Korean-Queretano relations - terribly fraught, even in the best of times - hit Cuban-Missile-Crisis levels of hostility this week when Kim Jaeoak, a foreman at Sam Won, one of the many Korean-owned assembly plants here (they supply something or other for Samsung) laid some whupp-ass on on a Mexican employee - or as Noticias put it in their exclusive report, "Sam Won Uses Karate to Assault Mexicans!" The story includes the security camera video below. And while it goes without saying that physical violence in the workplace is inexcusable, the video was something of a letdown after reading repeatedly about the "brutal beating" the Mexicano suffered at the hands and feet of the Coreano. What we get instead is the OJ Simpson low-speed Bronco chase of workplace violence videos:
We mean, seriously. The victim here is a 23-year-old, able-bodied Mexicano named Jorge Alberto Zamora Esparza, and while we certainly applaud his efforts to shed light on worker abuse - Jesus, dude, imagine how much worse it would have been if that fat chick wasn't there to shoo your assailant away again and again. We've suffered harsher beatings at the hands of our siblings. Our younger siblings.
Still, Noticas has a scoop and they're running hard with it. Tuesday they ran 17 follow-up stories on the assault. (By way of comparison, the New York Times had 13 stories about the hurricane that devastated America's largest city the night before.) They followed up with another 12 yesterday. Literally the entire local news section was taken up with it. (A mere seven today.) Not that they had to pad it out, really. Every elected and appointed Mexican official within a 50 mile radius has been eager to condemn the attack, despite the centrality of these foreign assembly plants to the local economy. Even the Querétaro Karate Association weighed in, explaining to the paper that not every flying kick delivered by an Asian man is properly called "karate," and more or less demanding a retraction of the previous day's headline.
It gets less funny, though. The coverage, and the public statements from the important muckety-mucks, all have an unfortunately xenophobic tinge to them. Regardless of the workplace dynamics at play, the protagonists are reduced to "the Mexican" and "the Korean." Today's paper had a story on the assailant's visa status. And while this Kim fella does seem like a major pendejo, we'd hate to be a Korean guy hanging out in the Centro as the bars are closing. (Not that there's much chance of this - we don't know where all the Korean assembly plant managers live, but it ain't the Centro.) In the end, the Korean Embassy offered an apology for the incident, though it's hard for us to figure out exactly what the Korean Embassy has to apologize for. When we got beat up by a Mexican guy last year, we don't recall getting a telegram from the foreign minister.
On the plus side, some of the followup coverages is focusing on the fact that incidents like this aren't rare, at Sam Won or elsewhere. If this leads to a serious investigation or examination of the working conditions behind Querétaro's self-proclaimed economic miracle, Jorge Alberto Zamora Esparza will not have been made to look like a bitch-ass crybaby in vain.