That Damned Japanese Dinosaur
If I give my Korean kids certain essay topics, you get back certain results. For example– “If you had a mysterious colossus who would do whatever you want, what would you do with it?” or “If you were very rich, what would you do with your money?”
I sometimes get answers like “Destroy Japan.”
It depends on who you ask, really. But a lot of kids were raised on the stories of the Japanese colonialization of Korea. A lot of the culture reflects this long standing animosity. You’ll almost never see a Sony Ericcson phone in Korea for example, even though SE is one of the heavy hitters in pretty much any other Asian country, and even back in North America. You’ll never see a Japanese car on the streets, and though that’s partly because of the government imposed double-tax on foreign imports.
On one hand, this makes for a lot of national strength– Korea is self-sufficient country in a lot of ways, particularly in technology and entertainment. But on the other hand, I often feel that the whole country is so sheltered from the rest of the world. It’s true that my kids are still young and have a lot to learn– but to a certain degree, national pride takes the place of international awareness. Or perhaps this is my bias, because back in Montreal, the ‘white majority’ is actually the minority among a sea of immigrants. There is necessarily a difficult sense of national pride in Montreal, a sort of identity crisis that stems from the fact that many people are immigrant or second, perhaps third generations from other countries.
In any case– when a 10 year old kid writes me an essay about wishing that Japan would be nuked, I find it a bit disturbing. I’m not saying that their hate is unfounded– there are always plenty of reasons to hate. Give me a noun, and I can make you some hate. It’s really easy. But I do hold it against the leaders of Korea for being so slow towards improving their international relationships on a more public scale. It is true– Korea now has open ports to Japan and they trade many things. But I’m not talking about industry– I think that governments’ have the responsability of reducing the enemies of their people. I don’t mean by trucking over a bunch of tanks or flinging over a bunch of nukes– I mean by removing the perception of enmity. Because it’s just that– perception.
Not that crimes didn’t happen in the past against Korean people. But the current Japanese people are not responsible for the actions of their ancestors– the most they can be held responsible for is being too stubborn to just admit that their ancestors did some bad things.
But blame placing doesn’t get us anywhere. Although it is useful to have seen this video, which really clears up a lot of WHY all this started.
Or you could start on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korea#Japanese_occupation to see a bit more.
On the plus side, and I’ve always thought this was true– I do have students who love japan. And why? Videogames, anime and manga. The next generation of Korean youth are caught on the wave and for that, they’ve come to understand a lot of the similarities between Japanese and Korean cultures. Not just cultures actually, but humanity itself. In the end, they are united by the arts that so many of the technocrats and scientists insist should take a place only on the backburner.
Some idiot conservative political leaders just don’t realize sometiems that some parts of culture, such as hate, need not be conserved.