Racist Korean Commercial

When looking for an example of “krumping,” some kind of new dance style, I came across this interesting, if a little long, cell phone commercial from Korea (set in Australia apparently). While watching, try and notice:

1. The cool dancing — there’s a lag in the middle but when they dance it’s good.
2. The group of “black people” who try and shoplift merchandise from the supermarket where the heroine works and then later feebly chase and attack her for no reason (only to be heroicly rescued by the hero on a motorcycle — how daring!). Is black people stuffing duffel bags full of merchandise really a problem in Korean supermarkets in Australia? I was under the impression that there wasn’t even much of a black population there.
3. The random panel of white people she’s auditioning for at the beginning and the end of the video. I guess auditioning for the white people makes it that much more dramatic than if she were trying to get in a Korean music video or something.

I mean, I guess you can’t avoid the use of quick symbolism in a short, silent film such as this. But “blacks = thugs, whites = rich and powerful record executives” seems a little too convenient. (Thanks to Kancoma for the link)

37 thoughts on “Racist Korean Commercial”

  1. No! Koreans are not racist at all…those black people deserve to be ridiculed because they are just inferior and dirty to us Koreans. We are just stating a fact.

    If you want real racism, look at how Japanese treat blacks! They call them “kokujin” which means “black person”. Why can’t they be more civilized like us Koreans who use more colorful expressions such as “kkumdeungi” (tar-baby)?

    You see, we Koreans are so much better in everything than the Japanese!

  2. Chonko, I applaud you. We koreans are no more racist than any other group. Some of the most racist people are blacks. They’re more racist than the average korean. What about the racial slurs and jokes consistently used in thier movies (Eddie Murphy, Wayans brothers, etc…). How may blacks do you find in a calculus class? Oh, I forgot about the remedial arithmatic class. They’re always whining, the L.A. Riots bring back any memories? Blacks make up only 14% of the U.S. population (2000 U.S. Census) yet they make up 51% prison population. Even with racism factored in, there is no way it should be that amount. Let’s don’t get too PC about it, “it is what it is.” It’s about time we keep it real and be honest to ourselves. Even the liberals are usually closet racists. When was the last time a Kennedy married a black?

  3. i am a black female and how can you say mr. chonko that korean aren’t racist then turn around and say black ppl are inferior and dirty to us koreans you need to read up on american history on black people we invented alot of things that are being used today like the trafic light think about that. not all black people are ignorant most black people even the ones that look “thug” like are very intelligent and you don’t have to learn calculus to have respect for people of all races i personally respect those who respect me no matter who it is and by the way there are ignorant and racist people in most races and oh not all black people are racist i see what you are saying on that note and i see it to but all of us are not like that i wish the koreans and black people can come to a mutrial understanding and oh i’ve watch the korean music industry and why korean music video are looking more and more like rap/r&b videos and don’t koreans have rap and r&b artist. who do you think invented rap/r&b music that’s right us so called dirty/inferior black people our people ancestors been building empires and civilizatons just as long as your people have now meditate on that.

  4. Amen! How dare you call the Japanese or the blacks or anybody else more racist than yourselves? You know what? You Koreans should try your hand out in England. Go to Essex or Scotland or Ireland or Kent or South of England. You think you’re somehow superior? I had to stop my friend from being racist towards asains besause it made me sick to the stomach to here her speak about people like that. Who do you all think you are? Something special? Well guess what? YOU’RE NOTHING MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE!

    You like to say black people look like mokeys. WELL HERE’S A QUOTE FROM THE KING OF ENGLAND:

    “I wouldn’t spend more than a day in korea” he laughs “no way would i want to come back looking all slitty eyed and yellow skinned!”

    How do you like that? It isn’t nice is it? Racists are fools. They’re pathetic. If there was a war Korea would loose because they have so many enemy’s. You need to straighten yourselves up before people come and get you or someting. My friend used to say how smelly koreans were, and that they speak like they have snot up there nose. And she wants to join the British Army so that she could lead them to bomb your country. How do you like that? It isn’t nice is it? Well STOP the racism. It isn’t nice and it isn’t fair. Koreans don’t own the Earth. The Earth owns Korea. Remember that before you go running your mouths of, or i might just have to tell my friend to do what she said instead of telling her to stop being a bitch.

    I’m a white girl, and i have nothing against anyone. You’re attitude makes me want to be sick. Makes me want to move from the next person i have to sit next to on the bus that is asain becuase of this. You all are making me so sick. You’ll all get your comupance, and even if i’m not there to see it, i hope it’s good and harsh. BARSTEDS.

    Watch yourselves, you ain’t getting any more popular by the day.

  5. omg im korean myself, but i got to admit why the racism about black people being inferiour. just state the fact that we are not racist and prove your point not make us look even more racist. Man chonko and the other guy who applauded chonko, you spit on our nationality. Grow up and stop thinking we are superior. My appologies in behalf of kreans because we are not as racist of those people who just called black people inferior and said stuff about japanes people.

  6. You guys are confused. This ‘chonko’ is a Jap dick.
    Read all his racist crap against Koreans all over the internet.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he writes to pretend that he’s a Korean monkey, then reply back to himself to validate his point – Koreans are dirty stupid monkies.

    Chonko Says:
    February 1st, 2006 at 7:28 pm


    You must be either blind or selectively prejudiced. So many of the “We Koreans always are better than Japan” crowd here are laughingly claiming that they are “disgusted” over whaling. Really funny…next thing you know, they will be claim to be the champion of animal rights. What a joke.

  7. My nationality and color is not important regarding what I’m writing about. I’m a foreigner living in Korea and I can’t reserve a train ticket online nor can I reserve a site at the local camp site, all this because I’m not Korean! Only this year has the Korean government allowed mixed race police officers. So even if you can ignore all of the fools shouting “I love you!!” and “nice to meet you” and mistaking all foreigners for Americans, then if Korea is not racist there is definitely something a miss
    Racism is everywhere and arguing who is more rascist is a form of racism in itself if your’e going to say one race is more racist than the next.
    Morons are morons around the world, let’s hope they never unite!

  8. My wife is Japanese and I’m African-American. I’ve had problems with all cultures even my own. The problem is ignorance. There is ignorance in all cultures. I had a Korean girlfriend before and we were ok. Each time I’ve met Asian women they came to me.

    You can’t understand African-American just by looking at entertainment. But unfortunately that is the first entry point for other cultures. Many people don’t read about about African-Culture so they are igrnorant. And many people don’t read about Korean or Japanese culture so they are ignorant.

    Many Asians come to the U.S. to improve their lives but when you travel to Asia you see homeless people, prostitutes also drug addicts.

    Remember too that African-Americans are not immigrants but we are compred to immigrants. Not all Asians are doing so well in America. Lastly African-Americans have their own universities.

    Let’s stop the ignorance.

    Everything that Asians rave about accomplishing in the U.S. African-Americans have already accomplished and if we are so backward then why do so many Asians try to copy us?

    African-American have been in the U.S. for over 400 years, a lot longer than Asians and I’m not talking about Native Americans.

    African-Americans have been involved in science for hundreds of years in North America.

    Benjamin Banneker helped build the White House?
    Charles Drew?
    Let’s start with Louis Latimer

    Louis Latimer received a patent for an improved process for manufacturing the carbon filaments in light bulbs. These improvements allowed for a reduction in time to produce and an increase in quality. During his life time he had worked with and for Alexander Bell, Hiram Maxim and Thomas Edison. Latimer was the only black member of an exclusive social group, the Edison Pioneers. THE STORY
    Inventor: Lewis Howard Latimer

    Criteria; First practical.
    Birth: September 4, 1848 in Chelsea, Massachusetts
    Death: December 11, 1928 in New York
    Nationality: American
    Invention: electric lighting improvements in 1881

    Function: noun / electric light bulb carbon filamnet
    Definition: An electric lamp in which a filament is heated to incandescence by an electric current. Today’s incandescent light bulbs use filaments made of tungsten rather than carbon,
    Patent: 252,386 (US) issued January 17, 1882
    1848 Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, and reared in Boston
    1864 joins Navy as a cabin boy on the USS Massasoit
    1865 joins Boston, Massachusetts based Crosby and Gould, patent solicitors, as office boy
    1879 moves to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work as a draftsman
    1880 joins United States Electric Lighting Co. as a draftsman working for Hiram Stevens Maxim
    1880 230,309 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Process of Manufacturing Carbon Conductors Latimer witnessed
    1880 230,310 Hiram Maxim 7/20 for Electrical Lamp
    1881 237,198 Hiram Maxim 2/1 for Electric Lamp (assigned to U.S.E.L.Co.) Latimer witnessed
    1881 247,097 Lewis Latimer and Joseph V. Nichols 9/13 for Electric Lamp
    1882 252,386 Lewis Latimer 1/17 for Process of Manufacturing Carbons (assigned to U.S.E.L.Co.)
    1982 255,212 Lewis Latimer 3/21 for Globe Supporter for Electric Lamps (assigned to U.S.E.L.Co.)
    1882 left U.S.E.L.Co to work for several companies in the electrical industry
    1885 Latimer found stable employment with the Edison Electric Light Company of New York
    1892 Edison Electric Light Company merged with Thomson-Houston to become General Electric
    1896 Latimer joined the Board of Patent Control, a joint arrangement between GE and Westinghouse
    1910 968,787 William S. Norton 8/30 for Lamp-Fixture (assigned 50% to Lewis Latimer)
    1911 began work in the private consulting firm headed by Edwin Hammer and Elmer Schwarz.
    1918 Lewis becomes a charter member of a rather exclusive social group: the Edison Pioneers
    1922 Latimer retired when failing eyesight caused an end to his career as a draftsman
    1928 Lewis Latimer died on December 11, in New York
    CAPs: Latimer, Lewis Latimer, Lewis Howard Latimer, Joseph V. Nichols, Alexander Bell, Hiram Maxim, Thomas Edison, Edison Pioneers,
    SIPs: carbon filament, light bulb, light bulb making machine, inventor, biography, profile, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
    STORY:VED FROM THE GREAT IDEA FINDER. http://www.ideafinder.com
    Lewis Howard Latimer, a pioneer in the development of the electric light bulb, was the only Black member of Thomas A. Edison’s research team of noted scientists. While Edison invented the incandescent bulb, it was Latimer, a member of the Edison Pioneers, who developed and patented the process for manufacturing the carbon filaments.

    Lewis Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, on September 4, 1848, and reared in Boston. Latimer’s parents, as runaway slaves in the 1830s, had been assisted by whites as well as blacks. Their case had galvanized the Boston abolitionist community to its first major political activity. Latimer and his brothers had enlisted in the military and served in the Civil War. At sixteen Latimer joined the Union navy as a cabin boy on the USS Massasoit. After an honorable discharge in 1865 Latimer returned to Boston.
    In his early career in Boston, Latimer was surrounded by technological communities that subscribed to the American ideal that any poor boy could make his fame and fortune through invention and innovation. The Union victory in the Civil War seemed to open the way for African Americans to participate fully in the American dream, and Latimer set his course accordingly.

    Skills he had developed in mechanical drawing landed him a position with Crosby and Gould, patent solicitors. While with the company he advance to a chief draftsman and soon began working on his own inventions.While working at the Boston firm, Latimer met Alexander Graham Bell who hired him to draw the plans for a new invention, the telephone. Latimer’s detailed descriptions of the geographic proximity of his office to the place where Bell was teaching, and of meeting with Bell add credibility to his claim, although no supporting evidence has been found in either the Bell family papers or the patent applications themselves.

    His first patent (US 147,363), approved on February 10, 1874, was for a “water closet for railway cars.”
    Reading the application, a modern observer would probably agree that Latimer’s “closed-bottom hopper” would have been preferable to the “open-bottom hopper” in use at the time. Given the superiority of the new design, and Latimer’s own ambitions, it would have been exceedingly strange if Latimer and his colleague had indeed made no effort to market their new device. However, there is no record of any such attempt, and Latimer does not mention it in his autobiographical reminiscences.

    After leaving Boston in 1879, Latimer arrived in Bridgeport, Connecticut shortly after his thirty-first birthday. He immediately set about making himself useful in the technical community of this busy seaport. In 1880 a combination of circumstances led him into the young electrical utility industry as an employee of Hiram Stevens Maxim, then chief engineer at the United States Electric Lighting Company. Within a week Lewis was installed in Mr. Maxim’s office busily following his vocation of mechanical draughtsman, and acquainting himself with every branch of electric incandescent light construction and operation.

    When the company moved to Brooklyn in 1880, Latimer moved with it and continued to diversify his achievements. In addition to his desk work and shop work, he went out into the field assisting in arc and incandescent installations of Maxim equipment in New York, Philadelphia, and Montreal. In his logbook, he later recalled:

    The following year Latimer and fellow inventor Joseph V. Nichols received a patent for their invention of the first incandescent light bulb with carbon filament. Prior to this breakthrough, filaments had been made from paper.

    Of the numerous inventions Latimer made during his employment with U.S. Electric, three were patented: a new support for arc lights, an improvement to Maxim’s method of manufacturing filaments for incandescent bulbs, and a new way to attach the carbonized filament to the platinum wires that brought electricity into the bulb from the base. In addition, Latimer’s unpatented inventions improved designs for virtually all the other equipment and steps involved in the lampmaking process: the oven that baked the filaments; the preparation of phosphoric anhydride (a chemical used for drying the inert gas that filled the bulb and prolonged the filament life); glassblowing equipment to produce bulbs; and a new socket and switch.

    His last assignment for U.S. Electric Lighting was in London, to advise the English on setting up a lamp factory. He arrived New Year’s Day of January 1882. By this time, his mentor Maxim was only minimally associated with the electric business.

    While in London Latimer began drawings for improvement in elevators. Although the elevator improvement was never patented, Latimer continued to work on it. As late as 1898, Latimer was actively bringing his elevator work to the attention of the Westinghouse, General Electric, and Otis Elevator companies. None of these companies were inclined to pursue the matter. The elevator stands, however, as symbol and evidence of Latimer’s continuing pursuit of the American dream of upward mobility via invention.

    Although Maxim did meet at least once with Latimer in London, his time and interest were increasingly absorbed in developing the machine gun which brought him his greatest fame. Latimer returned to New York later in 1882, but Maxim stayed in London for many years.

    When Latimer returned to the United States late in 1882, the U.S. Electric Light Company had undergone several corporate changes. Maxim was no longer associated with the company, and Latimer found he had no place in the new organization. There is considerable conflicting evidence regarding the dates and firms of Latimer’s employment for the next few years. The names of the Weston Company, Olmstead Electric Co., Imperial Electric Light Co., Mather Electric Co., and Acme Electric Light Co. all appear in various biographical and autobiographical accounts prepared more than a decade later. Drawings prepared by Latimer for C. G. Perkins at the Imperial Electric Light Co. during 1884 and 1885 are in the Smithsonian’s collection.

    About 1885, Latimer found stable employment with the Edison Electric Light Company of New York (parent company of all the Edison electric utility companies) and related or successor firms. He achieved a respected professional position on the basis of his patent expertise, his encyclopedic knowledge of lamp design and manufacturing, his drafting skills, and his creative intelligence.

    He entered the Engineering Department of the Edison Electric Light Company and about 1889 was transferred to the Legal Department. He became Edison’s patent investigator and expert witness in cases against persons trying to benefit from Edison’s inventions without legal permission.

    Edison encouraged Latimer to write the book, Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System. Published in 1890, it was extremely popular as it explained how an incandescent lamp produces light in an easy-to-understand manner.

    When the Edison General Electric Company merged with Thomson-Houston in 1892, Latimer continued to serve in the Legal Department of the newly formed General Electric Company. (After a bitter struggle, Edison’s name was dropped, and Edison himself had no more involvement with the company beyond defending his patents.) About 1896, Latimer joined the Board of Patent Control, a joint arrangement between General Electric and the Westinghouse Company,

    On several occasions Latimer testified regarding his observations while working for Edison’s competitors. Since Latimer had worked with or been employed by most of the men who challenged Edison’s patents, his testimony as to what was going on in their shops was valuable to the Edison cause. One of the biographical sketches, apparently prepared as a letter of reference, states that while in the Legal Department of “the Edison Company . . . he made drawings for Court exhibits, had charge of the library, inspected infringing plants in various parts of the country, and testified as to facts in a number of cases, without materially encouraging the opposing counsel. He also did considerable searching for which his previous experience, and a moderate knowledge of French and German qualified him, rendering efficient service along these lines in the historical filament case and others of this period, involving basic patents.

    While working for the Edison and General Electric companies, and thereafter, Latimer continued to invent at a much reduced rate (his last patent was granted in 1905 for a “Book Support”). About 1911, Latimer began work in the private consulting firm headed by Edwin Hammer and Elmer Schwarz.

    In 1918, Latimer became a founding member of a rather exclusive social group: the Edison Pioneers. These men were business or technical affiliates, either of Edison’s many companies, or of Edison himself. They had all played some part in the development of the electric utility industry; the organizational documents speak vaguely of carrying on the ideals and goals of Thomas Edison, but the primary purpose of the group was probably a mixture of social and professional networking.

    In 1922 Latimer retired when failing eyesight caused an end to his career as a draftsman.
    He continued to invent and teach his drafting skills until his death in 1928.

    In addition to the Edison Pioneers, Latimer treasured his membership in the Grand Army of the Republic, a symbol of his service in the Civil War. He became Adjutant of the George Huntsman post of the GAR in Flushing, New York. Latimer was also a founding member of the Flushing Unitarian Church. While these were integrated, predominantly European American organizations, Latimer was also active on behalf of African Americans both locally and nationally.

    In his personal life, Latimer again worked within nineteenth-century American ideals. He maintained an advanced amateur’s gentlemanly pursuit of music, art, and literature, and he promoted these cultural interests in his family. Latimer’s literary efforts included poetry, prose, and plays. Throughout his life, Latimer pursued his objectives with quiet dignity. The testimony of his career, his colleagues, and his family affirms his high level of success.

    Latimer’s other patented inventions include such diverse items as the first water closet (i.e., toilet) for railroad cars (Patent No. 147,363 issued February 10, 1874), a forerunner of the air conditioner (Patent No.334,078 issued January 12, 1886), a locking rack for hats, coats, umbrellas, etc. ( Patent No. 557,076 issued March 24, 1896) and a book support (Patent No. 781,890 issued February 7, 1905).

    Although today’s light bulbs use filaments of tungsten, which lasts even longer than carbon, Latimer will always be remembered for making possible the widespread use of electric light.

    Do I have to tell you more?

  9. I am a foreigner living in a city of 1 million people in Korea where only 0.3% are foreigners. I have lived in both Japan and Korea and hate to say this but I have never experienced anything as bad and as hurtful as the constant abuse since I started living here. Our neighbours are so unfriendly and even when we make attempts to be nice we are welcomed with stares and teeth sucking. We are marginalised and ignored in our work place by our Korean colleagues and as the students see how we are treated its just teaching a whole new generation of Koreans that foreigners are not welcome. The result is that although I keep trying to find something redeeming about Korea something else happens to let us know we are not wanted. Unfriendly notes on our door, banned from restaurants, taxi drivers refusing service. How can anyone live here and not begin to resent the place? Racism is damaging in so many ways. I want to be open minded and tolerant and am determined to try to be, why can’t Korea do the same?

  10. I hate when ppl stereotype like that. There are always good ppl, bad ppl, intelligent ppl, non-intelligent ppl no matter what race you look at.

    Just a word to the Asians here,
    do u like it when ppl stereotype u as a nerd or as unethical business ppl? or inferior to any other race?

    it doesn’t feel good does it? so judge a person only when you know them, not before u know them just because of certain traits that they may have

  11. well this is gonna sound somewhat strange since it’s coming from a Korean person but all I have to say is that Koreans who are racist need to get their ass’ kicked Both men and women. I really don’t give a shit what Gender they are because racism is wrong

  12. I also live in a small city in Korea. This country is a cesspool of racism, hatred and paranoia. I am refused service regularly, spat at, and barred from entrance to restaurants. I can understand some Korean now and I regret ever learning what I know. What I hear spoken around me is negative and sickening. These people are country bumpkins, afraid of the world, angry with everyone and hateful of outsiders. Rubes

  13. Ha. I was just curious. I have seen some foreigners on net discussion forums say that they have been spit on and attacked in the street but this seems so far from any experience that I have had in Japan…. I’ve also talked about ideas of Japanese racism with dozens of foreigners in the flesh and nobody that I have met has mentioned anything like this. There is a good chance that the online posters were just making it up. Maybe they had not even been to Japan. That’s the net for ya.

  14. Just a comment related to the original post, I thought the Aborigines in Australia were black, too. Anyway it doesn’t matter if the colored people depicted in the video are from Australia or anywhere else for that matter, racism is is always wrong.

  15. I wouldn’t say “they were just making it up”.Prejudice is the product of the environment.Japan has them and I believe Korea has them too.And I would imagine someone is always doing something wrong to others in this country.

    I detect some tendency of foreigners directly applying PC scheme(which were cultivated through the decade of social debate and practice)from the western societies without any reservations to either Japan or Korea’s own social,cultural,and historical context and making things even worse.As if they want to make the environment to be the product of their actions.This will bring pretty complicated frictions with the natives for there are huge perception gaps and language barriers.

    Not that I’m proclaiming any exceptionalism here.But I always wonder why is it always white people who get raged about presumable “negrophobia” in Japan and not the blacks.
    (I’m talking about Tsutaya in Shibuya has “Black movies”section et al.)

    I don’t always support Ardou Debito,but his case attacking “foreign crime file”publishers and distributers are far more supportive and legitimate claim to my eyes,compare to his crusade against papa-mama owned public bathhouse only trying to save their buisiness from drunken Russian saylors.(he could just go and help them to make some Russian manual for proper behavior in the bath house or something,instead of that suicide bomberesque and crowd pleasing law suites)

  16. Ace: your point about invoking PC doctrines against Japan is something I’d agree with generally. Kneejerk and loud reactions against practices that would be unthinkable in the home country betray the fundamental lack of respect that a lot of Westerners have for cultures that don’t conform to their ideals. It would be like walking into a room where a heated argument is going on, figuring out generally what the argument is about, and then trying to “win” the argument by shouting your opinion with the utmost authority until the other two sides shut up in exasperation. Listening to people decry the “black” shelf at Tsutaya must make you feel like I do when I read foreigners who have little understanding of America (like say Masahiko Fujiwara) try to critique US society, though at least in my case I’m not the intended audience. No one’s trying to tell me specifically what my culture should be with that level of shrillness.

    Though I do think one needs to be careful when engaging in criticisms of a foreign culture, I think it’s a different problem entirely when you actually have a stake in the issue at hand and the issue is big enough to make a battle out of it. The wide release of the foreign crime file book as well as its likely involvement of former NPA officials in its creation was probably reason enough to stir up some protest, though I am still in wait-and-see mode to see whether Debito and friends successfully kept the book out of the public debate or managed to give it even more attention than it would have otherwise gotten.

    But I don’t think there’s any way to stamp out Westerners’ (especially Americans’) self-righteousness, especially when it comes to such taboos as racism against black people. For better or worse, there are hundreds of foreigners living long-term in Japan who think similarly to Debito (363 members of Debito’s mailing list alone), and more and more of them are getting blogs, which probably serve as a major disincentive to careful consideration and an attitude of “understand first, criticize later.”

  17. Good post Adamu. When you look on an average eikaiwa teacher blog, the main point seem to be “Wow, Japan would be a great place (like America, England, Australia, etc.) if only all these Japanese people would stop screwing it up”. The Eurocentric way of looking at Japan has to go.

    I’m a bit wary of the activist types. If these guys actually talked about anything positive, they would make it seem that Japan is “decent” and that would take away from their thunder. That is why there is s shitstorm over something like the crime file, while when Bungei Shunju (Japan’s most respected monthly mag) publishes an article about why the foreign crime wave is a myth (which they did a few months back) nobody makes a peep. If they were going to draw attention to something (and increase sales) better to do it for something positive. Where was that letter writing campaign to Bungei thanking them for the article and asking for more like it?I think that Debito and friends, while making some legitimate points, actually thrive on providing examples of racism without context. It makes their work (or life in the case of Debito) seem more important.

    There was a good article in the Journal of Japanese Studies (the big one) a few years back (I think that it was called “Criminals of Victims?”) where the author describes the many Japanese NPO support networks for foreigners (including several large groups who take care of individuals accused of overstaying). It seems to me that Debito, etc. fail to mention these groups (let alone try to work with them) for the simple reason that it would make their own hot air seem a bit less hot.

  18. I’m not that all interested into Debito and co.He is an individual and now the card carrying member of the tribe of the sungoddess.If tribesman wants to say something besides the campfire,the whole tribes should listen,I thinlk.
    “The Eurocentric way of looking at Japan has to go.”
    The truth of the matter is far more complicated.Tell me what you think with this piece.I was furious when I read that in realtime.

    from the Guardian,former Tokyo correspondent Johnathan Watts piece:

    The creative power of South Korea’s new media may have won victory for the incoming president, Roh Moo-hyun, but their destructive power has also ruined the career of at least one journalist.
    Last May, Fred Varcoe, veteran sports editor of the Japan Times, was in full swing preparing for the World Cup finals when he was suddenly given an ultimatum: “Either resign or you’re fired.”

    It was an abrupt end to his 15-year employment with the daily paper at what should have been the highpoint of his career. Fred was well known among British sports journalists and foreign correspondents (me included) as the most prolific writer on Japanese football in the English language.

    His personal and irreverent style probably had as many critics as fans, but that was his well-established trademark. He also got some important scoops. The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, once blamed him for the headaches of co-hosting the World Cup, a suggestion that Fred claims he was the first to make.

    Article continues


    But on the eve of the tournament, he was given his marching orders as a result of a report that appeared in another country, another language and another medium.
    Fred had probably never heard of OhmyNews until the influential South Korean online news site brought about his downfall with a withering criticism of one of the World Cup preview stories that he had written for the Japan Times. That story – an introduction to Seoul – began with Fred reminiscing about being propositioned by a prostitute during his first visit to the South Korean capital.

    It was exactly the kind of old-fashioned, run-down, sleazy image that the host nation – which has never been more self-confident or assertive – did not want to present to the world. The URL of the offending article was sent anonymously to Bae Eul-sun of OhmyNews, who criticised the contents and the writer online in her own trademark aggressive style.

    Although Ms Bae had not called for Fred to lose his job, her article spawned a furious online campaign for his dismissal. Fred’s Korean wife received email death threats and the South Korean embassy in Tokyo twice visited the Japan Times to demand action.

    Although the paper had been running similar stories by Fred for years and no one inside the paper had complained at any time when the offending article was submitted, edited or published, the Japan Times – whose publisher, Toshiaki Ogasawara, has business interests in Korea – decided its sports editor must go. Days before the opening game, the paper withdrew his tournament accreditation. He refused to resign and was fired on July 4 for, among other reasons, “insulting the honour of Korean women”.

    It appears to be a salutary tale of the risks of online journalism, which is still at an embryonic stage even in South Korea – the world’s most advanced internet nation. Although the new media have played a mostly positive role in democratising South Korea in ways that other countries have not yet experienced, its ambitions are in danger of running too far ahead of its resources and the establishment of safety checks.

    OhmyNews is just three years old, but with 3 million readers it has become as influential as any newspaper – helping to propel Roh Moo-hyon into the presidency and starting anti-American campaigns that drew in tens of thousands of people. But its young, idealistic staff admit they are too rushed off their feet to check the comments posted by readers.

    “I feel guilty,” said Bae Eul-sun. “It was not my intention to get Fred sacked. That was a proposal by one of the readers. Even though his article was insulting, I don’t think it is democratic to fire journalists just because you don’t like what they say.”

    The South Korean embassy also claims the consequences were unintended. “We passed on the feeling of anger expressed on OhmyNews about Mr Varcoe’s yellow journalism, but we did not specifically ask for him to be fired,” said a diplomat.

    Nobody at the Japan Times was available for comment. According to Fred, his old employers share the biggest burden of blame for failing to stick by a story that they had published.

    “This would never have started without OhmyNews, which is able to fire off insults unchecked, but the biggest culprit is the Japan Times, which would not fight my corner or give me the opportunity to defend myself,” he said.

    Fred will file a legal case against the paper for unfair dismissal next week. If he wins, his former employers may end up wishing they had followed the old-media journalistic principle of sticking by a story rather than caving in to pressure from the South Korean government and accusations by a sometimes wild new media.

  19. I don’t think that you have to be concerned with Debito. However, he is claiming to speak for “gajin” on issues like, oh, the “fact” that the term “gaijin” is racist (I don’t think that it is).

    About the article – were you furious about the fact that this guy lost his job or about the way that he chose to write his article?

    There is a silly pattern in English-language travel writing where negative physical characteristics and things like prostitutes are used as a way of introducing a country (ie. bad teeth, etc.). I don’t see Japanese accounts of the United States or Canada that start by talking about the girth of some people, the homeless guy sitting in a pool of his own urine in front of a four star hotel (my Japanese in-law’s introduction to downtown Toronto), etc.

    HOWEVER, Korean online smear campaigns are getting infamous…. There was a big blowup over a Canadian English teacher who posted something about “how to have sex with your students” on a Korean English-teaching forum. The result was a massive backlash against “these nasty Canadians”. The motive – to defend “the honor of our women” (who says that they are ‘your women’? what if they want to get seduced…. why are the people who feel that they need to stand up for the honor of Korean women always male internet geeks?). The case with the Japan Times seems simliar.

    There was also a big blowup in Canada a few years back. A Canadian museum had some info about how many Canadian soldiers got STDs during the Korean War. As far as I know, these were medical statistics very carefuly compiled by the army. There were Korean protests, however, that this was “an invention” and an attack “on the honor of Korean women”.

    In any case, that was an absolutly spineless decision by the Japan Times. Shocking.

  20. Korea seems to be getting famous for hysterical online bullying campaigns, against both foreigners and Koreans who do socially inappropriate things. These kinds of incidents seem to be a heavy slice of what the Marmot blog writes about.

    The Japan Times’s spinelessness in this matter is pretty pathetic, but doesn’t seem that unusual for a newspaper run by businesspeople and not someone with a journalism background or an old fashioned newspaper man like the Sulzberger family that runs the New York Times company. I wonder what sort of business Ogasawara had in Korea-I’ve never heard of this guy before but now I’d like to know more about him

  21. I thought this could be a great rorschach test for media literacy,and you can tell the difference between the PC scheme in Japan and other countries.
    In Japan this article will definitely be considered as a racial slur,and the fact JT actually printed this article by Fred Varcoe surprised me.A lot.

    In Japanese media,Koreans are considered as classA PC subject.Something you conbine blacks and jewish plus angry muslims in the west would get some pictures.You even have problems how to call their ethnicity.Is it Chosenjin朝鮮人 or Kankokujin韓国人 or neutral English word Korianコリアン.Because North prefer the former and the south prefer the latter.Mindan and South Korean media advocate the word Chosenjin is a racial slur and try to wipe out the word from Japanese media vocab,as part of the inter korea conflict and Japan bashing.
    That is why you never understand the clear picture about the dispute with Koreans unless you pursue the search in rightist publishing,notably”Shokun!” and “Seiron”.
    But even in these magazines,you will never find offensive description of Koreans like the one by Varcoe.No one,apart from 2ch trolls,sympathize Vercoe for this case.

    For Koreans, it is the right thing to “correct”Japanese at every opportunity they could find.The fact JT unlike Korea Herald nor Korea times,is a sort of expat paper with expat view on Japan didn’t stop the stanpede of the korean netizens.Koreans didn’t considered the writer was not even a Japanese either.
    Ohmynews,being online and citizen journalisms and all has habit of attacking existing established media whether Korean or not.
    So for Ohmynews readers slaying Varcoe piece was completly legitimate Korean jouralistic practice.

    For The Guardian:
    I believe in UK,media is controlled by few wealthy media tycoons like Conrad Black,Rupert Murdock and late Robert Maxwell.and that is a big cocern to the freedom of the press.and Varcoe’s case could not be just overlooked.
    Gaijin journalists frequently write” J-media sucks because they write news with materials that come straight from the club,thus a lapdog to the system” sort of article.
    I’m not entirely against this,but the fact that Foreign Corresppondents Club of Japan,is by the largest of the Kisha clubs in Japan,with sushi bar and everything and most of the members read no Japanese.These criticisms sometimes come to my nerves.
    Varcoe ,now the editor of the NO1 Shinbun,the internal paper of FCCJ was a friend of Johnathan Watts at FCCJ.I can’t help but to think,I scratch your back you cratch mine relationship from Watts article,for he is not reffering to Varcoe’s racial slur to Koreans.Wasn’ t the Guardian the paper with a tendency of attacking Japanese as race of xenophobic bigots?Hypocracy.

    My anger goes equally to everyone in this case.I know I’m a bit confused.

    But A Brit slammed Korean by writing discriminatory article and Korean cyber nationalist pressured the firm to fire him,and British media writes article demanding the ultimate blame goes to the Japanese and dismissing the wrong doing of the countryman is pretty kafkaesque.

    And that,is the world 21st century Japan belongs to.

  22. The question seems to remain, however: if this article was so bad, why was it ever allowed to be published? If it was so bad, what was the JT thinking? (Was it in fact thinking?) If according to JT standards it was an acceptable article then their response to the Korean anger was over the top: what about the editor who was ultimately responsible for approving the article? This looks like scapegoating, attacking the easiest target to quickly placate the mob anger. The JT brass saving its skin by casting someone to the wolves. Not that I have a lot of respect for the JT as journalistic media, frankly….

    Ace is right about the delicacy of Korean topics: I remember when I took Korean at university here the first period was taken up with an explanation of simply what to CALL the language….

    And since I’m here… I would classify “gaijin” as racially discriminatory in that many times Japanese have told me that they use the word primarily to refer to white European people – and in fact do so even in Europe. However (and it is an important “however”) it is not a racial slur. It discriminates on basis of race (and nationality) but it is not generally used to put people down. Not all racial discrimination is unpleasant.

    M-Bone: that was a lovely introduction to Toronto for your in-laws. They must have been very impressed….

    And regarding “interfering” in other nations cultures, the West certainly has a long and proud (?) history of doing that. There is hardly a culture on the planet they have not interfered with, on the basis that anyone who isn’t like them is inferior (witness the extravagant efforts by the early Meiji govt to impress the West with things like the Rokumeikan, the Ginza Brick Road, etc…though one could argue that those were superficial at best). Does it come from the Xian tradition of proselytising? The missionary spirit? Or is it more of a contempt for the Other, the heathens and barbarians? (I wonder if China has similar ideas?) Sometimes they have a point: even after independence, India has not rushed to re-embrace suttee. The concept of “human rights” (or Universal Human Rights) is a tricky one, but we also need to be aware that people who defend their current practices on cultural grounds may simply be trying to retain their political (in a general sense) power. It can be hard to defend, say, footbinding (to take an extreme example – or hey, even whaling, thinking about some of the other threads…) but if you wrap it in a cultural cloak it gets much easier. So it is possible that some critique could be more legitimate. However the very very first step in such cases is: find out what the Japanese think about it – you may well find active organisations doing their best to improve the issue. And that is something Debito doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to: it’s all too easy to get the impression that he’s the Lone Ranger on a solitary crusade for human rights and justice.

    While I can’t find any references to Bungei Shunju on his blog, Debito does refer to the Sunday Mainichi’s article on Gaijin Crime being pumped up:
    Perhaps Debito does not check BS, but prefers the more low-level gossip rags.

  23. J – Consider Debito’s orientation in this blog post. He is not using it to make the point that Japanese have open discourse on the matter, he is trying to say “I’ve been saying this for ages and now a Japanese guy is saying it as well.” He’ll turn around and use “Foreign Crime File” as representative of Japanese prejudices in his next post, however. Debito will use Japanese articles like this one to “prove his point” but not to play up the point that Japan has a very open debate developing concerning this matter.

    Ace – I agree with you 100%. On one hand, you have crackers (oops) saying that there is no investigative journalism in Japan and meanwhile, you have this prolific debate in the Japanese media about how much intrusion is too much…. Some foreigners even say that the Japanese press does not criticise the government. Ouch.

  24. JadeOC:
    I agree about punishment to the editors,if JT was following the normal J-media practice,then the editor would have lowered his or her salary or demoted.But there were none in Watts’ article.He was not that interested in media freedom in Japan compare to his buddy’s job,I guess.
    And Koreans and Ohmynews would never back down their claim if it was not The Guardian who stood up for objection.If either JT protects Varcoe or Japanese media comes to the rescue…

    I agree everyones claim about spineless thing.We compromise sometimes to LDP or GOJ or big firm like DENTSU,but there will always be somekind of argument.But when either Korea or China is related it is difficult to make arguments without facing the danger of either “rightist”or”racist”.

    and like I’ve been saying Devito cerntainly has his rights in this country!

  25. M-Bone: I agree – His take on it is clearly shown by his “Hi Blog. SITYS. See I told you so. As far back as 2000 yadda yadda yadda”. I just wanted to point out that he hasn’t ignored the “good” ones totally. He did make a peep. A self-promoting peep, to be sure….

  26. Ok… its actually quite strange how i stumbled across this blog but nevertheless i thought i should give my 2 cents as to what the stereotypes really are about. First of all my crudentials are as follows, Im a Korean american citizen born and raised in California, attended both a foreign school and actual Korean school for a few years in Seoul… I attended a university in Tokyo for a few years and came back to the US to finish getting my degree. Yes im fluent in both Korean, English, and Japanese… Now continuing on with my arguement..
    South Korea …(North Korea is communist so eliminate the idea of ever coming across one or even seeing one) has no idea what a “racist” country even is to begin with. seeing that their population is made up of more then 90 percent korean.. racism is not really an issue there. Now the reason why all the other foreigners that lived in Korea felt as though Koreans did not welcome them is actually quite simple. You are american or they made the assumption you are an American. Now i wont go into the entire political debate about that but generally be aware that in Korea you say you are from Australia and they buy you a shot of “soju” ( korean alcohol). You say you are from America and chances are you are going to be throwing your dukes up by the end of the night. 2 schoolgirls killed by American GI’s, the trafficing of extacy and marijuana into Korea, Iraq, and blackmarket fire arms are a few of the US diplomatic issues that ALL koreans are aware of due to media speculation. Call it racism or call it politcally challenged, the way the citizens of Korea are has alot to do with their history under constant occupation by the US and puting blame to all these issues. Thus my point being they dont hate whites, blacks, or whatever color you are… Now a days this political view isnt that big of a deal but if a Korean is hating on you, they are hating on Americans, which includes me a full yellow skinned Korean. But keep in mind they have no idea what a “Cracker” or a “Nigger” even is.. This is the American media that continues to utilize words that should have long ago expired.

    Anyhow, of course not everyone in Korea shares this sentiment.. It tends to be the more traditional and not as highly educated individuals. Sometimes the Anti-American sentiment in a community is formed from an experience that a Korean person had with an American. All foreigners have a little something called diplomatic immunity and whenever that immunity card is drawn it tends to be an American that pulled something and the Koreans get further pissed off.

    Now back to the video clip – I can’t help but think that the producer was reflecting his views towards African Americans based on the LA riots. The day African Americans started looting Korean liquor stores was the day the “evil” African American image even entered the Korean media. If anything the Russian Mafia who sold opium in Korea came decades before in terms of media.

    Chances are if you go to Korea and ask individuals if they knew about the L.A. riots 99.99999 percent will respond with what is L.A. ? What you saw earlier is one film producers view.

    And the whole Rnb and Rap thing, u Negr0’s need to stop holding on for dear life claiming everyone else is trying to be like you if they adopt to “your” style of music. In that way you are just as ignorant as every other nationality crying out racism when their nationality is doing the same shit. Tupac was a fake gangster with lyrical talent, Russell Simmons is a smart black entrepreneur, Hip hop is no longer a culture nor art form of any kind any longer. nor was it ever. If you want to bring up dance then you have yourself an arguement. enuff said.
    Btw im a BIG fan – Sky is the Limit

    O and last but not least, i wear cologne maybe once a month on a special occasion or something, n my girlfriends tell me how lovely i smell when im close. Maybe its the laundry detergent? Next time u come across a smelly Korean tell him to cut down on the kimchi because thats what it probably is.

  27. Koreans are racist. I was born in Canada but am of East Indian descent, and I always find it shocking how poorly I am treated compared to my Caucasion or Asian friends whenever we go to the Korean area. Imagine…being treated like a second class citizen by assholes who just showed up in MY country a year ago and can barely speak English. And believe me it’s not because they are mistaking me for an American. I remember back when there were no Koreans anywhere to be found. I have also lived in Japan and, though there exists racism there too, I was never treated with the disdain that I experienced with Koreans. Fortunately, in Canada you can’t get too far with an entitlement complex and a chip on your shoulder. If they don’t change their behaviour, the Korean community here will never amount to anything more than a place to get kimchi and a cheap haircut.

  28. Koreans are generally racist all the time, against Japanese, against whites, against blacks… they do this all the time.

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