The LA Times has a story on how an activist group in South Korea, sinisterly named the “Anti-English Spectrum” has been following foreign English teachers to ferret out suspected wrong-doing:
The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.
Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.
Yie waves off the criticism. “It’s not stalking, it’s following,” he said. “There’s no law against that.”
Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie’s group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.
On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press.
The debate over foreign English teachers is symbolic of a social shift taking place in a nation that has long prided itself on its racial purity and singular culture, South Korean analysts say.
In less than a decade, the number of foreigners living in South Korea, with a population of nearly 49 million, has doubled to 1.2 million, many of them migrant workers from other Asian nations.
Also included are the foreign English teachers, most from the United States, drawn here by compensation packages that may include as much as $2,500 a month plus free rent and a round-trip ticket to teach a Korean population obsessed with learning from native speakers.
While the idea of vigilantes following English teachers around is definitely unnerving, the effort seems much smaller and more reasonable than I expected from the headline. No reports of violence and just one threatening e-mail. If there are troublemakers in the country I think the citizens have a right to their activism. The “activists” seem more like a community of Internet hobbyists going after a group that’s done nothing to them for no reason other than self-satisfaction, very similar to the incidents of “enjo” flaming campaigns in Japan (or scambaiters, “Anonymous” protests against Scientology, etc. in the English-speaking world). I am tempted to write it off, but given what I am reading here and all the reports on English teachers smuggling drugs and getting into other trouble, the relationship between the foreign English teachers and the local Koreans seems genuinely strained.
Given the relative similarity of the situation in Japan (homogeneous Asian population, fetish over learning English from natives), it struck me how nothing like this has sprung up yet, especially given the industry’s business/hiring practices and the excesses of some of the teachers. There are stirrings of anti-foreigner sentiment here and there, but what strong feelings there are tend to come from fringe rightist groups railing against Koreans.
It’s possible there is a difference of degree in Korea – the Internet is a more integral part of life, there are proportionally more English teachers there, and foreigners in general are a more visible presence. That said, it could offer a glimpse at where Japan might be headed.
Korea remains one of the most connected nations on the planet, and has become famous for flaming campaigns. There was a recent string of celebrity suicides, some apparently a result of internet harassment.
In Japan, these attacks are quite common, though I have yet to hear about any high-profile suicides. Japanese net users have turned their ire on Westerners before, most notably in the “WaiWai incident” when they became outraged over lewd, liberally translated articles on the Mainichi Daily News site. If a foreign English teacher commits a heinous crime (or the police decide to play it up), it’s possible the 2ch crowd could start something a “Spectrum” of its own. If it comes to that, we will all no doubt back our dismissive comments about Debito and beg him for help (I am guessing there is no Debito equivalent in Korea – prominent Korea blogger Marmot has very little sympathy with his wayward fellow Westerners). Even so, I don’t get the impression that average Japanese people feel uneasy about Western English teachers – quite the contrary, they tend to be treated very well. Maybe we can thank the JET program for bringing in more “high quality” talent with its more rigorous selection process.
Next, there are a lot of English teachers in Korea! If the article’s figure of 20,000 is correct, it’s even more than the roughly 14,000 in Japan (and shrinking) even though Korea’s population is just 40% of Japan’s. If Japan had the same proportion of English teachers there’d be 36,000 of them, and businesses would probably have to lower standards even more to fill all the positions.
According to the article, foreigners make up 2.4% of South Korea’s population. In Japan that number is 1.74% and growing. Also, from all accounts the US military presence is felt a lot more in Korea, be it from soldiers on the street or the daily awareness that the country remains in a state of imminent war.
But with the foreign population on the rise in Japan, its greater visibility means there will definitely be some kind of reaction. Some might feel the kind of anger that’s directed at the government’s proposal to give permanent residence the vote. Those protests have yet to produce any violence or anything worth calling an “incident” but it’s a potential rallying point, and the bill hasn’t come up for debate yet.
The article draws a link between the Anti-English Spectrum and the overall issue of dealing with foreigners in “racially pure” South Korea, noting there have been some recent racially motivated attacks. I think there’s a clue in this for people watching Japan. When the net activists start wielding the hammer of anti-foreigner rage, Western English teachers might start to look more and more like a nail.
68 thoughts on “Activists stalk English teachers in South Korea – a glimpse at Japan’s future?”
I think that it is instructive to compare the South Korean protests (80,000 man demonstrations, one attempted immolation, clashes with police, 100s arrested, feces thrown on US beef in supermarkets) against resuming US beef imports with the Japanese response (several angry letters).
Another major difference is that the Japanese media doesn’t produce an excessive range of negative images of foreigners (I realize that this is open for debate, but if you survey a week of Yomiuri articles, you might find one on foreign crime and 40 on local exchange initiatives, ryugakusei, etc.) compared with positives like Yon-sama, Tony-kun and the like. Major Korean news programs actually started this foreign teachers with AIDS scare and mined internet chat forms for (impossible to confirm) stories of teachers bragging about sleeping with Korean 12 year olds and turned it into a real public scandal resulting in legislation tightening visa regulations.
I’m also not sure that this foreign permanent resident buzz is a good indication of Whitey having to worry about anything – the overwhelming tone of what I have seen has been anti-North Korea with some China scare thrown in for good measure. These are geo-political issues, not matters of racial purity policing. Going from there to serious collective action against the eikaiwa crew is a bit of a stretch.
“Maybe we can thank the JET program for bringing in more “high quality” talent with its more rigorous selection process”
This comment is pregnant with potential for debate.
I think everyone knows that the beef protests M-Bone mentioned weren’t remotely about the people’s great concern over beef. They were about the overall relationship between South Korea and the US, that became particularly tense after a 1992 murder by a US soldier and a 2002 incident where two teenage girls were accidentally run over and killed by another soldier, which is symbolized by the giant freaking military base right there in the capital.
There are plenty of US forces in Japan, but except for Okinawa they did a pretty good job keeping the bases out in middle of nowhere, so ordinary citizens basically never run into US soldiers (I literally don’t think I’ve ever met a US soldier stationed in Japan the entire time I’ve been here). But in Seoul (and Okinawa), the presence of the bases is a constant reminder, and the US forces are so ubiquitous that there is a common attitude of linking the US military population with the foreigner population in general. I think it is probably safe to assume that before the boom in English teaching in the 80s or 90s, the vast majority of westerners living there were US forces. I don’t think a similar sentiment has existed in most of Japan during most of the period since the GHQ shut down decades ago.
Another thing you should mention is the general culture in Korea of online bullying to enforce social norms. There have been cases of mass harassment of people whose personal contact information was posted online because they did something rude on the subway, or girls who appeared in a porn video, etc.
No, as for the main question: could this happen in Japan? Looking at the activities of the net-uyoku, certainly there are people that use similar tactics, but as you mentioned above they care far more about the Koreans or other Asians “infiltrating” their society. If they had a reason I’m sure they would be more than willing to shift their attention to say, whites or blacks in Japan, but just don’t find that very likely as long as they have so many Koreans and Chinese to harass.
Thanks for the additional info on Korea. I did not know the major media was behind the anti-English teacher fury. I wonder – are the English schools major advertisers on Korean TV? Bribing the media with ads is a typical means to head off criticism here – Ishihara did it with his push to bring the Olympics to Tokyo, for instance. Perhaps more importantly, they seem to find more to gain from praising foreigners than condemning them. Still, that could turn on a number of factors, such as if some major crimes lead the cops to feel like they need to look tough on foreign criminals.
“ordinary citizens basically never run into US soldiers”
Handea and Narita are full of them, sometimes in uniform. In addition, navy ships sometimes do friendship tours, which pretty much involves dumping hundreds of drunken, rowdy sailors into the local shotengai. I’ve been stopped and asked “where the whores at” a few times. Compared to that, the few that I have talked with at Narita and Haneda are respectful and low key (or perhaps overwhelmed), and I’ve helped a few buy bus tickets (not whores). So they can be seen and do really do overpower the areas around Sasebo and Yokosuka.
“factors, such as if some major crimes lead the cops to feel like they need to look tough on foreign criminals.”
There have been a few “moments” of media perfect storm in Japan when the press took up the foreign crime issue quite heavily – one was sparked by the 2004 police white paper which made foreign crime its theme of the year (this is not as insidious as it sounds, they’ve since done “elderly crime” and there is a different one each year, it is a way of fishing for funding increases) and also in 2005 some bad shit went down – little girl raped and killed by a foreigner in Hiroshima sparking a country-wide movement to have children accompanied to school by volunteer parents. One Chinese volunteer knifed children in her care. Despite the morbid irony of this, I think that the media was pretty tame overall. There has been much more attention given to Chinese lockpickers, but this trend toward having Chinese career criminals smuggled over in containers to pull a bunch of jobs and then smuggled out is disturbing to say the least. The press is also pointing out that these foreigners are in yakuza employ. Aaa, outsourcing.
It has been a while since Marxy identified “the asshole faction”, but while these guys might get a jazz out of foreign crime scare, they are a niche market. The big three newspapers and mainstream TV seems to trend the other way as you suggest – they get more momentum from foreigners in silly walkons and in car commercials and have little incentive to start seriously beating the xenophobia drum.
“are the English schools major advertisers on Korean TV?”
No idea. Most of what I wrote came verbatim from various Korea blogs that I read (several years ago now) and my attempts to follow the issue of Korean anti-Americanism through a variety of media (and while I didn’t write it, like Roy I see links between the anti US military backlash, the beef, and the eikaiwa).
Much of what I read about foreigners in Korea looks like a bad Debito blog comment thread (not all are bad) on steroids – people being spat on, street attacks, black guys being told to stay the ###k away from our women, guys coming up to Korean girls walking with foreigners and slapping them in the face, couples being forced to walk apart and pretend that they do not know each other in public. Of course, this is the internet, so who knows how much of this is true, but I’ve seen some academic treatments of things like discrimination against blacks, so I have to wonder. It certainly puts this AIDS, blood, racial purity thing into perspective.
This is just a tip of iceberg.At least English teachers can fight back with the help of English speaking journos.
Right, those flare-ups were notable in how they didn’t result in anti-foreigner hysteria. I remember reading a shukanshi article about that Chinese wife who killed her kids and being impressed with how even-handed it was. It was about this Chinese woman who ended up cracking under the stress of life in rural Japan, not the kind of race-baiting you might expect.
“There are plenty of US forces in Japan, but except for Okinawa they did a pretty good job keeping the bases out in middle of nowhere, so ordinary citizens basically never run into US soldiers ”
Not true.Most of the US bases are VERY close to the neighborhood,be that Yokota airbase in Fussa or Army base in Zama or Navy airfield in Atsugi.US military has helicopter landing pad right in the middle of Roppongi.Even in my old neighborhood of Tokorozawa,Saitama has transmitter site.
I think the difference is here in Japan,SDF members rarely walkout with their uniforms on(which is now changing)and this could affect the US forces wearing civilian cloths when walking around in the city.
The rightist group attacking Koreans is very recent thing.Their main target has been ①Ｊａｐａｎｅｓｅ Ｃｏｍｍｕｎｉｓｔ Ｐａｒｔｙ ②Ｔｅａｃｈｅｒ’ｓ Ｕｎｉｏｎ ③Liberal Democratic Party
④Soviet Embassy in Azabu.
Very recently “The Blog mayor”of Akune,Kagoshima had linked this site
http://www.geocities.jp/uyoku33/ in his blog and caused yet another media fuss.The site in question contains highly anti-Korean that they are the nucleus of Japanese right wing,which ofcourse is an exaggeration.However,it’s been known that various right wing group has close connection with ROK government and unification church along with bigshot in the zainichi community like Machii Hisayuki.
Taiwanese are also considered as “ally” to Japanese rightwingers for the anti-communism stance and financial supprt to the Japanese right winger.
Many US soldiers in Japan keep it very low-key when they are off base. My first experience meeting one was at a rest area somewhere on the Tomei Expressway in the middle of the night–he basically looked and acted like a mild-mannered English teacher, and was off on a road trip to visit a hot springs or temple somewhere.
There are still many soldiers wandering around in Roppongi. The US military even has a barracks more or less in the middle of Roppongi (the fenced-off area west of the art museum, which also houses the offices of the Stars and Stripes newspaper). There’s also the much nicer New Sanno hotel, run by the US Navy, a not-so-long walk away in Hiroo. I’ve seen many US military people at Narita, but never in uniform. They give themselves away by having military IDs in their hands instead of passports.
I have only met drunk sailors on shore leave once, and they were Australians.
I had completely forgotten that there was anything in Roppongi.
OK, so “the middle of nowhere” is a big exaggeration, but for the most part they are at least outside of the major cities where most of the population lives. And, as mentioned above, they are mostly pretty low-key off base (Okinawa side.)
My point was to contrast the US base situation in Japan with the one in Korea, where the location of the base on some of the most potentially valuable land in the capital city adds insult to injury (or injury to insult?). Look at how much protest the Futenma issue is causing and imagine how much more the Japanese public at large would care if they were talking about a sprawling base inside the Yamanote.
Good JOB KOREA!
we Japanese are tired of gaijin who came to japan to become a “native” English teachers.
so-called bunch of peckerwood that couldn’t get jobs in the own country．
we japanese citizen have not good image to English teachers．．(oops,sorry!)
because,surprisingly many english teachers have a mistaken sense of superiority that can push japanese peoples.
rude and lazy,ignorance,stinking,barbarian,,,crap.
for example,the infamous mad party “Yamanote Halloween”．
It’s common knowledge that the loser english teachers group carried out these attacks.
they are called “LOSER GAIJIN ルーザー害人”．
So,our japanese society treat you as if ALT gaijin are disposable objects.
we japanese people doesn’t have a good image of alt gaijin.
you should know that.
How many country would employ, even as simple language teachers, nonqualified & unskilled foreigners who could
not speak, write and read the national language?
japan also should sort out rubbish．
Korea sounds like a very intense place to live for a foreigner.
And still would like to see the DMZ though
There was a noticeable increase in the US military out on the town in Roppongi in the early 90s when troops were moved to Japan following the closure of bases in the Philippines. 1994 and early ’95 saw something of an exodus of western expats so they stood out even more at that time but generally kept a low profile and you didn’t see many uniforms. Their haircuts, youth and accents made it obvious who they were. There really weren’t too many incidents. The only people who really seemed to moan about them were other westerners.
US military are not permitted under US military law to walk around in Japan public with their uniform unless its official business.
One recent flaring of anti-foreigner activism I haven’t mentioned yet – the fight against Halloween partiers on the Yamanote line. If ever there were a justified outrage against Tokyo’s foreign population that is it. “Please do it in America” as it were (google it). I don’t think the protesters followed anyone home, though.
” I don’t think the protesters followed anyone home, though.”
Yeah.But so far I haven’t heard any story that Korean guy invites an female English teacher to his apartment and then raped/killed her either.
Anti US military sentiment flamed up in the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s.But the criticism weighed more on LDP policy on US-Japan security relationship and militarism in general,not America itself.In a way,that watered down face-to-face hostility toward American servicemen and women.
In South Korea,anti-American sentiments were oppressed or hindered for various reasons.Koreans appreciated the American role in liberation from Japanese rule and protection from the communist North.Their all time No.1 enemy of the nation is Japanese which makes the U.S relatively free from being targeted by local nationalist unlike in other part of Asia.
I run into the group of Korean backpacker in Bangkok way back in 1989,which happened to be the year that South Korea had liberalized oversea tourism.The Koreans I’ve run into all just finished draft and wanted to have some good time in SE Asia before they go back to either college life or looking for jobs.One of the guys
were posted in KATUSA,Korean Augmentation To the United States Army,kind of intermidiately service between army of South Korea and the U.S.Until very recently,
the tow armies were operated jointly,usually under American general,which gave this particular ex-KATUSA guy an impression that South Korea is an American protectrate.Adding to these background,there has been some political tricky move on the side of Chun Doo-hwan who tried to make look that American troops are being supportive to his various moves including the massacre in Gwangju and his coup in the late 70’s,all became political hot potato during the rise of democratization movement in the late 80’s.Students and intellectuals more or less believed America had betrayed their cause,which still influence their mindset and legitimize mass protest as you see in “mad cow” protest back in few years ago.
I’ve been shouted upon several times while walking with my girlfriend in Tokyo.
Koreans are nuts, though. They don´t even let you touch their women overseas!
If you’re travelling to South Korea, please read this helpful post for some advice:
That blog post was written by an Ivy League-educated expert on Korea. He’s been so fearful of anti-foreign hatred that he’s gone out of his way to avoid using public transportation.
They don´t even let you touch their women overseas!
If I were them I wouldn’t let you touch their women there, either.
Ken Tanaka has a line-by-line rebuttal of some of my points:
Boiled down to essentials, he objects to: 1) singling out Japan as an especially fertile ground for cyber-bullying (I didn’t think I committed that crime but maybe I was less than clear), and 2) mentioning “Debito” and “help” in the same sentence.
His argument has more to it than that, but I’ll leave it there for now just to alert people to its presence.
Speaking of US military forces overseas, America’s foreign policy towards Asia will eventually harm America itself sooner or later.
Having been to Korea, Koreans are perhaps the most decent people IMO. That’s from a Canadian perspective since there has been a very friendly and positive image of Korea and China for years in the Canadian public.
\\\American troops are being supportive to his various moves including the massacre in Gwangju and his coup in the late 70’s,all became political hot potato during the rise of democratization movement in the late 80’s.Students and intellectuals more or less believed America had betrayed their cause,which still influence their mindset and legitimize mass protest as you see in “mad cow” protest back in few years ago.\\\
The American government and troops betrayed the Koreans by approving Park Cheong Hee, a brutal dictator. Not just the Gwanju incident that America neglected, the mad cow disease and the Free Trade Agreement, the Korean public in fact opposed the invasion of Iraq because of the US military’s poor management and PR ever since the Korean military joined the Vietnam War. (FYI, Korea was and is still the biggest critic of US military’s bad habit of inefficient organizations and less dynamic PR)
Otherwise, anti-Americanism is respectfully justified in South Korea originated from these past neglected attitudes by the American government and military. I’m not anti-American myself but I see growing anti-American attitudes among Asians, including Japanese and Taiwanese.
Good luck, America. I hope you can pull a great image to Asia in the future. Just survive in Asia and you’ll do it well.
Let’s face it, guys. Japan and Korea are similar in lots of ways, including certain historical, religious, cultural, and linguistic aspects — but the fundamental personalities you encounter between the two countries are like night and day.
Japanese people are about the mildest, most dispassionate people in the world, who rarely get upset about anything and who tend to quietly brush off insults and rudeness with chuckles and who avoid confrontation. By contrast, Korean people are the exact opposite, taking every minor comment remotely critical of anything Korean as a deliberate insult to the nation and it’s 5,000 years of glorious history and which must be answered with no mercy.
In Korea, there appears to be moralistic revulsion that foreigners could come to their country and actually enjoy themselves while making more than minimum wage. Yet most Japanese people assume, and expect, that foreigners will have more fun in Japan than they do.
I should also say as an idle comment that in Japan, if you’re ethnically Japanese but lived outside of Japan, you’re a foreigner like everyone else. In Korea, if you’re of Korean ethnicity, you’re Korean and will be treated as such (at least until you go and live in Korea). That’s why, in my mind, there are a lot more successful non-Asian foreigners in Japan than in Korea. I know, for example, that the “Korea”practices at law firms doing work for Korean firms are overwhelmingly ethnic Korean, not necessarily Korean speakers, and I know Korean fluent speaking lawyers who have had a tough time getting jobs where ethnic Korean lawyers have gotten them, on the apparent justification that Korean clients just want to work with Korean-appearing people.
So I don’t see the Korean backlash against foreigners being repeated in Japan.
BTW, does anyone else think that agijintedek is not an angry Japanese 2channeler but a self-loathing westerner, or that ssss is not a Korea-sympathetic anti-American Canadian but just Korean? Just wondering.
“BTW, does anyone else think that agijintedek is not an angry Japanese 2channeler but a self-loathing westerner, or that ssss is not a Korea-sympathetic anti-American Canadian but just Korean?”
Never.He sounds like a Canuck and probably is a Canuck,nothing wrong about that BTW,but if s/he was a Korean,there would be most definitely long comment with why Japan is even worse.
“agijintedek” is probably Spanderll’s girlfriend,me think.
Calm down Curz.I invited ssss’s comment on USFK and somehow ssss quote my phrase by cutting off the crucial detail.
Washington has been very vocal on human right situation in Korea,especially under Jimmy Carter who wanted total withdraw of USFK.Chung played many tricky move to portray as if he has full support from Washington,of which was never the case.The most prominent Korean democrat and opposition leader Kim Dae Jung would’ve never survived without America’s help.
I also want to add what ssss had posted as following.
1)Park Chung Hee was a strong man,but he’s also the most popular president of ROK in various polls.And Park was never loved by Americans from JFK to Jimmi Carter.One of the reason why he send more troops to Vietnam more so than other allies in the region is to win some sympathy from Washington
2)FTA with the US and Iraq war(Sending the third largest troop deployment among the coalition after the U.S and UK) had been supported by late Roh Moo Hyun,probably the most anti-American president in the history of ROK.
3)Madcow disease fiasco is creation of pseduo-journalism of MBC,the Korean broadcaster.It’s one time fiasco and unrepeatable.
4)There are no anti-American attitudes among Asians, especially Japanese and Taiwanese.The current friction over military base(Japan)and US beef(Taiwan)are strictly business。Obama haven’t achieved much since he put himself in White House,but having him in White House itself was the most dynamic PR for America in the past decade.That’s a fact.
I have to say Korean anti-Americanism went way overboard.But at the same time it’s been presented overproportionally in international media and somehow Korean style of emotional expression and political body language had influenced very negatively in that regard.
“Korean people are the exact opposite, taking every minor comment remotely critical of anything Korean as a deliberate insult to the nation and it’s 5,000 years of glorious history and which must be answered with no mercy.”
Korea has more liberal law on foreign worker than Japan.I have a lots of friends in Ulaanbaatar working in SK and basically their experience there are OK.(Marriage with Korean men is another story)
“Japanese people are about the mildest, most dispassionate people in the world, who rarely get upset about anything and who tend to quietly brush off insults and rudeness with chuckles and who avoid confrontation.”
Well,at least you do know at leastone Japanese dude as a friend who doesn’t fit into this categorization….
I think it is safe to say that the Koreans are even more stupid
than the Japanese which is quite a feat.
Comments like above probably suggesting that there are things we can learn from Koreans.Not!
This blog is by an American (I think) woman, English teacher in South Korea who has brought a case in the Constitutional Court over the issue of discrimination against foreigners.
It is a long read but worth it as it contains a lot of info about Anti-English Spectrum and its apparent influence on the Korean media and parliament.
The comments left by some Koreans on the blog may give some idea of the thinking of extreme Korean nationalism.
I think the main difference between the treatment of foreigners in Japan and Korea has a lot to do with the role of nationalism in education. While there is a great deal of emphasis on Japan’s “uniqueness” in the Japanese education system, that rarely gives way to full blown xenophobia, just a sense of insular homogeneity.
The Korean education system, in contrast, is (from what I have experienced of it, at least) directly nationalistic, and the media is quick to use that (it is, after all, intrinsic enough to be considered a social norm and therefore easily manipulated by the media) in order to generate unity through an “us-vs-them” mentality. Note the fuss over the textbook row a few eyars back, and yasukuni in general.
For example, it is quite common for Korean schoolchildren to be taken to museums with graphic depictions of torture and atroicities commited by the Japanese during the occupation, and the Folk Museum, in the grounds of the old imperial palace in Seoul, is one of the most flagrant attempts at propaganda I have ever seen. Foster nationalism on one hand and re-iterate the historical wrongs done to your people on the other, and the end result is a population that is united as a “unique ethnic group” on one hand, and quick to channel whatever anger they may have at the common enemy that foreigners represent on the other.
When I was living in Japan, I travelled to Seoul occasionally, and whenever I would meet a Korean person, the conversation would go as follows:
“So what are you doing in Korea?”
“Actually, I’m just here for business; I live in Japan”
“JAPAN?? How can you live amongst people that would do such horrible things? Don’t you know what they did to us?”
“What about North Korea? Don’t you think the artillery surrounding the city at this very moment is a bit more of a threat than a country that doesn’t have a viable military?”
“But North Korea would never attack us! They’re our brothers!”
I swear, I had the exact same conversation 5 or 6 times…
I can’t recall whether I learned anything resembles”great deal of emphasis on Japan’s “uniqueness” while I spent my time in the elementary Japanese education system in late 70’s Kichijoji,although I had learned great deal of information on life and death of Che Guevara from union affiliated teachers.
Friend of mine(Japanese) lived in Seoul for about four years and never experienced any form of anti-Japanese rant from Korean while he was there.Although I never lived in the country,I’ve been to the there for six times for both business and personal.And many of whom I met in there,both young and old are very friendly and hospitable.I even run into one guy selling some GI Joe like military figure in Kyobo Munko,the largest book store in Seoul,and he suddenly spoke to me in Japanese and told me how much he likes Japanese figures and all.I had to conclude that anti-Japanese nationalism in Korea comes in very complex love-hate form.
Japan is something between eternal rival and chained dog that kids can bash as much as they like without getting interrupted by adults or bitten back.And whenever Korean run into the third party,they want to know where exactly is the international ranking of Korea within the foreign mindset.And if they find Japan ocuppies more or less higher place than Korea,they get jealous and starts negative promotion which usually is the past wrong doing since that is the most easiest weakpoint they can cultivate.
North Korea,on the other hand,cease to be the rival in this global ranking race that define the value of the nation like prosperous and democratic South,but something like a shame of the family whose serving time in jail.He could be dangerous,but he’s still the member of the family and needs to be treated that way.
That is my take on what above poster said.
Andy’s comment reminds me of this
Andy = FULL OF SHIT!
\or that ssss is not a Korea-sympathetic anti-American Canadian but just Korean? Just wondering.\
You do know that the current president, Myeong Bak Lee, is the most celebrated pro-Japanese politician in Korea’s history, right?
But first, what many Canadians do not like about the American government is simple. It’s the most powerful government in the world and yet it has the most inefficient foreign policies towards the world EXCEPT for Continental Europe, British Isles, wealth British Commonwealth countries, and several countries in South America. We Canadians do not like to see the American government degrading down like a pariah country.
Besides, this is perhaps the least anti-American comment made by a Canadian in a Canadian perspective you’ll ever see. Average Canadians would simply bash America because Harper is practicing unconventionally situated power.
Many Canadians want to see America progressively improved; less hassles for us and American expats living in Canada.
It’s the most powerful government in the world and yet it has the most inefficient foreign policies towards the world
I don’t really understand what “inefficient” means in this context. Care to elaborate?
“You do know that the current president, Myeong Bak Lee, is the most celebrated pro-Japanese politician in Korea’s history, right?”
“Pro-Japanese”only has negative term in Korean politics and used very frequently for character assasination.Apart from LMB born in Osaka,I don’t see anything “Pro-Japan” in his character nor policy.Reading his memoir ten years ago,with Japan presented only in negative context also confirmed that,
We Canadians love hockey!
“You do know that the current president, Myeong Bak Lee, is the most celebrated pro-Japanese politician in Korea’s history, right?”
Were you going with what he said before he became president:
President-elect Lee Myung-bak on Thursday said there will be no more demands for apologies from Japan during his presidency. “For a new, mature Seoul-Tokyo relationship, I don’t want to ask them to apologize for, or examine themselves” over colonial rule of Korea, Lee told foreign reporters at an event organized by the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club at the Korea Press Center in Seoul. (Jan. 2008)
Or what he said after being president?
Emperor Akihito of Japan should follow the example of Germany in making a genuine gesture of contrition for his country’s wartime aggression in Asia, Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean President, has said. (Nov. 2008)
“Japan should follow the example of Germany”
Germany has never officially apologized or paid reparations for colonialism.
Japanese remain miserable, xenophobic racists. I’m sure there are many in Korea who learned well from their former masters….
Or maybe we just picked up one or two lessons from those who taught us “the civilization”….
But the truth probably is there are way too many pricks from western world living in two countries that drive some local nuts.
Based on my observation of JET’s in action I’d say they aren’t much help. In my town the foreigners who behave respectably are the ones working in eikaiwas. The JET’s just treat Japan like it is some sort of 24hour-a-day party in their basement.
“Germany has never officially apologized or paid reparations for colonialism.”
“Japanese remain miserable, xenophobic racists.”
Then stop naming yourself with the city they built and inhabit.
Thanks. When you think about it, Germany hasn’t even made an official apology to Poland, which started the whole mess to begin with.
In addition, the collaboration of many Poles with the Nazis has been widely condemned and international public opinion is fierce in calls that the Polish state and education system own up. The Germany = Japan, Poland = Korea comparison isn’t an exact one, but it is certainly food for thought, given the widespread participation of Koreans in the Japanese forces, as POW camp guards, etc. Sure they didn’t have a great deal of choice, but that goes for Poles and Japanese draftees too.
I say this in my hope that Korea, Japan and everyone else will take the war crimes of all countries in history as lessons rather than a way of warding off reflection or a stick to beat other people with.
“Germany hasn’t even made an official apology to Poland, which started the whole mess to begin with.”
Of course, there was the Kniefall, and I’ve seen some people argue that Japanese leaders should make the same kind of gesture towards China. To which it might be noted that, a) Brandt’s gesture of contrition was not viewed particularly positively in Germany; b) he didn’t actually apologise, and as such the gesture was pretty vague, and; c) Tanaka made a low, long bow to the Chinese–equivalent to a Kniefall, if you know the etiquette–AND offered words to the extent that “the Japanese side… reflects on” the damage it caused China. Not an apology, perhaps, but not a denial of Chinese suffering either.
Speaking as a partial product of the German education system, my own feeling is that German history education is not the exercise of contrition that it is often cracked up to be.
During art classes and the like, we were occasionally taught to produce sculptures that reflected our resolute stance against absolutism, and on school trips we were taken to sites that demonstrated the significant contributions of the German Jewish community to the intellectual and cultural life of the nation. We also studied “The Wave” in English class, which for some reason I was required to take.
But in history classes, the war was only covered in the last year of high school–my year in Germany–and I can’t say the lessons of the Holocaust were seared into my mind as a result of German education. The weight of the tragedy came to me more in my own private excursions to Dachau, though I noticed that most of the people there were foreign tourists.
Also interestingly, there were memorials to the fallen German soldiers of both wars in the towns and villages near the place where I lived, and some on the sides or conspicuously adjacent to Catholic churches. Take that, compare it to Japan, Shintoism and Yasukuni, and make of it what you will.
Despite my recollections, I think the Japanese government needs to issue unequivocal (and there is the rub) apologies for a whole bunch of their documented wartime atrocities. There are some recent authors who have decided that past Japanese government apologies cause too much controversy and thus future apologies are not worth it. I would argue that apologies have caused controversy precisely because Japanese mainstream conservative governments have been too pusillanimous about facing down nationalists because the particular political circumstances of the Cold War meant that they needed political support from the right.
Those circumstances have changed. Time for the Japanese government to settle accounts. But they probably shouldn’t be looking over their shoulder at the German model of contrition while they do it.
“In addition, the collaboration of many Poles with the Nazis has been widely condemned and international public opinion is fierce in calls that the Polish state and education system own up.”
can you explain what do you mean?
i know it’s wikipedia but …
BTW,Porandojin.We all know that Poland as a nation had suffered bunch of misery during and after WW2.
I raised this point originally because Lee Myung Bak’s comment really does take it for granted that Japan’s actions in Asia (toward Korea) were like that of the Germans toward their object of contrition (Jewish people). I don’t think that this is a particularly useful comparison.
Bryce mentions the Kniefall – was this taken as an apologetic gesture to Poland? I’ve mainly heard it discussed in the context of apology to Jews.
porandojin – by “own up” in this case, I refer to calls for reparations and official apologies to Jews and a call by many educators to see more discussion of Polish collaboration and victimization of Jews (there were pogroms outside of the Nazi infrastructure, for example). There are dozens of books in English that refer to Poland as a place with a unique “debt of guilt” (because of the collaboration issues represented in the Wikipedia article and others) and a lack of effort to deal with it since democratization (ie blaming everything on the Nazis instead of looking at Polish participation in the Holocaust, which was not always “forced”). There is also the matter of Jewish property (land, money) not returned to original owners or their descendants (calculated at billions).
porandojin – I should also note that I don’t know if any of what is said about Polish discourse is accurate, as I don’t read Polish. I just know that a lot of people are talking about it in English and the Rabbi example that Aceface gives above is the tip of the iceberg. It is a favored subject in academia.
Would like to know how many of Polish collaborators were Jewish.
Poland’s case is more akin to China, it was ravaged as a nation. But returning to Korea, they weren’t exploited that much, and whatever they say its a fact Japan contributed a modern economy and administration. It was either Japan or Russia anyway, no chance in hell Korea would have remained independent long term.
Treating Korea/Taiwan’s case and China/SE Asia the same is a fallacy.
”Would like to know how many of Polish collaborators were Jewish.”
That can never be happen you are mentioning the Kapos in
Poland’s case is a bit complecated because no one denies the nation as the victim of German aggression and geopolitics,but the Jewish community accuses Poland’s own anti-semtism.
I don’t like comparison games since every misery has it’s own character.Korea’s situation is way more difference because what Japan did to Korea was colonization,not a simple occupation as the current Korean public want to portray.Recently a book came out on Korean kamikaze pilot written by former AP correpondent and a zainichi man titked 朝鮮人特攻隊―「日本人」として死んだ英霊たち (新潮新書).
“Also interestingly, there were memorials to the fallen German soldiers of both wars in the towns and villages near the place where I lived, and some on the sides or conspicuously adjacent to Catholic churches. Take that, compare it to Japan, Shintoism and Yasukuni, and make of it what you will.”
There multiple differences,but the biggest one is Yasukini housed not onlythose who were killed in action,but also those who werehunged as war criminals.Germany also prohibits it’s citizen to wear Nazi uniform in public.While there is no such legal restrictions in Japan and sensationalist foreigners can always use the photo of the handful freaks that shows up there occasionally.
>BTW,Porandojin.We all know that Poland as a nation had suffered bunch of misery during and after WW2.
well, why for this sarcasm, i just tried to give a link in English with some facts. “Bunch of misery”, so smart …
And I must say am quite shocked- “I just know that a lot of people are talking about it in English and the Rabbi example that Aceface gives above is the tip of the iceberg. It is a favored subject in academia.”
If this “provide livelihood to murderers.” is the tip of the Iceberg what else Academia favours ?? Aviner seemes a kind of right wing extremist, but should I believe what he preaches is the common believe for westerners??
I don’t speak English well and I know it’s off topic but all I can ask please do make more research and don’t stop with “Because they all said, ‘good,’ smiled and waited for what needed to be done to be done by the Nazis.” kind of argument …
”well, why for this sarcasm, i just tried to give a link in English with some facts. “Bunch of misery”, so smart …”
Hey,no offense to Poland in anyway.I also don’t speak English well myself.
If “bunch of misery”phrase get into your nerve,ou have the most sincere and unequivocal apology from me.You may well not see it,but I’m actually on my knees as I type this.
“Aviner seemes a kind of right wing extremist”
Probably.But not so much in East Asian standards.
“but should I believe what he preaches is the common believe for westerners”
Being neither Jew nor Westerner,I can’t hardly tell.However,watching “Sophie’s Choice”on HBO many moons ago,gives me somekind of idea that this perception is not that uncommon.
“but should I believe what he preaches is the common believe for westerners??”
At the very least, there is a great deal of anger expressed about Jedwabne, collaboration, and Jewish land and buildings.
In Canada’s “Globe and Mail” there were recently a series of letters to the editor and an op-ed concerning Poland’s prewar Jewish community. One elderly Jewish woman reported going back to the building that her father owned in the early 2000s and being spit on and told “get out Jew”.
If this sort of thing is an exaggeration, I think that the Polish government or Polish thinkers need to do a better job of spreading awareness of recent “memory successes”. As Aceface mentioned, the default position is to feel that Poland was a victim of the Nazis, but there are a lot of other opinions as well.
Should also mention that the war memory frame doesn’t exactly dominate discussion of Poland. There is a lot of love in English reporting, much, I think, due to the pope and the large number of Poles in North America.
“Bryce mentions the Kniefall – was this taken as an apologetic gesture to Poland? I’ve mainly heard it discussed in the context of apology to Jews.”
That’s kind of my point. The Kniefall was ambiguous, and people need to think about what they are saying when they argue that Japanese leaders must follow Brandt’s example and “bend their knee” in order to provide unequivocal apologies. I think there are actions, yet unaddressed, for which Japan’s leaders should apologise unequivocally, but such gestures are hardly the way to do it.
I’m also fed up with those academics, including the German gentleman at 1:45 in this clip, who argue that the “German people” have never wavered from the notion that they must take responsibility for what their government did. This completely ignores the Historikerstreit of the 1980s and 1990s that threw into doubt the notion of universal German contrition, even for the Holocaust.
The general arguments at the time revolved around whether the Holocaust was “uniquely evil” or comparable to other similar acts, such as Stalin’s purges. The latter position is similar to the rightist view in Japan that the Imperial army’s crimes were simply an unfortunate but natural consequence of war. At the same time as the Historiker Streit, there were also members of the Bundestag aligned with the “Republikaner”, a party with thinly veiled fascist views, and German neo-Nazism was a pretty big issue in the 1990s. I actually think there are many parallels between the Japanese and German cases that are not usually explored because people focus on the supposed differences.
“I’m also fed up with those academics, including the German gentleman”
Yeah,I’m also fed up with those journalist including this German gentleman who starts asking a catch-ball question to Asada Mao(Do you have a boy friend?)
and then suddenly switch into serious stuff.
What an idiot! She handled it with class though.
“The Kniefall was ambiguous”
That is, it can be seen as relating to a sorry period of national history (an uprising in Poland) and/or as a statement on the Holocaust as a whole. Like Japanese apologies, it can also be seen as either an act of contrition, or of reflection on the weight of history without personal or national contrition.
Aceface, my apologies for rather overstating the case; what I meant by “placing an emphasis on uniqueness” was not actually teaching the concept of uniqueness as a part of the schools curriculum, but more that the idea is reinforced as a sort of cultural meme.
Where the Korean media is quick to foster xenophobia (and like you say, there are exceptions who do not buy into it amongst the greater population) and encourage its outward expression as aggression towards foreigners, I think there’s also a similar, albeit less deliberate, version of the same thing in the Japanese media but that it manifests itself differently; a sort of insularity that began with nihonjinron and can be seen today in the media in every “wow, doesn’t this foreigner speak excellent Japanese? Isn’t that bizarre?” segment on TV and heard every time someone asks “so, do you have four seasons in your country?”. Nobody laps up the almost orientalist advertising for the Japanese tourism industry quite as much as the Japanese themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I think all media does this. In America, the bogeyman is terror; in Britain it’s moral decline mingled with terror (Kids with knives! Quick, let’s use terror laws to impinge on people’s rights to make them feel secure! More CCTV and tougher immigration rules!); and in both Japan and Korea it’s cultural insularity that makes itself evident in quite different ways.
Oh, and is it just me or does anyone else think that all the racist trolling in this thread is the product of just one, maybe two, probably Korean commenters? Way to prove me wrong, guys…
“…and heard every time someone asks “so, do you have four seasons in your country?”.”
I think this point is somewhat tired. The Japanese term “shiki”, while it literally means “four seasons” clearly means “four distinct seasons.” And while most places in the world divide the year chronologically into quarters chronologically, it doesn’t mean that their “seasons” are distinct in the way that Japanese would immediately understand the term “shiki.” So when Japanese people ask whether “your country has four seasons”, they are not being provincial, but simply using a literal translation.
One of the reasons Korean are so angry at America is circumcision. Thanks to the presence of the US Army, they’ve been doing it to almost all boys at around age 12. It was part of a plan started in the 50’s to show the US how civilized they were compared to the North.
It would piss anyone off if you had to go through that pain just to look like your occupiers.
For more on circumcision in South Korea – http://sti.bmj.com/content/79/1/65.full
I hadn’t know myself that it was more prevalent there than in any other country where it is not mandated religiously.
“So when Japanese people ask whether “your country has four seasons”, they are not being provincial, but simply using a literal translation.”
You don’t think there’s anything provincial about being surprised that other parts of the world have 4 similarly distinct seasons?
Why not just change the topic of conversation to Vivaldi? Or better yet, circumcision.
Or, was Vivaldi circumcised?
What always bothered me about shiki is that it doesn’t account for tsuyu. The main difference between my country’s seasonal patterns and Japan’s is the addition of the rainy season. I realize that it’s not considered a “season” in the sense that the shiki are seasons, but I still find it silly.
The term and concept of shiki comes from China, and originally refers to the actual chronological 4 quarters of the lunar calendar rather than just seasons in the climatic sense. Also, the fifth climatic season of tsuyu isn’t very prominent in the regions of China where classical civilization flourished, although it is in the wetter, hotter south.
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