Babo-Palooza! Busted

The group of English teachers who put on Babo-palooza!, a sketch comedy show on December 1 and 2 here in Busan, were brought in for questioning (and released) early this week by the International Crimes Division for violating Immigration and Criminal Law. Pusanweb will be bringing you regular updates and hopefully a Webcast as the situation unfolds. You can also read about the story in the Korean media and in the Blogs. Read more to see the links.
UPDATE: The Korea Herald article. The reporter spoke to both the police and the actors. English Teachers Cross Line.
UPDATE: Corrections to the Korean news article can be read here.

The story has been picked up by the Korean media, and can be read here: Kyunghyang Shinmun (Translation at the Marmot's Hole) Daum News (if anyone is willing to translate this article, please let us know!) NEW Joonang Ilbo- Ajumma-baiting draws attention of Busan police

The Korean blogosphere: This blogger wrote a positive Review of Babo-palooza! and a commentary on the questioning of the cast. Daejeon's Sharing Community, Soucis, includes discussion on the arrests in People, Not Space Invaders. CORRECTION: In the post, the author states: "The two foreigners producers are now being fined one million won each." This is not true. The police are still investigating. No punishments have been given yet.
The Marmot's Hole has a summary/translation of the Kyunghyang Shinmun news story. Over at the Scribblings of the Metropolitician is a short blurb about the show.

Finally, Homely Planet, the blog of one of the cast members will have regular updates of what's happening behind the scenes.

You can comment on the Babo-palooza! show or the current happenings in the Koreabridge Forums. Pusanweb will be updating the story as more information comes our way.  




da or duh

Thank you Sarah for coming clean but please remember I am answering to two comments if there was something, in fact, you didn't understand. Also, your assumptions are your own. Thus, and again, to two, meat-loaf's answer has acted as like confirmation. Why is this such a big mess and having 'large' headlines on your pages if in fact nobody did go see it? Let's winnow it down then, shall we? I'll assume 'meat'is a performer and that somehow he has pull with the front page of this site. Gee that was hard but there is no-way of confirming my accuracy to the public because it is up to you, as it always will be, to disclose - you do not have to answer this since it is part of the power relation you have enjoyed - or do you get paid? It is not unlike a position of supreme-fascist (God has also been referred to, by some, in much the same terms)if you will. There is no way you can oversee all things, all of the time on this site without such a position - unless, of course, likewise, you are unfallible. Hence, my position exactly - I will keep up the questions and accusations to see if in fact they are answered, as this is only position allowed for the public on such a site. There is no control over the content by the public since, like advertising, that first has to pass your approval. So, now you are, ironically enough, not unlike the Korean immigration police that decide on content in this country or as on your site. And, rightfully so, as is your right, you dictate what passes for important news or headline material and classified ads; paying attention meathead(?), so this whole issue is not such a big deal now is it? No more inferences about my motives, I simply represent the people who don't want to be mislead into thinking, based on limited background of the law as presented on these pages or through people claiming they 'are on it'. Perhaps, if it was presented as an ethnographic study and not so much as the 'the word'. Finally, I submit 'meat'. I am the hater and, therefore, you ride up to the position of lover! You can have that powerplay too! Helmut

What is He Talking About?

Helmut, I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what you're trying to say. Can you please try harder to make sense?

You make no sense. You are

You make no sense. You are a total tool. Jog on.


"I will keep up the questions and accusations to see if in fact they are answered"

What are your questions? What are your accusations? 

Pweb Manager

Pusanweb moderators have

Pusanweb moderators have absolute power, just like God the Supreme Fascist? Boy, when I read that my eyes rolled all the way into the back of my head and came around the other side. Additionally, I just read something fascinating on The Marmot's Hole, a comment by R. Elgin, who is a contributor to the Marmot. I have lifted his post in its entirety (hope you will indulge me): "If one were to record a CD for distribution, here in Korea, it must pass a censorship board and, yes, they will want to submit the lyrics for review, however, according to one Korean producer of staged shows, here in Korea, there is no real board of censorship that a producer of shows must apply to for approval to put on a show. There are are some obvious guidelines involving nudity, profanity, etc. As Brendon (Carr, an attorney with a connection to Korea) pointed out, if someone complains to the police, then they move. The “someone” complaining in this case must have connections with or must be working for Busan City. The teachers should file a counter complaint against the police or city since there is no real violation of law here, if my understanding of this nonsense is correct." Yes, fascinating!

da film

The film was not that good! I am finding it interesting, however, that persons from this site, the ones that basically sponsored the film or did most of the work for it (?), are making such a big fuss on their website - or is this not typical? They (you) broke a rule in a foreign country, wittingly or unwittingly, - so you made a mistake. Making a issue of it because it happened 'you', is so typical of your social group (and this site). Just get mojo to play a benefit for you and can start the circle jerk one more time, reminding yourself how incredibly cool you are one more time!


Pusanweb did not sponsor Babo-palooza!. Pusanweb was asked to put an advertisement for the show on the site and we did which is standard for the site. For example, you can see an advertisment for the EUCCK Christmas Party, yet we are not a member of the EUCCK. They asked us to make mention of it on our site and we did. Pusanweb is a community website and as such, we happily promote events happening in the community. We have been doing so since the site first went online in 1997. The reason we are "making such a big fuss" is because, as mentioned, a lot of misinformation and rumors are being spread thoughout the media, blogs, and on forums. This is a central place to publish the facts. I guess I don't understand your point. Pusanweb Management Team

As someone who has been

As someone who has been following this issue closely, I really don't think Helmut (and perhaps others) understand the seriousness of this issue. From the information I've been able to gather, it appears that so many things people (both foreigners and Koreans) do to enrich their lives in Korea are illegal. The musicians who play for free on the weekends at local clubs are violating the law (if I'm understanding this correctly). The poetry nights and other events that could be construed as entertainment are also illegal, whether money is charged for the event or not. All of these things that, in my opinion, make Korea a better place to live, not only for foreigners but also for Koreans, are now off-limits. The authorities have spoken: go to the bar, get drunk, listen to canned music, go home. As I write this, to my left is a list of upcoming events. I look at them and wonder if they are all illegal. Trivia Night? Movie Night? Charity Drive? Who knows? Which brings me to my second point. The authorities have a lot of discretion in what cases they pursue and how those cases are handled. From what I've been able to glean from these and other pages, the authorities could have handled this differently. The police attended the Friday show. They could have shut it down then. They could have told the organizers that they needed permits and the organizers could have shut it down voluntarily, which I think they problably would have done if they had known they were committing a criminal offense! Yes, unapproved public performances are a crime! Where I come from, my country distinguishes between violations of civil law (which have minimal financial penalties and no lasting effect on a person's record) and more serious criminal offenses. I don't know how much of this is true, but I've read that these guys face large fines (a million won for each person) and possible deportation (which would of course mean losing your job... duh!) To me this seems a bit harsh for putting on a show. Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland are rolling over in their graves (obscure reference). Oh, sorry, Mickey's still alive. And speaking of the show, I saw it. Yes, there were skits that might have offended people, including foreigners. In fact, much of the show's content lampooned foreigners (especially Americans and their gun culture), and some of the skits took aim at Koreans. But what stood out most for me was that the humor primarily addressed the connection between the foreigner and Korean communities. Now these guys are faced with a very unpleasant situation. Unfortunately, this current intersection between the foreigner community and the Korean authorities isn't very funny at all. Good luck to the Pusan 9!

da show - not close but painfully aware

I paid 7,000 won, where did that money go? Perhaps this is why the police are doing interviews? 150 people (approx) x 7,000W = a millionfifty + x 2 nites times plus concessions....hmm investigating police, leaping a language barrior (e.g who to trust), might have to ask a lot of people to get it right....just to see if 3 million ended up in one person's hand or not?? Why wasn't this a charity night(s)hmmmmmm? Where did this money go? I mean the politically 'cool' term is tranparency - so let's have it! Is this not the seriousness of the issue? Is this why the site must defend the integrity of the 'foreigner'? When in Rome, as if I were at if culture had nothing to do with language and law ... if your finger on the pulse is all I (or anyone else needs) to rest assured we are up to date on the issues! 'Your opinion' is yours but 'a better place' is comparable to where or what other place? I mean 'the police' everywhere are the goon squad, so if they are telling you what to do you are at the end of the line - are you not willing to admid you broke a law and now must pay the consequences? Or, can you not say that you made a mistake openly and apologize for it? Why the debate and discussion and the rumours? This is to my point of the other day - this is a non-issue made into a huge deal by the foreigners who, it seems, can't accept the fact that they are not allowed to dominant the rest of the world with their magically great, but non-cognate, language and culture. Where are you living, really? Go stare at a painting by Georges Seurat and connect with modernity! Your falling through your own absence now. Thus, I submitt that this site stirs the rumour pot more than it quells it. Geez, if you want rumours why not get your ear around the person responsible for the part-time jobs skimming from the top and feeding his friends the best jobs before they ever get posted? Why not have a discussion on that? Or (heaven forbid anyone getting sick of injured - no irony intended), is the same preferential treatment available from this site for anybody in need of 'blood' or real help. This site was at its best at putting the word out then! And that should be held out there for anyone in need not just friends of the staff! Is there a clear and plain emergency help line available on the front page of this site - in case any one wanker/loser/new to this country and not in your 'in-group' needs some help? Really - Let's have another benefit! And so to those that want to hide behind advertising and their jounalistic 'importance', in liew of an obvious blunder, or pretend that we of the community, that you pretend to care so much for, have no idea of how you have been manipulating this site for your own or 'personal' gain and/ benefit - congratulations you have to put down the accusations and barbs of John Q. Public (in this case helmut)because we just can't stomach your 'kulturesite' anymore....noting,too, that there is no competition to keep you square!

Pusanweb Replies

I think that in your first two paragraphs you're speaking to the Babo-palooza! organizers and not Pusanweb, is that correct? If I missed something, I'd be happy to address it.

Thus, I submitt that this site stirs the rumour pot more than it quells it.
Can you give me an example of this? With the Babo-palooza! issue, Pusanweb became aware that there was a lot of misinformation being published, so we spoke to the organizers and published 'Just the Facts'. No rumors.

Geez, if you want rumours why not get your ear around the person responsible for the part-time jobs skimming from the top and feeding his friends the best jobs before they ever get posted? Why not have a discussion on that?
This is the first I've heard of this. I am specifically in charge of the Classifieds and other than Jeff Lebow, the site owner, I'm the only one who has access to the Classifieds admin section (where the deleting, etc. goes on). The Classifieds are now post-moderated, which means that as soon as you hit 'post' your ad becomes visible. In the years that I've been a part of Pusanweb, I've never deleted a job ad for personal gain or for my friends. And any time I do delete a job ad, an email is sent to the poster explaining which of the rules they violated resulting in their ad being deleted. I think this is all in your head. Oh, and I'm a 'she' by the way.

Or (heaven forbid anyone getting sick of injured - no irony intended), is the same preferential treatment available from this site for anybody in need of 'blood' or real help.
Yes. When Taehyun's Omma posted in the Forums that she potentially needed blood, I read it, and put a notice on the front page. I've never met her but I heard that everything went fine. The point is, she asked for help and we gave it to her. If people need help and ask for it, we help them out as best we can.
And that should be held out there for anyone in need not just friends of the staff!
It most definately is. If someone has something to promote or needs something and I hear about it or read about it on the Forums or Classifieds, or if I get an email, I promote it. However, I can't read minds. I have to be told about something before I can do something about it.
Is there a clear and plain emergency help line available on the front page of this site - in case any one wanker/loser/new to this country and not in your 'in-group' needs some help?
As of RIGHT NOW, no there isn't but as soon as I finish typing this, I will add a blurb to the "Contact Us" tab at the top of the page along the lines that you're talking about.
And so to those that want to hide behind advertising and their jounalistic 'importance', in liew of an obvious blunder,
I don't know what you're talking about.
or pretend that we of the community, that you pretend to care so much for, have no idea of how you have been manipulating this site for your own or 'personal' gain and/ benefit
I have no idea what you're talking about. Is it the Classifieds thing? Because I have no idea how you dreamed that one up.

Helmut, has Pusanweb denied you help in the past? Have we refused to publish an event that you organized? Have we failed to reply to an email you sent in the past? Were some of your Forums posts deleted? You seem to be incredibly bitter, and I really don't understand where the bitterness is coming from, as I don't think I know you and as far as I know, I've never had any dealings with you that would have upset you so much. I've been part of the Pusanweb Management Team since around 2002 with a 10-month hiatus in there in 2004 and again, I have no idea where this bitterness is coming from. If you'd prefer not to publish your reply here, please email me at and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Pusanweb Manager and Koreabridge Forums and Classifieds Manager

It WASN'T 150 each night.

It WASN'T 150 each night. It was 150 TOTAL. Get your facts straight before moaning here at pusanweb. 150 total, times 7,000 won = 1,120,000 won. Add about another 200,000 for beer sales, and your at 1,350,000. We spent over 1,500,000 producing the show. Do the math. We lost money. It's been posted all over the net, and if you haven't clued in to it now, you never will. I usually wouldn't even waste my finger muscles responding to a post such as yours, but given that it's the leadoff comment on the mainpage here, I guess I felt motivated. The cops are busting us for content, not for visa violations. They pretty much admitted that today when one of our members went in for a meeting and brought a Korean friend to interpret. You can play the role of a hater all you want, but it makes you look like the fool. Of course pusanweb is interested in this story, and as they are the online representation of our expat community in this city, it is only logical and good that they keep the "community" informed. And you whine the pusanweb has not "comptetition." Well how about starting your own competition?, has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? It can be home to all of our local haters (I can think of a few), all of the people who contribute nothing to life here in Busan and are obsessed with shooting down people who do. To be honest, both of your posts make little sense. I suggest you take a writing class to learn how to express your opinions more clearly. Because as of now, you just sound like a total tit.

I think it would be of

I think it would be of tremendous help if someone asked the police for comment. As it is we have only the words of the Pusan 9 and as they feel themselves to be an aggreived party, this can hardly lead to an impartial representation of facts.


We intend on speaking to the police directly, especially to figure out legalities around, for example, foreigner bands, art exhibitions, Poetry Night, etc. There is a lot of speculation that none of these events are legal, which is something Pusanweb will get confirmed, hopefully next week.

Ahh, a voice of reason,

Ahh, a voice of reason, something rarely seen here. Well, at least this discussion hasn't turned into the Korean bashing hate-fest that the efl-law discussion has become. I'm looking forward to hearing the police side. As it is now, it seems paranoid and stupid to see people posting on various forums that it may be illegal to play the guitar on park benches, etc. I would also be surprised if the Poetry Plus were deemed illegal since that is held in a venue that is licensed to sell alcohol as well as to have live performances. The performers are also not receiving any compensation unlike the Babopalooza and even if the Pusan 9 claim all they did was recoup costs that would still put them into a category of ostensibly running an unlicensed for-profit business (losing money doesn't mean it wasn't necessarily a for-profit business under the law, just that it was poorly budgeted). Poetry Plus has also had both TV and print media coverage and not been in any way threatened with legal sanction despite occassinally having some questionable material that could be taken as racist and offensive. Perhaps Immigration and a law firm should be contacted for greater clarification. I would also like to add that at least in one account the police were quoted as saying that the acting troupe itself had been under surveillance for some time. If this is true it may be because they have also put on other performances prior to Babopalooza possibly in violation of their work visas. I would be interested to know exactly when the investigation began.

Legality of our art

I was told by the police that PP WAS catagorically illegal for foreigners to participate in because it was NOT covered by our visa (she did not reference the "Performance Law" at all in that conversation). Seeing as how I have a vested interest in doing LEGAL things, and that I am a musician/performer, I enquired deeper (these are paraphrases BUT the gyst of her message): Is it legal for musicians to play a show? "NO!" Even if we are not paid? "Even if you are not paid, it is illegal to play music in a bar" What about busking (I explained what busking was)? "It is not legal because you are making money" (I figured) What if I were to take out my guitar and play on a sidewalk but not ask for money? "It is important that you go to immigration and tell them that you will do that" (This, admittedly, only suggests that i can't do this with my e2 visa but does not outright SAY that I can't do it) After this conversation, I was completely blown away. I could not help but think that something was being lost in the translation as this detective was basically saying (or at least implying) that you can't play music anywhere but in your house. I don't consider Korea to be some kinda "fascist state" or anything like that; perhaps a bit "bureacracy happy" but what country isn't. I can't help but think that a CLEAR interpretation of the law would be of GREAT benefit to the performers in Korea. Like Tyster, I am REALLY looking forward to hear what the cops have to say. I've also been struggling (and hunting around the internet) looking for an OFFICIAL wording of the E2 visa guidelines on government websites. Could anyone help me out?



As I understand it, the Busan Nine slipped the noose around their own necks by applying for a grant at City Hall.  I don't expect the cops will own up to this, but let's look at the facts:

Months before the show they applied for a grant at City Hall, the next building over from the one where  the "International Crimes Division" (gotta love that name for the over-reaction file) is located. 

Then, on the first night of the show, before any bonehead got a chance to spread his malicious and unfounded rumors about drug use, a ladycop came in undercover and checked the thing out.  She even spoke to a guy from the cast.

Hmmm.  City Hall turned down our creative brethren for a grant, but is it unreasonable to think they might not have alerted their buddies one door down?  The Korea Herald reporter (to whom I spoke about this) sure as hell didn't think it was unreasonable to think that...  Hell, he pounced on it on his own and suggested it to me immediately.

This was always about content, and about restricting free speech.  It's political.  Those cops are taking orders from above.  As you may have noticed, Korea's government has been stuck in scapegoating mode for about two years now...  Approval ratings going down?  Blame the Japanese!  Blame the Americans!  Anybody, but heck, gotta blame somebody.  (As long as it's not the North Koreans, of course...)

And btw, the Herald talked to the cops plenty.  Call them (the Herald, I mean).  According to what that guy said to me the cops simply kept repeating - over ands over - that this was never (check out the Korean websites to see what Koreans are making of this) never ever about content or restricting freedom of speech.

Well, if the locals don't believe 'em, I rather fail to see why we shoud.

So, to Pweb: good luck on the police fishing expedition.  Just don't expect to be surprised.  They're staying on message.


Charlie don't surf!

Creative activities not included on E- visas


Brendon Carr on the Marmot suggests E- visa holders get permission from their employers before engaging in creative activities - music, graphic arts, writing, etc.  - to stay out of immigration trouble.  This would involve a couple of trips down to immigration - one to pick up the requisite form and another to return it signed and stamped by the employer - as well as (I believe) a 20,000 won fee.  I for one would hate to see any more of our creative folks get hauled in over visa violations for doing things that enrich our lives in this town.  Maybe make a note of this somewhere on the front page? 

Charlie don't surf!

I can see how the content

I can see how the content would be pointed at as the reason for the investigation but I wonder then if they were under investigation long before the show what would content have had to with it at all? In fact, how would the police have known to send an officer to the first show at all unless there was another reason. Anyway, despite the fact that they lost money, the fact is they did generate revenue which is enough to move it into the illegal realm.