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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (Sept. 18, 2017)
September 18, 2017
ASIA / PACIFIC
THE ASIAN REPORTER n Page 3
HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL. A Chinese opera actor performs at a makeshift theater during the Hungry
Ghost Festival in Hong Kong. Countless hungry and restless ghosts are roaming Hong Kong, and the world, to
visit their living ancestors, at least according to Chinese convention. In traditional Chinese belief, the seventh
month of the lunar year is reserved for the Hungry Ghost Festival, or Yu Lan, a raucous celebration marked by
feasts and music. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Hong Kong’s Hungry Ghost
Festival appeases restless ghosts
HONG KONG (AP) — Family members
burn paper money over open flames on
sidewalks. Chinese operas are performed
in makeshift theaters under tents set up in
neighborhoods. All to appease spirits in
what is known as the Hungry Ghost
It is traditional Chinese belief that in
the seventh month of the lunar calendar,
the ghosts and the living occupy the same
space as spirits wander restlessly to visit
their living ancestors.
Associated Press photographer Kin
Cheung documented the Hong Kong
tradition, revealing the scenes at make-
shift altars and tents as people paid
tribute to the spirits of their ancestors with
food, candles, and music.
It is believed that the gates of the
afterlife are open during the festival
celebration, which began in mid-
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SALT-FARM SLAVERY. A man walks through a salt farm on Sinui Island, South Korea, in this April 3,
2014 file photo. A court has ruled that the South Korean government must pay 37 million won ($33,000)
to a man who was held as a slave on a salt farm for several years and stopped from escaping by police.
(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)
Court orders South Korea to
compensate former salt-farm slave
By Kim Tong-Hyung
The Associated Press
EOUL, South Korea — The South
Korean government must pay 37
million won ($33,000) to a man who
was enslaved on a salt farm for several
years and was stopped from escaping by
police, a court has ruled.
But the Seoul Central District Court re-
jected the compensation demands of seven
other former salt-farm slaves, saying the
government’s responsibility over their
cases was unclear.
More than 60 slaves, most of them with
intellectual disabilities, were rescued from
remote islands off South Korea’s south-
western coast following an investigation
led by mainland police in 2014.
The Associated Press documented some
of their stories in a yearlong investigation.
Dozens of farm owners and job brokers
were indicted, but no police or officials
were punished despite allegations some
knew about the slavery.
Choi Jung Kyu, one of several lawyers
representing the plaintiffs, said the
lawyers will discuss with plaintiffs and
their guardians before deciding whether to
appeal. Lawsuits against the government
over human-rights abuses are rarely
successful in South Korea, where the
burden of proof in non-criminal cases is
entirely put on the plaintiffs, who often
lack information or resources.
The eight plaintiffs had sought a com-
bined 240 million won ($213,000) in com-
pensation from the government, saying
that official negligence and police inaction
prolonged their ordeals. The man who
received compensation had escaped a salt
farm in Sinui Island and sought the help of
police, who instead called the farm owner
to the station to take him back.
Most of the salt-farm slaves rescued in
2014 had been lured to the islands by “man
hunters” and job brokers hired by salt-
farm owners, who would beat them into
long hours of backbreaking labor and
confine them at their houses for years
while providing little or no pay.
The slavery was revealed in early 2014
when two police officers from the capital,
Seoul, came to Sinui disguised as tourists
and pulled off a clandestine operation to
rescue one of the slaves who had been
reported by his family as missing. That
man’s compensation claim was rejected.
One of the Seoul police officers who res-
cued the man told The AP they went un-
dercover because of concerns about collab-
orative ties between the island’s police and
salt-farm owners. Local officials admitted
to failures in properly monitoring the
working and living conditions at the farms.
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