Saturday 27 March 2010

New Foreign Prison To Include More Amenities, Photographers

A group of foreigners dresses in the traditional Confucian students' hanbok, and takes lessons in ink painting and polite bowing. Later, they will perform kimjang, and make Korean side-dish kimchi, and memorize the names of all Korea's Unesco World Heritage sites. During every step of this process, Joongang Daily and Chosun Ilbo photographers will have access to the lessons, and will be uploading the photos to their mother newspapers, as well as providing images to the KTO and other tourist agencies within Korea. These photos (that is, the ones involving good-looking, pale-skinned prisoners) will be used on tourism posters and for other promotional purposes.

While others have criticized the Cheonan, South Chungcheong foreigner's prison for having more amenities than other Korean prisons, most of them do not understand the secondary purpose of this facility: getting more photos of foreigners doing Korean stuff. "I'm not saying the prison was specially designated a foreigner's prison, and equipped with these amenities especially BECAUSE of the opportunity to photograph foreigners doing Korean stuff... but it's certainly a convenient dovetailing of interests between the police and tourism arms of the government."

Such cooperation between government agencies is not unprecedented, nor will it be the last case of inter-agency cooperation: the former Ministry of Gender Equality is one model ministry for their ability to adapt and work with other department.

"Originally we had a ministry of our own," said Yu-mi Hoon, former government minister, "but since then we've been combined with the Ministry of Unification - a pair of agencies Lee Myung-bak sometimes refers to as 'The Useless Lefty Nork Deadweight Combo Ministry'" Further intra-ministry cooperation may be a necessity for the former Ministry of Gender Equality.

"President Lee seems to be planning on combining us with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism now, as he's only been keeping the ministry open for the sake of branding and appearances so far anyway, he figures he can streamline the lip service and token gesture departments of government by combining them into one ministry, call the "Ministry of Economic Equality, Women's Rights, Unification, Promises of Education and Labor Reform, Social Welfare and International Business and Foreign Company Antitrust and Fairness Ministry of Branding and Promotion"

While such a combination would make Korea a world hub of government ministry convergence, for now, Warden Lim Chung-hoon, at Cheonan Foreigners' Prison, discusses the potential of this foreign prisoner photography program.

"After we've gotten enough pictures of male foreign prisoners making kimchi, playing janggu drums, painting with ink, bowing, wearing hanbok, and possibly even going on trips to various cultural festivals, there are talks about opening a similar prison for female foreigners, if we can arrest enough attractive, pale-skinned foreign females. I don't want to give too much away, but if photographers have full access to the women's foreign prison, there's even talk of making their official prison uniforms bikinis, if we have enough blondes. The Chosun Ilbo photographers are lobbying hard for that, of course, because it would save them the effort of wandering around beaches and having to walk past so many Korean females before finding foreign females to ogle and photograph."

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