Episode F: Factual Correctness

RFA staffer Shen Ke tells us all about the Asia Fact Check Lab
By Amy Lee for RFA Insider
Episode F: Factual Correctness

Podcast Free Asia

With great trepidation, Eugene and Amy forge onwards to episode four, a numeral considered highly unlucky among East Asian cultures and languages for sounding nearly identical to the word for “death.”

Eugene offers a few corrections for episode three, beginning with mention of the Thai parliament passing a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. While the bill was approved by Thailand’s lower house and Senate, it will undergo further review and then the king will have to approve it before it can officially pass.

Also in the previous episode, the Korean term for traditional medicine, “hanyak,” does not actually translate to “Chinese medicine.” Eugene noticed that although the English definition on an online dictionary said "Chinese medicine," the Chinese characters did not use the Chinese han (漢), but used the Korean han(韓).

Eugene got help from Leejin from the Korean Service, who found out that there was an official change in the 1980s to differentiate between traditional medicine in China, and that in Korea, which does have its origins in China but has since diverged.

The Rundown

From the Korean Service comes a report that North Korean authorities have begun policing the way college students carry their bags. Students are warned not to carry their bags over their shoulder, but rather sling them across their backs or use their hands like good socialists. This mandate is the latest crackdown on “capitalist behavior” under the Rejection of Reactionary Thought and Culture Law, which has also banned wearing blue jeans, using South Korean words or products, cohabitating with the opposite sex while unmarried, collecting rent and watching or distributing foreign media.

The Lao Service reported that Lao authorities launched an investigation into Facebook videos showing a man fishing by throwing explosives into the Mekong River to stun or kill fish. The practice of grenade fishing (or blast fishing) is illegal due to its destructive effects on the underwater ecosystem, however, sources in northern Laos report that much of the fish sold at local markets is collected using this method. Fisherman, especially those abiding by traditional net fishing, have reported increasing hardships as the development of hydropower dams in the Mekong have decimated fish populations and displaced riverside communities.

How It’s Made

On this episode, “Shen Ke,” a staffer from RFA’s Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) joins us on air to discuss the ways in which disinformation, primarily from Chinese-language sources, is disseminated and how his team debunks it. Shen shares how he came to join AFCL and some of his favorite fact checks concerning fake election polls, and Eugene brought up one regarding Taylor Swift who DID NOT in fact say that the U.S. would be unable to protect Taiwan. Shen Ke is a pseudonym that the staffer writes under as a way to protect his identity, like “Wilson” and many other RFA journalists do. 

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