I will be moving to my own domain.. Nothing against blogger.

I also am finally on Instagram, although I am not sure what to do with it.

I already have several sites over the Internet, plus Twitter, Facebook, and other sites, so I may shut down this or mirror this one.

3/26/15 update:
Instagram: Posted one photo, haven't logged in since then.
Twitter: Deleted.
Nayacasey: Deleted
Blogger: Won't delete, may use it again.


Busy time coming...

1/24 TNKR Matching session
1/27 speech--Harvard
1/28 speech--Volunteering
1/29 speech--TNKR
1/31 Korean language Matching session
2/9 speech--TNKR
2/14 speech--Frederick Douglass
2/16 testimony--Uber
2/28 speech contest
3/21 rally

6 speeches in three weeks on different topics in 2 different countries...


An expatriate encountering myself (The Korea Times, 2015-01-14) by Casey Lartigue, Jr.

When people ask me if I have read a certain book that I indeed have read, I often hesitate to confirm. Reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" or a book about dating is a different experience at age 16 compared to 36 or 56.

I first read the late Paul Fussell's provocative collection of essays "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" as a graduate student. When I reread it a few years later, I noticed that I had completely skipped the chapter about traveling.

I am a "digital immigrant" who still prefers printed books, newspapers and articles so I can markup the text. I didn't mark a single thing in that travel chapter the first time around.

The second time around, years later, I wondered how I could have missed Fussell's profundity. In particular, I appreciated his point distinguishing among travelers, tourists and explorers. ("There's No Place Like Home," Feb 12, 2013).

What had changed? Me. I grew up in Texas and Massachusetts, but had not even crossed the U.S. borders nearby in either direction until after graduate school.

Experience is the greatest teacher, as Mark Twain has been attributed with demonstrating: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

Living abroad, I learned how America-centric I had been. Paraphrasing Alexis De Tocqueville, the late Seymour Martin Lipset said: "The best way to know your own country is to experience another one."

When I first traveled to Korea on a short trip back in the 1990s, I met several Koreans one night when I went dancing. One young Korean man enjoyed hearing my stories about my first time abroad, in Taiwan. Taking me aside, he asked me, in all seriousness: "Can we play?"

Earlier I had just been talking about dominating the basketball courts in Taipei, so I responded, "Sorry, I didn't bring my tennis shoes on this trip."

He was confused, then explained: "I mean you. Me. Play. Special time together." It finally dawned on me that he was coming onto me. He had not traveled to America but had read in the Korean press about many Americans being gay (I wish I had thought to say it was true about Europeans). I gently declined his offer, informing him that I love women, but would bring my tennis shoes the next time I visited Korea.

For a long time, I was surprised, at myself. I had met gay people in the U.S., but based on what I knew then about Korea I didn't expect to encounter a gay person in a country where homosexuality seemed to be strongly discouraged. The beauty I saw: He was willing to be himself, despite Korean society trying to condition him.

Starting a professional career abroad working at a libertarian think tank in Seoul and speaking at international conferences, I encountered a different pleasant shock. Although I had encountered libertarians in America, there was still something different about meeting natives in Malaysia, China and India advocating individual liberty and respect for the rights of others.

I can see the same effect on colleagues of mine as they venture abroad. Last week, I spoke at the Asia Liberty Forum in Kathmandu, Nepal, and was joined by two Korean colleagues. Lee Eun-koo, a progressive, joined me last July to attend her first libertarian conference, the Shanghai Austrian Economics Summit. She said she was shocked as she watched Chinese people speaking out strongly in favor of personal and economic liberty. She was less shocked last week in Nepal.

Another South Korean colleague, Jeong So-dam, also joined me in Nepal last week for the Asia Liberty Forum. It was her second international conference. She's a rising star among Korean libertarians. She mentioned that it was "exotic" to hear the word "freedom" being uttered every 10 seconds in Nepal.

She has started to speak out on issues, setting off rabid netizen attacks in Korea. She's an optimistic lady, but I suppose it can still be encouraging to meet others from around the world also advocating for liberty in authoritarian cultures. Many of them are speaking English as a second or foreign language, pronouncing "freedom" and "liberty" with different accents, but they have found common ground in international settings.

American writer James Baldwin once said: "I met a lot of people in Europe. I even encountered myself." Living abroad, I have encountered myself, learning to look beyond the U.S. context, and encountered others as they are, where they are.

Unfortunately, during my travels, I lost that copy of the Paul Fussell book with the marked up chapter on travel, but I do read a replacement copy from time to time.

The writer is the Director for International Relations at Freedom Factory Co.in Seoul and the Asia Outreach Fellow with the Atlas Network in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at CJL@post.harvard.edu.

Korea Times, Korea News Gazette



It's a crime the way Korea punishes rapists of children

According to the Korea Herald: "In its safety forecast for this year, the Police Science Institute said the number of sex crimes, which rose 41.3 percent from 20,375 cases in 2010 to 28,786 cases in 2013, will continue to rise."

One reason? Sex criminals aren't punished harshly in South Korea when sentenced for raping youngsters.*

"At the same time, the average sentencing for raping children and adolescents stood at four years and nine months, falling short of the minimum five-year sentence mandated by the law."

"The fact that sex crimes against children 13 years and younger accounted for nearly a quarter of all sex crimes committed against children and adolescents in 2013 should ring alarm bells for society to better protect its vulnerable members. One way to accomplish this is to deal strictly with sex crimes, by letter of the law."

* * *

* This is not endorsing or condoning rapists of adults. It seems that reporters paid to write articles write snapshot stories, focusing on the latest statistic without combining it with other possibly relevant and comparative statistics. S0 send your angry letters to the Korea Herald for this snapshot story.

Fine print in government crackdowns

The results are in, many Koreans stopped smoking after the government raised the tax on cigarettes. The tax hike has been so effective, according to the Joongang Daily, that some people stopped smoking even before the tax went into effect.
"Of those surveyed, 10.6 percent had quit smoking sometime between the price increase announcement in September and Jan. 1, when it was implemented. Another 26.7 percent answered that they had reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked per day." 
This reminds me of the 1990s, when Bill Clinton announced that the federal government was going to help police departments put an extra 100,000 cops on the streets. There were reports that crime went down after the announcement. Apparently criminals didn't read the fine print that the cops weren't going to be on the streets for at least a year or so, and that they would be spread out across the country. They just heard: 100,000 cops.

This is why I suggest that the government should make random announcements--"Jaywalkers will be executed on the second Tuesday of every month." "People who litter will be shot on sight." "1 million police officers will investigate sexual harassment at the office."

As criminals in Korea and smokers in Korea have shown, people don't always read the fine print, but they hear or read the headlines.

And now that the cigarette tax has gone into effect:
"In a survey conducted by the JoongAng Ilbo of 700 smokers, 63.9 percent answered that they had either already stopped smoking or plan to quit."
Whoa! Already stopped smoking or "plan to quit." That seems to be the fine print of the article. Many people "plan" to do or stop doing many things. Many people "plan" to exercise more, eat healthier, drink more water, volunteer more, save more money.

I won't doubt the newspaper, but it has been, what, 5 days since the tax went into effect? Many smokers quit at the beginning of the year, or several times a year. I wonder if the newspaper will do a follow-up story in 6 months and see how many of those who stopped or "plan to stop" smoking will be puffing again.

As Mark Twain said: "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times."


P.S.: This is a comment about journalism, not encouragement for people to keep smoking.



2015-01-03 TNKR speech contest planning meeting

I met with several enthusiastic volunteers helping us with the planning of the TNKR speech contest planned for February 28.

I often say that I can't do this without volunteers, and I sincerely mean it. By myself, I couldn't sell candy in an elementary school without going bankrupt. So I need smart folks willing to help out to make things happen.

Special thanks to my TNKR co-director Lee Eunkoo for coming out (again) on a Saturday afternoon. Our TNKR-FAN coaches Fiona Fong and Fatima Nicholson and TNKR tutor Gabrielle Wray for joining. The meeting was inspired by Gabrielle asking how she could help with the speech contest. So I confirmed she could make it, then held a meeting!

Thank you also to Michael Buckalew, Stephen Choi, Jessiica Steffl, Hyewon Hwang, and Charles Costello for showing up and for signing up to take on various tasks.

Not even Eunkoo and I agreed on everything. It was good brainstorming, but with practical action items attached, so people weren't talking pie-in-the-sky (at least, not for long!) as is often done in staff meetings.


2015-01-02 Asia Leadership Institute

Friday night I was one of the speakers at an event with about 40 members of the Asia Leadership Trek--a collection of geniuses from Harvard, MIT, Tufts. I spoke along with three Ambassadors from the Teach North Korean Refugees project.

The students responded really strongly! In my case, some of the students were pleading for the opportunity to help TNKR. And they were telling me specific ways that they could help out, so there could be some real opportunities. A few of them said the same thing--they follow many issues (talking and analysis), but it isn't often that they can see real opportunities to get involved.

Our three Ambassadors all gave speeches that touched the audience in different ways. One with her call to action, another with his personal story, and another who had the courage to give her talk in English even though she is still new to TNKR.

Special thanks to John Lim and Samuel H Kim for allowing TNKR to present at their event, and to the students who gave us such a strong response. A few of them... amazing, they didn't want to leave. The organizers were saying it was time to go, but one group at the end refused to go, they wanted to talk with me even more, to find out more about me and my activities helping North Korean refugees.

Actually, I gave two speeches that night. One was about Harvard, the other about North Korean refugees. We (organizers, handful of NK refugees students and TNKR Ambassadors) were waiting for the Asia Leadership Trekkers to arrive, so I gave a speech to the 10 or so refugees giving them background about Harvard. Then as soon as the Asia Leadership Trekkers arrived, I switched to my PPT about North Korea. I was the first speaker to arrive and the last to leave, talking to the last group for quite a while. The people at the building may have been wondering if they would have to call security to escort me out of the building...

Even then, I wasn't done... I was introducing two friends so they could talk about how to collaborate... so I met with them after the Asia Leadership Trek crew finally left...