Geopolitics

Turkish Hackers Target ‘Pitiful, Pathetic’ French For Armenian Genocide Vote

The French National Assembly’s decision last week to approve a bill criminalizing public denial of the 1915-16 Armenian Genocide in Turkey triggered a stiff rebuke from Ankara. Over the weekend, Turkish hackers took down the French Senate’s website.

Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Ottoman soldiers (Wikipedia)
Armenian civilians are marched to a nearby prison in Mezireh by armed Ottoman soldiers (Wikipedia)


*NEWSBITES

PARIS -- Hackers have followed the Turkish government's lead in lashing out at the French parliament for its approval last week of a measure criminalizing public denial of Turkey's Armenian Genocide.

As of Monday afternoon, the website for the French Senate remained offline following a cyber attack attributed to a Turkish hacker group called Iskorpitx. The hackers also claimed responsibility for a Sunday attack on the personal website of Valérie Boyer, the conservative French deputy who drafted the bill making denial of the World War I-era Genocide a criminal offense.

On the homepage of Boyer's site, the hackers posted an image of the Turkish flag accompanied by a message written in both Turkish and English. "You, the diaspora Armenians, are such cowards that you don't have guts to open up the Armenian archives and face the truth," the message read. It went on to describe the French as "pitiful and pathetic" for "disregarding the truths."

Dep. Boyer, a member of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's Union for the Popular Movement (UMP) party, told reporters she has also received death and rape threats. She said her parents and children have been threatened as well.

Boyer and other members of France's National Assembly passed the controversial bill last Thursday. It will still need Senate approval before going into law. The bill proposes that anyone found guilty of publicly denying the Armenian genocide face a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 euros. An estimated 500,000 ethnic Armenians reside in France.

Furious about the move, Turkish authorities immediately recalled the country's ambassador to France. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said he was freezing all political visits and joint military projects.

Armenians claim Ottoman Turks massacred up to 1.5 million people between 1915-16. The Turkish government puts the number at 300,000 and insists the Armenians were not victims of genocide, but rather causalities – along with some Turks – of a failed revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

Read the full story in French on Le Monde

Photo - Wikipedia

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Society

Debt Trap: Why South Korean Economics Explains Squid Game

Crunching the numbers of South Korea's personal and household debt offers a glimpse into what drives the win-or-die plot of the Netflix hit produced in the Asian country.

In the Netflix series, losers of the game face death

Yip Wing Sum

-Analysis-

SEOUL — The South Korean series Squid Game has become the most viewed series on Netflix, watched by over 111 million viewers and counting. It has also generated a wave of debate online and off about its provocative message about contemporary life.

The plot follows the story of a desperate man in debt, who receives a mysterious invitation to play a game in which the contestants gamble their lives on six childhood games, with the winner awarded a prize of 45.6 billion won ($38 million)... while the losers face death.


It's a plot that many have noted is not quite as surreal as it sounds, a reflection of the reality of Korean society today mired in personal debt.

Seoul housing prices top London and New York

In the polished streets of downtown Seoul, one sees endless cards and coupons advertising loans scattered on the ground. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, as the demand for loans in South Korea has exploded, lax lending policies have led to a rapid increase in personal debt.

According to the South Korean Central Bank's "Monetary Credit Policy Report," household debt reached 105% of GDP in the first quarter of this year, equivalent to approximately $1.5 trillion at the end of March, with a major share tied up in home mortgages.

Average home loans are equivalent to 270% of annual income.

One reason behind the debts is the soaring housing prices. In Seoul, home to nearly half of the country's population, housing prices are now among the highest in the world. The price to income ratio (PIR), which weighs the average price of a home to the average annual household income, is 12.04 in Seoul, compared to 8.4 in San Francisco, 8.2 in London and 5.4 in New York.

According to the Korea Real Estate Commission, 42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s. For those in their 30s, the average amount borrowed is equivalent to 270% of their annual income.

Playing the stock market

At the same time, the South Korean stock market is booming. The increased demand to buy stocks has led to an increase in other loans such as credit. The ratio for Korean shareholders conducting credit financing, i.e. borrowing from securities companies to secure stock holdings, had reached 21.4 trillion won ($17.7 billion), further increasing the indebtedness of households.

A 30-year-old Seoul office worker who bought stocks through various forms of borrowing was interviewed by Reuters this year, and said he was "very foolish not to take advantage of the rebound."

In addition to his 100 million won ($84,000) overdraft account, he also took out a 100 million won loan against his house in Seoul, and a 50 million won stock pledge. All of these demands on the stock market have further exacerbated the problem of household debt.

42.1% of all home purchases in January 2021 were by young Koreans in their 20s and 30s

Simon Shin/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Game of survival

In response to the accumulating financial risks, the Bank of Korea has restricted the release of loans and has announced its first interest rate hike in three years at the end of August.

But experts believe that even if banks cut loans or raise interest rates, those who need money will look for other ways to borrow, often turning to more costly institutions and mechanisms.

This all risks leading to what one can call a "debt trap," one loan piling on top of another. That brings us back to the plot of Squid Game, "Either you live or I do." South Korean society has turned into a game of survival.

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