Twitterloin Update: “VILLA AROMA,” Where Something Smells – Recalling SFChron’s “DIARY OF A SEX SLAVE” Brouhaha of 2006

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

As always, start with the Yelp:

“There is a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, a special sort of class, that imbues a neighborhood when it is sporting its very own windowless massage parlor with neon lights and a locked gate even during business hours (ring bell for admittance–I guess they don’t take walk-ins). The “carvings” on the wall seem to be intended to be reminiscent of something Roman.”

Here’s this place today in 2015:

7J7C7130 copy

And now let’s learn about how things were back in aught-six, via the San Francisco Chronicle:





IIRC, this series was the talk of the town. Even back then, it was unusual for a newspaper to devote so many resources on one basic story.

And the story itself was single-sourced for the most part – it seemed as if the Chron simply assumed that everything the subject said about the journey from There to Here was true. Oh well.

Anyway, right from the get-go, the Chron started pulling back a bit, getting rid of photos what were “too sexy,” or something, IIRC.

And then came the blowback, hoo boy. This forgotten webpage has the deets:

“Instead of educating Chronicle readers about the cultural background of South Korea, the world’s 10th largest economy, the “Diary” series dwells at length, and with questionable purpose, on the titillating details of one individual’s forced sex acts and non-typical family history. The Chronicle series includes many cultural inaccuracies and paints a distorted picture of Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city. Busan is an international coastal resort known for its open-air seafood — not sex — markets, and as host of the annual International Film Festival, the largest such event in Asia.”

Oh, here it is, the full Monty, blow-backwise. (And the non-SFGate version is here.)

Oh, scratch that, oh here it is, the Great Concessions:

Among the promises won, the San Francisco Chronicle (owned by the New York-based Hearst Corporation) pledged “in principle” not to syndicate the series, to provide the community more “constructive coverage” and access to the paper, and to continue a dialogue with the community to improve development of stories and their sources. Kim herself remained cautious, however: “We need to maintain a vigilant posture to ensure that there is, in fact, meaningful follow-through based on our initial meeting.” “[The syndication] was of utmost concern to our community members, as we feel the culturally damaging impact would be magnified,” emphasized Kim. ”We had also pointed out to the Chronicle’s management that based on the underlying facts of this case, there is a clear legal case to be made for racial bias,” said Kim.

Now, I may be just a simple hyperchicken, but I don’t think you can sue the Chron in a “legal case” for “racial bias” just because you don’t like one of its stories. Or if you do, you’ll get hit with an anti-SLAPP motion what will suspend your discovery process cold, and then make you wish you never ever sued the Chronicle, like the hardest work for the Chron’s attorneys would be proving up the $50,000 in attorney’s fees that you’ll end up paying to the Chron for bringing your nonsensical suit, for “racial bias.”

Or something like that.

Anyway, that’s what I think about whenever I pass by the Twitterloin’s  Villa “Aroma,” where something smells, even today…

Asiana Air Crash Update – Reviewing KTVU TV’s “Sum Ting Wong” Fiasco from 2014 – TRIGGER WARNING: Speculation

Friday, January 24th, 2014

1. So KTVU, the way to make up for your error is to disclose what occurred, IMO. The way NOT to do it is to air “Success Makers*” featuring “Survivor” winner Yul Kwon interviewing other notable Korean Americans. This tit-for-tat, Black-Eye vs. Feather-in-the-Cap, yes-but-is-it-good-for-the-Jews accounting system is a big fat joke and everybody knows it. If you all want to air this kind of “aspirational” bullcrap at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, well then be my guest, but you don’t need to commit the U.S. Media Blunder of the Year 2013 first, right? One thing has nothing to do with the other, IRL. You can throw a bone to the Asian American Journalists Association whenever you want, right? Why connect the two?

2. OTOH, KTVU, if you want to go through the pretty much pointless process of sending out take-down notices hither and yon so that certain people, certain older, out of touch people, can see that you’re trying to placate them, well, at least that makes more sense than Success Makers.

3. So, KTVU, what happened? Your viewing public is confused. And rightly so, since you’re hiding your own story from them. Some think that you all got punked by another TV station as payback for all the crowing you were doing about your Asiana coverage up to that point. Others think that some low-level KTVU employee made a joke and then things got out of hand. But that’s not what I heard.

4. My theory. Some aviation buff from the Midwest, let’s say in Illinois or a neighboring state, posts on a regional forum that the names all the pilots have just been revealed: “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow.” This joke just sat out there for a day or so and then it started getting repeated on other boards and Twitter and the like. A retired pilot, somebody that KTVU had dealt with in the past, came across the names but didn’t get the joke. So he earnestly passed the names along to a contact at KTVU and that’s what got the ball rolling. Do you want a guess on who that person is? Well, my WAG is a former United Airlines pilot who’s now living in a leafy East Bay suburb. Someone who is older. He’s younger than my grandmother, who would not have gotten the joke either, but old enough to have grown up in a more sober-minded era. (That’s an era where a kind of blue-collar, single-income fam could actually afford to buy a Brady Bunch kind of house on an ironically-named street just before it massively appreciated.)

5. So then, the KTVU crew runs the names by a Chinese-American(?) woman who  doesn’t wonder why all the Korean pilots have Chinese-sounding names? (NB: If you don’t have a Kim, a Lee, or a Park in there, then something might very well be suspect.) And the news reader lady, who, after all is pretty much mindlessly reading the Teleprompter, pronounced one of the names as Fook instead of Fuck and boy aren’t we clever to not make that mistake

6. I’ll tell you, it’ll take a long time before a carrier like Asiana has four Chinese national pilots on one of its widebodies. OTOH, there were a heck of a lot of Chinese passengers on the Korean plane. Why’s that? Well, I’ll tell you, one of my former co-workers flew to South Korea last year just before the SFO disaster and this person specifically avoided using the two big Korean carriers even though it cost hundreds more to do so. Why? A strong mistrust of South Korean aviation safety. So, a Chinese carrier, Taiwanese, American? Sure, but not Asiana. One assumes that Asiana had pretty low fares in the summer of 2013…

7. So KTVU, as long as your happy, huh? You had a problem, you dealt with it, you fired some people, you paid off some settlement(s) for firing some people, you aired an aspirational TV show to several thousands of viewers and that’s that. What this all reminds me of is what the San Francisco Chronicle went through after it posted DIARY OF A SEX SLAVE, which was a major investment in time and money.** Boy, that one really hit the fan. After this similar kind of backlash, the Chron agreed not to syndicate the series, which prolly cost the Chron big bucks I’m guessing. Oh well.

8. Anyway, KTVU, that’s what some people might be thinking, but not saying. Try to focus on what’s correct, not what’s confirmed, you old MSM dinosaur you. The way you handled this mess is a bigger problem than the initial mess itself is what I’m saying. Go and sin no more. And I’ll tell you, the FAA / NTSB gets an A+ so far for the accident investigation. It’s like a WHAT WENT WRONG SO WE DON’T DO THIS AGAIN kind of thing. Why doesn’t KTVU do the same kind of thing so we can all benefit?

*”I’ll be hosting a special on KTVU tomorrow night after the 49ers-Seahawks game. The show is called “Success Makers” and I profile/interview four Asian American trailblazers, including Gideon Yu (president of the 49ers and former CFO of Facebook) and Daniel Dae Kim (star of Lost and Hawaii 5-0). Their stories are fascinating, and notwithstanding the painfully rusty host, the show is actually pretty eye-opening.”

**The problem was that the important parts were single-sourced. (“Typical college student?” Please.) IMO, that was the real prob with it.