E. Tammy Kim

E. Tammy Kim lives in Brooklyn and writes about culture and politics. She is working on essays and visual art, and co-editing a book about world-music label Sublime Frequencies.

Recent Articles

The Fourth Circuit's NLRB Smackdown

Flickr/Tim Evanson/Carlos Fernandez
Flickr/Carlos Fernandez Union members outside the Region 13 office of the National Labor Relations Board A t the heart of the latest feud between business groups and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an 11x17 sheet of paper that blandly recites the basics of a statute. But depending on whom you ask, the future of labor, the First Amendment, and freedom from state interference are at stake. On Friday, the Fourth Circuit became the second federal appeals court to strike down the NLRB's requirement that employers hang a simple poster advising employees of their right to join a union—the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reached a similar ruling last month. The notice resembled the signs in so many break-rooms and copy nooks that advertise the minimum wage or anti-discrimination and health-and-safety laws. This particular poster, however, enraged groups opposed to organized labor and pulled the Labor Board into extensive litigation. The NLRB had intended the sign to educate workers...

South Korea's Northern Stories

No one understands North Korea’s current nuclear moves better than those who live in the country next door, and who lived through the darkest moments of the 20th century.

E. Tammy Kim
E. Tammy Kim I arrived in Seoul from New York on January 30, having lost half a day somewhere over the Pacific. On the airport shuttle bus, a flat-screen TV played and replayed the Naro satellite launch: South Korea's encore attempt to put its first in orbit. The news spliced in footage of a cheering crowd, gaze heavenward, waving small Taegeugki flags outside the space center. It was like watching a dated Space Race reel. Two weeks later, as I was leaving Seoul, I again rode the airport shuttle. This time, the dashboard broadcast was much more grave. A red-backed news ticker announced North Korea's suspected nuclear test, nearly confirmed by seismic measurements. The images were again of mid-century intensity: mushroom clouds and infrared surveillance, menacing portraits of a Mao-suited dictator. This news, I gathered from cuts to president Obama, had gone international. My trip was thus bookended by hot actions on a Cold War peninsula—a divided nation still technically at war...

Home Is Where the Union Is

E. Tammy Kim
E. Tammy Kim Members of Damayan, a migrant domestic-worker organization in New York City T welve years ago, "Janie"—a round-faced, single mother of four—said goodbye to her children and life as she knew it in Manila. She agreed to follow a family to the U.S., where she would fulfill a contract for live-in domestic work. In her employers' Pennsylvania home, she cleaned and cared for the children seven days a week, 24 hours a day, without any days off. Her employers held her passport, and kept her at home—not once in seven years did she see friends or family. And her pay was a fraction of the minimum wage: a mere $400 per month, most of which she sent to the Philippines. When her employers moved, Janie, who asked that her real name not be used for legal reasons, found another job. She negotiated a better salary but met a new challenge: constant verbal harassment by her employer's mother. She recalls, "I cannot bear it anymore. I'm nothing to [them]. So they gave me pay, and I said I had...

Art for Hire

When will people making a living in the arts fight for their right to be compensated fairly for their contributions to culture?

(Photo by Scott Gries/PictureGroup)
T he annual, indie-heavy CMJ Music Marathon—sponsored by the weekly trade magazine that was once called College Music Journal —brought more than a thousand acts to New York City last month, for gigs stretching late into the night. When not playing, black-clad rockers wielded badges and tote bags around the West Village. There, the festival convened such panels as "Copyright Enforcement on the Edge," "A Day in the Life of a Successful Career DJ," and "Fan-durance: Sourcing Funding from Fandom." All good business talk, but, ironically, CMJ did not pay its musicians. Noah Shomberg, drummer for the Denver-based band The Foot, explains that CMJ tried to sell the festival as good for exposure, but that he resorted to “negotiating our own deals with clubs.” Evan Anderson, half of the electronic duo Exes of Evil, agrees. “It’s really hard to convince people to pay you.” Most musicians, writers, filmmakers, and painters are paid very little—a trade-off for doing what they love, the thinking...