Issue #10. Trump and Kim Sitting on a Coin 

Trump kind of dropped a bombshell with that one, didn’t he?

On a Thursday evening in Seoul, I had just seen articles about how North Korea
destroyed Punggye-ri, its nuclear testing site, and as I was getting ready to go to bed — bam

Trump’s letter doesn’t mean a permanent cancellation. Both Washington and Pyongyang have since said that the door to negotiation is still open. Trump even said yesterday that the summit could still happen on the 12th. But the swiftness of Trump’s decision is jarring and what appeared to be a detente is suddenly not looking so rosy. 

Too bad the White House already made those commemorative coins for the summit that may never be (they’re still on sale!). 

Till next week’s confusion,


Watch this, if nothing else

Rally Against South Korea’s Spycam Porn

Last Saturday, around 12,000 women protested in central Seoul, masked and anonymous. This was possibly the largest political gathering of women in recent Korean history, trumping the recent #MeToo rallies.

The trigger was a spycam scandal at Hongik University, where a woman secretly filmed a male nude model. Her prompt and public arrest led protesters to accuse police of gender discrimination, i.e. why aren’t other spycam cases — where most suspects are male — treated this way?

Protesters' anger stems from South Korea’s widespread, even normalized, consumption of spycam porn, and what protesters perceive as police incompetence and neglect.

The movement's next protest, scheduled for June 9 in Seoul, is expected to be even bigger.
Watch Here
Word on the Street:
South Korean Reactions to Trump

The Blue House probably didn’t know. An anonymous BH official told Yonhap that the presidential office did not see Trump’s letter coming. And at an emergency meeting on Thursday, Moon Jae-in told top security officials he was “perplexed.”

The bafflement extends across party lines. Moon’s party remains optimistic in public. Liberty Korea, the main conservative opposition, said through leader Kim Jeong-Tae, “While Moon was drunk on baseless optimism and rosy fantasies, reality was still coldly rolling along.” 

Other chatter: One conservative columnist called Trump “the strategist of the century." Leftist Ddanzi Ilbo said, “We took the 'Trump Risk' too lightly,” charging that only someone as erratic as Trump could create situations like these.
Take a break: It was Buddha’s birthday — a national holiday — on May 22. The week before, people gathered in Seoul at a lantern festival. Photo by Ho Kyeong Kang.
Quotes, Chatter, Stories You Missed:
  • Journey of Food Waste: South Korea has many clever — though imperfect — solutions to tackle food waste, from "smart bins" to billions of black soldier flies. Read the article by Korea Exposé’s Ben Jackson.
  • Abortion: For the first time in six years, the Constitutional Court reviewed a challenge to the country's ban on abortion. In defense of the ban, the Justice Ministry submitted an inflammatory statement that included the line, “Voluntary sex -- which excludes intercourse resulting from situations such as rape -- reflects an attitude of negligence toward pregnancy.” It has since revised the statement. Critics say the ministry is blaming individuals, especially women, for not being responsible about sex. 
May 18 marked the 38th anniversary of the 1980 Gwangju Democratization Uprising. What does it mean to face a tragedy of such scale in a country that might not be yours? Essay by Eugene Lee.
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Watch our coverage of the anti-abortion Black Protests last year, which provides a glimpse into the central questions regarding Korea’s abortion problem. 
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