Sunday, April 5, 2020

Korean 'Telegram n Room' Sex Scandal

Recently in the news, reported on by the different media, was the pornographic chat rooms, in operation for some years but the one that has upset the nation is the 'Telegram nRoom'. The Presidential bulletin board from its inception, on this issue, has received the greatest number of petitions. They want something to be done: demanding the disclosure and punishment of all those involved. 

A priest sociologist writing in the Catholic Times gives the readers some idea of what has upset many of the citizens. It is a distorted sex culture at the root of the problem. The conclusion is the need to stress the dignity of human beings, gender equality values and to improve laws and prevent a recurrence. There are various opinions about the root cause of this incident and the countermeasures against the recurrence. How should Christians look at these problems?
There have been serious problems with targeting women as sex objects, filming them and distributing the photos and films illegally online but with no improvement, no enactment of proper laws and concern for systems that allow this. Is it because most of the people who hold the key to real change, such as the National Assembly, the police, and the courts, are men who do not understand the fear, insults, and anger that women experience?

Eventually, this 'illegal photography' industry became more and more depraved due to the demands of consumers who wanted stimulating and perverted pornography, threatening even young teenage girls to become sex slaves and victims of sadistic sexual exploitation videos. It has evolved into something horrendous.

There are many chat rooms that distribute such sexual exploitation online for a fee. The highest level chat room, the 'Ph.D. room' is said to have an entrance fee of close to 1,250 dollars. What's shocking is 260,000 people have received a free video in addition to paid members, in about 60 similar types of chat rooms. Police estimate that there are about 2,000 transactions in paid membership for the 'Ph.D. room', and that there are about 60,000 people in distribution and possession.

One of the serious issues,  that goes beyond simply using women's sex as a means of making money, is the approval by supposedly 'normal men' paying for sexual exploitation of women for their own pleasure. As a  citizen of a civilized society, the proper response is anger with the crimes of sexual exploitation of minors and women and the desire to eradicate these illegal chat rooms. But why did so many men become accomplices in this ugly sex crime? Perhaps the root cause is Korea's distorted sex culture, which has grown from childhood in enjoying 'pornography' online, defaming women, and making women a tool for sexual play.

These crimes can only be repeated if no effort is made to actively change the distorted sex culture and internalized patriarchal values ​​that make women an instrument of pleasure. Punishing the operators who committed the crime and the subscribers will not solve the problem. This crime will be repeated if there is no effort to actively change the distorted sex culture and the internalized patriarchal values ​​that make women an instrument of pleasure without respecting women as equals. What are the specific alternatives?

First, education of values ​​about human dignity and gender equality and proper sex education should be conducted in the home, school, church, and social community from childhood. Christianity teaches that men and women are equally dignified, made in the image of God and that men and women help each other to provide self-realization in mutual support.  Society needs to help youth to experience through correct sex education that 'sex' of men and women is an expression of personality where life and love are revealed, and that temperance and pure love can be more full and happier than thoughtless pleasure.

The second is the improvement of laws and systems. Similar types of illegal filming of sexual encounters without permission, and their distribution as in the crimes of the 'Burning Sun Gate' [a 2019 sex scandal in Korea involving several celebrities and police officials] the punishment was light which made for public criticism. Sexual offenses targeting children and adolescents should be punished as felonies, and all possible institutional measures, such as preventing and monitoring these crimes and strengthening support for victims, should be organized to prevent their recurrence. He prays that the publicity of this event will be the driving force behind fundamental changes in human dignity and sexual values ​​in our society.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Social Distancing and Building a 'Prevention Fence'

"If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you... is the first line from the poem 'If' by Kipling that keeps returning in these times of anxiety when many are looking for answers, overcome with information not always helpful.

In the Peace Column of the Catholic Times, the writer gives us her thoughts on the issue. With the prolonged  Corona 19  crisis, anxiety, and lethargy, depression, and stress are rapidly increasing. One of the reasons for this has been determined to be 'social distancing' in society.

This is a psychological infection that occurs when being alone increases. In a recent survey, the government's lack of credibility because of a failure to communicate wisely and the media's way of reporting the present situation was raised as problems. The level of discrimination and aversion towards the regions where the outbreak was the most serious was mentioned. Experts consistently point out that if you neglect the psychological defense efforts against Corona 19, a bigger problem may arise after the crisis.

As social concern becomes focused on Corona 19, interest in the vulnerable groups diminishes. Public parks, a resting place for the elderly, free food service for low-income families are closed due to concerns about the spread of the infection. Welfare facilities with vulnerable groups, complaints of mask shortages and lack of safety supplies and the like receive the same response: we don't know how long the situation will last.

In the midst of this, as the economic impact of Corona 19 becomes full-scale, the controversy over the introduction of "emergency disaster relief payments" has become a political issue. Although there are active discussions on how to save the economy and worries when the basic income is paid unconditionally.

In the general election season, (South Korea's 21st legislative election will be held on April 15)  politicians are also criticized for being irresponsible in their strategies—seen only as a means to receive votes.

It's necessary to seriously consider whether the neglect of the injustices of the socio-economic situation is only a temporary measure or will continue after the crisis is over. The class affected by the economic downturn caused by the spread of the virus are the elderly, poor, disabled, migrant workers, the socially disadvantaged people.

Pope Francis emphasized that goodwill combined with strong responsibility and the cooperation of appropriate authorities in these difficult times, adds to the value that the world desperately needs.

Quarantine was seen as the best way to eradicate the virus. It seemed easy, but it gradually shrinks and paralyzes human life as a whole and leads to an abnormal state. Also, "social distance" can lead to indifference to people who need help, we need to keep in mind the harmful side effects of these methods.

As Corona 19 is spreading around the world, trusting and cooperating with medical staff and quarantine authorities is necessary. It is desirable for the government to respond sensitively to discrimination and hate, and for the media to report solutions and countermeasures. Politicians should put the experts ahead and retreat to build consensus and make policy. Only cooperation with others in the community can we build a "prevention fence" protecting us from the virus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Before and After Corona 19

Suddenly everything changed. Anxiety, fear, a devasted economic condition, and life under all kinds of restrictions weighing heavy on the mind.

The eating of adzuki bean sherbert together from the same bowl is now like a dream; attending Mass with strangers, shoulder to shoulder; going to public performances with friends and traveling abroad is something that was done in a past life. Thus begins an article in the Eyes of the Believer of the Catholic Times.

Many realize that our everyday life is a miracle. Life in many cases was dry and monotonous but now seen with a grateful eye. Daily work, playing, eating, drinking, praying, studying, the virus has changed the way we approach these daily tasks. At first: Do I have to do this? Was the first response but quickly one gets used to the change. Life before corona 19 seemed unreal but seen with gratitude and longing.

The period of Lent, whether a Christian or not, because of corona we all had to travel through a harsh wilderness. After the experience, our lives will change. Schools will offer online lectures; people will find it easier to work from home; pay more attention to hygiene: washing our hands frequently, and concern with the care of the weak. We will be flexible in responding to situations rather than following a fixed practice. People in the past after plagues saw big changes. After the plague in the 15th century, the old authority and order collapsed, humanism emerged and continued into the Renaissance.

The season of Lent is the time to plow our fields, sow seeds with tears, and reflect. After such hardships, we will harvest the good fruit. Serious reflection, effort, and devotion of the people, shown during the pandemic will lead to fruits of social maturity.

We experienced this during the IMF period when citizens collected gold and again with the oil spill in Taein when so many gave of their time and energy to solve the problem. This is our collective legacy.

We have during this pandemic, people in one province taking the patients from one of the hardest-hit areas to their local facilities. Medical staff and citizens from other areas coming to the center of the infection to help. Companies giving of their facilities, and landlords cutting rents... The media showed us the humble, passionate, considerate work of many in society helping one another. This was mentioned in the international news: no panic, no rioting, no hatred, calmness, and tranquility perdured, and no stockpiling.

There have been some deficiencies, such as the initial response but we can't find fault with the efforts of the government. This is also the period of the 21st general election on April 15. The atmosphere because of the virus, electioneering was off center stage. The politicians' behavior, however, disgusted many of citizens more than the virus.

The people's dedication to their neighbors, their solidarity and cooperation are expected to have contributed to the collective legacy of the citizens, teaching us much. We will benefit from the virtue shown. "To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, this is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice" (Mark 12:33).

Monday, March 30, 2020

Living to 125

During the Joseon Dynasty, the average age of the successive kings was 47 years. Today longevity in Korea is in the top ranking of countries at 80 years.

A doctor writing in the Catholic Digest begins his article with the above information as an introduction to his ideas on how to live to be 125.

In the cell, are chromosomes a thread-like structure that contains a person's genes in the cell nucleus. They will determine much of our physical makeup.

As we get older the cells break down and we show our age. But in our bodies, we have Sirtium which produces proteins. When we live a harmonious habit like life the Sirtium produces more protein and repairs the damaged areas of the cell and extends longevity. The way to activate the Sirtium is to eat little.

We have scientists who say we have been programmed to live to 125, why is it that those who make it to 100 are so few? The doctor says we are not making use of what we have received. Does that mean that if we do all the right things we will live to a ripe old age? No, the doctor continues to show what is happening in the cell but advises against searching for the fountain of youth but rather how to live healthy, with meaning and a joyful heart.

What is the lifestyle of those who live in the areas of the world where longevity is common? On the Italian island of Sardinia, the Greek island of Ikaria, Okinawa, Costa Rica these and others are called the Blue Zone.

In Korea, we have areas of the country that are called the Blue Zone. In these areas, we see some common elements: people keep on activating both the body and spirit. Secondly, they use their bodies like tools so they don't need sports or gymnasiums to work out. Thirdly, they have a desire to learn, are positive and thankful. Fourth, they are close to family, friends and acquaintances and spirituality is important. Fifth, they consider retirement a death wish. Sixth, they have no particular medicines or foods only what is in their environment. Seventh, they rarely go to the hospital or pharmacy.

When it comes to their diet they eat without much deliberation, usually vegetarian but little. They eat little process and refined foods, all kinds of colored vegetables and fruits; they get their animal protein usually from fish and pork. Since the diet is mostly vegetables they get their B12 from fish and fermented foods. The animal protein comes from fish and pig meat.

Studies show that longevity is about 10 percent inherited. A long healthy life is not dependent on some medicine or lifestyle but harmonious activity joy and eating little.

In his experience in making the sick calls to the patients in the hospital, in his head, he hears the following refrain: "True long life is not its length but its health and joyful length."

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Speaking about Social Justice Is Difficult

A sympathetic unprejudiced view of the social gospel is surprisingly not always easy. We have examples of programs on social justice in which they avoid using the term for many want the church to stay out of politics and economics. Social justice is dangerous. Even the pope is called a communist for his desire to see equality of opportunity and make capitalism more human.

We can go back in history and see where the church was aligned with the wealthy and the aristocracy. Often brought up to put down the church as irrelevant when speaking about justice. But a very common fallacy is 'presentism' a fancy word meaning judging the past by today's standards and values. The church is very clear at present on being on the side of the poor and working for justice. Truth is truth but our understanding of truth changes.

Since the Second Vatican Council, we have brought social justice and solidarity with the poor to center stage and this causes great pain to those who see it as leaving behind the teaching of Jesus on salvation and the future life. They are not able to fit social justice into their understanding of Jesus' reason for coming and this is despite the enormous amount of church teaching and Jesus' own words in the Scriptures.

In a diocesan bulletin, a priest writes about the universal purpose of goods. We live in a neoliberal era where wealth is the basis of the way we judge values. Without reflection, we substitute money for other important values.

What is the universal purpose of material goods? We can say it is for the common good. God has given us from the beginning all of creation free of charge. No matter how humans earned their goods even by their own efforts it would not have been possible if God did not give creation to us free of charge in the first place.

God gave these gifts to all humanity without discrimination and favoritism. The Second Vatican Council says in the Pastoral Constitution:
God intended the earth with everything contained in it for the use of all human beings. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity created goods should be in abundance for all in like manner #69.

This is the universal purpose of goods and private property. The church recognizes private property but that right is not absolute and inviolable. Private property rights should be used not only for oneself but for the advancement of all humanity and the common good.

Since believers cannot serve God and wealth together, they must keep in mind the universal purpose of goods—the first choice is for the poor. Unfortunately, the universal purpose of goods in real life is completely ignored by the neoliberal economic system that puts profit-seeking first. 

That's why the church speaks loudly —for a preferential priority for the poor and vulnerable. Jesus also emphasized the first choice for the poor many times. "I tell you the truth. What you did to one of these smallest ones you did it to me"(Matthew 25,45).

So, what path should we choose? Injustice prevails and more and more people are rejected. In the current situation of a globalized society that is deprived of basic rights, the principle of the common good is logically transformed into solidarity and a priority choice for the poorest.

Christian social concern stems from the belief that God identifies with the oppressed, weak and the poor of the earth and expects us to do the same.
In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. This option entails  recognizing the implications of the universal destination of the world’s goods (Laudatio Si,158).


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Corona 19 and Our Common Home the Earth

The coronavirus 19 is in the news, conversations, and thoughts. In the Peace Column of the Peace Weekly, a representative of the bishops' committee on the environment gives us some reflections to mull over during these days of stress.

The writer attended a recent wedding this spring. It wasn't enough to bring her desire for blessings; she had to wear her mask. It would be wonderful if the long lines to buy masks, and campaigns to reduce face-to-face contact were only once in a lifetime events.

The '2020 Global Risk Report', published by the World Economic Forum in January, ranked infectious diseases as one of 10 risk factors in its impact on society. In the era of hyper-connections, where the world is connected by a fast transportation network, the spread of viruses is accelerating and the threat of infectious diseases is getting bigger due to the climate crisis. Now we live in a time when, like SARS, MERS, and now Corona19, we don't know when and how to face new epidemics.

It is known that the new viruses are characterized by a common transmission of infections, due to increased contact between humans and animals. In fact, about 75% of infectious diseases affecting the human body are common infectious diseases that both animals and humans can get. In particular, there are pathogens in the body of wild animals that can mutate and transmit to humans. The most prominent theory is that the Corona 19 virus came from bats and spread to humans through intermediate hosts. It was known that SARS was a civet and MERS was transmitted to humans by camels as hosts. A professor in the Department of Veterinary Medicine of a  national university says, "60% of the pathogens that cause human illness come from animals."

Why are there so many human-animal contacts? Wild animals have lost their lives due to the destruction of forests caused by human greed, natural disasters, and climate changes and have entered our human space. When animals with many viruses, such as bats, lose their place to live, they have no choice but to come into human space, where viruses are spread to host animals.

We also need to look at the growing threat of avian influenza, the factory farming method for meat animals, and the growing popularity of animal cafes (also called pet cafe where customers can interact with various animals), and animal contact in zoos.

Some scientists say the outbreak of new viruses is linked to the climate crisis. Korea's greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest every year. Currently, Korea is equipped with medical technologies and systems that can overcome Corona 19, but this is not enough if we don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have been warned of environmental disasters by scholars, such as the recent wildfires in Australia and the extreme weather around the world, which have killed great numbers of wild animals, is a reality, threatening not only wildlife but also human life.

All living things on Earth, are interconnected, and climate problems affect us all. For a more convenient life, disposable items that we inadvertently use, energy use, deforestation, and excessive meat consumption eventually all in some way destroy the earth's environment and return to us like a boomerang. For the health of all of us, we need to take action now.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Catholic Relief Work After the Korean War

The Peace Weekly had an article on the work of the church after the Korean War (70th year). War takes everything away. Refugees who had lost their families and homes had no place to eat or sleep. Day after day they depended on relief supplies to stay alive. When a truck carrying relief supplies came into the refugee village, all were excited. The children in rags and dirty faces shouted: "Give Me Chocolate” and C-ration" (US military combat food in cans) when a US military vehicle passed by. When American troops threw chocolates and tins to the children, they screamed "thank you" and rushed to gather them.

As of August 1951, the government estimated 3.8 million refugees, and the total number of refugees who lost their homes and property was 4.2 million, a total of about 8 million. It was close to half of South Korea's population at the time. It could not be sustained without foreign aid.

Overseas aid groups entered the country immediately after the war to heal the pain of those who survived the war. The National Catholic Welfare Council (NCWC), and the Catholic Relief Services(CRS), and other groups were there to help Korea. Amidst the ruins, emergency relief projects, help to orphanages, home restoration projects, aid to education, and health care projects were begun.

The U.S. (NCWC) immediately sent aid to South Korea in August 1950, including milk powder, food, winter clothing, shoes, and medicine.

At that time, the Korean Ambassador to the United States and a Catholic ( Dr. Chang Myon 1899-1966) was of great help. In July 1950, Dr. Chang sent an appeal to the American Catholics asking for prayer and aid for Korea through the NCWC. Earlier, as soon as the Korean War broke out, Dr. Chang announced the North Korean invasion to the United Nations Security Council and appealed to the international community for help to the refugees.

Help was sent from around the world. The activities of the Catholic Relief Society (CRS), the official organization for overseas aid under the NCWC, was prominent. CRS had already entered Korea before the war. 

Monsignor George Carroll of the American Maryknoll Society, a missionary from the Pyongyang Diocese, founded the CRS Korea Branch in 1946. In 1950, the first year of the outbreak of the Korean War, CRS raised more than $2 million out of the $2.8 million US civilian aid agencies sent to Korea. At that time, the Catholic Church of the United States collected donations for the victims of the Korean War on the fourth week of Lent each year and collected relief supplies during Thanksgiving in November. In 1953, the total contribution amounted to $5 million.

The goods of the CRS relief project were distributed all over the country, so there were few Koreans who did not receive CRS benefits. 90% of these items were grains, corn flour, wheat flour, and milk powder from the United States and used for school meals and free lunches nationwide. Relief supplies were also delivered to each church. Since many of the Catholics received help, many of the Koreans entered the church at that time.

"To give relief goods to believers and not to non-believers is not what it should be but it is true that first, it went to the believers who came to the church. As a result, many people became believers without faith as a way to get aid. Such people would not be living the religious life. Thus the word 'flour believer' was born." (From the story of Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan)

Monsignor Carroll after the restoration of Seoul on September 28, he joined the 8th Army as a chaplain and went to Pyongyang with the United Nations forces. Later as the forces of the U.N. forces recaptured Pyongyang he was named acting administrator of the Pyongyang Diocese which was previously staffed by Maryknoll. When the Korean military action ended and Pyongyang returned to the Communists, Monsignor Carroll became involved in relief work of various kinds and eventually was the Catholic Relief Services representative in Korea.

They tell the story that before he left Pyongyang after the Chinese intervened he was one of the last to leave and he stayed up all night writing notes of recommendation to believers fleeing the north to the south. In the south, he founded the St. Lazarus Sanatorium for patients with Hansen's disease. He organized the Korea Association of Voluntary Agencies (KAVA) with the Methodists in 1952. He did not limit aid since the practice of love knows no boundaries. He died in 1981 at the Maryknoll headquarters in New York.