean Embassy in Moscow asked the Russian authorities to ensure better security for the large number of Korean students, but we cannot expect any extraordinary steps from them, as they are already heavily burdened with a rising crime rate.

A lengthy excerpt from the Times' "Fearful in Moscow":
This should be a rude awakener to both Korean and Russian diplomats in a country where up to 15 percent of local youths are sympathetic with the xenophobic, racist groups, which believe everything bad in their country is ascribable to foreigners, as these aliens are exploiting Russia's wealth and resources while taking away local people's jobs.

Regretful are the reports that Moscow appears not very eager to crack down on these anti-social, anti-human elements ― even if one acknowledges this is neither a problem peculiar to Russia nor an easy one to root out ― not least because such xenophobic trends would drive foreign investors and tourists further away, which will in turn lead to even greater economic difficulties and a wider income gap among the Russians in a vicious circle.

None other than Korean residents in Russia are reportedly expressing not just shock and anger but fear, raising questions whether Russia is a law-abiding, civilized state where law enforcement authorities are operating normally. These ethnic Koreans have already been suffering enough from inconveniences with visas and other consular problems there.

The foreign ministry is considering issuing a travel warning for more regions of Russia, while telling Koreans to avoid pleasure quarters especially after dark as well as to travel in groups. This ``take-good-care-of-yourself" advice may be better than nothing, but Koreans in Russia are asking, ``Does it mean we'll have to personally hire bodyguards?"

Seoul must go way further from this and call for Moscow to thoroughly investigate these incidents, punish the criminals and promise to do its best to prevent their recurrences ― not just in words but in deeds. If these requirements are unmet, there is no reason President Lee Myung-bak shouldn't make a personal call to either Russian President Dmitri Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and show them what summit diplomacy is supposed to be.

The JoongAng Daily's "Russia’s words not enough":
We now need more from the Russian government than words. Saying that it will try its best to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future is no longer enough.

Instead, the government must act to catch the criminals and subject them to proper judgment after thorough and quick investigations. The Russian authorities also need to develop measures to protect Korean students and residents staying in their country.

24 comments:

Stuart said...

A short quote from the BBC News article today.

"Independent groups monitoring the issue say the number of those killed in race attacks last year dropped by more than a quarter to just over 70 - a figure they say is still unacceptably high. "

70 racially motivated murders a year?!

You just have to do a search for Russian football hooligans on youtube to see the levels of organized violence perpetrated by these skinheads. It seams like quite a scary place these days.

Brian said...

Me and others have talked about Korea's history of bad sportsmanship as working against their hopes for the 2018 Winter Olympics for Pyeongchang and the 2022 World Cup (for which they've put in a bid), a, um, tradition that was on display in 2010 again when an Australian referee received death threats for making a call against a Korean team, and the Australian embassy received a bomb threat. But when you read about the race-based violence in Russia you start to worry about 2014.

fattycat said...

I find some of this a little ironic. A lot of these quotes could easily be changed to English teachers, foreign student or Russian (looking) women in Korea

L Tron said...

Not to lessen the tragedy of the stabbing and the crime against others, but attacks on 5 Koreans in 5 years isn't exactly the crime wave it's being made out to be. Should Russia do something to curb the ultra-nationalist right growing there? Yes. Should they focus on protecting only Koreans from attack? Based on the numbers, probably not.

NHJ said...

I'm picking on details there... but here's a trend in the Korean language that's been bothering me. In the Korean Embassy in Russia warning message it says: "If foreigners arrass you (a group of Korean) just ignore them etc etc"...
If you're in Russia, they're not the ones who are foreigners, you are! I guess this will never change T_T

yo said...

NHJ, this is a topic that has been discussed further before. The more proper term would be "non-Korean" or "non-Chinese" or "non-Japanese" ethnically speaking. This is based on the Chinese characters from which these words are derived in Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. If you want the literal translation, it is "outside country/nation person". Try to understand that before jumping to a conclusion.

midknight said...
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midknight said...

Fattycat, you are truly an idiot of another dimension.

Do some research on race-based attacks in Russia against non-whites before you make such ignorant, comments again.

God, ignorant ass English teachers from America are comical. Oh woe is me, like a little brat with a spoiled diaper.

marry said...
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NHJ said...

yo, I totally understand that it's "outside/country/person" in Chinese characters and it is hard to apply to Koreans especially when they speak amongst themselves. I just think that when it's outside of Korea it isn't really appropriate. But this is another subject (my comment is the result of many years in the country ^^; )

yo said...

It's only not appropriate from an English speaking perspective. Yet, they aren't speaking in English. They are speaking in Korean so it's completely appropriate and logical.

Brian said...

midknight, that's enough from you.

yo/NHJ, we've discussed that issue on this site a few times:
*"Us versus them: More about 외국인."
*"So were they American or Armenian?"

And there are tons of comments on those posts looking at the issue from every angle. I don't like seeing "foreigner" used by Koreans to refer to non-Koreans in their native country. That's not the case here---they're not speaking English---but it certainly happens with some regularity.

In those posts we also looked at: (1) can Koreans actually be "외국인"? and (2) are Koreans aware that they can actually be "foreigners"? It's an issue of bad translation into English as much as one of history: Koreans didn't go abroad, didn't deal with anyone from abroad, and thus didn't develop a variety of words to suit those situations. Russians in Korea are certainly "outside-country people" in that they're not Korean, but there probably needs to be a better way to refer to Russians in their own country.

yo, I'm certain NHJ understands the Chinese root, but s/he was merely commenting on the use of the word to refer to Russians in Russia. Don't be so sensitive.

Brian said...

Please take any more comments on the issue of "외국인" to one of those two threads, I'd like to keep this one fairly on topic. I'll remove any further ones on that topic.

Bonzi, I know you've been around here before: play nice. First and last warning.

MyTwoCents said...

The Korean government's travel warning to Russia is met by disagreement from the Russian Embassy who are unhappy that Koreans are "overreacting".

http://news.nate.com/view/20100312n18166?mid=n0411

For those who are trying to compare the extreme violent racism in Russia with Korea, I'm sorry to say but you guys are idiots. What are you people, morons?

Russia is the same country where 14 non slavic people died in an ethnic market after the skinheads blew them up. It's the same country that brutally beat and killed a 9 year old boy from Central Asia.
It's the same country where the out of control skinheads put out Youtube videos of themselves murdering visible minorities in broad day lights in front of the public. It's a bloody war zone with anarchy over there!

Out of control number of killings, three per week on average, like these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8zKfluSsuE&feature=related

fattycat said...

@ midknight

"Fattycat, you are truly an idiot of another dimension. Do some research on race-based attacks in Russia against non-whites before you make such ignorant, comments again. God, ignorant ass English teachers from America are comical. Oh woe is me, like a little brat with a spoiled diaper."

Maybe you should do some research into the treatment of Russian women/prostitutes in Korea before you start running your mouth off...though you may have some difficulty since much of it isnt reported.

And, I am not American.

fattycat said...

@MyTwoCents
"For those who are trying to compare the extreme violent racism in Russia with Korea, I'm sorry to say but you guys are idiots. What are you people, morons?...It's the same country that brutally beat and killed a 9 year old boy from Central Asia."

What are you MyTwoCents? A moron? Korea is the same country where a 14 year old girl was held against her will, beaten, burned with cigarettes, and forced into prostitution with 800 men.

There are many examples for nearly all countries. Point being, bad things happen to good people in every country by bad people.

Do I think Korean's are more at risk traveling in Russia than in Korea? Maybe not. Why was this kid attacked? Is it because he is Korean? (I doubt the attackers knew) Is it because he is Asian? Did he look at someone the wrong way? Was he just at the wrong place at the wrong time? Regardless it is a terrible tragety. I wouldnt cancel my trip to Russia just yet though.

hoihoi51 said...

I hope The Korean government's travel warning to Japan ,too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-O0ht7uTMmc

Keith said...
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Keith said...

I have lived in the former communist bloc for 6 years (Slovakia, Hungary and eastern Germany). I am black American. In Magdeburg, Germany, a skinhead pointed a gun at me while I was getting off a tram. (He was sent to prison.) In Slovakia, I was attacked by skinheads. I stabbed one guy and the rest fled. (self-defense) Fortunately, I have many Slovak friends and my attitude towards the Slovaks is quite positive. So, I hold no grudges about these countries. Germany and Slovakia are beautiful countries and I have enjoyed most of my time there.

The people in these countries are making way less than the rest of Europe. Under communism they were taken care of, now they are seen by Western Europeans as lowlife parasites. They have little hope and they need scapegoats.

In Russia, foreigners and ethnic minorities are attacked daily. In Lithuania, students at an American university fear to go out alone because one of their non-Lithuanian classmates were killed by skinheads.

I worked as legal counsel for a human rights organization in Slovakia and we investigated many attacks on foreigners, the Roma (Gypsies) and Hungarians. The things I have seen! The brutality of some people towards other humans! In one situation, the skinheads tried to "gut" a Roma teenager. Fortunately he survived, but he had a scar that went from the base of his neck to the bottom of his abdomen.

Korea is right to put out an advisory for Russia. It should do the same for many of the former Soviet bloc countries. As long as they feel a national low-self esteem they will blame others for their troubles.

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Brian said...

Since this post does nothing but collect spambots now, comments are off.