Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Textbook battles

The Chosun Ilbo yesterday published an editorial titled "Kanto Massacre Is Textbook Case of Japan's Historic Disease," which has some interesting lines:
The Kanto massacre stands in the same line of atrocities as the Holocaust, involving the systematic murder of an ethnic group by or at the instigation of a state obsessed with notions of racial superiority.

But while the Holocaust is widely documented and discussed, few have heard of the Kanto massacre, and only two out of six Korean high school texts mention it.

Japan generally prefers to cover up the massacre and massage the facts. Education officials in Yokohama recently deleted a section in a middle school history text that said the Japanese military and police "persecuted and massacred" Koreans. Now only one out of seven Japanese middle school history texts uses the expression "massacre."
So we're complaining about there not being enough coverage in Japanese textbooks of an event Korean textbooks mostly don't cover? Am I getting that right?

Oh, and, "Hello, comparison stating Korean suffering was 'just like the Holocaust'. It's been awhile." (The most egregious example is here, and indifference to using Nazi imagery in Korea is mentioned here.)

I've mentioned the Kanto Earthquake before (scroll down), and horrible, horrible things happened at that time, but I just have to wonder, what with all the complaints about the omissions of Japanese textbooks, if Korean textbooks mention the anti-Chinese riots which took place in Korea in the wake of the 1931 Wanpaoshan Incident (more information here). "Over 100 Chinese were killed and over 500 were wounded. The worst rioting occurred in Pyongyang on July 5, and considerable property damage was inflicted on Chinese businesses and residences." Since the Japanese government (in Korea) responded slowly and punished the Korean rioters lightly (anti-Japanese riots would have been punished much more harshly) one wonders if the blame would simply be put on Japan, and the rioters described as 'victims of Japan.'

At any rate, I'm glad the Chosun Ilbo inadvertently reminded me of this incident; I thought to search the National Assembly Library online and found "Race problems: racial disturbance-their suppression, massacre, 1931/ American Consulate General in Mukden; Records of the U.S. Department of State relating to internal affairs of Korea, 1930-1939," which is a veritable treasure trove of information, including eyewitness accounts, clippings of accounts in the Seoul Press (the Japanese English language paper), translations of the Korean-language editorials which observers said set off the riots, and a reprint of a lengthy Chinese report on the incident.(Anyone who is a member of the library (and anyone can sign up) can access it over the internet.) Just for fun, here's the translation of the opening paragraph of the July 4, 1931 'extra' editorial published by the - yes - Chosun Ilbo:
Blood is thicker than water. Brethren are my Brethren. […] [I]f people are persecuted or subject to maltreatment in a foreign land, it is only those who are related in blood or of the same race who understand and feel their hardship. In connection with the 1,000,000 Koreans in Manchuria who are exhausted and tottering in repeated persecutions, it is only the 20,000,000 Koreans in Chosen who have the greatest sympathy with them, feel for them, and are eager to render assistance to them. Just look! […] [I]n all Manchuria, are not the Chinese officials and people carrying out the expulsion and oppression of Koreans in designed, systematic and permanent way? Korean people are full of racial love! What are you feeling about this? Is there no way to protect their right of existence?
Well, I guess the Chosun Ilbo comes by the feeling that it displayed above of being especially victimized honestly. I imagine I'll post more on this at some point.

Such a nationalist point of view brought to mind a post at Waygook.org I saw the other day about what happened when a foreign teacher presented a power point titled "Why are we learning English?" which mentioned where Korean falls on the 'most spoken language' scale:
After 4 periods, my CT [co-teacher] just called me to tell me that we need to change the lesson. He told me that the students were "very sensitive" about the fact that Korean is the 22nd most spoken language in the world. And they're mad that Chinese is first and that Japanese is 10th. And so, "you can't tell students that part that Korean is the 22nd language. You must explain that Korean and Japanese and Chinese are all from the same language, so when you say that Korean is 22nd, it's really the same as Japanese and Chinese which are much higher." [...]

He continued on to tell me that Korea used to be "10 times as large" and that it used to contain "most of China". He told me that Korea and Japan used to fight, and that Korea and China used to fight. I told him I understood the history, but that doesn't change reality today. As 10 year old kids, the students shouldn't have any understanding of the fact that Korea is a very small place in a very big world, but a foreign language class is exactly where they should be exposed to that reality.

He countered by saying that the history taught in Korean schools "by all of the teachers in all of the classes" makes the kids, again, "very sensitive" to this information and I should change the lesson. My final statement was that, yes, exactly, they're learning the same thing everywhere else, and they can stand to learn these very simple facts in my classroom.

Then he mentioned that Korean students hate Chinese people and they don't like to see that China is good. I lost it, then, and said that it was tough luck, I'm teaching the lesson and I hope they're upset enough to investigate the facts for themselves.

I don't expect to have a huge impact on my students' English ability. What I really want to accomplish is to spark a sense of wonder about the wider world. I want them to know that if they want to leave Korea, ever, to go anywhere, they need to learn a second language. I want them to understand that being proud of their nation is absolutely in order- Korea has a lot to be proud of and can celebrate many successes- but I also want them to start to see that Korea is just Korea and there's so much out there to explore, understand and consider.
I just like the part where he says that "You must explain that Korean and Japanese and Chinese are all from the same language, so when you say that Korean is 22nd, it's really the same as Japanese and Chinese which are much higher" and then later says "Korean students hate Chinese people and they don't like to see that China is good." If that's the case, why make the case for the Korean language being the same as Chinese?

At any rate, I'm not sure outright challenging one's co-teacher is the best idea, but to each their own.


King Baeksu said...

Any teacher who claims that Japanese, Chinese and Korean belong to the same language family is unfit for the job.

hoihoi51 said...

that was a korean propaganda.
it was so busy to clean up at that time.
there were so many korean riots, rape and looting by the korean in a chaos of kanto earthquake damage.

as for tohoku earthquake, you know Japanese were so ordering and calm..

Just after ww2, same thing was happened