[News] All Around The World

A posting place for news from places around the globe, outside of the US/Europe.

Here's a good-un:

'Do you ever think about me?': the children sex tourists leave behind

Brigette Sicat will not be going to school today. She sits, knees to chest, in a faded Winnie-the-Pooh T-shirt, on the double mattress that makes up half her home. At night, she curls up here with her grandmother and two cousins, beneath the leaky sheets of corrugated iron that pass for a roof. Today, the monsoon rain is constant and the floor has turned to mud.

Brigette, 10, and her 11-year-old cousin, Arianne, aren’t in school because they have a stomach bug. There is no toilet and no running water, and no means of cooking other than over an open fire. Even when she is well, Brigette is often too hungry to tackle the 10-minute walk to school. Brigette’s mother is a sex worker. And Brigette knows that somewhere, far away, in a barely imaginable but often-thought-of place called England, she has a father. She knows only his given name: Matthew.

Asked what she would say to him, were she able to send him a message, Brigette is at first stumped for words. Then she bursts out in Tagalog: “Who are you? Where are you? Do you ever think about me?” Her grandmother, Juana, her fingers swollen with arthritis and suffering from a lack of medication for her diabetes, sits by her side.

Juana, Arianne, Brigette and Arianne’s brother, Aris, survive on 200 pesos (£3) a day, contributed by Arianne and Aris’s father. (He drives a Jeepney – a public transport vehicle originally converted from Jeeps abandoned by the US military.) Juana, 61, tells me she thinks she may not live much longer. But she wants the girls to finish school, to keep them from working in the bars.

These are the slums of Angeles City in the Philippines, and the children here represent a United Nations of parentage. Their faces tell that story – fair skin, black skin, Korean features, caucasian. That’s because their fathers, like Brigette’s, are sex tourists.

You can see these slums on Google Earth – a tumble of rusty corrugated iron and rubbish dumps stretching from the streets down to the river. When you visit, it is the smell, like soured milk, that hits you first. Closer to the dump, it is more pungent. Here you will find the poorest of the poor – including the women too old for the sex trade – earning what they can from combing through the fetid piles, looking for plastic and metals they can sell. There is the noise of motorbikes and rain and c*cks crowing. The men hold c*ck fights nearby, the birds fighting to the death. It is illegal, but so is prostitution.

The men who live here are construction workers building the hotels that support the sex tourism industry, or drivers, or security guards. The children run at their heels or in the gutters, or play a game involving throwing flip-flops at an old tin can. The mothers are often themselves the children of sex workers and foreigners without a name; these young children are a third generation abandoned by their fathers.

'A real source of hope': social media opens Thailand's junta to criticism

Just over a week ago, Thailand’s army chief began trending on Twitter.

It started with an order, made by General Apirat Kongsompong that 160 radio stations across the country must play the 1970s anti-communist propaganda song, Nuk Paen Din (Scum of the Earth) which glorifies the might of the armed forces, on a daily basis.

The social media backlash was almost instantaneous, with the military lambasted for being archaic, out of touch and trying to use cold war tactics to brainwash the Thai people and influence the outcome of the looming 24 March general election. Less than three hours after Apirat, who is also secretary general of the ruling military government, became a trending topic, the order was rescinded.

The reversal – unprecedented in a system where the criticism of the junta is usually met by prosecution, not compromise – was an indicator of the increasing power that social media is having in Thai politics.

In the five years since it took power in a coup, the junta has retained an iron grip on traditional media in Thailand, ensuring newspapers and television unfailingly promote its agenda. Those who dared to criticise were often prosecuted under the draconian computer crimes law. The narrative propagated in media was one of stability and prosperity; a world away from the reality of a stagnant economy and high unemployment that has defined military rule.

K-pop scandal: South Korea’s 'Great Gatsby' charged over illegal prostitution ring

A member of one of South Korea’s biggest K-pop boy bands has announced his retirement after being charged over alleged involvement in a prostitution ring, in the latest scandal to hit the country’s entertainment industry.

Seungri, part of the globally popular Big Bang, said he would retire to fight the charges and to spare his management agency and fellow band members further embarrassment, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. The decision came after news of the scandal spread on social media on Monday.

Shares in YG Entertainment, the band’s powerful talent agency, slid by as much as 14%, according to Bloomberg. Other K-pop management companies suffered losses.

Known as “Korea’s Great Gatsby” for his lavish lifestyle, the 28-year-old is suspected of supplying prostitutes to foreign investors at several nightclubs in Seoul’s upmarket Gangnam district.

Prostitution is illegal in South Korea. The charges against Seungri carry a prison sentence of up to three years. He has denied the allegations.

Police are also investigating allegations the Burning Sun nightclub, where Seungri was a public relations director, was involved in illegal drug use, sexual assaults and police corruption, Yonhap reported.

I might not have posted this at all, but in the comments where I originally heard about it, I also learned about the stories of G.Na and Jang Ja-Yeon:

According to South Korean reports, Jang claimed that her agent Kim Sung-hoon had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs. Kim Sung-hoon, who was in Japan, denied the accusations. Jang left a 7-page note listing at least 31 names of media executives, CEOs, and directors that she claimed she was forced into having sex with. South Korean police have suppressed the full list.

No-one went to jail, of course, although with the (much smaller) rise of #MeToo in Korea, some are calling for the case to be reopened and investigated.

Basically, given the sheer amount of control involved in the creation and production of K-Pop, while I do not want to impugn the whole industry based on three stories, there is a chunk of me that feels like "hm... something's off here."

Reading that wikipedia article, Jang Ja-Yeon killed herself at the age of 29 after battle with depression, and in her suicide note she blamed the above abuse for her decision to take her own life. The whole thing is beyond awful. I really hope the people responsible will face justice, though I have my doubts.

She named 31 people. None of whom, at least from what I've seen, have ever come close to seeing the inside of a courtroom over it.

Well, hello.

A second K-pop star has dramatically quit the music business, in a growing industry sex scandal.

Jung Joon-young, 30, admitted to secretly filmed himself having sex with women and sharing the footage.

"I admit to all my crimes," said Jung in a statement. He also promised to drop all his TV and music work.

It comes a day after superstar Seungri from the group Big Bang quit the industry after he was charged with sex bribery.

Jung, who is accused of taping 10 or more women, is due to be questioned by Seoul Metropolitan Police on Thursday.

"I filmed women without their consent and shared it in a chatroom, and while I was doing so I didn't feel a great sense of guilt," said Jung in the statement released late on Tuesday.

It came after South Korean broadcaster SBS reported allegations that he had filmed his own sex videos without his partners' permission, and shared them with friends in a mobile chat group during 2015-16.

He apologised to the fans he had "outraged", and to the women whose privacy he violated.

"Throughout the rest of my life, I will repent on my immoral and illegal acts that constitute crimes," he said.

"I will faithfully cooperate with an investigation by police that will start on Thursday and I will readily accept whatever punishment is in store for me."

This is not the first time Jung has been accused of filming a sexual encounter without consent. An ex-girlfriend made an allegation against him in 2016, but ultimately withdrew it. The singer claimed she had agreed to the filming.

I get the sense that they are literally just scratching the surface of this kind of stuff, but that a whole lot of very, very powerful people are going to work very hard to make sure the digging goes no further than surface deep.

I mean, at least they apologize and leave the industry. Over here in America they get the women to sign NDAs and send ex-Mossad agents after reporters who try to look into the story.

Gremlin wrote:

I mean, at least they apologize and leave the industry. Over here in America they get the women to sign NDAs and send ex-Mossad agents after reporters who try to look into the story.

Not sure that means much if the industry is as fabricated as I think it is. Only the expendables “apologize and leave”; the problem still exists.

So, uh.... maybe this is becoming a thing?

Yong Junhyung Leaves K-pop Group HIGHLIGHT & Admits Knowledge of Sex Crimes Scandal

Rapper-songwriter Yong Junhyung has withdrawn from boy band HIGHLIGHT, formerly known as BEAST, amid a series of crimes shaking the South Korean entertainment world.

Yong took to Instagram on Thursday morning in Seoul (March 14) to announce the news and confirm his knowledge and viewership of illegal videos taken by singer Jung Joonyoung. Jung is currently under investigation over allegations that he secretly filmed videos while sleeping with women and shared the footage with others in the entertainment industry via messenger chats.

In his post, Yong admitted to receiving illegally filmed video footage from Jung, and partaking in “inappropriate conversations.”

“I treated it as not a big deal without thinking that it is a crime and illegal act,” he wrote, as per Soompi’s translation. He later added, “Although I knew of what was happening during that time, I thought of it as not a big deal and acted at ease. I was a silent bystander about this severe issue where several more victims may have arisen due to my actions.”

Heavy, heavy emphasis on maybe.

The Sex Scandals Shaking K-Pop And A Reckoning Over How South Korea Regards Women

A total of four Korean entertainers have abruptly retired from the industry this week, in a widening scandal linking the glossy world of K-pop with a series of seedy sex crimes. The biggest players — Seungri, of the influential all-male group Big Bang, and the 29-year-old singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young — have both apologized to the public for their involvement in twin, interlocking cases of exploitation of women.

To catch you up: Investigators booked Seungri on Monday on suspicion of supplying prostitutes for businessmen at one of Seoul's upscale night clubs, setting off a media feeding frenzy that ensnared the second star, Jung, and potentially more famous men to come.

Seungri is denying charges of brokering prostitution. But in statements to the press, Seoul Metropolitan Police say an investigation into his Kakaotalk messages (Kakao is South Korea's dominant messaging platform) found evidence of "pimping" — they claim he was not only offering different types of women to investors, but he was part of a separate group chat with the other star, Jung.

That's where the details get more sordid. Police say the near-dozen participants in the Jung chatroom were sharing hidden camera footage of sex with drugged and unconscious women. Korean broadcaster SBS showed the leaked text exchanges, which include Jung responding to a video of one unconscious woman by texting in Korean, "You raped her, LOL."

For first time in nearly a year, Hamas calls off weekly Gaza border protest.

Apparently Hamas can cancel those any time, so much for 'spontaneous protests'...

Weekly Hamas-spurred protests along the Gaza-Israel border were called off Friday after a serious escalation overnight between Palestinian terrorists and Israel, organizers announced, the first time they have not been held in almost a year.
“In keeping with the public interest, the commission has decided to exceptionally postpone its activities scheduled for this day,” the body which organizes the protests said in a statement.
Protests will resume in the coming weeks, with particular preparation for the one-year anniversary of their beginning on March 30, it said.
The cancellation, the first of its kind in a year, came after two rockets were fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv late Thursday — the first such attack since 2014. Israel said its aircraft struck more than 100 Hamas targets in Gaza overnight in response, and Gaza terrorist fired nine more rockets at Israeli border areas.
An official from the organizing committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the protests were delayed “to protect our people due to the escalation and the Israeli aggression.”
The protests have frequently degenerated into mass riots along the fence, throwing rocks, fire bombs and hand-grenades at Israeli troops, burning tires and trying to breach the security fence. Israeli soldiers usually respond with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire.
Israel has accused Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Strip, of orchestrating the clashes and using them as cover to breach the border fence and carry out attacks.
Recent weeks have seen a dramatic increase in the level of violence along the Gaza border, with near nightly riots and a return of airborne arson attacks, which had waned in light of a de facto ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.