You are on page 1of 1

or story ideas to Matthew Lamers at

mattlamers@heraldm.com
Submissions may be edited for length or clarity.

18 community TUESDAY APRIL 20, 2010

Expat Living is a section dedicated to the daily


living of expatriates.
It is printed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
To share stories about your life abroad, send stories
or story ideas to Matthew Lamers at
mattlamers@heraldm.com
Submissions may be edited for length or clarity.

Expat Living is a section dedicated to the daily


living of expatriates.
It is printed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
To share stories about your life abroad, send stories
or story ideas to Matthew Lamers at
mattlamers@heraldm.com
Submissions may be edited for length or clarity.

Inmates dress in hanbok as part of a New Year celebration at Inmates at Cheonan Foreigner Prison take part in the “Good morning Korea” program that is run in collaboration with Dankook University. The program is aimed at enhancing
Cheonan Foreigner Prison. communication and improving the prison’s environment.  Courtesy Cheonan Foreigner Prison

Inside Cheonan’s foreigner only prison


By Adam Walsh to improve the prison’s environment. however, was the rationalization that to complain about the usefulness of Overseeing the prison is a group of extreme and most basic way with Ko-
The main morning teaching point is if prisoners from abroad are treated our programs,” said Ha. 200 guards. Some of the guards speak reans, learning and speaking Korean,
A class of 25 sings along to a K-pop “We are one family.” better in Korea, Korean prisoners in Factory work is another option foreign languages such as English, sharing bowls of kimchi and rice,
song by Ahn Chi-hwan, aided by a Jung also said the prisoners are other countries may be treated better in the prison. At Cheonan, inmates Spanish, Chinese and Russian. They and ramen with them, hearing their
little ball that bounces from word to adapting well to the classes and as well. make both contractible beds and fish don’t carry weapons, but they say stories, seeing a picture of Korean
word on a big screen at the head of seem to be enjoying them more now noodles, “odeng.” that if trouble were to break out, they society, even Korean history, through
the class. than they had been in the beginning. Inmates are close at hand. them,” said Thomas. “And beyond
The teacher motions her hand to She feels it is effective to teach the Facilities “The foreign inmates are actually that, suffering with them — whether
her ear, inviting the convicts to sing Korean language and culture using Within Korea, there are 1,504 for- easier to handle than Korean in- we deserved it or not, and most of us
louder. They enthusiastically oblige. fairy tales, K-pop songs, and arts and eign prisoners from 42 countries. Of Walking around the prison grounds mates. They listen more,” said Ha. did — which remains, I believe, part
Some clap their hands; everyone crafts. the total, the Cheonan prison holds feels surprisingly relaxed given the When asked if there are cultural of the core of the Korean national
moves rhythmically in their chairs. On Feb. 23 the Ministry of Justice 587 from 27 countries. On paper it reality of the location. Because Cheo- difficulties between the guards and character, that sense of shared suffer-
If it weren’t for the prison-issued held a tree planting ceremony for the sounds like a cultural mosaic of law- nan was a juvenile correctional facil- the prisoners, Ha said that there ing.”
navy-blue jumpsuits, it would be hard opening of Cheonan Foreigner Prison. breakers, but in reality the inmates ity before the foreigners were moved were fears initially. He said that As for the programs offered at the
to tell them apart from any other It has long been pushed by the minis- are 74 percent Chinese — including in, it has more of a school-like feel some guards hesitated to work at a prison, Thomas said they don’t ring
tourists in the country. The class is try as a proper response to the rising Taiwanese. At the time of the tour, to it. This was emphasized by the foreigner-only prison because of that true to him. He feels that most ac-
part of Cheonan Foreigner Prison’s incidences of crime committed by for- there were 20 Americans and one guards during the tour. Are the mu- question. That being said, things have tivities are just frivolities to pass the
“Good Morning Korea” program. The eigners in Korea. Canadian. Of the approximately 200 rals depicting nature scenes remnants gone relatively smoothly since the time. However, he said that for the
students are all foreign convicts at A press release sent out by the Korean prisoners housed here, guards from the juvenile prison? No, said opening. guards, harmless ways of engaging
what the Ministry of Justice touts as ministry after the opening high- said that 100 are awaiting trial and the guards. University art professors inmates always have some value.
the sole foreigner-only prison in the lighted the rise in crime, pointing out another 100 serve as kitchen and were brought in to paint them. Different view Delving further into his thoughts,
world. that since 2006, foreign crime has cleaning staff. Pasted on each stairway and above Thomas said that “at work are some
Leading the song today is professor risen by 250 percent in Korea, though The prison seems focused on many of the doors are slogans: “The Though the Ministry of Justice, powerful forces; national pride, not
Jung Yoon-ja. the Korean Institute of Criminology keeping the inmates busy through past can’t be change but the future the guards and the instructors at the wanting to reveal the native under-
“This program’s goal is to help reported in 2007 that the foreigner different activities and programs. can always be altered,” and, “A clear prison all seem happy with the new belly to foreigners, wanting to treat
foreign prisoners better understand crime rate in Korea was 1.4 percent, Throughout a typical week, the conscience is a good pillow.” The mes- arrangement, former Daejon Prison foreigners — even law-breaking ones
Korea and adjust to living in Ko- compared with the 3.5 percent rate schedule starts at 8 a.m. and ends sages are in English and Chinese. inmate and current author Cullen — with some privilege or at least
rea. We hope that foreign prisoners among Korean citizens. at 5 p.m. Inmates spend weekends The cell blocks are painted in pas- Thomas has a different take. with separate consideration, to treat
spread the good image of Korea Minister of Justice Lee Kwi-nam and holidays within their cells. Dur- tel colors with clouds on them. With Thomas feels that segregating for- them somehow — even in prison —
when they get back to their coun- gave the opening address. “The Cheo- ing the tour, prisoners were playing the exception of the large walls and eigners from Korean convicts is coun- as guests in Korea.
try,” Jung said after the class. “We nan foreigner-only prison is opened sports, learning gardening and how jumpsuits, everything seems to be terintuitive and causes the cultural “During my time I often felt that
also hope that foreign prisoners will to give foreign prisoners specialized to cut hair, in addition to the Dank- painted in light tones. The cells them- learning that the prison is trying to the authorities, from individual
open their minds and have smiles treatment. In light of the fact that ook University program. selves are 6.48 square meters for one foster to be replaced by something guards all the way up to the justice
on their faces while taking this pro- foreign prisoners have different lan- Besides exercise, Cheonan breaks person and 15.48 square meters for artificial. Thomas served three and a ministry itself, didn’t quite know
gram.” guages, customs, cultures and reli- its work into vocational skill train- five. Each cell has a TV with pre-ap- half years in prison during the mid- what to do with us. I get the feeling
Good Morning Korea is a big part gions, we will give them humanitar- ing and factory work production. The proved programming for the inmates’ ’90s for mailing himself hash from that this is still the case.”
of each weekday morning here. Run ian treatment according to universal hope for the numerous vocational home countries and snacks such as the Philippines. He has since gone on
in collaboration with Dankook Uni- values,” he said. training programs is to prepare pris- apples and ramen are permitted to be to become a writer, penning the book
versity, instructors from the univer- The minister of justice’s senti- oners to re-enter society, said Ha. The kept in the assigned individual cubby “Brother One Cell,” an account of his To comment, e-mail mattlamers@
sity come in to teach prisoners the ments were repeated, more or less, challenge, he said, is to provide pris- holes. Each cell has the ability to be time behind bars. heraldm.com; to contact the author,
Korean language and culture through in point form by the director of the oners with training that is useful in monitored electronically, but permis- “I always felt that so much of the e-mail adamwalsh@heraldm.com —
song and stories. International Affairs Division, Ha their home countries. sion has to be obtained from the true value, both in terms of challenge Ed.
Officials feel that communication is Young-hoon, while on the tour of the “Different work situations in in- warden and a valid reason has to be and reward, of my Korean prison Additional reporting by Chu Ji-
very important and focus on teaching prison. Adding to the list of reasons, mates’ home countries have led some provided. experience rested in living in that hyeong.

In focus: At the heart of it all


By Aaron Raisey — the modern photography enthusiast reluctant to get out of the coddled wish you could duplicate.
has been relieved of the necessity to comfort zone that encompasses the Did you ever take a portrait and
The Photo Challenge is sponsored by be mindful of the subject at the core of various program modes on that new wonder how the subject was nice and
Hyosung Camera (English: (010) 7203- photography. camera. sharp, yet the background was beauti-
9599) and Babo Shirts (www.baboshirts. This is all very convenient and pho- If you are one of those for whom the fully blurred? Open up the aperture
com). Winners of the weekly competition tography is faster and more accurate manual modes are unfathomable terri- and raise the shutter speed. How about
receive a 50,000 won store credit at Hyo- than ever from a technical point of tory (and there’s no shame in it, every at night when you got some wonderful
PHOTO CHALLENGE — weekly winner April 11 — Just after sung Camera and a Babo Shirt. To take view. There is no doubt, though, that photographer was once), take a step long-rayed stars on point light sources?
sunrise, a man of the Seoul Hiking group is caught in an im- part in the competition, simply upload we have become spoiled and it is a sad into the unknown. Once you click out Close the aperture and slow the shutter
pressive vista on April 2.  Photo by Brijesh Bolar your photo at www.flickr.com/groups/ fact that many of the people that put of the program modes, you are clicking down.
seoulphotoclub — Ed. these marvels of modern engineering into the essence of photography, for no Appreciating the intimate relation-
and technology to use don’t understand matter how simple or advanced your ship between the shutter and aperture
Cameras these days are smart. Very what the camera is actually doing. For camera is, there is only one thing that will do much more to further your pho-
smart. Actually, cameras have been some, something like manual mode can really matters, one thing that is at the tography than any amount of poring
getting smarter assume the proportions of a scary mon- heart of all cameras, the prime function over that manual trying to memorize
for a long time. ster. for which all the surrounding bells and all those quirky functions the modern
It was back in We all start off fearful of taking whistles are but incidental — shutter camera has. I really recommend you
the 1960s when responsibility for our images and this speed and aperture value. Hang on, knuckle down and make the effort.
cameras first is not surprising. Almost everyone that’s two things. But those two things Indeed, once you get a real handle on
sported the abil- these days begins his or her journey do come together to give us that one exposure, everything else becomes much
ity to measure through photography with a small thing: exposure. easier to get your head around. Get out
light, removing the need for the photog- point-and-shoot digital with which Understanding exposure — the rela- there and give your creativity a fair go.
rapher to have to use a separate light almost no meaningful user-control is tionship between the aperture and the
meter, and 50 years on this is trivial for possible. When we graduate to higher shutter — will enable you to be much
PHOTO CHALLENGE — weekly winner April 4 — At a bullfight- any modern camera. Light can be meas- levels of photographic technology (ac- more creative with your images. Now To comment, e-mail mattlamers@her-
ing tournament in Uiryeong, the classic “side striking” impact ured at single or multiple points in the quire a DSLR, for example), we take you can intentionally create those ef- aldm.com; to contact the author, e-mail
decided this fight on March 27.  Photo by Dirk Schlottmann frame with a high degree of accuracy this fear with us and are often very fects you sometimes get by accident and raisey@hanmail.net — Ed.