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Archive for March, 2005

Korea-Japan Friendship Year

Posted by Brian on March 18, 2005

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

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Dokdo Marketing

Posted by Brian on March 18, 2005

The Hankook Ilbo has an article up on the surge in “Dokdo Marketing,” the ways in which Korean companies are jumping over the latest 5-minute hate to help sell their goods. If you can read Korean, check it out, but for the rest of you, here’s a quick summary:

  • Kiup Bank is offering  “Dokdo is our land” bank books
  • KTF is has free “Dokdo is our land” bell sounds for their hand phones (got mine this morning)
  • LG Telecom will be providing a free “Protect Dokdo” game
  • Lotte Department Store (Sogong branch) will be giving away free Dokdo towels  to children
  • Lotte Mart will be selling “Dokdo Love” t-shirts

As might be expected, the article totally avoids the issue of whether or not this kind of hyper-nationalistic marketing is responsible or even appropriate. Nor does it address the issue of Korean companies that do a lot of business in Japan turning around and bashing their customers there.

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Sound Familiar?

Posted by Brian on March 17, 2005

From the Korean Herald, on the Dokto issue:

Ami Ono, a 19-year-old student from Fukuoka University who was on a three-day tour to Seoul, said she was just surprised to hear about what’s happening between Korea and Japan.

“I don’t know much about Takeshima. I’m surprised, really (to hear that Korean people are that upset,)” she said.

Which sounds a lot like comments I heard from Americans in the months after the Ohno-Kim incident: “I don’t know much about the Ohno thing. I’m surprised that Koreans are still that upset over it.”

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A Ridiculous Notion…

Posted by Brian on March 16, 2005

From the NY Times:

In the weeks after Baghdad fell in April 2003, looters systematically dismantled and removed tons of machinery from Saddam Hussein’s most important weapons installations, including some with high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear arms, a senior Iraqi official said this week in the government’s first extensive comments on the looting.

The Iraqi official, Sami al-Araji, the deputy minister of industry, said it appeared that a highly organized operation had pinpointed specific plants in search of valuable equipment, some of which could be used for both military and civilian applications, and carted the machinery away.

Nice try, Liberal Media. Everyone knows that the Iraq invasion was planned far well to allow such a catastrophic turn of events to happen right under our noses. I mean, really… do they expect us to believe that we went into the country under-manned and unprepared to deal with such contingencies? As Pauly on the Sopranos would say, “Get the fuck out of here!”

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I thought it was a myth…

Posted by Brian on March 15, 2005

Yesterday, during the elevator ride up to my apartment, I had the type of shocking experience that I thought only occured in the wet dreams of the most virulent Korea-bashers found at Dave’s ESL or Englishspectrum.

Heading up to my place, I stepped into the elevator and found myself sharing it with two ajummas and a young kid (maybe 4 or 5 years old) standing between them. I’m standing in the front with the three of them behind me, but I can see their reflection in the metal door. So I’m minding my own business thinking about how happy I am to have finally gotten my South Park seasons 1-4 DVD set from the states, when the kid looks up to his mom (I assume) and says in Korean, “he looks like a monkey” while pointing at me.

Turning around, I asked the kid in Korean,”I look like a monkey?” At this point, his mom kind of pushes his hand down so he’s no longer pointing at me and mumbles “I’m sorry,” in Korean. Fortunately for them, as I was fully prepared to have a discussion about what had just happened, the elevator arrived at their floor and they quickly shuffled out with their heads down. As they left, I told them to be careful with their language next time, to which I saw the ajumma crack a slight smile as she turned the corner out of my field of view.

After they left, I continued up to my place and told my girlfriend about what happened. She, of course, started making the usual excuses (“he’s just a kid”), to which I replied that he has to learn such attitudes somewhere… just as the underage white-supremacists that used to be regulars on Jerry Springer had to learn their backwards thinking from someone. The problem, obviously, is with their parent and teachers.

Now, 25 years ago, had I pointed to a  stranger in an elevator and told my folks he looked like a monkey, I would have gotten a solid slap as a result. This kid, as is usual in Korea, gets nothing.

Part of what made the episode so troubling was the flagrant nature of the whole thing. This little shit, standing one foot away from me, literally pointed at me and called me a monkey. And as far as I remember, I wasn’t eating a banana or swinging from a vine in the elevator… I was wearing a blazer, tie, and a nice pair of slacks. WTF?

While I see things every now and then that make me optimistic about Korea’s future, its experiences like this one that remind me just how backwards Koreans can be at times.

Posted in Korean Issues, Personal | Leave a Comment »