Friday, March 13, 2020

Case of the Day: Tule Lake Comm. v. City of Tulelake, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42459 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2020)


Plaintiff is the committee to commemorate the Tule Lake camp in which Japanese Americans were interned during World War II. Plaintiff sued to enjoin the City of Tulelake's sale of its municipal airport, because two-thirds of the airport site was the location of the barracks in which the Japanese Americans were imprisoned. 

The parties reached an interim settlement agreement, in which they agreed that the plaintiff can prevail only if the controlling government authorities appear likely to approve the designation of the airport site as a national park. The court found that letters from the former acting director of the National Park Service and the current Deputy Regional Director of the NPS Pacific West Region were not sufficient to establish that the site was likely to be approved as a national park, and granted the defendant's motion to dismiss the claim by specifically enforcing the interim settlement agreement.


Worth remembering a major moment in Asian American history any time it appears before the judicial system.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Case of the Day: Lutz v. Rakuten, Inc., 376 F.Supp.3d 455 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 22, 2019)


Plaintiff is a baseball player residing in Pennsylvania, who played for Rakuten Golden Eagles, a Japanese baseball team based in Sendai, Japan. Within weeks of having finalized the contract, Rakuten Baseball, Inc. (which operates the Golden Eagles) reneged on the contract, compelling the plaintiff to sign with Doosan Bears in South Korea for a smaller sum. Plaintiff sued Rakuten Baseball, and Rakuten Baseball moved to dismiss based on lack of personal jurisdiction.

The court rejected the motion to dismiss, finding that Rakuten Baseball purposefully directed its activities at Pennsylvania by knowingly negotiating with a Pennsylvania resident, recruiting in Pennsylvania and wiring money to Pennsylvania.


While the court is not wrong in terms of the law, this opinion seems unusual. What if the plaintiff was not a baseball player negotiating his own contract, but a manufacturer negotiating to purchase products from Japan? In such a situation, seems like the court would lean toward dismissing the case for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Media Appearance: Oscar Winner 'Parasite' and the Hidden Backstory of Fried Chicken on KCRW "Good Food"

I spoke with Evan Kleiman at Good Food on KCRW radio, the NPR station for Santa Monica, CA.

Media Appearance: Cults and Conservatives Spread Coronavirus in South Korea on Foreign Policy

South Korean media picked up this article, and its translation was one of the most read stories on for several days:
Since the discovery of Patient Number 31, the number of COVID-19 cases in South Korea jumped from 30 to 977 in eight days. Nearly all of the new cases are Shincheonji cultists, or traceable to them. Particularly tragic is the case of Cheongdo Daenam Hospital, where the funeral for Lee Man-hee’s brother was held. This hospital alone saw 113 cases, most of whom were patients in the psychiatric who were committed long term. Because these patients never left the hospital much less traveled abroad, they were not tested early for nCoV, nor were they properly quarantined. This led to an advanced stage of the disease among many of the psychiatric patients, resulting in seven out of the ten coronavirus deaths thus far.

South Korea’s politics, meanwhile, is presenting another type of retrograde challenge. South Korea’s conservatives, still recovering from the impeachment and removal of the conservative president Park Geun-hye in 2017, have held large scale rallies in the middle of Seoul each week for months. Even as large corporations are advising the employees to work remotely and people are cancelling meetings, these conservative groups—largely made up of high-risk, geriatric population—continue to hold rallies, cavalierly ignoring the Seoul government’s advisory to the contrary. Shouting down Seoul mayor Park Won-soon’s plea to stop the rally, the conservative group leader and pastor Jeon Gwang-hun implausibly claimed it was impossible to contract coronavirus outdoors, while those attending claimed “God was making the wind blow to drive out the virus.” 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Media Appearance: North Korea Isn't Ready for Coronavirus Devastation on Foreign Policy

Rahm Emanuel was onto something when he said: "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. It's an opportunity to do things you could not do before." This applies to the nCoV crisis sweeping East Asia as well:
This makes it the right moment for the United States and its allies to extend a helping hand. The under-appreciated fact about sanctions is that they are effective only if they are eventually lifted. Never-ending sanctions and isolation achieve nothing; the point of imposing sanctions is to gradually lift them over time in exchange for a gradual change of behavior. This moment, when North Korea is more isolated than ever from its most important ally, offers the greatest opportunity for the United States to drive a wedge between Pyongyang and Beijing. The beauty of this is that helping North Korea in this situation requires no formal change in US policy at all. No sanctions need to be lifted, as medical and humanitarian assistance is not subject to sanctions. In addition to medical aid, US and South Korea may offer to open tourism for Americans and South Koreans to visit North Korea’s newly constructed resorts when the viral epidemic is over. Doing so would begin the process of weaning North Korea from its trade dependence to China, gradually pulling it toward the US sphere of influence.

Ultimately, denuclearization of North Korea can be achieved only after Washington and Seoul establish a peaceful relationship with Pyongyang. Establishing such “peace regime” is doubly beneficial, as it serves as a check against the increasingly illiberal and assertive China. Not even the most well-designed sanctions regime could have achieved the level of isolation that North Korea is currently experiencing. The United States should not miss this window of opportunity. 
North Korea Isn't Ready for Coronavirus Devastation [Foreign Policy]

Media Appearance: 'Parasite' Has a Hidden Backstory of Middle-Class Failure and Chicken Joints on Foreign Policy

More Parasite stuff! I wrote about how just a couple of phrases, "chicken place" and "king castella", Bong Joon-ho hinted at an entire backstory of the struggling Kim family:
With the 1997 Financial Crisis, this system of lifetime employment failed catastrophically. Even those who managed to keep their jobs could no longer expect a tenured employment, much less a pension. A common situation is for people in their 40s and 50s being pushed into a “voluntary” retirement with a lump sum severance pay. Suddenly without a job with a company that anchored their lives, these young retirees had to fend for their family by turning that severance pay into a steady cash flow.

Quick-serve restaurants, including fried chicken joints, offered an outlet for Koreans in such situation. They required a low amount of capital and little to no skill to start. Overhead could be kept low by enlisting the whole family as free labor. The low interest rate following the economic crisis made it easy to obtain a loan to add to the severance pay and form a seed money. The result is that as of late 2018, South Korea had 125 restaurants per 10,000 people, more than double the rate of Japan (59 per 10,000) and six times the rate of the United States (21 per 10,000). South Korea’s huge number of restaurants do not just reflect the fact that Koreans enjoy dining out; it also reflects the structure of the economy that pushes people into small, subsistence level businesses. 
'Parasite' Has a Hidden Backstory of Middle-Class Failure and Chicken Joints [Foreign Policy]

This article, as well as my op-ed on the nCoV epidemic in North Korea, were the top two most read articles on on February 23.

Media Appearance: How 'Parasite' Almost Never Saw the Light of Day on Washington Post

Parasite made history by becoming the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture in the Oscars. For the Washington Post, I wrote about how South Korea's conservative administration blacklisted its director Bong Joon-ho and lead actor Song Kang-ho:
But Bong’s career was jeopardized in the 2010s, after South Korea elected two conservative presidents with retrograde attitudes toward freedom: Lee Myung-bak, a former chief executive of Hyundai Group, and Park Geun-hye, daughter of former dictator Park Chung-hee. Lee and Park Geun-hye turned Kim Dae-jung’s principle on pop culture on its head by using governmental support to interfere with pop culture. In the name of “balancing cultural power,” the Lee administration compiled a detailed list of left-leaning celebrities to cut off from public support and pressure away from major platforms.

The Park administration vastly expanded this blacklist to include nearly 10,000 names. Internal papers from the Park administration on Bong’s movies reads as if Joseph McCarthy were a film critic. “Memories of Murder” was criticized for “injecting negative impressions of the police by depicting them as corrupt and incompetent”; “The Host” “highlights anti-Americanism and governmental incompetence, pushing the society leftward”; “Snowpiercer” “denies the legitimacy of market economy and provokes social resistance.”