Korean Foreign Policy Year in Review 2012: So Many Grievances… (UPDATED in response)


(I updated/lengthened the last section, after the jump, to respond to some of the criticisms made.)

Daniel Tudor, the Korean correspondent of the Economist (full disclosure: we are friends), just wrote a book on South Korea where he argues that Korea, despite all its success, is a discontented society. This is exactly right. (Here is a good review of the book.) Despite growing rapidly in just a generation, and capturing some global profile with things like ‘Gangnam Style’ or well-known products like Samsung gizmos, Koreans continue to have wildly unrealistic expectations of global interest in their small, linguistically unique (and difficult to learn) country culturally similar to enormous China. This generates constant geopolitical disappointment, per Tudor, and outsized sensitivities over foreign criticism – e.g., the widespread urban legend here that no Korean has yet won a Nobel Prize, because the committee is staffed by anti-Korean racists, or read this.

Four events in 2012 really seemed to capture the chip on the national shoulder, which ideally would serve to recommend a little modesty instead of yet more nationalistic grievance (but that won’t happen):

The Olympics: Some KOC official said on TV that Korea needs to ‘improve its Olympic diplomacy’ (whatever that means), even though it won a huge haul of medals for a country so small. India has more than 1 in 7 of the people on the planet, while Korea has .007%, but I guess the fifth highest pull of golds and ninth highest overall was a conspiracy of the Anti-Korean Olympics or  something. What is it with the endless chip on the shoulder? As Evan Ramstad put it, Korean officials once again had to come off sounding arriviste and aggrieved, rather than balanced and modern:

“Even so, a government sports official could be counted upon to again declare that South Korea was at last among the world’s great nations instead of recognizing that it has been there for awhile now. Second Vice Culture Minister Kim Yong-hwan was quoted in local media saying the performance in London meant that South Korea could “join the ranks of advanced nations in terms of sports and culture” and “has leapt into a higher level not only in the field of sports but also in culture and arts.”

And we had to spoil the Olympics too, with tiresome Dokdo posturing too (pic above).  That the placard violated the apolitical Olympic spirit is obvoious, but no major Korean figure came forward to denounce that action. *Sigh*

Dokdo: Ok, we get it. Koreans really, really, Really, Really, Really, REALLY feel like Dokdo belongs to them. I promise I get it. PLEASE. I really promise I get it. Don’t make me chop off my finger too. We all get it. I guarantee that every person I know in the expat community here in Korea knows also. Enough. And please, please stop manipulating young English teachers in Korea – desperate for acceptance and the appearance of local cultural literacy – into ‘supporting’ Korea’s Dokdo claim in the newspapers at some kimchi-making event or something. They’ve got no idea what they’re talking about; this is transparent agit-prop worthy of NK.

Do we really have to wreck years and years of NEA diplomacy over two rocks? Do we need amputated digits, flaming arrows shot and feces flung at the Japanese embassy, protests and all the rest? At this point, does anyone NOT believe that the ROKG shamelessly manipulates this issue? And now we are going to start a war over Dokdo? And samurai are going to lead the invasion? Seriously? Did I really just write that? Are we living on the same planet?

And you wonder why US officials think Korea is becoming “irrational”? It’s not to hard to figure out. And lest it need to be repeated yet again, the control of Dokdo has no impact over the distribution of sea resources around the islets, because human life is not sustainable on them without external assistance. This basic principle of UNCLOS, of which both Korea and Japan are signatories, means that sovereignty over Dokdo does not alter at all the sea border between SK and Japan. Resource control is the regularly used fig-leaf for Korea’s claim in the Korean media, but the real driver is unchecked, media-inflamed nationalism and japanobia (which MOFAT really should try to control; it’s starting to make Korea look like racists). Here are some of my earlier thoughts on the tangle over Dokdo and other island disputes.

Apple/Samsung: Even my grandmother could eyeball the iPhone and Galaxy phone and tell they more or less designed the same way. The California court that found against Samsung was shown emails in which Samsung employees were openly discussing their plagiarism of Apple designs; it only took them 6 hours to reach a verdict because the evidence is so obvious. As for Samsung’s ‘there’s only one way to make smart phone’ retort, gimme a break. Microsoft Windows Phone managed to create a phone and phone OS that doesn’t shamelessly copy the iPhone (and actually gets good reviews). I don’t know anything about phone tech, and even I can see these fairly obvious distinctions. (Read this for good break down of the creativity that went into the creation of the iPhone which provokes these sorts of ‘design patent’ fights.)

But the Korean media, ever inflammatory, unprofessional and fawning to the chaebol, has unloaded on Apple and US patent law as it if it’s a new form of protectionism aimed solely at Korea. That Koreans seemed to think the American court ‘choose’ Apple in the lawsuit because it’s an American firm, tells you more about how little impartiality Koreans expect from their own court system, than it says anything about the US legal system. Once again, intellectual property law is treated as if it’s a joke in Korea, land of the illegal download of just about everything.

And Korea accusing other states of protectionism? Are you serious? Come on. Is this real? Is the Korean media living in a fantasy world where decades of Korean tariffs and NTBs that made it a huge hassle for foreigners to operate here never existed? Park Geun Hye openly said during the campaign that foreigners should be prevented from penetrating chaebol ownership.

This is a nationalistic news bubble on par with Fox. Yes, US patent law is becoming a hideous tangle with ‘patent trolling’ and the rest, but intellectual property is big issue in the West. Asian companies will either find a way to work around this, or face endless lawsuits and trade friction, like this, or Microsoft’s herculean efforts to stop the piracy of Windows. This is just the beginning, and Korean companies are ill-served if a spineless media won’t report this. (For my longer treatment in the Newsweek Japan on the Samsung-Apple fight, click here.)

Lone Star: While the details of Lone Star have been endlessly rehearsed, it is worth noting the concerns the case raises. Lone Star alleges that it faced erratic, personalized regulation, politicized government intervention, an inflammatory local media, and widespread public opinion antipathy that resulted in street demonstrations. Yet Lone Star had done what many global portfolio investors do – provided a capital injection to a struggling firm at some risk to itself. If the Korean Exchange Bank had collapsed, Lone Star would have lost a substantial amount of money. Because KEB rebounded with Lone Star capital, KEB’s many employees retained their jobs, a high point rarely admitted in the Korean debate. Do not forget that KEB was headed toward bankruptcy, a mess the Korean government was desperate to avoid. Had the Korean government wanted to rescue KEB without foreign assistance, it might have nationalized the bank. It choose not to. That Lone Star then turned a substantial profit is not a flaw – it was the whole point of the investment. And there was a clear risk that the investment would fail, costing Lone Star its money, another point widely avoided in Korea. The local media insist the Lone Star was a ‘speculator’ because it bought at a low price and sold at a high one (meoktwi). But this is precisely what all global investors, including huge Korean institutional investors such as the Korean Pension Service, seek. Like any investment portfolio in the world, the whole point is to buy low and sell high, thereby maximizing returns. Clearly the Korean regulators knew this beforehand, and it is important that this basic principle be defended by the Korean government, both in fairness to foreigners who should not lose their WTO-guaranteed rights here, and to insure a continuing flow of job-creating foreign investment into Korea. (For my JoongAng Ilbo op-ed on the Lone Star meltdown, click here.)

I guess all this is just beyond the Korean media’s insistence on damning foreign capital funds that invest in Korea as rapacious asset-strippers: UK Hermes, McQuarrie, Dubai SWF. This is so bad now, that the international investment community shies away from Korea (the ‘Korea Discount’), and it is costing Korea are pretty big chunk of jobs.


I need a break. There are lots of reasons why Korea is a nice place to live, but boastful, hypersensitive nationalism worthy of the Tea Party is not one of them. I hope someone at MOFAT will take a look at the great satirical site, the Dokdo Times, to get a sense of just how far out the rest of the world thinks Korea can get on the conspiracy theories, xenophobia, and resistance to uncomfortable truths. Among others: 1. Racism is a huge problem here, from smirking teens and staring ajeossis, to ubiquitous laughter when foreigners try to speak Korean, through to genuinely serious discrimination against foreigner by landlords, employers, and in the courts. 2. The chaebol are rapacious, politics-corrupting, consumer-punishing, reverse-engineering oligopolists who’d have been broken up long ago anywhere in the West. 3. Minjeok pure-bloodedness is blatant empirical falsehood straight out of nineteenth century quack eugenicists and proto-Nazis like Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

All these points need to be made in the Korean public sphere, and ideally not by ‘culturally suspect’ foreigners like me. In the West, academics and public intellectuals often play a necessary adversarial role in beating back nationalist arrogance (i.e., Fox News). And I try to do my part regarding the embarrassing and creepy Tea Party. But I don’t see a similarly vocal classical liberal or left-critical intellectual class in Korea. Rather, Korean social science is very close to the state (this is a problem throughout Asia actually), which cripples its ability to provide a critical, truth-to-power voice.

Similarly, the Korean media is far too close to the state and large corporations. Where are the investigative/adversarial journalists and indie publications to make the case for a more modest, less hyperbolic national identity decoupled from race? Where are the Korean versions of Salon, the New Republic, the Atlantic, Mother Jones, or Frontline? Who is the Korean Glenn Greenwald, Andrew Sullivan, or Steve Walt?

Instead, you’ve got a media-landscape dominated by uncritical nationalist presentation that would rather lie than challenge cherished national myths. If Korea really wants to be a ‘culturally advanced country,’ how about breaking the media-state links that deprive Korea of interesting oppositional-critical voices? How about inviting someone onto Arirang TV that doesn’t just flatter and pander to Korean prejudices?

In any case, the Dokdo Times quips can be pretty humorous stuff:

“Worse, the probability of a samurai attack on Dokdo has been rendered self-fulfilling due to the detailing of the threat in the Korea Times, which has now invoked the K-logic principle of being true by virtue of being published in the Korean media.”

“While they have yet to be verified by peer review, K-Logic already appears to have proven that fan death really exists, kimchi cures cancer, native English teachers are all sex offenders and Dokdo is Korean territory.”

Paranoia is not healthy.

30 thoughts on “Korean Foreign Policy Year in Review 2012: So Many Grievances… (UPDATED in response)

  1. I agree with your sentiments and also find Dokdo particularly annoying, but it has to be recognized that it is used as a general symbol of hatred for Japan. Probably it has become “the” symbol because, representative of land in general, it is the one part of Japan’s past misdeeds that everyone can agree on without unintentionally implicating their own grandparents as collaborators etc. It also doesn’t have the level of shame attached to it as the sex slave issue and is separate from politically divisive North Korea related problems (even if they also claim it).

    Although an unashamed outlet for popular nationalism, it is infinitely more benign than Yasukuni Shrine in Japan and far less frequently visited by political leaders. As long as Yasukuni Shrine is patronized by Japan’s political leadership, Dokdo is probably the very least form of protest that could be expected from South Korea.

    If you spent a couple of years living in Japan or read Japanese language newspapers, I think you’d be far more disgusted by the openly racist (foreigner-hating) opinions that can be found there than in the Korea media. The Japanese far right are as malevolent but far more institutionalized than any neo-Nazi organization in Europe. How should Korea and China be expected to react to this reality?

    If Japan had any sense, it should give up all three island claims (Korea, China and Russia) and be all the stronger for it.

    Separately, on the topic of language, I think Korean being ‘difficult to learn’ (certainly no more difficult than Chinese or Japanese) is less relevant than the vast majority of domestic Koreans still being relatively bad at English. No non-English speaking country has gained global interest through their own language in the current era; native English speakers rarely learn any second language to a level of practical proficiency, even French or German. For the most part they rely on foreigners learning English. How many languages do Obama or the head of Google speak? All the ‘successful’ countries in the world, ie Germany and Finland, can speak good English when they need to. Ironically Gangnam Style is a good example of how Korean language is not a major obstacle; the fact it was sung in Korean didn’t make a difference, but PSY’s being fluent in English was crucial to the US promotions and his international acceptance (until his America-hating past was revealed!)


    • I think all of that is basically correct, but I am most intrigued by your comments on the Japanese right. I did not realize it was so toxic. Please elaborate.

      On the language, the issue not just difficulty, but range – lots of people speak English, Spanish, and Chinese. Few people speak Korean. It would help if the media here would simply say this instead of pretending that the Korean wave is real. It would also help if the Korean media encourage a little more national modesty instead of talking as if Korea is a spat-upon great power not receiving its due.


      • I am in Vietnam at the moment and hear tell that tens of thousands of Vietnamese study for and then pass a basic conversation level test in Korean every year. For what? is the question I would like to explore more –beyond my friend saying it is to better understand the music and the dramas.

        From what little I have been able to gather, Korean-based learning centers are pushing it as some form of “opportunity” for career advancement. While I can see that being an admirable tact considering the increasing merging of the two economies, I think it’s the marketing of a pipe dream and will, in the end, bear few lucrative results for the bulk of those studying Hangeul.


      • You should see the miles and miles long line ups outside Korean language test centers that are set up annually all over South and South East Asia. If there weren’t real opportunities, that’s heck of a lot of people studying for nothing and trying to pass a test for nothing.


      • So it would seem.

        Without seeing solid numbers, it’s only conjecture on my part, but I would be curious to hear your take on where these language skills will take these folks post-proficiency.


      • When I visited Vietnam with a delegation from my Korean university, we meet the Korean ambassador to Korea who told us that Vietnamese acquisition of korean was motivated by chaebol offshoring to Veitnam.

        The same thing happened a generation ago with Japanese when the kereitsu expanded into SE Asia, and no one talks about that as evidence of a ‘Japanese wave.’

        The point is to be methodologically cautious in attributing causality (‘they’re learning Korean b/c they love Korea’) without evidence, and to be very skeptical when the sources of ‘evidence’ have an obvious conflict on interest; i.e., the Korean media is very nationalist and boosterish (think Arirang especially), and saying the Korean wave is a big hit is clearly the politically desired outcome. That is all the more reason to avoid using such data points; ideology is not evidence.


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  3. Thanks for the response. To get a taste you only need to youtube ‘Japanese far right’ or, more pertinently, read the brief ‘Politics and Philosophy’ section from current prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Wikipedia entry.

    The foreigner hating is largely directed towards Koreans, Chinese and more recently Nigerians; Westerners are more passively resented. Of course, many countries have the xenophobia and Japan is still relatively non-violent but the point I want to make is what Westerners would define as ‘racist’ sentiments are much more tolerated and openly expressed in Japan than in Korea.

    But the real issue, which must be ultra-frustrating for Koreans, is that America (politically and strategically) is so indulgent of Japan and has treated it as the ‘ally of choice’ against China and Russia since the moment WWII ended, and still today. This is what’s allowed the Japanese far right to become so entrenched and institutionalized. Amongst other things, they have had a huge influence on Japan’s active historical amnesia and revisionism: most younger Japanese do not know about the invasion of China or Pearl Harbour (at all).

    Yasukuni Shrine is incredibly provocative yet no great diplomatic pressure has been brought to bear from the West. How would Americans feel if Canada (or even somewhere more distant) had a shrine venerating Osama Bin Laden which the president and top politicians regularly visited? Or how would Russia and Poland react if the German chancellor actively denied Germany’s wartime atrocities?

    Apparently this is all trumped by the fact that Japan is regarded as the surest ally against the rise of China. Japan’s claim on Dokdo should have been relinquished along with its other colonial possessions, but now it would set a precedent for the Diaoyu and Kuril island disputes with China (ideally Taiwan) and Russia towards which Washington has no interest in behaving neutrally.

    Dokdo, is now part of South Korea’s national branding. As an emblem giving expression to national identity it’s almost become equivalent to the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower or Mount Fuji. That’s why its picture and name is plastered everywhere in South Korea. Unlike Mount Baekdu (the preferred symbol), because South Korea occupies it, it’s a symbol of national strength and revival and that’s why it’s not going to go away.

    Separately again, it may not be the only thing in the world, but the Korean Wave is a very real phenomenon (especially in East and SE Asia but now – to a lesser extent – even in the West), whatever one thinks of the contents! As a direct result, the number of foreigners learning Korean has currently skyrocketed and is beginning to rival the number learning Japanese. As a cultural phenomenon it’s impressive but, as you say, compared to the numbers of Chinese or Spanish speakers, on the economic front (beyond the soft power effect) it’s probably not very important. But even if/when China becomes the number one economy, I still wonder if Chinese would become the lingua franca. In the meantime, Koreans are unable to gain greater recognition in the West because they’re bad at English, not because foreigners don’t learn Korean (but compared to any other non-Western country they are doing a pretty good job). Maybe it’s a good thing as they would only be even more irritating with Dokdo!

    Finally (sorry this is so long), I think all the above issues, are related to South Korea’s ambiguous size. Korea is influenced by ‘small-country nationalism’ which can generally get away with being more racist, protectionist etc than larger countries, but for a small country, Korea is too big and successful. At the same time it is frustrated because it obviously feels like a bigger country which has been cut in half so it’s desperate to regain the recognition deserved of a country with a history and culture which rivals any of the ‘old nations’ in the world. Linguistically, too, for a ‘small country’ South Korea’s population is much too large; like France, Germany or Japan it’s just about self-reliant, generating its own information and content disseminated through the South Korean ‘intranet’ experience; hence Koreans do not actually have to learn English to live their modern lives (without subtitles on every TV show) and not feel isolated or bored to the extent that countries with much smaller populations (eg Finland, Mongolia etc) do.


    • This may be the most intelligent comment every posted on this website. Obviously, you don’t know that you supposed to flame, troll, throw out nasty ad hominems, impugn my patriotism, and otherwise be a jerk like most of my commenters. You must be grad student….

      You should really write all this up and submit it. You’ve got some decent hypotheses here that should be tested. Some quick thoughts:

      1. You should write a whole article about Japanese racism/nationalism along the lines you’ve sketched. Not many people know this, and your argument seems both pretty creative and plausible. Go test them ASAP. Obviously you haven’t yet learned in grad school that social science is about recycling the obvious and verifying commonsense. 2. The costs of Korea’s behavior over Dokdo are rising, regardless of how strongly they feel. Coming off manic, manipulative, and unapproachable plays into the Japanese right’s hands and encourages outsiders like you and I to just wash our hands of it, which is my policy. When people ask me, I just say ‘no comment,’ which is the USG position. Spoiling the Olympics was both wrong and makes Korea look bad, and Koreans shouldn’t just care about the latter but the former too. 3. Do you have any data to suggest that Korean language learning is growing globally? And that data should be relative to the planet’s own demographic growth, because I could demonstrate the absolute numbers of Latin learners is also higher (which is true, but not the relevant data point). In passing, I should say when I look at how poorly Koreans and their textbooks teach their own language, I would be surprised if you are correct. 4. Similarly, I don’t buy the Korea wave schtick much. Almost all the ‘work’ on that comes from Koreans who are not social scientists and who have a deeply ideological reason for making that claim. Far too much of the Hallyu discussion is a fig-leaf for nationalist vanity and posturing – ‘see the world knows about Korea and loves us! Even the Japanese! Korea power!’. That is not social science, so I simply refuse to believe such claims. In passing, it’s worth noting that Gangnam Style is not really the Korean wave – it was discovered randomly on the internet and not promoted by the state. In fact, that shows far better how culture works – spontaneous, viral, sui generis – than the pre-packaged, heavily politicized K-pop associated with Hallyu. And it’s even worse for film; I have no sense at all that Korean film has extra-cultural reach. But again, all this needs to be research properly by someone not politically vested in the outcome. 5. Maybe poor English is an issue, but I don’t think so. Lots of countries have that. More probably, it’s just size. Korea is small. Its people are few, and will be getting fewer soon. There are more Vietnamese in the world than Koreans, but no one ever throws out data points like that…


      • I’m sorry, but Mr Logie’s comment has some very serious errors, which I feel I need to challenge. I don’t doubt that he is an expert on Korea, but certain statements on Japan he made are preposterous.

        >If you spent a couple of years living in Japan or read Japanese language newspapers, I think you’d be far more disgusted by the openly racist (foreigner-hating) opinions that can be found there…

        I lived there for 4 years as a grad student, and read the newspaper every day. There is no basis for this statement. The newspapers do not in any way express “foreigner hating” or “racist” opinions. Outside of some articles in the far-right Sankei Shinbun, I can’t image what would have even pass for anti-foreign – certainly nothing in the centre-right Yomiuri or Nikkei. Even more so on television, where only pro-foreign opinions are voiced. This is the reason Channel Sakura was created, because the far-right couldn’t get it’s opinions voiced in the mainstream media. One caveat is that far-right magazines do exist, but whereas the liberal AERA is sold at every kiosk and convenience store, I’ve never actually seen a real copy of VOICE.

        >most younger Japanese do not know about the invasion of China or Pearl Harbour (at all).

        There are probably the same number of Japanese youth who don’t know that Japan invaded China and attacked the US as Korean youth who don’t know that Korea was once a Japanese colony.

        Japanese historical amnesia does exist. However this does not mean Japanese youth are oblivious to the fact that there was a war and that Japan was the aggressor. Certain aspects of the Second World War are taught, openly discussed, and are shown in popular culture, TV shows etc. These include the lead up to the Sino-Japanese War, including the annexation of Korea, the invasion of Manchuria, up to and including the Marco Polo Bridge incident. Also fair game is the war in the Pacific against the US. What is taboo is detail about the Sino-Japanese War, the “three-alls” campaigns, Japanese atrocities in SE Asia, mistreatment of Western POWs, comfort women. What this means is that these issues do not appear in any form on TV, in comics/manga, etc (with the obvious exception of Gomanism). It should be mentioned that this information is available to anyone willing to walk to their nearest Public Library or research online.

        >Yasukuni Shrine is incredibly provocative

        I’m sure you realize that Yasukuni was the shrine for war dead from the Meiji period, and is not meant to be provocative. A better analogy than the ones you brought up would be if criticizing the President for supporting slavery every time he visits Arlington Cemetary unless the Confederate soldiers there are exhumed. Put it that way, I’m actually surprised at how much the Japanese have given in to “gaiatsu” by not visiting their war memorial.

        One last note, I agree with you that the Korean Wave is real, and it’s not just the k-pop stuff. Circumstantial evidence of course, but I have seen 50 year old rural conservative (presumably) LDP voters addicted to period dramas about Korean Confucian ministers, in Korean and subtitled in Japanese. That’s the kind of “soft power” China can only dream of.


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  5. I would have to disagree with many of your assertions. First off, is it really fair to think that Koreans should have been happy with the 2012 Olympics? Sure they won a large amount of medals but as you may remember there were several officiating instances that generated tremendous controversy not just domestically but across the world. Soccer fans still label the 2002 World Cup as a corrupt and/or racist affair. When you have controversial officiating calls (and multiple at that), there’s going to be major discontent.

    And when there are issues of officiating seemingly directed at your team repeatedly with no real explanation as to why, people will theorize to try to make sense of the unbelievable.

    Additionally, yes the Dokdo issue is one that has been sung time and time again, with no less fervor it seems after many years on the matter. It gets tiresome. It is tiresome. But then again, I feel like the way you have written things comes off as misleading (though I am sure that was not your intention).

    With something you call a Year in Review you have included events that were not from the year 2012. But that’s a minor point. What I’d really like to say is that, with Japanese attitudes towards the entire Dokdo issue and their historical behavior, what did you expect to happen?

    Here you have a country that continuously tries to lay claim to islets that mean the world to Koreans. Not because they’re actually important. They’re not. They’re shit-covered rocks floating in the sea.

    They’re important because Koreans fiercely view it as the actions of an unapologetic Japan towards their colonial past. Can you not see how Japan sulking and insisting on Dokdo triggers a firestorm of criticism? The whole attitude is bound to bring out accusations of neocolonialism and a lack of penance. And yet it’s the Koreans who are to be at fault? Admittedly, Koreans have much to learn in terms of diplomatic tact. But the buck stops with the Japanese in my book.

    As for the Samsung/Apple debates, I think you and I can both agree that Samsung’s original Galaxy model set off major alarm bells in terms of how similar it was to the iPhone. But need I remind you that theorizing about the US court’s decision and its supposed bias was not localized in Korea?

    It was a sentiment echoed online throughout much of the tech world, especially in Android favored populations (not surprisingly). Would you make the claim then that those in the UK who thought the decision was biased are reflective of how shoddily the UK deals with patent law?

    Moreover, if you look globally, you’ll also find that Samsung comes out on top in a large number of major cases with Apple. It’s not such a slam dunk for Apple. It’s more of a mixed bag and I presume that it deals with a lot of murky technical details that I won’t presume to have any expertise in.

    With regards to the Lone Star case, I have nothing to say. Namely because I know nothing about it. Your post on it was informative and interesting.

    But for many of these issues that you pick on, they were not remotely close to Korean grievances. They were just as much international grievances, with the world echoing similar sentiment to what was expressed domestically in Korea.

    I guess my final notes would be, yes, all that you’ve cited are instances where immaturity or outbursts of anger seemed to rule the day. But you’re making this out to be some sort of special Korean occurrence that manifested in Korea and Korea alone — that these are all things that only Korean minds would somehow conjure up and no one else.

    This is wrong and misleading. These were extremely international events; ones that generated discontent, conspiracies, and anger worldwide. Korea was no special case. This is no unique Korean delusion. It is only you who are making it out as so.


    • When you have controversial officiating calls (and multiple at that), there’s going to be major discontent.

      You are so funny!


  6. I usually tell my students this about difference between nationalisms in Japan and Korea: Koreans like to scream, shout, chop off some fingers and make a mess everywhere they go; Japanese nationalism, on the other hand, is cold, “rationalized”, barricaded with “historical facts” (who cares if Kojiki based) and put between the lines, never openly.
    Korean nationalism is hot-blooded, Japanese one is cold-blooded. I’d rather fear scheming minds than shouting idiots.

    P.S. By “rationalized” I don’t mean the nationalism is rational, it’s just the fact Japanese like to presenting the ideas as if those were logic-operating ones.
    Example: Hideyoshi couldn’t conquer Korea that was “unfilial daughter to Japan”, so one generation had to fix this – by occupation. Rational according to irrational claims.


  7. “Koreans continue to have wildly unrealistic expectations of global interest in their small, linguistically unique (and difficult to learn) country culturally similar to enormous China.”
    What if we substituted The English for Koreans and France for enormous China?
    “The English continue to have wildly unrealistic expectations of global interest in their small, linguistically unique (and difficult to learn) country culturally similar to France.”
    This would be accurate since the late 11th century, would it not? Well, not the wildly unrealistic part…so who’s to say Koreans are wrong about that part for themselves?


    • third-class rant this. just about everything said about korea is 10 times true of ethnic european countries and population groups (us/australia) and more widespread to a degree unimaginable in asia. seems the only way out for your insecure self arising out of your history is to de-legitimize and say ‘look, we’re all guilty!’ sorry, not happening. we can read. i’ll advice you to go for self criticism. living in la la land won’t allow you to escape reality.


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