DECEMBER 26, 2007


Life& Community
‘Daejeon 150’ dogs given extension on life
By Matthew Lamers

Open letter to possible volunteers
When I heard about the oil spill in Taean, my first thought was what I could do to help. I started looking for information about volunteering, but it was sparse and inconsistent. I found that many people had the same problems as me, so I started a website providing information for those who want to volunteer in Taean. Most of the mess at Taean can only be cleaned up by hand. Without thousands of volunteers for the coming months and possibly years, Taean will not recover. Therefore, it is essential for volunteers to continue coming to Taean. It does not matter if you are Korean, Canadian, Iranian or Indian — every volunteer is essential and is appreciated by the community. If you have time, the best way to help is to roll up your sleeves (or roll down your protective body-suit, as it were), and come out to help clean the mess up. There are many free buses to Taean. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, there is a free bus from the Honam central terminal. Trains to Taean are free until the end of the year and the KTX is 50 percent off. If you cannot speak Korean, please e-mail me at semy1991 @hanmail.net and I will do my best to help international volunteers find a way to Taean. Hundreds of kilometers of coast have been devastated and every volunteer is needed. Most volunteers go to Manlipo, Chunlipo, Baklipo, Siblipo, Gurumpo, Manlipo, Sinduri, Mohang and Padori. I have been to most pf these places, and I think that Gurumpo seems to be the hardest-hit. Lots of hard-to-reach islands need helping hands as well, but getting volunteers to islands is very difficult, and there is a lack of information, even though it is three weeks after the spill. You need to wear rubber boots, oil-protective clothes, a mask, and gloves made out of rubber. At most of the damaged areas, there is plenty of second-hand equipment. Free lunch is provided at many work areas as well — Korean soup, rice and side dishes. There are free snacks and lots of places provide coffee, bread, beverages, and cup noodles. Lots of Korean volunteers are making teams on the internet, renting a bus and buying equipment. You can look for those teams on the internet very easily if you can read Korean. I organize a team that goes out every Sunday. You have to help pay for the bus and equipment if you join one of these teams. When you get here, work consists of rubbing oil off rocks, digging up oil-contaminated soil, soaking up oil, and moving bags filled with cloths soaked in oil. There is nobody telling you what to do, so you will have to just follow what others are doing, or ask other workers what they are doing. When going to Taean, it is important to take note of what time the tide comes in and goes out, as most of the oil cleaning is done during its ebb. This week, peak low-tide is at 10:30 a.m. and most work is done before 1 p.m. Tide times can be checked at http://www.badatime.com/135.ht ml. It is a Korean site showing the tide-times of Chunlipo. If you do not have time to come to Taean, you can help by sending money to a bank account for Taean district. Contact me and I will give you the bank account number. If you need other info, such as bus times, or general help to get to the oilspill area, please contact me at semy1991@hanmail.net. Lee Seung-min, 16 Songlim High School Bundang, Gyeonggi Province

Two months ago, a group of abandoned dogs — dubbed the Daejon 150 — at a struggling animal shelter run out of a greenhouse, looked to be done like dinner. Daejeon City notified the shelter’s operator in late September that the greenhouse where the dogs are being kept sits on what the city calls “protected land,” meaning that no permanent structures are allowed there. Mrs. Jung, who operates the shelter, was told that it would be shut down in one month, and all the dogs would be sent to a pound where they would likely be put to sleep within three months. Annie Sauvageau and a group of activists from www.lonelylifetime.com had been volunteering at the animal shelter during the summer, and sprung into action when they got wind of the city’s plan. She said they had heard that the city wanted to shut down the shelter, but that the city agent was “a nice animal lover” who didn’t take any action against the shelter. But, close to the end of September, word got out that the city had changed the agent, and informed the shelter manager that she had only a month to get rid of all the dogs. “Some of us had already started volunteering there and had grown fond of these dogs. We couldn’t imagine any of them being put down,” said Sauvageau. “These animals were all home dogs before. They were all abandoned or abused. The Jindos were all meant to become soup. The shelter owner devoted her life to them, and we thought they deserved better than death. “We decided to put our efforts together and to get as many (dogs) as possible adopted or fostered.” From there, a small, dedicated group of expats and Koreans spearheaded a drive to save the dogs and, if possible, the shelter, as well. Beginning immediately after Daejeon City sent the closure notification, they organized weekly trips to the foster home, where prospective adopters had a chance to play with the dogs, and possibly take one home. The goal is to find all the dogs homes before the city shuts the shelter down. “Tim and I took control and posted on as many foreigners’ websites and forums as possible,” said Sauvageau. Tim Vasudeva is another key organizer. “Mark Preston saw one of our posts and decided to help us by creating a Facebook group for the crisis.” Preston, who originally came up with the name “the Daejeon 150,” said he started the Facebook group as a way to spread awareness of the situation to other concerned netizens, in hopes that they would turn up in person to help out at the shelter. It seems to have worked, as the Facebook group now has 203 members, and plays an important role in organizing weekly trips to the shelter. Preston said that using Facebook, an online social club similar to Korea’s Cyworld, allows him to update a large number of people regularly, and disseminate information quickly. “The Facebook group (named The Daejeon 150) has given many people, who wouldn’t have otherwise known, the opportunity to find out about the situation at the shelter in Daejeon,” said Preston. “It started with about 10 members and is now up to (203). It is climbing day by day. I believe that the group can be used for potential adopters and fosterers, anyone who wants to help or donate.” People have turned out in droves, but organizers say they are still short on help, and of course, homes for the remaining dogs. When the weekly trips to the shelter started in October, up to 10 people at a time were joining on the Saturday excursions. To date, close to 50 dogs have

been adopted, and 15 have been placed in foster homes. Just as importantly, say organizers, Daejeon City has extended the deadline for the shelter’s closure to Feb. 28. Luis Rico, a 27-year-old English teacher, adopted a dog from the shelter, and says that having a dog is fulfilling. “For anyone that has had a pet, it is very rewarding. It’s not only a pet; it’s more a part of the family. Puppies are cute, but they eventually grow up, so you have to be ready for that commitment: the food, health care, walks, exercise, etc. It’s not an accessory.” Rico made the decision to get a dog after hearing of the Daejeon 150 on the internet. “After I got here, I had heard the shelter was going to be forced to close. I was originally planning on getting a dog before coming to Korea, but when the shelter was being forced to close, I decided to get a dog sooner rather than later. “I am planning on taking the dog back to the States when I decide to go back,” he added. Annie Sauvageau explained that the weekly trips are not only a way to promote dog adoption to responsible homes: “We also go to give them love and to walk and play with them. We try to check out their personalities so that we can help people become a little more adoption-wise. We try to help clean the cages and groom the dogs. We bring blankets, newspaper, treats, leashes, etc.” Sauvageau said that it costs 30,000 won ($32) to take a dog from the shelter, and all the money goes to the manager, who has devoted most of the last few decades to the dogs. She also emphasized that those thinking of adopting a dog need to consider many factors before making the final decision. It is very important to think about what would happen to the pet if you were to leave Korea, for instance. “Have you checked the importation rules of your home country? The U.K. asks for a six-month quarantine costing over $400 a month. You will need a dog passport for $6, a crate (that costs) at least 30,000 won, and a plane ticket for at least 150,000 won. Some companies won’t let you fly your pet on certain flights; you need to verify this well in advance. Also, some periods are too hot or too cold for the animal to fly.” In addition to the approximate cost of $500 a year for taking care of a dog in Korea, she said that prospective owners must also ask themselves:
— Are you allowed a dog in your apartment? — Why are you adopting? Just because you feel sorry for these dogs, or because you really want a dog? — Will you take the dog back home with you? — Are you ready to take care of this dog for 15 years? — Do you have time for a pet? Can you exercise this dog and train it appropriately? — Do you have the money for a dog? — Do you have the energy for a dog? Some dogs chew on furniture and belongings; others are not well trained bathroom-wise (although this hasn’t actually happened with the shelter dogs, so far). — Do you have someone to take care of the dog if you go away on a weekend or on vacation?

This week’s PHOTO CHALLENGE asked you to show us ‘your Christmas’

E-2 visa changes lack perspective
I am in support of most of the changes pertaining to the E2 Visa eligibility requirements as formulated by the Korean Immigration Ministry. Certainly, the call for mandatory criminal history checks is a wise decision. Such checks are required in countries such as Australia before a person can be employed in a position that involves close contact with children. The safeguarding of children from contact with pedophiles is an important step in the right direction for any country. I am less convinced about mandatory medical checks for HIV and narcotics. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis would, theoretically, pose more of a threat to children in Korea than HIV. Whereas HIV is largely contracted through the exchange of human body fluids, tuberculosis can be contracted from inhalation alone. Paradoxically, according to World Health Organization data from 2006, incidences of tuberculosis in Korea are more common than in countries where native English speakers are recruited from — including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain. Therefore, statistically speaking, a native English teacher has a higher risk of contracting TB from a Korean than the reverse situation. It makes one wonder whether targeting foreigners for HIV and narcotics is more of an act of stigmatization than sound and scientific medical prudence. Regarding the verification of academic qualifications, I have taught in Korea since 2003. Each and every year I have had to obtain sealed transcripts and present my original degree. I would have thought that once was enough. The onus is on the immigration authorities to have a system whereby verification is recorded and therefore is not required for each and every subsequent renewal. It would seem that the problem here lies in the bureaucracy as opposed to the individual applicant. That said, I once worked alongside a Canadian who did have fake educational credentials. She obtained her fake degree with the help of a Korean recruiter. One last question remains unanswered. If the Korean government is serious about protecting the interests of children, why not take a good long look at the operation of private institutes and hagwon? Most are owned and operated by individuals who have no academic credentials; conduct their business practices in dubious fashion; have an unsavory reputation by any stretch of the imagination or search of the internet; and who put profit over quality education every day of the week. The education of young minds in the hands of a greedy and under-regulated corporate sector is indeed a dangerous thing. One could argue that hagwon are collectively more of a blight and problem than any native English teacher is. What seems to be missing from this whole debacle is proportion and rational perspective. Gavin John Currie Sangha Middle School

This is an abstract photograph of the Christmas light display in front of the Lotte Hotel in Jessie Hodgson Seoul.

Ask the photographer: to edit or not to edit?
By David Smeaton Is it wrong to edit photos using Photoshop? I usually use my photos straight out of the camera, but most of the people in my photography club edit their photos. Their photos look much better than mine, but I don’t like the idea of making changes to the photo in Photoshop. What should I do? - Pat, Seoul. Photography ethics can be tricky. Purists denounce digital photography because of photoshopped images. However back in the day, it was actually possible to do most of those changes in a darkroom too, and professional photographers spent hours there “dodging and burning” their shots and getting the contrast just right. I spent a lot of years developing my own film and we used a lot of techniques to improve the image. I’d use test strips to judge exposure, and different developing methods and chemicals to improve contrast. So I think the purists are harsh when they belittle digital photography. Products like Photoshop allow you to do all that darkroom stuff from the comfort of your computer. Digital photos, straight out of the camera, generally have some grayness. This is quite natural because photographs render more neutral tones. So, small increases in saturation and contrast will actually help bring out the colors in your photo. I have to agree that it’s wrong to edit a photo to add or remove major elements. But it’s ok to crop a photo (to remove half a tree or person), add a frame, remove spots (if your sensor is dirty) and tweak the colors to make them more vibrant. All photographers do it, whether it is in a darkroom or on a computer. As long as you’re not manipulating your photo to tell a different story, or include something that you didn’t capture, then you’re not doing anything that’s ethically wrong. A couple of the best programs available for photo editing are Gimp and Picassa. I recommend them. They’re free and are excellent photo editing tools. Finally, visit my website and you can see the importance of removing the natural grayness in a photograph. There are some examples of the difference between edited and non-edited photos to illustrate my point. Happy shooting. Send David a message at davidsmeaton@gmail.com or visit his website at www.davidsmeaton.com. If you want to be a part of the weekly Photo Challenge, join the “Seoul Photo Club” group on Facebook (www.facebook.com) — Ed.

Stricter screening system
We strongly support the regulation of foreign langauge teachers. Prospective teachers should be screened better. Too many bad teaching experiences are happening. Something must be done. Our organization, Teachers of English Abroad in Korea stresses the responsibility of employers and recruiters. Native English speakers are in such high demand and the business of teaching English so lucrative that many foreign teachers of English are recruited without requiring and checking references, aptitude and experience for teaching English and working with children abroad, qualifications as language instructors, etc. Too often, an accent or physical appearance takes priority over interest and skills. Agencies, governments and job candidates should ask, what are the employers’ interests, knowledge and standards of education and instructions? What is their track record with respect to hirees? Many private academies merely seek cheap labor. Standard contracts require a heavy workload of 30 teaching hours a week and demand additional work time on preparation and administration for a salary of 2 million won. In short, private schools get what they pay for. Quality education is generally not what they seek. They want the benefits of having a foreign teacher on staff. Some of the changes to immigration rules do not address the real issues. Police checks are justifiable — but at whose expense? What process exists for police checks? Physical check-ups and interviews would only make it extremely difficult for English teachers to come to Korea. We point out that schools sometimes seem not to want their foreign employees to be on contract for more than a few months. This way, they can avoid paying the return airfare, one month’s severance pay, and bonuses that should be paid at the end of a full term contract by unloading contractees prematurely. Thus, employers are often at fault for causing teachers to switch job frequently and reapply for teaching visas. The message from immigration’s changes: foreigners are not wanted. Is that what the Korean authorities wish to communicate to the international arena? We ask, is the government changing its attitude regarding native speakers of English in Korea? Finally, our organization, TEA-KOR points out that the situation of the foreign pedophile may well be an isolated case out of the thousands of foreigners who are and have been teaching or whom have taught in Korea over the past 10 years. That case should not be a point of reference for lawmakers here. Highlighting this case and basing policy and regulations on it frames the central concern around foreign teachers as a national security issue. There is no need for such fear. We stress that such a person arrived to a school in Korea probably because the school and the education system in Korea failed to demand high enough teaching and employment standards. Teachers of English Abroad in Korea (TEA-KOR)

Big night, big New Year parties
By Tiffany Candlish

“We have an adoption application form. We don’t want people to think that we give the dogs to just anyone. We want to make sure you will provide good conditions for all the dog’s life. Also, we will help you choose an appropriate dog for your situation,” said Sauvageau. If you want to help, but can’t adopt a dog or donate money, Sauvageau says there are still many things for people to do. “Tell your friends or post it on your blog. We also have downloadable and printable posters people could put up at vet clinics or where they work.” For more information, contact Annie Sauvageau at ansauvage @yahoo.ca or 010-8940-5233. (mattlamers@heraldm.com)

What’s New Year’s eve, but a chance to dress up, drink champagne and get a little wild with your friends? Seoulites will be happy with the parties to chose from to bring in 2008. Techno legend Carl Cox, headlines the “Fame Festival,” presented by Riskei productions, at the JW Marriot Hotel, Millennium Hall. Cox, who hails from England, has been ripping up dance floors since the late 1980s. He is widely considered to be one of the best techno DJs in the world, not to mention one of the nicest. The “Fame Festival” also features Daishi Dance from Japan, Tortured Soul from the United States, as well as local talent Windy City, Sungwoo and Conan.

Presale tickets are available for 44,000 won until Dec. 28th. For English info see www.myspace.com/seoulvibes. Deep Dish, the American house duo featuring both Sharam and Dubfire headlines 02 Productions’ “Celebration 2008.” Dubfire was in Korea earlier this year, however Deep Dish has not played together in quite a while. Deep Dish is not only known for banging DJ sets, but also for remixing. Madonna and The Rolling Stones are just two artists that have had Deep Dish remix their tracks. Local talent, DJ Devil, DJ Diong and Mrs. Omshallom are supporting. Celebration 2008 kicks off at 11:00 p.m. at Gayagum Hall at the Sheraton Walkerhill Hotel.

Presale tickets are 55,000 won. For more info see www.02pro.com. Club Answer welcomes Junkie XL to grace its decks for “New Year 2008.” Junkie XL is originally from the Netherlands, but now calls the United States his home. He has worked with artists such as Sander Kleinenberg and DJ Tiesto. Junkie XL is supported by Club Answer’s residents. Doors open at 10 p.m. and tickets are 30,000 won. For more info www.clubanswer.co.kr. As always, if you don’t feel like hitting a big party, there are tons of events taking place all over the city. For more information see www.seoulsteves.com. Whatever your pleasure, enjoy the remainder of 2007. (ms.tiff@gmail.com)

To contribute to the Community page e-mail mattlamers@heraldm.com

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful