My Latest Japanese Hate-Mail: Apparently I am a ‘S— Kimchi Propagandist’ Hah!


jpnThis is what happens when you write in the area of Japanese-Korean relations. Pretty much everybody hates you, because you don’t tell them what they want to hear.

The other day I posted how the Korean government leaned on me to alter the nomenclature in my writing – which, at this point, I wouldn’t do if only to oppose the highly inappropriate arm-twisting of academics by the state.

So obviously, I had to get some ken-kan from across the strait. Symmetric loathing of this blog is required!:

From: ——— [shitkimchi1@———.—]
Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 6:19 PM
To: robertkelly260@hotmail.com
Subject: shameless and failed propagandist !

spread these videos, you failed idiot ! you kimchis are finished…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zPhBFEizzA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLyKJsbw4G4

Needless to say, I didn’t write back.

I can’t access those videos. They are blocked in Korea, but judging from the comments, it’s pretty rank stuff, back to creepy comfort women-denialism and all that.

If I had to guess, that email was a response to this post where I criticized the creepy nationalists in the corners of the Abe coalition denying the comfort women. I don’t think Abe is as bad as Koreans do; there’s been a lot of irresponsible exaggeration in the Korea media, which seems to be finally dawning on the far-too-alarmist Chosun Ilbo. But I do broadly agree with the moral case Korea makes against Japan on the comfort women and Yasukuni. For as much as I think Koreans flies off the handle way too much on Japan, they are generally right on these two core issues. So I guess that makes me a ken-kan failed idiot or something.

I’ve been called a lot of things over the years in the comments and in hate-emails – a Muslim, a Sinophile, a traitor (to America and/or Korea), every variation of idiot you can think, an orientalist, an American imperialist, a racist (but that’s so de rigeur at this point in this area that it’s meaningless now), a mouthpiece of the IMF/USFK/the American national security state, and so on. But I gotta give this guy credit – a ‘kimchi propagandist’ is a pretty creative. Gotta laugh out of that one.

9 thoughts on “My Latest Japanese Hate-Mail: Apparently I am a ‘S— Kimchi Propagandist’ Hah!

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  2. I’m in Busan and was able to watch those videos without a problem. The first video completely ignores the fact that products are often deliberately altered for foreign markets in cooperation with the original producer. It suggests that Pepero completely supplanted Pocky in a selfish grab for complete domestic market share, when in fact both are sold side by side in virtually every convenience store in the country. It also deliberately mispronounces Hyundai to make it sound more like Honda. I’ve also never heard of this so-called Korean equivalent of Pokemon because all of my students have always referred to it as Pokemon just like we did/do in the US. There are many more aggravating and deliberately biased representations in the video but I will stop there.

    Would the random emailer talk about things in an open fashion? Could we talk about the extremely common caucasian rendering of characters in Japanese animation and popular videogame culture? Is that not in itself a theft of an identity that is clearly not Japanese? Can we talk about the deliberate and repeated instances of both Korea and Japan refusing to cooperate economically out of deeper and mutual hatred? (i.e. why there has been a Nintendo of America since the mid 1980s and wasn’t one in Korea until 2006, extremely high import tariffs on Japanese cars in Korea, etc etc.) Both stem from extreme nationalism which both are guilty of so what’s the big deal? Can we also discuss the use of the word kimchi as a derogative despite the extreme availability of kimchi throughout Japanese grocery stores and the rapid rise in popularity of Korean food in Japan?

    The fact is that different countries require different cultural tweaks of products to suit the needs of a different market (that is, if they want them to even sell). While some products are in fact blatantly copied , they aren’t counterfeit (*ahem* China). When the video has only a slideshow of pictures carefully chosen for their similarities, dramatic music, and a complete absence of contextual data, it is nothing more than a reflection of the deeper hatred and bigotry of the creator. Their efforts would be equally well spent shouting racist diatribes at strangers in the street.

    • >When the video has only a slideshow of pictures carefully chosen for their similarities, dramatic music, and a complete absence of contextual data, it is nothing more than a reflection of the deeper hatred and bigotry of the creator.

      I must wonder what Anonymous really thinks. Is it not even permissible to at least raise the similarities between certain Korean products and their Japanese counterparts and express the opinion that some copying was going on without being called “hatred and bigotry”?

      Korea doesn’t copy every last thing from Japan, but there is a good sized list on the film where at least the circumstantial evidence is there. I don’t know what contexual data might exonerate the part where … most of them do look quite similar (though Ranma 1/2 and Ranma 1/3 didn’t seem that much alike to me).

      I don’t think the average Japanese would mind that Korea copied that stuff (or at least used Japanese ideas as a basis for their own product) – imitation is flattery after all.

      More worrying is the charge the Koreans would claim that they are first and the theory that Koreans might believe such due to the tradition Chinese hierarchy. But frankly on this the onus of making it a problem would be on Koreans. If they don’t challenge the idea Pocky (for example) came first, this charge would never activate. If they aggressively insist their “Pepero” was the original, then we might have a problem, but then it would be the Korean’s fault.

      So how does this film “reflect the deeper hatred and bigotry of the creator”? He can be right, he can be wrong – but where’s the hate?

      >completely ignores the fact that products are often deliberately altered for foreign markets in cooperation with the original producer.

      To make this argument work, shouldn’t you at least explain *one* product comparison in that film that falls under the category?

      >Pepero completely supplanted Pocky in a selfish grab for complete domestic market share, when in fact both are sold side by side in virtually every convenience store in the country

      To be honest, they look so similar to each other that the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy (which I actually agree is an overblown suit by Apple) look as different as night and day in comparison. There seems no reason to “deliberately alter” Pocky into Pepero – even the color of the packaging is identical – Red! That Pepero might have failed to push Pocky out of the market is not exactly proof the attempt was not there.

      The honorable thing to do would have been to admit that Pocky came first, licence the design, and if (for example) Koreans like a slightly different flavor make the chance and put it up as a Pocky variant. If the Japanese refuse to allow this modification, then of course you can make your own brand, but even then you should not claim that Pepero was first (and if you never do so, then there will be no conflict).

      >It also deliberately mispronounces Hyundai to make it sound more like Honda.

      As a non-Korean speaker, I can’t evaluate that part and I suspect it won’t even be a major factor in most people’s calculations. What will impress them is how the Hyundai symbol does look a bit like an italicized version of the Honda symbol.

      >I’ve also never heard of this so-called Korean equivalent of Pokemon because all of my students have always referred to it as Pokemon just like we did/do in the US.

      Uh, unless you argue this “Powermon” cannot possibly have existed, the best you can say is that it is such a blatant act of copying that even the most nationalistic Koreans aren’t buying it. The attempt is nevertheless rather clear, is it not?

  3. The first video is charging wholesale “culture rape” but then mixes in shallow examples of chocolate snacks and cars which have nothing to do with Japanese culture (apart from the shallowness).

    The conceivably slightly more genuine grievance, relating to cultural items such as sushi, martial arts and cherry blossoms are all directly traceable to the fact that the Japanese introduced all these things themselves to Korea during THEIR forcible occupation of the country. You can’t impose things on another country and then complain if they become in any way successfully adopted there!

    The more sinister aspect, however, is that the video then seamlessly continues to conflate the issue of South Korea’s lax attitude to intellectual property rights (a well known problem) with denial over the suffering caused by, and injustice, of the colonization of Korea.

    • The overall attitude is hey we, the superior Japanese, felt Korea was lacking so we decided to come in an forcefully suppress their country for 30 years. To prove how valid this was here’s repeated quotes from some naturalist/historian who was wealthy enough to travel to East Asia around the turn of the 20th century. That proves it!! Then we lost a world war that we helped start and completely decimated our own country. The instability from that fallout then led directly to the Korean civil war which still divides the peninsula. In its desperate grab for unsuppressed cultural identity, how dare Korea not be completely thankful for the cultural products and traditions things that Japan forcefully introduced to them! The nerve!

      There is also never mention of China in either video. I’d like to see a part 3 video that “disproves” the rape of Nanking.

  4. It always bemuses me how Japanese right-wingers get all emotional over Korea and always want to claim that the Koreans are inferior/cheats/thieves etc. The thing is if they actually knew their own history in which Imperial Japan proclaimed the Koreans and Japanese of the same racial stock. So not are only are they going against the precious Imperial era that they love, they are also hating their own race.

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