Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Foreigners love, threaten, and owe apology to Korea

Gord Sellar takes a look at an interesting/disturbing meme/image and makes one of his own. He also links to this Weekly Chosun article titled "Korea gets much better thanks to ramyeon" and subtitled "Blue-eyed ramyeon evangelist Rogers," even though he may not have blue eyes. It opens with:
Ramyeon is now not just the favourite food of Koreans only. Though it's not yet all over the world, among foreigners who have tried Korean ramyeon there are many ramyeon enthusiasts. Meet American Kim Mi-nam, who really likes Korean ramyeon.
'I'm stomach cancer and I approve of this article.' Anyone who thought the 'Mi-nam' in his name referred to a handsome man is to be disappointed, as it stands for '김치를 좋아하는 미국 남자,' or 'American man who likes kimchi.'  'Look at me ~ I'm in the Weekly Chosun!^^' Seriously, of all the foods Korea could pitch to the world - and there are lots - ramyeon is barely a step above hongeo (fermented skate). And I'm afraid the Japanese have Korea beat in the ramyeon department.

Moving on, a month ago I looked at a Chronicle of Higher Education article titled "Growing pains for foreign academics in South Korea." Three Wise Monkeys has followed it up by translating articles by YTN and Chosun Ilbo on the topic (with the latter receiving an 'evil foreigner' stamp of excellence). The professor at the center of the controversy offers his side of the story which raises eyebrows, but also raises questions by the last minute inclusion of the fact that he left Korea last May. I did like the fact that the author of the Chronicle article, David McNeill, stated that "KU said even quoting Foster would be libelous. That, paradoxically, made the editors more interested and probably triggered the decision to print."

Over at ROK Drop, GI Korea reports that USFK has not issued a full apology for the recent alleged subway sexual harassment incident; it has apologized for the soldiers being loud on the subway, but not for anything else. This may be because the investigation is ongoing, or because the events may not have turned out exactly as depicted here (hat tip to Robert):

Perhaps, like the 1995 USFK subway incident which was reported by the Kyunghyang Sinmun as "Drunk US soldiers commit sexual harassment on the subway and group assault passenger who protests," the truth of what happened differs slightly from the reported version. Expat Hell also made a good point about the young woman's behaviour: "For long term Korea residents, the idea of a single female university student walking up to a group of older men on the train, and telling them to be quiet is akin to spotting a UFO or unicorn, or something." The Chosun Ilbo, on the other hand, stated that "U.S. Forces Korea personnel enjoy a degree of impunity since the U.S. side has jurisdiction over them." Y'know, if I had to guess, I'd imagine US military justice punishes crimes like rape or assault quite a bit more strictly than the Korean justice system. Unless, of course, there's no proof that it happened but the public is demanding punishment despite the facts, in which case the Korean system has proven itself to be stricter (with one outstanding example being the wife in the 1995 subway case - who was the real victim - being charged with assault and made to pay a fine).

And last, but not least, the Joongang Daily, reporting on exhibition skating at the Pyeongchang Special Olympics, reminds readers that the Korean race's vendetta against Apollo Anton Ohno will never end. Never.
The two belonged to different groups and thus never competed against each other, but Kim was obviously mindful of Ohno. As he was skating behind another retired Korean short-track athlete, Sung Si-bak, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist, Kim raised his hand in a show of surprise as if he were protesting a foul by Sung, apparently to re-enact the same gesture by Ohno that led Kim to be stripped of another Olympic gold in 2002. [How clever! No one has ever done anything like that before!] Korean fans have supported him, often citing a video replay of the competition that Koreans say only confirms a deliberate overreaction by the American. Ohno remains one of the most reviled athletes in the world for Koreans.
Reviled! And Koreans supported him at the time by shutting down the Olympics website, threatening to sue the referee (a step up from actually assaulting a referee during the 1988 Olympics), boycotting American products, and releasing the song 'Fucking USA,' which was a hell of a way to get the country in the mood to host an international event like the World Cup. If the reaction to bad calls at the 2012 Olympics is any indication (such as this editorial stating that "the [fencing] incident will be remembered as one of the most controversial decisions in Olympic history" (you mean like this one?) or this editorial doubting the sincerity of the preparations for the Olympics and declaring that "South Korea has so far been the biggest victim of misjudgment"), then the 2018 Olympics should be interesting to observe. The Joongang article finishes with this conclusion:
Kim managed to fire off another barb at his rival when he told a reporter that Ohno appeared to have gained weight since the last time he had seen him, saying the American surely would have lost to him if they had competed against one another in Gangneung.

Kim still believes Ohno owes him apology.


ZenKimchi said...

I once turned down a Korean TV show that wanted me to go on and talk about how Korean ramyeon would be globalized because it's healthy. I wrote back and said I was having an inconvenience of ethics, as ramyeon was not at all healthy.

Unknown said...

The Ohno situation is so, so funny to see reactions too. I understand Koreans feel cheated, but that his gesture was in bad sportsmanship and not part of the game is hilarious, considering the popularity of soccer and the sub-par acting skills displayed. I reminded a Korean friend of this, he eventually called me a redneck and looked liked he wanted to punch me...because Ohno stole a medal in an event he was too young to remember on his own.