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UFO Hunters Stake-Out Korea
Source: The Korea Herald; June 10, 2001
September 4, 1995. "Load-type" UFO filmed by newspaper reporter
in Gyeonggi Province. February, 1998. Saucer-shaped UFO filmed in Busan.
April 9, 2001. Rod-shaped UFO captured on film by another TV cameraman.
May 5, 2001. TV cameraman catches unidentified flying object on film in
Cheong-ju, North Chungcheong Province.
Whether you believe in aliens or not, mysterious objects have been seen
buzzing the skies of Korea. A simple Internet search will reveal hundreds
of Korean UFO home pages. So far, no crashes. No abductions. But that
doesn't mean you can shelve your camera.
Seo Jong-han has dedicated 20 years to studying, tearing apart, and occasionally
verifying the twenty or so UFO photographs that crop up every year. Apart
from his day job as computer game developer, Seo is a member of the Korea
UFO Research Association (KUFORA), a small group of analysts that subjects
each reported sighting in Korea to close, computer-aided scrutiny.
"When I was in the fifth grade, I read a magazine called 'Boys Central.'
They had articles about UFOs every month, and I just got curious about
it," Seo said.
Each photo is examined through a computer for traces of forgery. Seo compares
the reflection of sunrays in the photograph to the alleged position of
the photographer at the time it was taken. He checks astronomical charts
to see if planets, shooting stars or solar flares were visible. He considers
the testimony of the photographer and looks for inconsistencies in the
reports of other witnesses. He then sends the survivors to another researcher
in Japan for a second opinion.
"Ninety-nine percent of the photos I get are fakes," Seo said.
Korea has a long history of UFO sightings. During the Korean War, both
American and Korean pilots reported encounters with flying saucers. In
March 1979, two Korean Air Force pilots participating in the Team Spirit
joint military exercise reported seeing a "very bright, lighted plane."
Nothing appeared on their radar screens.
The pilots alleged that the ship had flashing lights on the sides and
what looked like a "burning furnace" in the middle. It then
reportedly shot sideways, stopped, and then moved rapidly upwards and
out of sight.
In 1982, people reported three separate sightings, making it the "year
of the UFO" in Korea.
Having studied each case in minute detail, Seo shared the lessons learned
from his successful UFO observation with The Korea Herald. It's not enough
to just set up a camera, he explained. To ensure that your photo survives
scrutiny, it's important to use the proper techniques.
The best method Seo recommends is using the eponymous technique developed
by an American named John Bro. The "Bro Method" is designed
to detect UFOs hiding in the sun's rays.
Take a video camera or timed camera and put it on a tripod. Place the
tripod just under the eaves of a house or building, with the lens at an
The shadow of the eaves will fall over the camera, reducing glare and
highlighting flying objects that would otherwise be obscured by the sun.
"UFOs often hide by placing themselves directly in front of the sun,"
Seo said. "With the Bro technique, you can still catch them on film."
As in real estate, location is key. Once a UFO is sighted, there's a good
chance it can be seen again in the same area.
While UFOs have been seen all over South and North Korea, the best place
to pitch a tripod is Kapyeong, in Gyeonggi Province. With two UFO sightings
and a slew of military bases in the area, Kapyeong is fertile ground for
Yangdong, in North Chungcheong Province, is another popular place for
UFO hunters to stake out.
Seo went to Kapyeong after a reporter from the Munwha Ilbo photographed
a UFO there, hovering in the sky. Seo shot his film at the exact spot
the reporter stood. He claims the video, still under examination, caught
a "moving cloud," which he believes is an alien spacecraft.
Finally, patience is something no researcher can work without. It might
take years to get the shot, the reward for hundreds of rolls of film,
moments of elation and disappointment, and endless public negativity.
"If you get a shot of a UFO, don't bother sending it to us,"
Seo said. "Sooner or later, they all wind up on my desk."
Seo says a UFO can be distinguished from an airplane or weather balloon
by its rapid movement, its ability to turn on a dime and accelerate almost
instantly. This violation of the law of physics, he says, is what leads
most scientists to view UFOs as a phenomenon rather than an object of
Those who manage to get a rapidly moving object on film should not be
disappointed if it doesn't look like a flying saucer. There are over ten
identified classes of UFOs, some believed to be from different planets.
Among the most common UFO types reportedly seen across the country is
the cigar, "load," type, also referred to as the "mother
ship." There's also a "ball" type, triangular type, "clover
with a dome" type, "round with a dome" type and "half
a sphere" model. A Korean Web site, www.ufokorea.net,
lists even more.
In competition with the multiple types of UFOs are multiple types of non-UFOs.
Pictures of planets, dragonflies, and the scourge of lens glare may have
interesting imagery, but proof of unidentified flying objects they are
Using a string to lift a model around in front of a video camera may also
get a few yuks, but won't fool a serious investigator. Clever use of the
"copy" and "paste" functions on a computer may shock
co-workers, but it's a shocking waste of time for KUFORA.
Of course, UFO research in Korea isn't limited to setting up a camera
and biding one's time. A person can also set up a radar station and bide
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) institute (http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu),
based in the United States, connects computers from all over the world,
allowing a person to monitor radio transmissions from space over the Internet.
The Mutual UFO Network (www.mufon.com)
is another alien investigation organization operating internationally.
MUFON members are trained to properly investigate sightings and reports
of UFOs, feeding the information into a massive database. MUFON currently
has no chapter in Korea, but with the growing list of sightings and believers,
that could change soon.
With the Korean economy picking up, UFO sightings will get more common.
With more leisure time, people take more trips. They go to beaches, mountains,
resorts - and take lots of pictures. More people in more places taking
more photos means more UFO sightings.
Seo says there have been no reported cases of alien abduction in Korea.
People interested in mysterious airborne objects shouldn't worry about
their safety when staking out famous sighting areas. The most important
things in UFO hunting are technique, knowledge, and persistence. And luck.
World UFO Day, the anniversary of the Roswell Incident, is July 2. On
July 2, 1947, a farmer in Roswell, New Mexico reportedly discovered the
wreckage of a flying saucer, prompting widespread conspiracy theories.
By Burke Josslin Staff reporter