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Joe Henley

Taipei City, Taiwan
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About Joe
Joe Henley is a journalist based in Taipei City, Taiwan with over a decade of experience working in print, television, and online media.
Feature Stories Content Writing Investigative Journalism
Politics Current Affairs Technology

Excerpt of Migrante

Meet Ladybeard, the Crown Prince of Japan’s Strangest Music Scene

09 Dec 2023  |  narratively.com
Joe Henley reflects on his fascination with individuals who carve out their own unique spaces in the world, particularly those who don't fit into conventional roles. He recounts his encounter with Ladybeard, a performer who combines masculinity with the aesthetics of kawaii culture, during a metal band performance in Hong Kong. Ladybeard's striking appearance in a nurse's outfit amidst a mosh pit left a lasting impression on Henley, who sees Ladybeard as a figure who helps others embrace their own idiosyncrasies.

Myanmar's Metal Scene Stands Strong in the Midst of Political Upheaval

01 Oct 2023  |  www.vice.com
Myanmar's burgeoning metal scene is thriving despite the country's political turmoil. The article highlights the resilience and growth of various subcultures, including punk, hip-hop, and metal, in Yangon. Key figures like Kyaw Kyaw and Darko C. are noted for their roles in advocating against military actions and promoting cultural expression. The metal scene, though nascent, is gaining momentum with bands like Senanga Privuta, Jeksetra, and Last Days of Beethoven leading the charge. The article also touches on the broader socio-political context, including the Rohingya crisis and the impact of international non-profits like Turning Tables in fostering artistic freedom.

A raw deal

05 Apr 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article discusses the plight of a Filipino migrant worker, Aliw, who worked in Taiwan and is owed NT$600,000 in unpaid overtime by her employer, a nursing home. Despite winning a legal case, her employer appealed, and she had to leave Taiwan as her visa expired. The article highlights the broader issue of migrant workers in Taiwan, particularly caregivers, who often work long hours without days off and are not adequately protected under the Labor Standards Act. Migrant workers face exploitation and have little leverage in negotiating fair working conditions. The Serve the People Association and other organizations are advocating for better legal protection for migrant workers, but progress is slow. The article also touches on the role of the Philippine government in educating workers about their rights abroad.

A tale of two voices

05 Apr 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article discusses the efforts of two Taiwanese artists, Sangpuy Katetepan and Bulareyaung Pagarlava, in preserving Aboriginal traditions and culture. Sangpuy, a singer/songwriter from the Pinuyumayan community, and Bulareyaung, a Cloud Gate Dance Theatre performer from the Paiwan people, are both passionate about reviving their native languages and traditions. Sangpuy's dedication to his culture led him to extend his training in the Pinuyumayan language and delay his personal ambitions. His latest album, 'Dalan,' aims to teach the younger generation their ancestral language through music. Bulareyaung, who had distanced himself from his roots, is now reconnecting with his Paiwan heritage and encouraging youth to preserve their culture while following their dreams. The article highlights their shared belief in the importance of language as a key to cultural identity.

Domestic slavery, Maid in Taiwan

01 Apr 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article by Joe Henley discusses the plight of domestic workers in Taiwan, focusing on the experiences of Filipino workers who face long hours, physical and sexual abuse, and have little legal protection. Ruby Comida and other migrant workers are highlighted, sharing their stories of abuse and exploitation by employers and brokers. The article details how workers are trapped in a cycle of debt, paying high fees to brokers and agencies, and how the legal system in Taiwan fails to protect them adequately. It also covers the efforts of advocacy groups like Migranteng Kababaihan sa Taiwan (MKT) and individuals like Lennon Wong from the Serve the People Association, who are working to raise awareness and help migrant workers fight for their rights. The article touches on the upcoming One Billion Rising event in Taipei, which aims to highlight the exploitation of female migrant workers globally.

Voices of the exploited

01 Apr 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article by Joe Henley highlights the plight of migrant workers in Taiwan, focusing on their exploitation and lack of legal protection. It narrates the story of Gil, a Filipino migrant worker subjected to slave-like conditions on a fishing vessel. Despite the promise of a better life, he faced physical abuse and threats from his captain. The article also discusses the role of NGOs like Migranteng Kababaihan sa Taiwan (MKT) and Serve the People Association (SPA) in aiding these workers. It criticizes the Taiwanese brokerage system that overcharges and mistreats migrant workers, who are excluded from the Labor Standards Act protections. The piece also touches on the efforts of young Taiwanese activists and the importance of changing societal attitudes towards migrant workers. The article ends with a call for recognition of the shared humanity and the contributions of migrant workers to Taiwan.

All in the family

01 Apr 2023  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article focuses on the Lien-Cheng Saxophone Company, a family-owned business in Taiwan that is facing challenges in continuing its legacy. The company, which has been in the Chang family for three generations, was founded by Chang Lien-cheng who built his first saxophone in the 1940s. The current owner, Chang Tsung-yao, and his wife Wang Tsai-jui are running the company with a commitment to maintaining its Made-in-Taiwan brand. However, they struggle to find young apprentices willing to learn the intricate craft of saxophone making. Despite the challenges, Chang Tsung-yao's four daughters are prepared to take over the business, with the second-youngest, Chang Yu-fang, expressing a strong desire to continue the family tradition.

Marooned by Morakot: Indigenous Taiwanese typhoon survivors long to return home

17 Dec 2021  |  climatechangenews.com
Typhoon Morakot, one of the deadliest typhoons in Taiwan's history, struck on August 8, 2009, devastating the indigenous village of Makazayazaya and resulting in over 600 deaths. Survivors from the Paiwan indigenous group were forced to evacuate and relocate to Rinari, a new town built by the Pingtung county government and World Vision Taiwan. Despite the new settlement, the Paiwan people face unemployment, cultural disconnection, and environmental threats exacerbated by climate change. Efforts to reclaim traditional farmlands and return to their ancestral home have been hindered by a lack of resources and political will. The Paiwan continue to lobby for land rights and seek opportunities for self-sufficiency and cultural preservation.

The Miaoli Lockdown and Taiwan’s Migrant Worker Apartheid

10 Jun 2021  |  international.thenewslens.com
Taiwan's treatment of Southeast Asian migrant workers, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, is described as a form of apartheid. The article highlights the severe restrictions and discriminatory policies imposed on these workers, contrasting their treatment with that of local and Western expatriates. It criticizes the Miaoli County Government's lockdown measures and the broader systemic issues that perpetuate inequality and exploitation of migrant workers in Taiwan. The piece calls for Taiwan to address these injustices to truly uphold its values of human rights and progressive ideals.

What Kind of Country Does Taiwan Want To Be?

03 Nov 2020  |  international.thenewslens.com
Taiwan's success in handling Covid-19 has made it an attractive destination for relocation. The government aims to attract more immigrants through programs like the Employment Gold Card, but challenges such as low wages, bureaucratic hurdles, and the inhumane treatment of Southeast Asian migrant workers persist. The article evaluates recent reforms and questions the future direction of Taiwan's immigration policies.

Equal Rights for Migrant Workers Now

30 Sep 2020  |  international.thenewslens.com
Taiwan, known for its progressive values, has made significant strides in areas like same-sex marriage and indigenous language preservation. However, it has failed to extend similar protections to its large population of Southeast Asian migrant workers, who face exploitation and abuse under a corrupt brokerage system. These workers, employed in factories, fishing boats, and private homes, endure harsh conditions, lack of legal protection, and financial exploitation. The article calls for the abolition of the brokerage system, implementation of a direct-hire scheme, and amendments to the Labor Standards Act to include all workers, urging collective action to demand these changes.

How Gigi Wu Found and Lost Herself in the Clouds

31 Aug 2020  |  Sports Illustrated
Gigi Wu, a Taiwanese mountaineer known for summiting mountains and posing in bikinis at their peaks, tragically died after falling down a cliff and succumbing to hypothermia in January 2019. Despite her experience and preparation, the solo trek through Yushan National Park proved fatal when she deviated onto an unsanctioned trail. Her death sparked a national conversation about hiking regulations and safety, leading to government initiatives to improve trail access and infrastructure. Wu's legacy continues to influence the mountaineering community and Taiwan's approach to wilderness exploration.

Review: Kimpton Da An, Taipei

01 Jun 2019  |  www.silverkris.com
The Kimpton Da An in Taipei blends modern chic with vintage cool, capturing the city's spirit in its design by Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu. The hotel features bespoke furnishings, pet-friendly rooms with historic craftsmanship, and a signature scent. Unique services include a Morning Kickstart with complimentary beverages and an evening Social Hour. The Tavernist restaurant on the 12th floor offers modern fusion cuisine by James Sharman, utilizing local organic ingredients. Located in Da'an District, the hotel provides guests with bike routes to explore the area's food, sites, and shops.

Cafe culture and craft beer in Chiang Mai: a guide to Thai city’s trendy Nimman Road

25 Mar 2019  |  South China Morning Post
Chiang Mai's Nimman Road has become a hub for trendy cafes, craft beer bars, and artisan food, attracting both locals and tourists. Key spots include Rustic and Blue, known for its millennial cuisine, and Ristr8to, famous for its latte art. The area also features upscale shopping complexes like One Nimman and vibrant nightlife. Local entrepreneurs like Meen Radee and Tarinee Ketwang highlight the growing interest in artisan food and craft beer. Despite rapid development, Nimman Road retains its relaxed charm, offering a refuge from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Me and my uncle Ip Man taught Bruce Lee Wing Chun kung fu. He was rubbish when he started

16 Feb 2019  |  South China Morning Post
The article recounts the experiences of a Wing Chun kung fu master who was taught by his uncle, Ip Man, and later taught Bruce Lee. It highlights the history of Wing Chun, the personal journey of the author from Hong Kong to Taiwan, and his dedication to spreading Wing Chun globally. The narrative emphasizes the values of kung fu, such as avoiding fights and the importance of teaching and passing on knowledge. Bruce Lee's early struggles and eventual dedication to kung fu are also discussed, along with the author's continued commitment to teaching despite his age.

Meet Ladybeard, the Crown Prince of Japan’s Strangest Music Scene

10 Oct 2018  |  www.narratively.com
Ladybeard, a burly, sandy blonde–haired white man, has become a notable figure in Japan's kawaiicore music scene. Known for his muscular build and distinctive attire, such as a greenish-blue thigh-high nurse’s outfit, Ladybeard's performances are a blend of heavy metal and kawaii (cute) culture. His unique persona and energetic stage presence have made him a standout in the subculture, captivating audiences with his unconventional style.

Underground Yangon: punk, metal, rap and hip hop music flourishing after end of military rule

30 May 2018  |  South China Morning Post
The underground music scene in Yangon, including punk, metal, rap, and hip hop, is experiencing growth following the end of military rule. Despite challenges such as obtaining permits and finding venues, local musicians and promoters are persevering. Key venues like Pirate Bar and 7th Joint Bar play a significant role in hosting these events. Promoters like Darko C. from Turning Tables and collectives like D.I.T. are instrumental in organizing gigs. The Voice of Youth Festival highlighted the popularity of local rapper J-Me, indicating a thriving hip hop scene. The article reflects a hopeful sentiment towards the future of underground music in Yangon.

Underground Chengdu: the live-music scene and best bars for jam sessions, dance, reggae and some fun in the Chinese city

16 Mar 2018  |  South China Morning Post
Chengdu, a second-tier city in China, is celebrated for its vibrant underground music scene, distinct from the more competitive environments of Beijing and Shanghai. Musicians like Wu Zhuoling find Chengdu's relaxed atmosphere conducive to creativity and performance. Venues such as New Machu Picchu Bar, Steam, Jah Bar, New Little Bar, and Tag are central to the city's indie, electronic, and reggae music communities. The local government has recognized the scene's value, promoting it as a city attraction. Despite challenges, the scene thrives, offering a haven for musicians and music lovers alike.

Burmese bare-knuckle kick-boxing goes mainstream

28 Jan 2018  |  South China Morning Post
Lethwei, a traditional Burmese bare-knuckle kick-boxing sport, is gaining popularity both locally and internationally. Known for its brutal and ancient combat style, lethwei is attracting foreign fighters and expanding its reach to countries like Japan and Russia. Key figures in the sport include Dave Leduc, the first foreign open-weight world champion, and local champions like Saw Gaw Mu Do and Lone Chaw. The sport's growth is supported by dedicated trainers and gym owners who aim to improve the fighters' quality of life and elevate lethwei's global status.

Myanmar music festivals help to unite youth, heal old wounds and work for a better future

25 Jan 2018  |  South China Morning Post
Turning Tables, led by Jakobsen, is an organization that has been actively promoting music festivals in regions affected by conflict, including the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring. In Myanmar, the Voice of the Youth music festival, organized by Turning Tables and led locally by Swe Hlaing Htet, also known as Darko C, aims to unite the youth and encourage peaceful coexistence among different music genres. Darko C, a prominent figure in the Myanmese music scene, addresses social issues and advocates for freedom of expression, challenging the country's culture of non-confrontation and deference to elders. The festivals have been successful in avoiding clashes and are part of a broader effort to push for cultural revolution and the right to freely express opinions in Myanmar.

In Havana, Heavy Metal Is a Struggle

23 Oct 2017  |  noisey.vice.com
Heavy metal music in Cuba faces significant challenges due to government control, limited internet access, and financial and logistical difficulties. Despite these obstacles, a dedicated scene exists, with bands like Zeus, Agonizer, and Combat Noise persevering through censorship and resource scarcity. The Cuban Rock Agency and Brutal Fest, organized by French expatriate David Chapet, provide some support for the genre. Bands often struggle to record music and tour abroad, but they continue to create and perform, reflecting the resilience of Cuban metal musicians.

Manila’s ‘apartment tombs’, where the poor bury their dead – until the contract ends

27 Aug 2017  |  South China Morning Post
In Manila, the poor often bury their dead in 'apartment tombs' which are rented for five-year terms, after which the remains are evicted due to overcrowding. The Pasay City Public Cemetery, which stopped offering renewals after 2008, presents a stark reality where families must decide between placing the bones in a small concrete ossuary or a rice sack. The article details the emotional and financial struggles of families like Aguirre's, who are unaware of the temporary nature of these tombs, and others who cannot afford permanent burial spaces. The cultural importance of respecting the dead is highlighted, as well as the challenges posed by the lack of space and financial constraints in Metro Manila's cemeteries.

Manila’s ‘apartment tombs’, where the poor bury their dead – until the contract ends

27 Aug 2017  |  South China Morning Post
In Manila, the poor often bury their dead in 'apartment tombs' that can only be rented for five-year terms, after which the remains are evicted if the lease is not renewed. Overcrowding and poor management at cemeteries like Pasay City Public Cemetery and Navotas City Cemetery have led to many remains being unclaimed and discarded. Families struggle with the financial burden of burial costs and the emotional toll of potentially losing their loved ones' resting places. The article highlights the cultural importance of proper burials in the Philippines and the challenges faced by those who cannot afford permanent graves.

Dhaka's Extreme Metal Scene Worships the Old School

Kathmandu's Extreme Metal Scene Puts Nepal on the Global Metal Map

27 Feb 2017  |  www.vice.com
Nepal's extreme metal scene began in the late 90s with bands like Ugrakarma and Suicide Theory, and has since grown with the help of promoters like Visha Rai and Zivon Gurung. Early bands moved from demos to full-length albums, spreading heavy music in traditional ways. The scene has put Nepal on the global metal map, with significant contributions from cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Kathmandu's Extreme Metal Scene Puts Nepal on the Global Metal Map

27 Feb 2017  |  www.vice.com
Nepal's extreme metal scene began in the late 90s with bands like Ugrakarma and Suicide Theory introducing heavier music to local rock fans. Promoters like Visha Rai and Zivon Gurung played key roles in spreading the genre, with early albums such as Ugrakarma's 'Blood Metal Initiation' and X-Mantra's 'Crying For Peace' marking significant milestones. The scene grew through grassroots efforts, with metal nights at local pubs and the release of full-length albums.

Duterte’s war on drugs creating generation of orphans

19 Nov 2016  |  South China Morning Post
President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs in the Philippines has resulted in over 3,000 deaths, leaving many children orphaned and destitute. Families struggle with funeral costs and the care of the children left behind. The article shares the stories of children affected by the violence, such as Angelica, whose father was killed by police, and Sam Monticalvo, who lives on the streets after his parents were imprisoned and died. The campaign continues to have support despite the killings occurring mostly in impoverished areas, with some citizens like Roberto Ramos, who lost his daughter to a shabu addict, echoing Duterte's harsh stance on drug users.

Death, abuse, exploitation: Taiwan’s migrant worker shame

06 Oct 2016  |  South China Morning Post
The article discusses the plight of migrant workers in Taiwan, focusing on the case of Supriyanto, an Indonesian fisherman who died aboard the Fu Tzu Chun fishing vessel. The contract he signed allowed for his body to be disposed of at sea, highlighting the lack of protection for migrant workers. Despite two crewmen dying under suspicious circumstances, the ship continues to operate, and the manpower agency continues to recruit workers. Migrant workers in Taiwan, including domestic caregivers and fishermen, are not covered by the Labour Standards Act and are vulnerable to exploitation, including overcharging, excessive working hours, and sexual abuse. The article also covers the efforts of organizations like the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union and the Serve the People Association to support migrant workers and push for better treatment and legal protections. It mentions the upcoming Distant Water Fisheries Act and the government's

Death, abuse, exploitation: Taiwan’s migrant worker shame

25 Sep 2016  |  South China Morning Post
The article highlights the severe exploitation and abuse faced by migrant workers in Taiwan, particularly those from Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines. It details the tragic case of Supriyanto, an Indonesian fisherman who died under suspicious circumstances, and the systemic issues that leave migrant workers vulnerable, including inadequate legal protections, exploitative brokers, and harsh working conditions. The piece also discusses the efforts of activists and organizations like the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union and the Serve the People Association to advocate for better rights and protections. Despite some legislative efforts, the article criticizes the Taiwanese government, particularly the Democratic Progressive Party, for not doing enough to address these issues.

Live Wire: A brief history of (Taiwanese) punk

14 Sep 2016  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article, written by Joe Henley, provides a historical overview of the punk music scene in Taiwan. It traces the origins back to the band LTK Commune, which emerged after the lifting of martial law in the late 1980s. The article discusses the evolution of the scene, highlighting bands that followed the politically-conscious path and others that adopted a more apolitical, pop-punk approach. It mentions the influence of movements like the Sunflower movement on punk artists and the challenges faced by the scene, such as the closure of the iconic venue Underworld. Despite these challenges, the article asserts that punk in Taiwan is still alive, with new bands like Noise Book and Accomplices carrying the torch. The article concludes by mentioning an upcoming show featuring Noise Book and other punk bands at Revolver in Taipei.

See Up To 120 Meteors Per Hour, A Planet Parade, And More In December's Night Sky

14 Sep 2016  |  Travel and Leisure Asia | Global
The article highlights astronomical events expected to occur in December, including meteor showers that could result in up to 120 meteors per hour. Additionally, a planetary alignment is anticipated, featuring a string of four planets and the moon, which will be visible above the southern horizon. These events present an exciting opportunity for stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts to witness spectacular natural phenomena in the night sky.

Adding Taiwan to Your RTW Trip

14 Sep 2016  |  www.bootsnall.com
The article explores the rich street food culture of Taiwan, highlighting local favorites and where to find them. Stinky tofu, a fermented dish, is a national treasure best enjoyed at Tonghua Night Market. Beef noodles, a simple yet flavorful dish, have a festival dedicated to them in Taipei, with Hong Pai restaurant being a recommended spot for budget-friendly options. Iron eggs, a chewy snack, are a specialty in Danshui. Taiwanese style fried chicken, known for its sweetness, is ubiquitous across the country. Shaved ice, particularly mango shaved ice, is a summer favorite, with Ice Monster being a popular destination. Xiao long bao, a type of steamed bun, is best found at Ding Tai Feng. Oyster omelets, a Taiwan original, are recommended at Lai Chi in Ning Shia Night Market. Pig blood cake, a street food staple, is widely available in night markets. Gua bao, a Taiwanese hamburger, is a must-try in Tainan. Ba wan, a meat-filled dough disc, originates from Changhua City. The article provides a culinary tour of Taiwan's street food, emphasizing the unique flavors and historical significance of each dish.

In Havana, Heavy Metal Is a Struggle

23 Aug 2016  |  www.vice.com
Cuban metal musicians face significant challenges due to limited internet access, government control over recording studios, and bureaucratic hurdles for international travel. Despite these obstacles, the Cuban metal scene persists with bands like Zeus, Agonizer, Combat Noise, and Unlight Domain continuing to produce music and perform. Festivals like Brutal Fest, organized by French expatriate David Chapet, provide crucial support. The article highlights the resilience and dedication of these musicians in the face of financial, logistical, and political struggles.

Burned by the system

17 Aug 2013  |  www.taipeitimes.com
The article tells the story of A-dao, a Vietnamese migrant worker in Taiwan, who suffered severe burns in a workplace accident at a marble processing facility. Despite the high cost of his medical treatment and rehabilitation, A-dao's employer has been reluctant to provide adequate compensation, forcing him to take legal action. The article highlights the plight of migrant workers in Taiwan, who often have to pay high brokerage fees, have little legal protection, and are forced to work dangerous jobs. A-dao's case is contrasted with the immediate assistance offered to Taiwanese victims of a separate accident, underscoring the disparities in treatment between local and migrant workers. The article also discusses the broader issues of workers' rights and the legal hurdles faced by migrant workers seeking justice.

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