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Alan Heyman’s 80th Birthday

Just a social note for all of us current and former expats: the guy who is, as far as I know, the “senior” among all western expats in Korea, just turned 80 years old — a month after being honored with a prestigious national medal for his lifelong service to Korean music and dance.

Also one of my mentors and a decades-long friend. No non-Korean has ever known more about, or done as much of and for, Korean Shamanism and all its related art-forms. A varied bunch of his associates held a dinner-party at his house, hosted by his kind wife and daughter, and we were quite pleased to be able to honor him fittingly, in his sunset era.

Retired long ago as professor, still active in translating texts — the sort that few others could tackle.   He is now working on his autobiography, with assistance by members of the National Folklore Museum; should be a hellova good read when it comes out.

Some photos of the party are here on my site.

  • keith

    Many happy returns to the old geezer!

    I know an older expat though, Mr.B . British man (dual American-British) who has retired in Korea and who is in his mid-eighties(86 maybe, it’s rude to ask). A veteran of WWII, The Korean War and Vietnam, that old guy has some amazing stories of what life was like in the past. He’s a lovely old chap.

    A friend and I have been pestering him (on and off) for years about helping him with writing his autobiography, but the stubborn old bastard refuses every time! It’s a shame because he has lived a very colourful and interesting life and his story should be told. It would make a wonderful book.

    Anyone who has spent an afternoon during the week in 3 Alley Pub will probably know who I’m referring to.

  • 8675309

    Don’t expect Koreans to be overjoyed about someone who has brought any amount of attention to Korean shamanism. Most Koreans are ashamed of this kind of primitive stuff and prefer not to speak of it, let alone glorify it. Only a craven-minded reprobate would give gratuitous attention to this anachronistic and outmoded vestige of Korean traditionalism. That said, it is unseemly to think that his obsessive research and cataloguing of Korean shamanism has actually contributed anything to Korea itself, as his obsession with shamanism to the exception of everything else appears to be nothing more than self serving.

  • Charles Tilly

    @8675309:

    Truth be told, I, others (you know who you are), and even you say a lot stupid sh*t on this blog. That’s really the beauty and genius of the comments section of the Marmot’s Hole that we need not get into here. However, your above statement is taking “saying stupid sh*t” to the level of outright obnoxiousness. To wit:

    Don’t expect Koreans to be overjoyed about someone who has brought any amount of attention to Korean shamanism. Most Koreans are ashamed of this kind of primitive stuff and prefer not to speak of it, let alone glorify it. Only a craven-minded reprobate would give gratuitous attention to this anachronistic and outmoded vestige of Korean traditionalism.

    Really???? Then explain these tidbits from a June 6, 2007 New York Times article:

    Seoul is among the most relentlessly modern cities of Asia, with high-speed Internet and plasma TV sets. But an estimated 300 shamanistic temples nestle in hills less than an hour from the city center, and the clamorous ceremony known as gut (pronounced “goot”) is a daily routine….

    “We used to do our rituals in hiding. Our customers kept it secret from even their own relatives,” said Yang, who performs two or three rites on a busy day. “Now we have no shame performing in public. I can hardly take three days off a month.” [....]

    But today, even many who regard shamanism as superstition acknowledge it to be an important repository of Korean culture, because the rituals have preserved traditional costumes, music and dance forms. Recent governments have documented and promoted the rituals as “intangible cultural assets.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/06/world/asia/06iht-shaman.1.6527738.html

    Or how about the arguments of this essay concerning Shamanism and “Park Chung Hee Syndrome” (This is the English abstract. Note: I did not translate this. This is what was on the dbpia.com site):

    Jeonghee Park as a politician, shows extreme evaluation from positive to negative. He is, however, one of the most respected and beloved president in the modern Korean history. The attention towards him has transcended time and age, and has even created a new term called “Jeonghee Park Syndrome”. This study hypothesized that the Jeonghee Park Syndrome of Korea is closely related to its shamanistic world view and analyzed Koreans’ psychological characteristic related to the shamanism. We also analyzed the structure and system of shamanism with a cultural psychological perspective.

    Cultural psychology, derived from the branch of folk psychology established by Wundt, assumes that culture, once neglected by the mainstream psychology, plays a major role in forming one’s mind and behavior. The present study adopts the basic perspective of cultural psychology, that human psyche is constructed under the influence of history and culture, and analyzes previous work on Korean culture and shamanism in order to reexamine the cultural meaning Jeonghee Park Syndrome possesses.

    The result of this study can be summarized in two points. First, Jeonghee Park Syndrome derives from the secularism among Koreans, and it is closely linked to the shamanistic world view. That is, while other religions stress the existence of after life and the need to rise above the trivialities of the present life, shamanism exhibits a strong tendency to seek for blessing in this present life. One of the biggest contributions Jeonghee Park had made during his presidency, economical growth, may have been a blessing to Koreans with such characteristics.

    Second, Jeonghee Park Syndrome is closely related to the hierarchy and influences of the shamanistic gods. In shamanism, the god of commander(神將) has lower position in the hierarchical system than the god of nature or the chinese gods of taoism, however, he has stronger influential power to the general public. Jeonghee Park”s actual position and his charismatic leadership, together with him being murdered by his subordinate, are similar in many aspects with the formation process of shamanistic gods. Moreover, the sharp conflict between north and south Korea and the economical growth during his presidency also adds up his image as a god of commander(神將) who defends the country from calamity and brings blessing instead. Therefore, in Korean people’s collective unconsciousness, the past president Jeonghee Park is occupying a position of a shamanistic god.

    한민, “문화심리학적 관점에서 본 박정희 신드롬의 무속적 의미” [Korean Shamanism and Jeonghee Park Syndrom -from the perspective of cultural psychology], 한국무속학, 제16집 2008.2, page(s): 391-415

    http://www.dbpia.co.kr/view/ar_view.asp?arid=979888

    Frankly, the only way that I can explain this recent bout of obnoxiousness is that your Memorial Day burger wasn’t cooked the way you wanted it.

  • αβγδε

    Korean shamanism must be like old Korean architecture, its dolmens, totem poles, and such. It’s good to preserve and appreciate cultural relics. It gives Korea distinction, and that matters in the modern age to the extent that such differences can give international value to a nation.

    One day, historians will study Korea’s churches with the same level of curiosity. Although, maybe they’ll study it for the same reasons scientists study a disease, as a pathology.

  • 8675309

    Tilly:
    As they say, opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one. And don’t even try to prove your point that just b/c one Korean thinks this way, all Koreans think this way. That said, welcome to the diversity of Korean thought!

  • Charles Tilly

    As they say, opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one. And don’t even try to prove your point that just b/c one Korean thinks this way, all Koreans think this way. That said, welcome to the diversity of Korean thought!

    First, indeed opinions are like assholes. But keep in mind that not all opinions come from obnoxious assholes.

    Second, I won’t try and prove that all Koreans “think this way” because of one certain person. Just like I won’t try and prove that “Most Koreans” hate shamanism based off of the opining of one person.

    Finally, thanks for the welcome to the “diversity of Korean thought.” Although I wonder how well you yourself understand that diversity of thought when you say things like “Most Koreans hate shamanism.”

  • dinkus maximus

    It’s great to see some hippies in Korea. Korea needs to embrace more of this, and could benefit from a few more hits from the bong. If this kind of thing isn’t embraced maybe it’s because of all the fruit Christians who dominate the status quo. If there is anything Koreans should be emberassed by and hiding it’s grown adults rolling around on the floor speaking in tongue.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    Happy birthday indeed!

    8675309, I believe the irrelevant opinion about Korean shamanism is yours, not MrHeyman’s. You make it sound like there are no Korean intellectuals. While a Girls Generation or gag concert may indeed give such an impression, believe me there are a lot of people – both Koreans and foreigners – who have a keen interest in Korea’s amazing social history.

  • 8675309

    It’s interesting to see how a bunch of ignoramuses are so quick to extol certain aspects of Korean shamanism while being completely ignorant of the same shamanistic traditions that have been the bedrock of Native American tribal cultures from time immemorial to the present. That said, I get creeped out when such people, who have failed to make such connections in the past, start expressing an interest in such things in Korea that are typically the province of bewitched ajumas and senile soothsayers. It is not only unseemly and backwards, but is further evidence of half-wit slimeballs trying to ingratiate themselves with lower elements of Korean society.

  • http://cheotokento.wordpress.com/ Cheoto カンチョ

    re#7 Funny that you called them hippies, because when I viewed the photos, the first thought that came to me, was that they certainly looked liked “hippies”.

    There are actually many “Korean hippies” in Seoul, just go to the “Rainbow” (Hookah) bar in Gangnam on a Thurs/Frid/Satur/Sunday night and the place is full of Korean hippies with dreadlocks etc sucking on the hookahs and listening to hippie music.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Heyman also is a musicologist and a great scholar of Korean traditional music – more ammo, I suppose for the troglodyte squad for whom that too probably is a a mark of the “reprobate”. LOL

  • JG29A

    @AlphaBeta: Spot on.

    @Dinkus:

    If there is anything Koreans should be emberassed by and hiding it’s grown adults rolling around on the floor speaking in tongue.

    Why take on a tiny minority? How about grown adults consuming bread and wine that’ve had a spell cast on them, so that they’ll turn into the flesh and blood of a 2,000-year-old zombie? Sounds like the Hallowe’en haunted houses I went to as a kid.

  • milton

    It’s probably not too much of a stretch to generalize that most Koreans are ashamed of 8675309 and the primitive intellect on display in #2.

  • iMe

    “As they say, opinions are like assholes — everyone’s got one. And don’t even try to prove your point that just b/c one Korean thinks this way, all Koreans think this way. That said, welcome to the diversity of Korean thought!”

    yeah, man!
    just because 8675309 thinks one way, doesn’t mean another korean person thinks that way, too!

    way to prove your point, bud. stay classy, 8675309.

  • gbevers

    It is nice to see the little girl hovering around her grandfather, great grandfather, or whatever their relationship. He probably enjoys having her around.

    By the way, with all due respect, he looks closer to ninety than eighty, which makes me wonder if he is ill or something. If he is not ill, then I wonder why he seems to have aged so much. Maybe a Korean lifestyle–with its apartment living, frequent drinking parties, and such–ages people more than they may realize.

  • cmm

    If you ever wondered how you spell the actual sound of fingernails being scraped across a chalkboard, just look at one of Jenny’s (8675309′s) posts.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Thanks for #1, keith! I did not know about British Mr. B. — i guesss i should hand out at 3 Alley Pub on more afternoons… :-)

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    and Thanks for #2 Charles, and two others who responded otherwise to the ignorance and bigotry displayed by the idiot in #2.

    Korean Shamanism has been “coming out of the closet”, if we may say, for decades — ever since, most dramatically, the stunning closing ceremony of the 88 Seoul Olympics. I’ve been watching the entire process with keen interest, as its rituals have gained some respectable legitimacy as traditional performance arts, and its icons achieved the same as folk arts. But there is still a long way to go.

    Indeed as said up there, it is a unique and therefore quite valuable aspect of Koreans traditional culture, and deserves to be displayed and promoted for korea’s tourism and international brand-image, far more than it has been. This is a struggle within various gov’t agencies that i’ve had a personal part in for some 15 years, and we’re still very far from what I would call ‘victory’.

    And yes Alan has been important for the entire study of Korean traditional music in general — a point just acknowledged with a gov’t medal a month ago, a very high honor to be granted anyone.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Granddaughter there, Gerry — he had his two sons relatively late in life, the younger one just got married a couple of years ago. And, well, people age differently, and Alan’s health is really not the best, he can’t even stand up straight anymore. Always did love his liquor & makkeolli, in the classic Korean style, maybe a little too much… So it goes.

  • robert neff

    David,

    Fully agree with what you and Charles. I would, however, like to point out that while Alan has been here for a very long time, I do not believe he is the most senior of our expat community. I think Fred Dustin on Jeju Island has been here longer and there may be some others formerly with religious institutions around the country. Hamel might be able to suggest others.

    With all that said – happy birthday Alan.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    I suppose it depends on your definition, and on this they do vary widely, but to me “hippie” means a good-hearted person, one who consistently puts love over gold — and therefore yes i’d agree that Alan’s an old hippie, and most of those there at the party, Korean and non-, were also hippies too — I was proud to sit with them.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Thanks, Robert — yeah, maybe Alans only #6 or somethin’ — i suppose i was carried away by sentiment there. Well, he’s the longest-serving K-expat *i* personally know, we’ll leave it at that…

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “It’s probably not too much of a stretch to generalize that most Koreans are ashamed of 8675309 and the primitive intellect on display in #2.”

    I guess so, but I can hardly understand what he’s getting at; I’m sure they’d find him more confusing than anything else. Is he / she one of the resentful types who hates to see foreigners enjoying life in Korea, no matter what they’re doing?

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    That’s possibly so… But she does seem to have something in particular against Shamanism, in that typical Korean-protestant-Christian way of narrow-mindedness. An attitude widely shared, especially among gov’t officials in all departments, unfortunately for me and my efforts.

    Myself, i don’t find shamanism anymore untrue or superstitious than any other religious tradition or spiritual-belief-set, and try to practice decent respect in public for all of them.

  • mazef

    Happy Birthday, Alan ! When was it? – 1963 we worked together as the first language instructors with the old Korean Republic! Those were the
    days, eh? Thanks for all the work and effort you have put into Korean
    music and related subjects. In the village near which I have lived now for
    almost 40 years – about 4,000 souls in the village – there are no less than
    5 very active Shamans – and anyone who thinks it is no longer a part of the
    spiritual life of at least most of the local populations – well, let them meander in ignorance. Again, best wishes and many happy years to come!
    Fred Dustin

  • http://cheotokento.wordpress.com/ Cheoto カンチョ

    Good to see that I share my birthday will a famous Expat in Korea.

    Unlike Alan (who had a bottle of water, empty bottle of 7,000won Vodka, and a Asahi beer in front of him) I ended my party on Sunday with a empty bottle of 호주 white wine, a bottle of Cass red beer and a half-empty bottle of 5,600won whiskey in front of me).

    Although I am a rabbit and he is a sheep, like true Gemini’s I am sure he was full of energy and back at work today just like me.

  • Arghaeri

    I trust Jenny will be foregoing the mistletoe this coming New Year in solidarity with destroying shamanist traditions the world over.

  • Arghaeri

    while being completely ignorant of the same shamanistic traditions that have been the bedrock of Native American

    Exactly what evidence do you have to support this ridiculous supposition?
    I might remind you that it would be a little weird if someone here started a discussion on Native American shamanism given it’s a KOREAN blog. Although once Gerry gets tired of dokdo who knows what’s next :-)

  • Arghaeri

    Personally more into European shamanism, Getafix has always been my favorite.

  • gbevers

    Arghaeri wrote (# 28):

    Although once Gerry gets tired of dokdo who knows what’s next …

    What’s that supposed to mean?

    I once dated a Korean woman whose mother was a shaman. She put rock salt in the corners of all the rooms of my apartment, had me get rid of certain unlucky items in my apartment, rearranged my furniture, had me carry a talisman in my wallet, and would give me lists of dates on which not to leave the apartment.

    Even after having following done most of those things, my school still did not renew my contract because of my Dokdo writings. So, after that I swept up the salt, threw away the talisman, and put the furniture back to the way I liked it.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Interview with Alan on the US Embassy’s 60th Anniv of Korean War site:
    http://einfo.usembassy.or.kr/koreanwar/index_e.html

    some insight…

    Good for you, Gerry…

    We honor you, mazef / Fred — i hope to buy you a guiness in-person sometime soon… {note that Alan will not read this online; sadly, no matter how we’ve tried to set the senior-dude up online, it ain’t happnin — you should phone him directly with that above message}

  • 8675309

    Well, he’s the longest-serving K-expat I know…

    Last I heard, the Peace Corps pulled out of Korea in the early ’70s, so expats are no longer considered to be “serving” in Korea — it’s more like self-serving if you want to call a spade a spade.

    And for those who think shamanism is some kind of “art form”, you are completely deluded. Shamanism is about as much an art form as much as Linda Blair spinning her head 360 degrees or showing off her projectile vomit skills is an art form. Shamanism has nothing to do with being true or “untrue”, nor is it a “religious tradition”. Generally, the types of creeps and weirdos who are interested in shamanism tend to be the same type of people back home who are obsessed with the occult, witchcraft, or who indulge in seances, ouija boards, black magic, levitation, TM, etc. As far as I know, these fringe elements haven’t made any attempts to gain “decent respect in public” ever. They do however, continue to exist on the fringes of society, frowned on and looked down upon by most as marginal, creepy, weird and a magnet for losers whom you wouldn’t want to be seen with in public or take home to your parents’ house on any given day. The same goes with shamans and mudangs in Korea.

  • gbevers

    Sanshinseon wrote (# 31):

    Good for you, Gerry…

    I am not sure what you meant by the above comment, but my # 30 comment was not meant as ridicule. I was simply relating an experience I had with someone who strongly believed in such things.

    Even my ex-wife, who was a much more rational Korean, believed fairly strongly in certain Korean superstititions, such as, not whistling at night for fear of snakes, not nervously shaking the luck out of your foot, not writing people’s names in deadly red ink, and not putting the head of our bed against the north wall as if laying out a corpse.

    Do you believe in shamaism, Sanshinseon (David)? Or do you just have an interest in studying it? For example, do you carry a talisman around with you?

  • JK

    “I once dated a Korean woman whose mother was a shaman. She put rock salt in the corners of all the rooms of my apartment, had me get rid of certain unlucky items in my apartment, rearranged my furniture, had me carry a talisman in my wallet, and would give me lists of dates on which not to leave the apartment.

    “Even after having following done most of those things, my school still did not renew my contract because of my Dokdo writings. So, after that I swept up the salt, threw away the talisman, and put the furniture back to the way I liked it.”

    Um, all the salt and talismans in the world can’t save a guy bent on self-destructiveness, gbevers. As I have said repeatedly to you, anyone who’s followed your constant barrages of Dokdo commentary online over the years, whether they thought you were right or not, was NOT surprised in January of 2007 and in 2010 when you had TWO SEPARATE teaching contracts not renewed. Even the most powerful salt and talismans can do so much for a Gbevers hell-bent on self-destructiveness.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    Gerry (#30), maybe your shaman mother-in-law disapproved of your views on Dokdo and advised you in ways that would bring you bad luck.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • dogbertt

    Gerry not having his contracts renewed and therefore returning to the U.S. was probably the best thing that has ever happened to him. What self-destructiveness?

    Who the fuck resurrected you and your tired, several-year-old harping on Gerry’s job situation?

  • gbevers

    Jeffery Hodges (#35),

    Gerry (#30), maybe your shaman mother-in-law disapproved of your views on Dokdo and advised you in ways that would bring you bad luck.

    My mother-in-law was NOT a shaman. She was a wonderful woman out of Gyeongsang Province who had only good things to say about the Japanese in Korea and in Japan, where she went to study for a while. While she was working or studying in Busan, after Korean “liberation,” her father and brother were murdered by Communists in front of the people of her village, where her father was a village leader. She told me she never saw any of the abuses the Japanese were accused of doing during the colonial period.

    During that tumultuous time between Korean liberation and the Korean War, my mother-in-law also told me that politics was so violent that men were being killed in Busan for putting up political posters on the walls in the city. Because the men were being attacked and killed, women, including my mother-in-law, started posting the posters instead of the men, even though women were also being beaten. She was very proud of the work she did during that time.

    Another interesting thing my mother-in-law told me was that when she was very young, her family had a jong (a slave or servant), with whom she remembered playing when she was a child.

    The woman whose mother was a shaman was a woman I met later, after my wife and I divorced. That woman, by the way, borrowed 17 million won from me that she never paid back.

    Thanks, Dogbertt. Yes, I am very happy to be back in the US with my son. I would have come back sooner if I had not had so much trouble getting my son out of the Philippines. His deceased mother’s family did not want him leaving the Philippines, and I had little or no rights there as his father since I was not married to his mother when she died.

  • Arghaeri

    tend to be the same type of people back home who are obsessed with the occult, witchcraft, or who indulge in seances, ouija boards, black magic, levitation, TM, etc.

    Yeah, those christians get me every time :-)

  • gbevers

    Speaking of levitation (# 38), I had a strange experience one beautiful spring afternoon after returning to my one-room apartment on the second home of a house in Itaewon.

    I came in, lay down on my bed, and started noticing the wonders of spring. A steady, light, breeze was levitating the light curtains on my screenless window into the room. The curtains seemed to float on the breeze above the window like two long, white feathers. I saw nothing but clear, blue sky through the window. I could smell honeysuckle and other flowers on the breeze. I could hear children laughing and playing in the distance.

    My body was completely relaxed and still. In fact, it seemed as if I no longer had control of my body, as if all the electricity to my nerves had been turned off. My mind was completely empty. I had no thoughts of anything except a feeling of blissfulness. I felt as light as a feather, and then I noticed that I was floating above my bed.

    After I realized I was floating, I wanted to continue floating, but the thought of wanting to continue floating only made my body heavier, so I tried to return to my thoughtless state, but even the thought of wanting to return to my thoughtless state was a thought, which weighed down my body. Slowly my body lowered back down to the bed and begin to press down into the mattress. I did not move a muscle for a long time, hoping that my body would start floating again, but it never did.

    There was no sense of falling asleep or waking up. The was just a sense of having experienced the most peaceful event of my life.

  • Q

    She told me she never saw any of the abuses the Japanese were accused of doing during the colonial period.

    How old is she now? She must be too young to witness cruelty of Japs.

    After I realized I was floating, I wanted to continue floating, but the thought of wanting to continue floating only made my body heavier, so I tried to return to my thoughtless state, but even the thought of wanting to return to my thoughtless state was a thought, which weighed down my body.

    I guess Gerry needs a psychiatrist. ^^

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    Sorry, Gerry. My own stupid conflation of different people. I guess that I needed more caffeine . . .

    Thanks for the response, though, which was very interesting.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • JK

    dogbert wrote:

    “Gerry not having his contracts renewed and therefore returning to the U.S. was probably the best thing that has ever happened to him. What self-destructiveness?”

    Well, let me explain, doggy, dog boy. The whole Dokdo thing was Korea’s sensitive spot (along with the issue of Japanese colonization and the Comfort Women), so leave it to Gbevers to pounce on that and come up with views that he knew Koreans in general would find offensive. Now, I would not have a problem with his analyses (believe it or not as I was open to sound historical arguments, even ones that go against what I understand history to be)…if it was, in actuality, analysis instead of his very angry opinions on these topics, which he used as a proxy to slap back at Korea for some perceived insult from the past. But it was more his spin and then his conclusions about Koreans in general being “liars” that was the most offensive, not the analysis he did (what he little he actually made that was sound).

    Nobody, including YOU doggy, dog boy was surprised in Jan. of 2007 when he didn’t have his contract renewed. I can even pull up a past comment you wrote where you said he very should have known what was going to happen to him (this was when you said it was on Gerry and not on Matt for all the trouble he got himself into). And THEN, I warned gbevers more than once after that incident that he was going to have the same thing happen to him if he didn’t quit sticking his foot in his mouth and keep making these sweeping negative generalizations about a country in which he lives and works. And then lo and behold, guess what happened?

    “Who the fuck resurrected you and your tired, several-year-old harping on Gerry’s job situation?”

    Who the f*ck are YOU to get your rocks off on some guy going on and on about two islands and then try to get on ME for responding to him and his very offensive generalizations??

    Being in the U.S. IS the best thing for Gerry. I’ve been advising him since 1999 to go back to the US and to stop basking in his bitterness for Korea. 12 years later, one of two ain’t bad.

  • gbevers

    Q wrote (#80):

    How old is she now? She must be too young to witness cruelty of Japs.

    If she is still living, she is probably in her nineties. I remember her being at least ten years older than my dad, who is now 81.

    By the way, I met an old Korean man in a park in Incheon while jogging a few years back. He called me over and asked me to take a seat beside him on a bench because he said he was worried that I was overdoing it or something. He spoke some English and told me he used to work at a US army base in Daegu before the war and then, I think, also afterwards.

    We talked for a while, and then I asked him what it was like during the colonial period. He just looked down at the ground, shook his head, and said, “It was bad.” Then, I mentioned that my Korean mother-in-law had told me that she liked the Japanese and never saw any of the cruelty that they were accused of during the colonial period.

    Suddenly, the old man looks up at me, smiles, and says, “Actually, I liked the Japanese, too.” Then, he pulls out one of those Japanese monthly literary magazines from inside his jacket and tells me that he gets the magazine every month and comes to the park to read it. He said he learned Japanese during the colonial period and did not want to forget it.

    He reminded me of the Korean mentioned in the 2004 BBC News article, “Sumo returns to Seoul”:

    Thousands of Koreans turned out on the first day – some drawn by curiosity, others by nostalgia.

    The first bouts have attracted big crowds “I last saw sumo here in 1942,” said Lee Byoeng-chon, who like many Koreans of his generation was educated in Japanese.

    “I’ve overcome my hard feelings towards Japan. It’s often the younger people who are more hostile. They’ve been fed only the worst stories about the colonial period but they don’t know the reality the way we do.”

    Were you also “fed only the worst stories about the colonial period,” Q?

    The sad part is that once these older Koreans die, we will be left with only the “younger people,” who grew up being “fed only the worst stories of the colonial period” under the anti-Japanese policies of the 1950s and 60′s.

    Q, maybe your dad remembers studying in a classroom with the following education motto hanging on the wall:

    반일, 반공
    “Anti-Japanese, Anti-Communists.”

    If the Japanese were so hated during the colonial period, why did Korea need to exert so much effort to teach Koreans to hate the Japanese during the 50′s and 60′s?

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Gerry,

    > Sanshinseon wrote (# 31):
    > > Good for you, Gerry…
    > I am not sure what you meant by the above comment,

    Oh, i was honestly praising your attitude/ behavior, mah man; no sarcasm or etc (internet’s like that, i know, ya often can’t tell). I could tell similar tales of my many encounters with Shamans, or with my wife’s mom who is deeply into the filipino catholic-shamanism — unlike your story, i never have followed any of her directives or proscriptions, beyond what is neccesary for polite good-relations in her presence. I try to steer my dear away from doing or believing-in any of that… Whenever we put up a new building down there, i do let Mom perform her “blessing rituals” for the local spirits — don’t cost much, and what harm is done?

    > but my # 30 comment was not meant as ridicule. I was simply relating an experience I had with someone who strongly believed in such things.

    Yup, i understood it that way, did not detect any ridicule.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    > Do you believe in shamaism, Sanshinseon (David)? Or do you just have an interest in studying it?

    My perspective is mainly academic, with the twist of enthuiastically promoting these things for boosting Korea’s tourism and brand-rep.
    “believing in” stuff has various definitional complexities and contradictions — hard to answer simply — i believe that Shamanism “works” for some people, that they get meaningful results from the practices, that it has psychological effects on them, just as various religions “work” for various other people (with plenty of overlap) — otherwise why would people keep doing these things, keep paying for them?

    It’s never done a lot for me, however. I don’t believe in the independent existance of disembodied spirits or gods of any sort. I think that the human brain has evolved with the capacity to create perceptions of & communication with them — it’s in every culture everywhere, but manifests in so many forms. Your ‘levitation’ experience is also “real”, i think, in the sense that our brains have the capacity to ‘play that trick’ on our perceptions — they can play thousands of such tricks. Brain reseach has advanced very far in revealing these matters, incl religious visions.

    > For example, do you carry a talisman around with you?

    I always wear a Ming-dynasty Daoist medalion (eight trigrams of I Ching b/w 12 zodiac animals) instead of a necktie, because i hate neckties (never have been “a suit” type), don’t believe it changes my “fortunes” tho. I currently have colorful sacred threads from my most-recent Sanshin-je ( http://san-shin.net/Sobaek-Sanshinje-20114-shimmani.html ) tied on my wallet, don’t believe in any magical effects but i like it, as a cultural flair, will remove them when i no longer do. Like that…

  • cmm

    yay, JK vs. dogbertt is back.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    Dokdo and Koreans is a bit like the Bible and your Jehovah’s Witness coworkers. You could waste an enormous amount of time proving them wrong, but why? Why, oh why? Just wait for something more important to come along, like a NK attack or a sexually abusive pastor, and it won’t seem so important to them anymore.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    Only at the MH could a blog post offering birthday wishes degenerate right into a verbal slugfest right from comment 2. That said, I’m inclined to suspect that there may be at least two sock puppets of a famous actor here, and so I guess this may not be surprising. Whether or not someone here really is playing games with two or more sock puppet handles, it would behoove us all to behave a little more gently. To those already doing so: kudos.

  • tinyflowers

    Dokdo and gbevers is a bit like the Bible and your Jehovah’s Witness coworkers. You could waste an enormous amount of time proving them wrong, but why? Why, oh why?

    Fixed it for you.

  • Q

    gbevers (#43),

    Maybe, your mother-in-law’s family was one of the collaborators who were able to sustain affluent life with owning slaves and was able to avoid forced labor to Japan.

    - Remembering and Redressing the Forced Mobilization of Korean Laborers by Imperial Japan (日帝による朝鮮人労働者の強制動員を記憶にとどめ是正する方向)

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-Kil-Yun_Hyung/3303

  • http://www.japonymous.com Japonymous

    Q, was your family “one of the collaborators who were able to sustain affluent life with owning slaves and was able to avoid forced labor to Japan” or were they just one of the vast majority of Korean families during the colonial era that were either not mass-mobilized to work in Japan, or chose not to emigrate to Japan for work, education, or otherwise? Just curious.

  • Q

    @ Japonymous (#51),

    You must be happy if you were forced to change your last name to aggressors and banned to speak your mother language? The education for Japanization of Koreans was not for the benefit of Koreans. It was for exploitation of Koreans.

    “Japan Should Follow the International Trend and Face Its History of World War II Forced Labor”

    Unlike Germany, however, Japan’s government and corporations refused even to sit down and discuss this matter of slave labor claims with the victims and the U.S. Government, which had played the facilitating role in the German settlement. In one of his last interviews before leaving public office, Stuart Eizenstat, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration and the point person for the U.S. government in the negotiations with the German government and industry, publicly expressed disappointment at Japan’s failure to discuss these claims against Japan’s private industry.

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-Michael-Bazyler/3030

  • Q

    @ Japonymous,

    If you want more records of colonial history, I will be happy to give you hundreds of articles. Here is the start.

    Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’: It’s time for the truth (in the ordinary, everyday sense of the word) By Tessa Morris-Suzuki

    The number of women recruited to work in these places is unknown – estimates vary from 20,000 to 400,000, though a careful study by historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki suggests a narrower range of between 50,000 and 200,000. (For a discussion of numbers, see Soh 2005) The methods of recruitment and the conditions which women faced also varied enormously. Some were Japanese women who had worked as prostitutes previously, and were “volunteers” in a sense, although often driven to “volunteer” through pressures of poverty, debt and desperation. A very large number were women from Korea and China. Many had been lured away from their homes with promises of work in factories or restaurants, only to find themselves incarcerated in “comfort stations” in foreign lands. Other women in Korea, Southeast Asia and elsewhere were rounded up at gunpoint. Some were raped by soldiers before being herded into “comfort stations”.

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/2373

  • Q

    Names, Bones and Unpaid Wages (1): Reparations for Korean Forced Labor in Japan

    By William Underwood

    The three veteran researchers say four million is a reasonable estimate for all Koreans mobilized to all destinations. This includes up to 940,000 mobilized outside of Korea (with nearly 300,000 military conscripts being added to the civilian figure of 667,684) and more than three million mobilized inside the country, although entire classes of victims remain omitted.[37] Koreans forcibly mobilized overseas by the Japanese military consisted mostly of civilians serving in frequently dangerous support roles, along with actual soldiers and guards for Allied prisoners of war. Other researchers present higher figures for mobilization outside of Korea of up to one million civilian conscripts and 365,000 military conscripts, with Petra Schmidt providing the best overview of the larger numbers in English.[38] The tens of thousands of Korean “comfort women” who were violently forced into military sexual slavery represent a class of labor conscription usually considered separately.

    Yamada, Kosho and Higuchi sum up the system of Korean forced labor in Japan by noting five features that applied to Korean workers either exclusively or to a uniquely high degree: 1) most wages were withheld; 2) they were not free to change jobs; 3) workplace supervision was based on violence; 4) working conditions were severe and working hours were long; and 5) food, clothing and living quarters were substandard.[39] Wages for Koreans were mostly withheld during the war and then never paid out afterward. Partly to discourage escapes, Korean workers were typically provided with pocket money at most. Corporations funneled the bulk of wages into mandatory “patriotic savings accounts” and made regular deductions for the national welfare pension fund, as well as for room and board and the cost of transportation from Korea. Companies, not workers, maintained possession of the savings and pension passbooks, while promises to send money home to families in Korea mostly never materialized. All of the emperor’s children were not treated equally.

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-William-Underwood/2219

    William Underwood, a faculty member at Kurume Kogyo University and a Japan Focus coordinator, is completing his doctoral dissertation at Kyushu University on the topic of Chinese forced labor redress.

  • gbevers

    Q wrote (#52):

    You must be happy if you were forced to change your last name to aggressors and banned to speak your mother language? The education for Japanization of Koreans was not for the benefit of Koreans. It was for exploitation of Koreans.

    Japonymous asked for your family history, Q. What Japanese surname was your family “forced” to take?

  • Q

    @ Japonymous,

    If you want US government records, here are some of the links.

    http://www.archives.gov/iwg/japanese-war-crimes/

    - Researching Japanese War Crimes: Introductory Essays

    http://www.archives.gov/iwg/japanese-war-crimes/introductory-essays.pdf

    - Finding Aid: Greg Bradsher’s 1700-page guide, “Japanese War Crimes and Related Records: A guide to Records in the National Archives” provides an indispensible source for any researcher on this topic. The Guide is supplied on a CD attached to the volume (see below) “Researching Japanese War Crimes” and is unique as an electronic guide to records.

    Download the PDF guide (in Zip format, 4.48 MB) :

    http://www.archives.gov/iwg/japanese-war-crimes/japanese-war-crimes-guide.zip

    - Select Documents on Japanese War Crimes and Japanese Biological Warfare, 1934-2006

    http://www.archives.gov/iwg/japanese-war-crimes/select-documents.pdf

  • http://www.japonymous.com Japonymous

    Q at 52, 53 and 54 – You didn’t even come close to answering my question. But, thanks for playing.

    Gbevers at 55 – Didn’t even ask that question. Was just fascinated by Q’s implication that if you were Korean during the colonial era, you were either forcibly mobilized for work in Japan, or your were a collaborator. Interesting assertion.

  • http://www.japonymous.com Japonymous

    Q at 56 – What are you talking about??? you are not even remotely answering the question I asked you!!! Did I ask, “Did the Japanese commit any war crimes?” or “Is it fun to be occupied by another country, or Japan specifically??” No. Had I asked those questions, then, thanks for the elaborately linked response.

    You implied (again, being personal, and implicating Gbevers family) that if you were living in Korea during the occupation you were either forcibly mobilized to work in Japan, or you were a collaborator. (By your logic 99% or so of Korea was collaborating) So, I was just wondering, as you have no qualms implicating GBever’s family, where did your family fit into the mix, collaborators or forcibly mobilized labor?

  • Q

    @ Japonymous,

    You implied (again, being personal, and implicating Gbevers family) that if you were living in Korea during the occupation you were either forcibly mobilized to work in Japan, or you were a collaborator. (By your logic 99% or so of Korea was collaborating)

    It’s your logic, not my logic, bro.

    So, I was just wondering, as you have no qualms implicating GBever’s family, where did your family fit into the mix, collaborators or forcibly mobilized labor?

    I do not get personal questions, bro.^^

    Anyway, more on forced labor. It was not only Koreans. American POWs were victims too.

    “Troubling Legacy: World War II Forced Labor by American POWs of the Japanese”

    By Kinue Tokudome

    During World War II, massive forced labor took place in two instances. [1] Nazi Germany used about 10 million forced laborers from Eastern Europe in order to sustain her wartime economy. In contrast to Jewish slave laborers in concentration camps and ghettos who were worked to death, most of these laborers survived. [2] The other major instance of forced labor took place throughout Asia under Japanese government, military and corporate control. Those forced to work at construction sites, mines, factories and docks throughout the Japanese conquered territories and in Japan proper included Allied POWs and civilians who were forcibly taken from Korea, China and occupied areas of Southeast Asia. The total number of forced laborers under the Japanese is said to have exceeded one million [3], many of whom died due to appalling living conditions, lack of medical care, dangerous working conditions and abuse from guards. According to the Japanese military’s own record, nearly 25% of 140,000 Allied POWs perished while interned in Japanese prison camps where they were forced to work. [4] Of 27,000 American POWs 11,000 did not survive. [5]

    In recent years, 1.4 million former Nazi forced labor victims were compensated through the German foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility, and the Future” created in 2000. [6] The $5 billion foundation was a result of negotiations that stemmed from lawsuits filed by former slave and forced labor victims against German companies. The German government and German companies equally contributed to the foundation. Compensation to victims was made with the understanding by all parties involved in the negotiations, including former victims and the U.S. government, which facilitated the settlement, that the German government and companies bore no legal responsibility to compensate former victims. It was explained, “The Foundation symbolizes the historical and moral responsibility which German enterprises and the Federal Republic assume for these deeds.” In addition to paying compensation to individual victims, the Foundation supports hundreds of educational projects to ensure that the history of Nazi forced labor will not be forgotten. [7]

    The history of Japanese forced labor has also been revisited in recent years. Since 1999, almost 60 Japanese companies that engaged in wartime forced labor, including such well-known companies as Mitsubishi and Mitsui, have been sued in U.S. courts by former Allied POWs seeking unpaid wages and proper compensation for damages. [8] Both the U.S. government and the Japanese government were heavily involved in these cases, in every instance supporting the contention of the defense that the Peace Treaty of 1951 had settled all POW claims. After four and a half years of pre-trial proceedings, the companies successfully had the courts declare that they too bore no legal responsibility to compensate. [9] After the dismissal of these cases, Japanese companies and the Japanese government failed to take any actions comparable to those taken by the Germans. They neither compensated individual victims nor acknowledged the historical fact of POW forced labor. Nor did the Japanese government initiate any educational projects to disseminate information on the history of POWs of the Japanese.

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-Kinue-TOKUDOME/1920

    Kinue Tokudome is the Founder & Executive Director of a California non-profit organization “US-Japan Dialogue on POWs, Inc.” that maintains a bilingual website.

    http://www.us-japandialogueonpows.org/

  • gbevers

    Take it to the Open Thread, Q.

  • http://www.japonymous.com Japonymous

    Q @ 59. Thanks again for not answering my question.

    and, btw, this IS what you wrote:

    Maybe, your mother-in-law’s family was one of the collaborators who were able to sustain affluent life with owning slaves and was able to avoid forced labor to Japan.

    - reference to one’s family IS personal.
    - but, nope your logic, not mine. The implication is fairly clear.

    I take it from your refusal to answer my question, however, that your family was not forcibly mobilized (and was thus a collaborator? OR was part of the 99% or so of Koreans who were NOT forcibly mobilized for labor in Japan.)

    Q, I’m not playing the Japan did nothing wrong game here. You seem to think I am. I’m merely asking and re-asking a question couched thoroughly in a question you posed to GBevers.

  • http://cheotokento.wordpress.com/ Cheoto カンチョ

    “comfort women” like all those Korean women who keep flying over the Canada and the USA to work as “comfort women”.

    Twenty years down the track, are they going to tell us they were forced to do it?

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Thanks for many posts in my topic, guyz, i guess, but can we drop the thrash about Japanese Colonialism and go back to longtime expats in Korea, the roles they play and the deserved honor we show them…?

  • hamel

    Alan Heyman was granted lifetome honorary membership of the Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch, a month or two ago.
    He played a US soldier as an extra in a Korean movie – I do not know the title.

    I look forward to seeing Mr. Heyman at the RASKB garden party come June 11.

  • Arghaeri

    Allied POWs were victims too.

    Shucks you mean Bridge Over the River Kwai wasn’t a trailer for an Asian summer camp.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    good stuff, Hamel, thanks.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    Coda: Front-page article on the Korea Herald Weekender June 18th:

    http://www.koreaherald.com/lifestyle/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20110617000531

    Half a Century with Korean Music