Saturday, June 26, 2010

Drowning out the rest of the world

These days signs encouraging street cheering for Korean World Cup games have appeared in subway stations in Seoul. Here is the entrance to City Hall station:

The billboards (lit up from behind) at Dangsan Station are easier to photograph and make clearer what the "Shouting Korea" campaign is all about:

From here there are only 7 stops to Seoul Plaza where
you can passionately shout with the Taeguk Warriors.

With passionate red shouting that will stop up the ears
of the world, shout louder than the sound of a subway.

Essentially, the idea is to drown out the rest of the world. On page 15 of Gi-Wook Shin's essay "The Paradox of Korean Globalization" (available here as a pdf), he notes that
Eighty-one percent of the respondents agree that “the world is an arena of competition among nations”, and 75 percent subscribe to a claim that “the survival of the fittest is a major principle of contemporary world.”

Interesting that there are no Asians included in "the world." Also interesting is this quote from a comment here:
"[Marcus] Noland explains that in 2002 the Pew Survey on Global Attitudes took a public opinion poll. The survey interviewed more than 40,000 people in 46 countries from around the world on a variety of issues. Within this survey, one of the questions asked was whether the respondents agreed with the statement that “Our people are not perfect, but our culture is superior to others.” Of the 46 countries polled, France, which is known for its reputation of cultural chauvinism, had only 40 percent of its interviewees agree with the statement. In Russia and the United States, 60 percent of the people polled responded affirmatively, and both of these countries maintain a strong degree of nationalism. The Japanese responded with an even higher rate, with 75 percent of the populace seeing itself as better.

“However, according to Noland, the highest percentage of people who viewed their culture as superior to others around the world, with an overwhelming 90 percent of its population believing this to be so, was South Korea. Noland goes on to explain that “Paradoxically, while an astonishing share of Koreans apparently feel culturally superior to the rest of the world, they also apparently lack confidence in that culture’s resilience—five out of six Koreans think that it should be protected from foreign influence”
That survey would seem to be here, but I can find no exact statistics, like the ones found at this blog regarding the 2002 survey:

It's not surprising Korea's ranking would be so high in 2002, the year the World Cup was held in Korea (and Japan), but in 2007 86% still agreed that their culture was superior, coming in third among countries polled after India and Indonesia (see statistics near the end of this pdf).

In this excellent article, B.R. Myers describes
a panoramic painting of a procession of exultant tourists during 1989's Pyongyang World Festival of Youth and Students. In whatever direction they happen to be looking, their faces are partly obscured by a sinister shadow. A fat Caucasian woman wears a low-cut blouse, while a few African women appear in halter tops; in Pyongyang today, such clothing is considered indecent. Here and there, unsavory-looking men sport long sideburns and denim, more signs of Western decadence.

These sourpuss-faced foreigners may not all be under sinister shadows like the ones in the North Korean painting, but this American, his face shaded by the ridiculous hat, with facial hair and a tattoo, is a little on the unsavory side, considering what tattoos are associated with in Korea (and the unpopularity of facial hair).

Myers continues:
The only well-groomed and attractive person in view, and the only one whose face is evenly lit, is the Korean guide -- an innocent young girl, naturally -- who leads the way in traditional dress.

Are there any innocent young girls leading the way in traditional (World Cup) dress below?

Kim Yuna's unbiquity continues in the series of billboards at Dangsan station:

[Park] Ji-sung oppa! I[/we]'ll meet you at Seoul Plaza!

Has she ever met Park Ji-sung? At any rate, the wording above helps to convey a feeling of "we're all one big family," or as Gi-Wook Shin put it, "Ninety-three percent of respondents 'strongly agree' or 'agree' that 'Our nation has a single bloodline.'"

Moving along, Yuna also adds her face to a billboard demonstrating the "shouting dance."

Dance together with Yuna at Seoul Plaza now!

It seems all this national pride doesn't translate so well into civic pride, however, considering the hundreds of tons of garbage that has been left on the streets (and beaches) after games.

Funny thing, though. If we're trying to stop up the ears of the world, why so many articles about foreigners taking part in street cheering?

(From here.)

(From here.)

Even Arabs are taking part, says the Kookmin Ilbo.

(From here.)

(From here.)

(From here.)

Look! One of them's an outlander!

These two are from an article titled "Blue Eyed Red Devils."

(From here.)

Even the voice of the people is getting into it!

There are a few more here, here, here and here, or just go here to find many more (though that also turns up ridiculous articles like this (yes, foreigners also play in fountains when its hot)).

I find it hard to see such photos ('Foreigners love Korea!') without thinking of this painting from the 1984 book "The People's Great Leader" (from here) titled "All the peoples of the world praising Kim Il Sung."

Do these "Foreigners love Korea!" articles and photos not serve the same purpose?

(From here.)


hoihoi51 said...

축구도 잘하는 우리, 축구만 잘하던 우루과이 혼내보자 (일)

Anonymous said...

Loved the shots of foreigners cheering Team Korea!

Doesn't seem to be many Koreans cheering for "foreign" teams, even if those Koreans happen to be citizens of the "foreign" team's country.

Saw this humorous exchange on the Marmot's Hole blog:

"IHBB: Hey Wangkon, what time is the big viewing party in Koreatown on Wednesday for the USA-Algeria match?

WangKon936: Same time as the one in Downtown LA. Gasp! There isn’t a big USA-Algeria viewing party in Downtown LA… or pretty much anywhere for that matter.

IHBB: Of course I was keeding. It's ridiculous to even consider that Korean-American soccer fans would put any effort into supporting the American team. Outrageous!"

Unknown said...

I believe the graphic actually has France at 33%, not 40%.

Anonymous said...

|"These two are from an article titled 'Blue Eyed Red Devils.'"|

Neither of whom actually has blue eyes.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

All the photos of those non-Korean Korea-boosters reminds me of the World Cup ads I saw in 2006, where we got to see scene after scene of foreign soccer fans video-edited to look like they were cheering for Korea--no Koreans in the ads, and all foreign fans had Taegukkis and Korean Red Devil colours edited over the original video.

Yeah, because when it comes to the World Cup, foreigners don't have their own teams to cheer.

ZenKimchi said...

One of today's speaking book questions was, "Other than Korea, what is your favorite team?"

One still said Korea, but he doesn't pay attention to anything anyway. But the other kids were having a good time talking about their favorite non-Korean teams. Argentina. Brazil. Uruguay. Greece.

Okay, they may be the only teams that were in Korean news this year for the World Cup, but it was a fun exercise.

I also found it funny that the promo for this World Cup was that Koreans make a lot of noise. They didn't know that this would be the year of the vuvuzela.

Brian said...

I lol'd at that exchange on The Marmot's Hole. I wonder if Wankon is sick, it's been more than a few days since his last "Ethnic Korean has achievement of some sort printed in community newspaper in US" post.

louve9 said...

Since I am the one who you are quoting regarding the paraphrasing of Marcus Noland’s statement of the 2002 Pew Global Survey report, I suppose I should substantiate those claims directly and provide you with the raw data. The GLOBAL ATTITUDES: 44-NATION MAJOR SURVEY (2002) can be found at: The specific question is Q37f. on T-59. The question is accompanied by all of the raw data from each country polled. Also, Noland’s remarks about the Pew report can be found in the article:

Foreign Investors Are a Progressive Force
Marcus Noland, Senior Fellow
Institute for International Economics
Op-ed in the Korea Times
September 22, 2005

A pdf. of Noland’s article where he sites these numbers can be found at:

I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to why Indonesia is as close to the top as Korea is.