I'm not the only person - as this Swimming World Magazine article reveals - to hear the news of the kerfuffle in Rio involving drunk American Olympic swimmers and think of what happened in Seoul in 1988.
test lunch 3
14 hours ago
Then, Obama's recent visit to Hiroshima acted as a wedge. It's laudable for him to try to free the world of the fetters of nuclear weapons. But here, memories of Japan's brutal occupation remain fresh even after the passage of 70 years. Obama was perhaps too engrossed in the heat of the moment to say out loud that the nuclear attacks were the result of Japan's aggression and those killed and maimed were the victims of its failed leadership. Ironically, his visit has freed ultranationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ilk from the atrocities it had committed. Human rights are one of two pillars of U.S. foreign policy, with nonproliferation being the other. For sure, Obama's visit didn't help much on human rights.Regarding "memories of Japan's brutal occupation remain fresh even after the passage of 70 years" (and I wonder why that is?), perhaps it's worth noting that most countries don't dedicate their education system and media to instilling historical bitterness quite like the Koreas, and thus not everyone believes that any given Japan-related news item is an occasion to dredge up memories of suffering. But I'll concede that it's a great way to keep people's minds off more important things. The Korean government itself apparently had no such complaints; a foreign ministry official said, "In such a historic speech, it is meaningful that he clearly mentioned Koreans, putting them on par with American and Japanese victims." Which might suggest that confirming victim status is a diplomatic victory. The problem is that it seems like aspiring to victim status is part of the Korean national identity, and thus there are some who would insist that Koreans' suffering should be elevated above everyone else's.
an interview with a prominent expert on prostitution. When I asked what she thought of the comfort women issue, she asked me to put my pen down so that she could rant politically incorrectly off-the-record.In a Korea Times column, Maija Rhee Devine (who will give a lecture for the RAS in September on the comfort women) asks "Are comfort women lying?" Her ultimate answer is no, but she points to criticism of the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, who are suspected of having "coached" the comfort women in some of their testimony.
"It's a joke," she said. "Pure hypocrisy."
We all know Japan was guilty of terrible things up to 1945, but, she said, this chauvinistic focus on justice for a historical matter is popular with Koreans because it conveniently distracts us from the real issue and our own continued guilt.
The real issue is the attitude in Korea of men towards women and human trafficking in the sex industry that operates on the scale it does as a consequence of that attitude.
That explained for me the odd fact that the comfort women story did not surface until 40 years after the war. People in 1945 were of course angry about the Japanese occupation but the comfort women did not appear important then, few even knew about it because male attitudes toward women and the trafficking of young women to service them hadn't changed with national liberation.
Like Sin [Ch'ae-ho], chuch'eron [the (supposedly) North Korean-influenced anti-imperialist 'philosophy' of leftist South Korean students popular from the mid-1980s to the 1990s] sees the entire history of the Korean people as an epic struggle to overcome foreign domination and feudal oppression. The historian's task, in other words, entails the examination of the experience and legacy of the Korean people's struggle to preserve their "core" identity. [...] Perceived as a significant threat to this core identity, miscegenation became associated with a whole host of related themes about the defense of the social body - the retrieval of a superior "core" Korean identity in the name of a phantasmic Korean essence. The ability of the foreign male to penetrate (literally) the inner and inviolable sanctum of Korean women and to establish conjugal alliances with them was perceived not only as a threat to the viability of the family, but as an act that undermined the fundamental cohesion and identity of the Korean nation. Thus we find in Korea that those women who formed marriage alliances across racial lines were popularly perceived as being women of "loose" morals: prostitutes, bar hostesses, or entertainers. In fact the were represented as the polemical inversion of the idealized virtuous female associated with Korea's traditional romance narratives. By allowing themselves to be appropriated by the West, these women were simultaneously perceived as being victims of Western imperialism and faithless profiteers of American capitalism. Both pitied and despised, the whore thus became the symbol of the nation's shame as well as the rallying point for national resistance. (Pages 71-72)
[Paul] Fussell criticized the poem in his work The Great War and Modern Memory (1975). He noted the distinction between the pastoral tone of the first nine lines and the "recruiting-poster rhetoric" of the third stanza. Describing it as "vicious" and "stupid", Fussell called the final lines a "propaganda argument against a negotiated peace".Is the propagation of such images as those above (especially in a manner meant to communicate to the young) not, in its own way, similar propaganda? This is not to say Korea is the only side at fault, of course - political realities in both Japan and Korea militate against solving the Comfort Women and Dokdo issues, and Japan's apologies (listed here - to 2005 - by Konrad Lawson) have often fell short of the mark (though a cultural tendency towards indirectness plays a part in this). Another elephant in the room is the effect on Japanese attitudes towards the war of the U.S. occupation of Japan and the American decision to preserve the imperial institution and protect the Emperor from prosecution during the Tokyo trials; as John Dower has put it, if the Emperor, in whose name the war was fought, wasn't going to be held responsible, why should anyone else feel guilty? One can only hope that, much like an ascendant Germany pushed the UK and France into an alliance before WWI, China's rise will have a similar effect at some point in the future. But as long as the Korean Gordian Knot - its division - remains in place, other problems related to mid-20th century history will be difficult to solve. An insistence in Korea on allowing displays (and popular culture) to portray Korea as a historical victim to inculcate historical bitterness in order to distract the populace and/or encourage a nationalist belief in Korea's moral superiority strikes me as something that will be counterproductive in the long run - even if it has its uses in the short term.