Friday, July 3, 2009

Blogging the Poker-8's interview

I started this as an update to my earlier post, but I ended up doing a stream of consciousness blogging of Letter From Birmingham Jail the interview at Korean Media Watch.

The poker fiends describe their own arrest (MP3 file found here). It's just rich, starting with the biased-but-whoops-I-shouldn't-be-biased description by the Korean Media Watch representative at the beginning and one of the arrestees' comment that "poker was allegedly being played," as if he didn't know for sure. Ha ha ha... It's only been a minute and already the guy's being self-servingly deceptive. What are the odds he might just say all the stuff that will make him look as much like an innocent victim as possible?

The audio is all kinds of stupid. The supposedly objective "Korean Media Watch" is feeding lines and editorializing, and if it's the interviewer's voice I'm hearing, offering at least a little inaccurate information.

You've got the professional poker player saying that's what he does for a living — bad move. You've got them admitting inadvertently that they have played these games in the past, perhaps regularly, and they have a whole set up (extra decks of cards to replace missing cards) that indicates it's a serious endeavor.

And then there's the whole part about how the Korean police should understand that Texas Hold 'Em is common in North America, no big deal, and they should understand the culture.

And then there's the whole thing about how "we're foreigners" so we can gamble anywhere in Korea anyway.

Ignorance and arrogance, driving a self-serving justification of having done something illegal. But it should be okay, though, because they're foreigners.

And the interviewer says, "It seems there are some legal differences between North America and here, but also some cultural differences." Nice downplaying, but it's still illegal.

The female interviewee is saying, she hasn't smoked marijuana in 2.5 years but it somehow came up positive.

The other guy hasn't smoked marijuana in six years. And based on his experience with drug tests, the tests may be faulty because they didn't refrigerate his urine right away. I have doubts about this because this is Urinara, where people know urine.

There's a big hubbabaloo about the tests being faulty. There's also a hubbabaloo about treatment from the cops. Frankly, it sounds a bit self-serving, like they're trying to look for a way out from the mess they're in... if justification of their actions doesn't work, then go after the police for being abusive. 

I've had several situations where I had to give statements to the police, including one or two times where the policeman in charge thought I had been in the wrong, and frankly the stuff the one female interviewee is saying about the statements sounds a little exaggerated (also, I wonder whether the cops were speaking to them in English or Korean and, consequently, how well the non-native speakers of either language understand it). Anyway, I did stand my ground on a statement that the officer refused to accept or believe and I got my points in the record.

[above: According to the Poker-8, the above t-shirt is about as much as the cops knew about poker.]


  1. You miss the point.

    No one's saying KMW is "unbiased." It HAS an agenda, stated at the top of the page.

    And the point was to tell their narrative, to get it out there. As a counter to what is surely to be spun into the realm of untruth by the Korean media.

    I wasn't "feeding" lines, and you should correct that clear misstatement. I had conducted a pre-interview in which pertinent thing were said that they left out in the recorded interview, so I reminded them of it. And the other stuff, I rephrased and prompted for more, which is standard practice in interviews.

    No information or "lines" were given to the speakers -- I was simply trying to make their story make the most sense, prompted them to clarify certain things, and so forth.

    You don't like their explanations, or their personalities, fine. But you forget that the whole point of this is to distinguish a minor gambling offense (for which they themselves would acknowledge they are guilty, I'd say) that holds no jail time to being thrown in the slammer for what would essentially be racketeering.

    And on the side of "journalistic objectivity" -- you obviously don't understand that KMW would be a media WATCH group, and are pointing out flaws in existing reporting.

    To the extent that MAJOR parts of the story are left out of the Korean media's narrative, or there exist outright fabrications, it was important to get their version out -- because the Korean media certainly WON'T be objective enough to include it.

    That's the point -- providing overall balance by actively getting the left-out part of the story out there. And that's what KMW did.

  2. I'm going out the door, so I really don't have time to go through your post, but I will say I do believe you mean well.

    But I also am reminded of when conservatives say, "Beware of liberals coming to help." :)

    Part of my rebuttal to your comment would involve me asking about certain facts in the case, but I believe that publicly stating them may be detrimental to their case, as was your interview, so I won't. And that might mean I have to end it here.

    Metropolitician, I don't believe I ever saw how your detainment in Shinchon ended up. Did it get dropped? Was there a lot of headache involved? I have had enough run-ins with police or the courts that — even when they are on my side — I'd rather not ever have to deal with them.

  3. Whatever happened to the Poker 8?

    Were the charges dropped?
    Did they strike a plea deal?
    Did they go before a judge?
    Did the case go to trial?
    Were they acquitted?
    Were they convicted?
    Were they fined?
    Did they do any prison time?
    Was part of their sentence/plea deal/dropped charge agreement that they never speak of it?
    Are they rotting in a gulag?

    Why did this story burn hot for a few days in July and then suddenly disappear?

    What happened to Korea Media Watch? The Poker 8 story seemed to be their last and their sudden ending.

  4. Anonymous One, I wish I could tell you, but I do not know the answer.

    If they were given the chance to plead guilty and quietly leave the country, it would be nearly impossible to find out unless they wanted to be found out.

    If they are in jail, it’s more likely, but do we know their names?

    The Metropolitician interviewed them for Korea News Watch, one of his many adventures in media, but I’m not sure if he has the information either (and he’s got other things on his mind).

    Maybe some of their friends will come forward with information if you keep posting these queries (I've seen you post this at ROK Drop and Korea Beat, so keep that up... maybe you'll pique someone's interest).

    If you do find anything else out, please let me know.

  5. I have also posted on several other sites, everywhere that the story was hot and heavy until it suddenly just stopped. The Poker 8 seemed hell-bent intent on getting their story out and then absolute, cricket-chirping silence.

    If after nearly two years they have left the country, then they are outside of Korea's jurisdiction. I find it incredibly frightening that they can still be silenced.


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