[Letter to the editor] Double standards deplorable

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[Letter to the editor] Double standards deplorable

Once again I am left saddened and upset by the absolutely skewed priorities and lack of balance about an aspect of a serious —and unfortunately growing—xenophobia in Korea these days.
I noted the emphasis given to the article “‘Love shots’ off limits, court rules” (JoongAng Daily, March 26). This story covered in some detail the ruling by the Supreme Court about a customer forcing female employees of a golf club restaurant to engage in the suggestive and humiliating practice of drinking “love shots” with him [whereby the drinkers cross arms and hug], under the threat of losing their jobs.
The court ruled — rightly so — that such actions constitute assault and sexual harassment, and that the lower court decision that found the perpetrator guilty was indeed appropriate and correct.
Now, compare this sensible view of what constitutes assault, and the public castigation of such practices, against the deafening silence of the media and law enforcement authorities over an even more egregious and life-threatening case of assault and attempted rape that has — apart from one article in the Korea Herald, and reports on various expatriate Web sites — never received any Korean media attention.
I am referring to the attack on a Korean-Canadian man and his wife by four men on March 9 this year in Dapsimni, eastern Seoul. The hypocrisy with regard to application of the law is astounding, although probably due in no small part to the open connection between the police and the attackers in this case. According to the article, the police have basically refused to proceed with any investigation and have in fact pressured the couple to “settle”— whatever that means.
Surely an assault of this nature is more deserving of a proper investigation and media attention than focusing on “love shots”?
Why has there been no examination of this issue, especially since the Korean PR machine is going all out to convince the world to see Korea as “the hub of Asia”?
I would think that a prompt and concerted investigation on violence of this nature directed against foreign residents of Seoul (there are other examples cited in the article about the assault) would be a top priority, if all the official claims about Korea being a modern, developed country are to be believed.
Unfortunately, I feel the opposite is true — that Korea, for all its professed desire to be considered a part of the developed community of nations, is, in fact, reverting to its xenophobic, mistrustful and insular past to a degree unimaginable to those of us who felt quite optimistic about Korea’s changing society only a few years ago.
A nation’s development is not merely predicated upon material success; the moral, sociocultural and intellectual elements must also be nurtured and embedded. Unless — and until — priorities such as the rule of law that covers all residents equally is applied and firmly established, Korea will never achieve the desired “hub of Asia” status it so desperately craves.
Michael J. Berry, Yongsan, Seoul
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