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Pizza is Originally Korean!

That damn Marco Polo is a 도둑, as this in depth “documentary” will attest.

(Originally seen on iamkoream.com)

  • CactusMcHarris

    WK,

    I’m sorry to tell you this, but Hoju’s Video Corner has already run this special.

  • http://coryinkorea.wordpress.com/ 코리아

    I posted on it a few days ago as well (to give credit, I first caught it thanks to a Roboseyo tweet). Like anything viral it’s going to be difficult to determine who first “found” it, but as it’s a corporate creation, really all credit has to go to Mr. Pizza and the marketers who made it.

  • cmm

    Japan invented pizza.

  • αβγδε

    iamkoream.com — good site, ain’t it?

    i recently linked to it, too. you know. just sayin.’ ;)

    anyway that’s an awesome commercial. but not very ‘korean’ in its form of humor.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Well, I had originally seen it on iamkoream, but I’m sure it’s been posted elsewhere sooner. Since it wasn’t on TMH, I thought I’d post it before too much time had passed.

  • http://dok.do/4lur41 Apodyopsis Gymnophoria

    The History student drop is a complete &%$#%

    “I hate Marco Polo, he stole one of Koreas NATIONAL TREASURES… He stole pizza from Korea”

    The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs and cheese.

    I don’t think Korea had cheese until the 1900′s.

    The funniest is the Buddhist statute with the two rectangles on its hat,

    “What is it?? I has to be a pizza BOX, and the smaller box is free garlic bread!”

    Koreans enjoy stealing other countries treasures and pretending it’s theirs, cut accusing Polo of having stolen the “Jinju Original Pizza” ??

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ kuiwon

    This advert is too clever for most people to get.

  • αβγδε

    Once again, Ap Gym, please tell me you are doing some kind of dry irony and you’re not really that stupid.

  • milton

    AG,

    Apologies if I misread your comment, but I’d point out that the video—made by Koreans—is satirizing the Korean (well, really pan-Asian) propensity for unwarranted historical revisionism and nationalistic aggrandizement. That a nation-wide chain has chosen to poke fun at this topic, and that people can laugh at it, is a sign of Korea’s growing national “maturity” and social development.

  • enomoseki

    LOL, the idiot thought the video was actually genuine. But it’s a parody.

  • http://coryinkorea.wordpress.com/ 코리아

    Honestly I don’t think the humor and message is above the ability of most to “get”, but it is constructed to make people feel they are in on the joke for understanding. The negative, uninformed comments of the ‘outsiders’ be them trolls or legitimately dense, just reinforces the notion. Maybe more than anything, that’s what makes the ad really good.

  • gbevers

    Korea has no old maps to support her pizza claim.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Since it wasn’t on TMH

    Really?: In Odds and Ends-Post-Hangeul
    Sperwer October 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm
    Will the usual suspects get it?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QizaFkegFcQ&feature=youtu.be

  • rockymountainlady

    I am an old Caucasian lady who mainly only knows about Korea from Korean blogs, Korean news, and Korean Dramas, which actually tell a great deal about the Korean culture. I thought this ad was hilarious. I laughed all the way through. I instantly knew it was satire and I’m no genius. It is the funniest thing I have seen in a long time. Now, if someone with my limited cultural background can get it, then anyone can get it. And I totally agree that it is constructed to make people feel they are in on the joke. This ad is a classic.

  • nambangui horangi

    I’ve been telling pretty much everybody I run into–whether Korean, Korea-expat, Koreanist or not–about this ad. I just find it astonishingly clever, with amazing attention to detail (e.g. pause and read the comments at 0:41-42…brilliant satire), and am in awe at the CEO’s own willing participation, and the hilarious succession of shots of his ancestors, no less.

    Btw, to quote myself from TGN, below is the first Korean news report I’ve turned up. Basically just a summary of the ad and points out that it it is clearly comic, but also suggests (incorrectly to my mind) that a majority of Korean viewer comments on YT have been opposed to the ad……:

    http://news.kukinews.com/article/view.asp?page=1&gCode=all&arcid=0005440751&code=41191111

  • babotaengi

    Is Apo Gym really that dim? I couldn’t have guessed. If not, his satire isn’t nearly as refined as the ad’s.

  • babotaengi

    Oh, I showed that ad to my K-wife, and she got really upset with how stupid the Koreans made Koreans look. Then it got to the CEO and his ancestors, and she was just laughing at them. Don’t she clued into the joke unti the Bhuddist pizza box (with free garlic bread), however.

  • babotaengi

    Why does safari tell me my posts failed yet posts them anyway? Humph!

  • cmm

    @20 that’s always the case from my iPhone. After a couple of times, you’ll stop double-posting too.

    Ap Gym has shown himself to be pretty sharp here before… The joke’s on those who tried to correct him. Hell, the ad even exposes itself as a commercial, not a documentary.

  • theotherkorean

    For once, Wangky has posted something that was worth watching.

  • milton

    Oh, I showed that ad to my K-wife, and she got really upset with how stupid the Koreans made Koreans look

    Au contraire. Being able to take a joke, not taking yourself overly seriously, and being able to laugh at yourself is the height of intelligence and aplomb. Perhaps the Korean netizens don’t realize it, but in the eyes of many Americans, Kim Duk-young just single-handedly upped Korea’s stock in a way K-pop, the KNTO, or the Korean government never could. Getting angry about this—like getting angry at Jay Leno for making a dog-eating joke—does far more damage to your cause than it does good. In high school, the nerd who learns to roll with the teasing and the jokes is eventually accepted. The nerd who throws a hissy fit remains an outcast.

    From an advertising point of view, no one (in the West) associates Korea with pizza and would probably view Korean pizza as a Korean might view French kimchi. But by using satire to associate Korea with Marco Polo and the origins of Korea, you start to make that crucial link in the mind of the consumer.

  • milton

    ** origins of pizza, not Korea

  • Yu Bum Suk

    Wow – I think that Korea has maybe grown a bit of real wit. I’m very impressed.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Really?: In Odds and Ends-Post-Hangeul
    Sperwer October 10, 2011 at 5:01 pm
    Will the usual suspects get it?

    I see your October 10 and raise it to October 6.

    CactusMcHarris is clearly the second smartest poster here at the Hole.

  • http://dok.do/4lur41 Apodyopsis Gymnophoria

    his satire isn’t nearly as refined as the ad’s.

    I thought it was, but apparently, I need to keep refining my satire.

    ( intent of correcting, or changing, the subject of the satiric attack. )

  • keith

    I’ve met a couple of Americans who genuinely believed that pizza is an American invention :)

    I think that ad is absolutely brilliant, it’s very sly! Most Korean advertising is simply horrid. Being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of maturity and it’s great that the CEO was such a sport. Most Korean TV advertising is simply horrid, just look at the dreadful Airiang TV channel. The only funnier Korean thing I’ve see was this (below), sadly I don’t think the Dokdo song was supposed to be wildly funny…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSBGVsoSH1c

  • yuna

    Oh, I showed that ad to my K-wife

    Did you get her from the K-mart?

  • yuna

    Oh, and, parabing.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    According to the website, this was produced by a New York company for Mr. Pizza.

  • yuna

    Yeah, the origin of this CM clearly cannot be Korean. It would be like a evolutionary momentous leap like walking on two feet if they reached a level of being able to make a satire of themselves. Also treading too much on the dangerous grounds of the Chinese faking of the Koreans claiming different things left right and centre.

  • Avaast

    Great fun, but I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out who the audience is supposed to be. Is it made for domestic English-speaking elites? For foreigners in/outside Korea? It’s fun to see satire (even if it is a bit weak overall), but I can’t help but wonder if it will go over a lot of people’s heads…

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    Listen, I visited the museum at the palace in downtown Seoul back in 1993 and discovered Koreans invented everything that is important, so don’t worry about it… ;-)

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #31,
    They have at least one store open in the US. My guess is that they are using the ad to create buzz ahead of possible plans expand their business there.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/S7sqloJ_2RN7lHPG9YFD_g?select=hXEv6w__6PaofG8RkswF6A

  • Wedge

    That’s hella funny. Thanks WK for bringing this up, even if redundant.

    #30: What’s that “CM” mean again? Cool Marketing? Content Management? Crystal Meth?

  • Granfalloon

    I love this, for two reasons.

    First, I’ve known for quite some time that Koreans have a huge capacity for laughing at themselves, for self-deprecatory humor, and for all-around completely un-self-conscious goofiness. However, in my experience, all of that disappears if there is a foreigner within 100 meters. Koreans joke about Korea ALL THE TIME, but they will go to great lengths not to do so in front of foreigners (Hell, we’ve seen what happens for foreigners try to get in on the joke . . . ) For a Korean company to fund and utilize a marketing strategy like this is awesome. Kudos to Mr. Pizza.

    Second, watching the reactions of the not-so-bright expats who take the video at face value is hilarious. One could perhaps call it a good lesson in confirmation bias. To be fair though, with all those youtube videos claiming that Jesus was Korean, Korea founded all the world’s civilizations, etc., I think surely something like Poe’s Law must be in effect regarding Korean nationalism, right?

  • keith

    @35 I totally agree 100% With everything you said, but usually Korean’s laughing at themselves is not so subtle, artful or clever, that’s why I used the adjective ‘sly’.

    If the pizza were actually any good I’d buy one tomorrow. Unfortunately Mr. Pizza’s pizzas actually suck big donkey balls. Admittedly they’re better than Pizza School or some of the other places that do very strange things with pizza, but they’re still not good pizzas. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend polishing a dog poo, it’s still dog shit.

    10 out of 10 for the ad agency though.

  • keith

    Modifier for the first sentence ‘usually’ or ‘rarely so’ clever.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Koreans have a huge capacity for laughing at themselves, for self-deprecatory humor, and for all-around completely un-self-conscious goofiness.

    Deserves amplification. Despite numerous uninformed assertions on this thread to the contrary, satire and ability to laugh at oneself have always been present in Korea. It did not “grow” or “evolve” or whatever.

  • yuna

    Na-uh. Maybe laughing *at* each other (subgroups) but even that’s not so common.

    Koreans have a huge capacity for laughing at themselves, for self-deprecatory humor, and for all-around completely un-self-conscious goofiness

    If that were true they wouldn’t be the way they are, and so full on.

  • yuna

    For example, there are tons of funny comments one can find after some news, or some boob pictures, but that’s usually taking the piss out of someone they hate.
    That’s different from being able, as a nation, to make fun of what they are sensitive, as a nation, about.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    @24 OK, ok, you win the kimchi; i was just pointing out that WK wasn’t “first, bro”, not claiming to have been first myself.

  • yuna

    Same goes for politics. There have hardly been any real attempt to satirize politicians (because, one way or another it’s banned, or cannot be taken sitting down from the opposite camp. There was an attempt with 회장님 회장님 in the 80′s but that was pretty out there.) Have you seen the comedy show they call gag-concert? Maybe *finally* it’s getting better

    It’s just full-on hate, hence the fist-fight. I mean, how do you parody the fist-fight? They are a self-parody. You cannot parody self-parody.

  • Q

    Free trip to Japan next year! Gerry, you surely need to visit and support Japan. It is another chance that you defend Japanese government which is so honest about radiation.

    The Japan Tourism Agency under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is competing with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in giving away free trips to Japan to foreigners in the hope of “favorable” coverage on the Internet social media.

    http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/10/free-trip-to-japan-for-lucky-10000.html

    I recommend to read through the blog.

  • yuna

    To be fair though, with all those youtube videos claiming that Jesus was Korean, Korea founded all the world’s civilizations, etc

    I thought everyone knew these were the works of Korea-hating Chinese/Japanese 찌질이’s.
    Actually this is number one reason why China (talk about brand-imaging) hates Korea is because they think Koreans claim Chinese invention/history (when we are told the exact opposite) – Since then some Chinese made up and propagated stories that Koreans were claiming several crazy (Chinese) things. Now people just accept, that that’s how the Koreans are. Parody that.

  • tinyflowers

    Parody that

    Well I did see this one Japanese youtube vid complaining about how Korea stole Japan’s snacks and food items, complete with photographic evidence and serious music playing in the background. That’s gotta be a parody right?

    Sad thing is I could totally imagine some pimple faced otaku sitting in his basement doing research and putting together a video, absolutely furious, furious! that those dastardly Koreans have stolen our shrimp crackers! How dare they!

  • milton

    Yuna nailed it in 39, 40, and 42.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Na-uh. Maybe laughing *at* each other (subgroups) but even that’s not so common.

    One rule of thumb that I came to realize by being at this gig for this long is that it takes ten words to set straight one word of stupidity, and hundred times the effort to correct one moment of unthinking. So I reserve those ten words and hundred times the effort for an appropriate time and space. Usually, that time and that space are not while I am sitting in the office, and not at the MH comment board.

    So I can give here a huge recital of classic Korean satirical literature, satire during the colonial era that tweaked the Japanese Imperialists, satire during the military regimes and Korean satires of today, just to beat down the stupid idea that Koreans don’t know how to laugh at themselves. But what’s the point? Why waste the effort? There will be another, more appropriate time and space. In the meantime, you guys carry on.

  • yuna

    Korean satires of today

    You might be right, theKorean but just this alone will do for the purpose of education. Don’t need a “huge recital” or even a “body or work”. A Korean Private Eye or even the Onion would make me eat my own words.

    If they (you, he, she, I) knew how ridiculous they (you he she I) were to the rest of the world, they would be less them (you, him ,her, me).

    There exists pockets of elite/enlightened/generally nice people who aren’t so full on, but they are not what represents Korea, sparkling. It’s not Korea, self-reflecting, is it?

  • yuna

    고바우 영감. He’s dead.

  • Charles Tilly

    A Korean Private Eye or even the Onion would make me eat my own words.

    Why does there need to be a “Korean Private Eye” or “Onion” or even a Korean Colbert Report or Daily Show to show that Koreans are hip to irony/satire? Why can’t Korea be considered ironic/satirical enough with what they’re producing right now? Sure, you may not think much of it but that’s just a matter of taste and what particular type of irony/satire you’re into.

  • yuna

    OK, any then.

  • Charles Tilly

    OK, any then.

    Pick up a papers. Have a look at the cartoons. Seen good satire there.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    @ # 44,

    “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal”

    By… surprise, surprise… Steve Jobs!

    http://gizmodo.com/5483914/steve-jobs-1996-good-artists-copy-great-artists-steal

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    @ # 46,

    I too disagree that Korean’s don’t get satire. People who say that tend not to have a good command of the Korean language. However, I will say that Koreans (as well as most other East Asians) don’t understand irony very well. It will take awhile for Monty Python style comedy to be popular in Asia.

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    The difference in thekorean @ 38/46 and yuna @ 39/40/42 is illuminating. One continually falls into the myopic trap of feeling the self-imposed pressure to “correct” supposed expat misconceptions to the detriment of intellectual honesty, and the other hits the nail on the head.

    Surprised that anyone believed the ad was Korean in origin. The faux-doc style and deadpan has Western ad agency (or perhaps clever KA management) written all over it. Self-deprecation or satire to that level on highly emotional issues is extremely rare (if not non-existent) in the motherland, as yuna correctly noted. If the ad were of purely Korean origin for a Korean audience, she is also correct in stating it would be an evolutionary leap in comedic sensibility.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    One continually falls into the myopic trap of feeling the self-imposed pressure to “correct” supposed expat misconceptions to the detriment of intellectual honesty, and the other hits the nail on the head.

    That’s funny, given that you make it your mission here to correct every instance of what you consider to be self-aggrandizement of Koreans while I expressly declined to correct anything.

    Self-deprecation or satire to that level on highly emotional issues is extremely rare (if not non-existent) in the motherland, as yuna correctly noted.

    Yuna did not correctly note anything, and her error is readily proven by numerous instances of self-deprecation or satire throughout Korean history, available to anyone with basic knowledge of Korean history and language.

    Surely, at this point you will screech “prove it! PROVE IT!!” But I won’t, because I already said I won’t. Barack Obama gave out his birth certificate, but birthers still don’t shut up. I could fill this thread with a 10-feet wall of text about Korean satire, but you won’t shut up either. So I am not wasting my effort, and that’s how it will be. With that, I’m done talking to you. Screech away.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Well this isn’t really much but hey i’m a huge Korean movies fan and i still have to find a Korean comedy i truly like (최강 로맨스 had some incredibly hilarious moments, the whole Sex and the City undervibe kinda spoiled it for me though), while i lost counts of how many times i watched 아저씨, 폭력써클 and 똥파리

    Koreans know how to tell drama like nobody else does

  • Charles Tilly

    Same goes for politics. There have hardly been any real attempt to satirize politicians (because, one way or another it’s banned, or cannot be taken sitting down from the opposite camp. There was an attempt with 회장님 회장님 in the 80′s but that was pretty out there.)

    딴지일보?

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    You’ll want to re-read the part in bold before you take your ball and stomp home.

    Self-deprecation or satire to that level on highly emotional issues is extremely rare (if not non-existent) in the motherland, as yuna correctly noted.

    Of course satire and self-deprecation exist in Korea. They just stay relatively constrained and very rarely venture into highly emotional or sensitive topics. That confinement is exactly the reason why so many expressed surprise at the ad, because it’s so far out of character compared to the norm.

    And if you can show me a national campaign ad satirizing Korean obsession over a sensitive topic like Dokdo or something equivalent, I’ll be more than happy to eat my words.

    Barack Obama gave out his birth certificate, but birthers still don’t shut up.

    What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

  • http://www.wm3.org/Updates iheartblueballs

    Clearly, another pesky furriner with misconceptions about Korea needs correcting:

    To put it mildly, Koreans don’t often use satire and irony in their popular culture. And when non-Koreans do? Hell, that can even get them deported.

    Which explains many of the Korean reactions to the video above, at first sight part of a US-made documentary dismissing Korean claims of cultural theft by foreigners. But actually, it’s one of a series of commercials by the Korean company Mr Pizza (미스터피자). Not only hilarious in their own right, I’m struggling to think of any similar Korean send-ups of real-life examples of excessive, often downright looney Korean nationalism. Or at least by as prominent a source as Jeong Woo-hyeon (정우현), chairman of the company since 1989.

    Granted, some things Koreans are proud of only appear absurd in translation. But then there are cases like this completely serious claim that Christmas trees the world over are Korean, for instance, and that consequently the world owes Korea royalties. Live in Korea, and one hears of similar things every other week, let alone faces a daily deluge of related advertisements and government and NGO campaigns.

  • CactusMcHarris

    ‘Of course satire and self-deprecation exist in Korea. They just stay relatively constrained and very rarely venture into highly emotional or sensitive topics. That confinement is exactly the reason why so many expressed surprise at the ad, because it’s so far out of character compared to the norm.

    And if you can show me a national campaign ad satirizing Korean obsession over a sensitive topic like Dokdo or something equivalent, I’ll be more than happy to eat my words.’

    Save some for me, too, IHBB. I’d even venture to say that it’s in every culture, but ‘relatively constrained’ in Korea nails it nicely.

  • yuna

    Hey, don’t set me up to fight theKorean. He has yet to share with us the secret of how he can tell gold-diggers from nice rich girls. It’s instrumental to realising my dream.

    To be fair, I know what theKorean means. I am not denying the rich history of 해학.풍자 or that Koreans don’t have a funny bone. I’m just saying, somehow, one way or another (yeah, blame history/politics again) we developed into a hot-headed nation of little introspection, or over-defensiveness especially when it comes to national matters and have come to be known to have a lot of “sensitive” issues with everyone. We couldn’t really make fun of ourselves unless we were well past that stage, and to be fair, the relationship is both ways, so our immediate neighbours need to develop too.

    For example, (maybe I am wrong) but you also don’t like the East Sea issue (the insistence that everybody uses East Sea as well as Sea of Japan). This is very reasonable. Can you imagine anyone voicing their opinion of how ridiculous this is in the main media? Or even making fun of it?

    I was edgy at the beginning watching the ad myself, it’s only when the CEO kept insisting “We are original pizza” I was able to relax, and by the garlic bread I was OK with it. In the beginning I was like “What? Why compound the issue with the Chinese claiming Marco Polo stole spaghetti? It won’t even register to non-Asians the first guy was not Korean..”

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    I’m just saying, somehow, one way or another (yeah, blame history/politics again) we developed into a hot-headed nation of little introspection, or over-defensiveness especially when it comes to national matters and have come to be known to have a lot of “sensitive” issues with everyone.

    Spending about 40% of the 20th century as a colony of Japan, compounded with spending a lot more time as China’s “little brother” can do that to someone.

    That said, the Chinese and Japanese also have their own loony nationalistic insecurities.

  • PineForest

    Riiiiiiiiiiight…

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    It’s instrumental to realising my dream.

    What is this gold digger/nice rich girl dream that you speak of? Please do tell.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    PineForest,

    Are you saying that you think Chinese and Japanese forms of nationalism are meaningfully better (from a standpoint of calmer and more rational) than Korean nationalism?

  • yuna

    That said, the Chinese and Japanese also have their own loony nationalistic insecurities

    China thinks virtually by its size/number of people, like a black hole of ethnic groups, in the end that all Asia is China, and they are right.
    Japan thinks it’s not really part of Asia and their people are very very different (superior) from the Chinese and the Koreans, and they are right.
    Koreans, on the other hand, got a chip-on-their shoulder, and thinks they can blame everyone else but themselves for the way things are. The way the ruling class were, and all the regional in-fighting, and keeping Western influence at bay for much longer than Japan, they got no one to blame.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    “… in the end that all Asia is China, and they are right.”

    I don’t know what worries me more. The first part of that comment or the second. Let’s twist that around a little bit. The American colonies were once British, correct? Does that make all of America Britain?

    “Japan thinks it’s not really part of Asia and their people are very very different (superior) from the Chinese and the Koreans, and they are right.

    Hummm… don’t know if the Japanese have taken a good look at the mirror lately. I think one of these countries will just have to surpass them in per capita GDP, which will eventually happen.

    Any ways, ditto here. Are the English a part of Europe? Do the English think they are better than most Europeans? Does that make it right? Does that make it true?

  • nambangui horangi

    If I can add a few (or several) words, largely in agreement with Yuna and WangKon @53. TK: this isn’t meant to be a dig at you at all–I like your work, and readily recognize a very deep Korean tradition of satire and even self-deprecation as well, from Chosun period stuff through Chae Man-shik to Kim Chi-ha and to the much more slapsticky “Gag Concert”, but there are additional issues that need unpacking, which I’d like to hear your thoughts on (and I also get your comment on not wanting to waste time in the comments section on TMH, but this is worthy of thought and a long post on your own site, if you’d care to take it up).

    Like Yuna, for the first 30-60 seconds or so I also had an “OMG, please tell me this isn’t serious” reaction, before I was able to settle in and enjoy the brilliant skewering of zealous nationalism. What seems unusual to me, in addition to the sending up of potentially sacred cows, though, is the precise mode of the ad’s satire as it, at least initially, until the pizza box, involves the use of understated dry wit, which I do think is rare in Korea. If you take Chisuk (“My Idiot Uncle”) by Chae Man-shik, for example, he’s doing something similar, but the object of his satire is Koreans who slavishly followed Japanese customs during the colonial period (I’ve always been amazed that the story squeaked by the censors, who were clearly oblivious to the satire–which to me is much more overt than this ad). His nationalist street-cred survives more than intact with that story.

    Even some of the best local ironists (take, e.g., early Bong Joon-ho films like “Memories of Murder” and “Barking Dogs Don’t Bite”) use irony in a dark way, I’d argue, where the humor comes more from the issue of the blackness of the comedy, rather than the idea that it is subtle “shared knowledge” of being in on a joke. That latter style, however, is a very common mode of humor for myself and one of my closest friends (also a Korean Studies person) and we have regularly had problems with friends in Korea, because where we have assumed that our clear tipping off that what is meant as an ironic joke said with a straight face is “shared knowledge” of a joke between ourselves and interlocutors is instead taken at face value. This still happens even with close friends ( and this inc. my wife), whom I’ve know for well over a decade: if I say something with a straight face that is obviously meant to be wry and ridiculous, I can still get a quizzical reaction of “Are you serious?” (Granted, this can happen on occasion with Westerners too, but the level of frequency is *much* higher with people raised with a Korean sensibility of humor–put it this way: my formative humorists are people like Emo Phillips, Steven Wright and Monty Python.) Not sure how many people know/remember Steven Wright, but can you imagine how his humor would go over in Korea? Lead balloons would have trouble keeping up with how fast he would sink, I suspect. (I’ve also yet to see “The Red Chapel”, the DPRK doc, but it sounds like something similar there was afoot in terms of clash of humor styles, let alone the additional issue of bringing in the DPRK.)

    Also, I’m still trying to get to the bottom of who GumshoePictures are–yes, I’m assuming a US-based production company and have no idea whether they pitched the idea to Mr. Pizza first or vice-versa, but it obviously comes from people who are incredibly well-steeped in what is going on. (e.g. the easy transposition from doduk to dokdo; the hysterical blog comments if you pause at 0:41-0:42, the pictures on the history dropout’s wall and the background to his computer, and indeed the sly dig at Minerva, I think; the brilliant use of traditional music with its switch from gayageum to piri just as you go to the Buddhist staut; I could go on and on). As I’ve said to some friends, basically I take this all as evidence of Korea’s increasing transnational connections and growing cosmopolitanism, etc.) My best guess is 1.5 generation K-As who’ve gone to film school/studied advertising in the US, but I welcome further info. Gumshoe, if you’re out there: my deepest respect to you (or however many you are). Bloody fantastic work. Ditto to 정우현: sir, it cheers my heart to see a CEO who can run with this sort of ad and participate himself, even including mock portraits of ancestors. I’d heard before that he was a 대단하신 분 and the ad confirms it in my eyes.

    Okay, this has gone on long enough. Thanks for those who’ve paid attention.

  • YangachiBastardo

    I think one of these countries will just have to surpass them in per capita GDP, which will eventually happen

    On a PPP basis Taiwan, Singapore and Hong-Kong already did, Korea still has a 10% to go, if we have to trust these PPP numbers.

    Honestly Japan doesn’t give me the impression of being a rich country, by developed world standards.

    Incredibly expensive and scarce food supply, small cars, horrible housing conditions et al seem a common staple in the country

  • YangachiBastardo

    Do the English think they are better than most Europeans?

    Germans have a bit of more of credibility at trying that kind of shot

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Yeah, but they can’t get away with it like the British can because of the nasty things they did in the first half of the 20th century.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Britain is a drunk, blonde Italy: a shitty former empire with monster debts it will never repay, a vile amount of NEET’s and serious public order and garbage collection issues.

    And speaking of lack of self-humor i had the distinct impression that’s not an American quality either

  • YangachiBastardo

    Actually i remember some Korean telling me laughing dismissively something to the tune of “All these Japanese girls who come to your country to shop for designer clothes, you guys probably think they’re well-off or something, they’re mostly factory girls living with their parents saving a whole year to come to Milano. Japan is a rich country with poor people”.

    It seems quite an interesting concept

  • cmm

    Ask Michael Breen what he thinks about how satire goes down in Korea.

  • Charles Tilly

    Ask Michael Breen what he thinks about how satire goes down in Korea.

    Nah.

  • Cloud

    #25 LOL – As a longtime reader but recent commenter, I don’t buy that Ap Gy was trying for satire. Based on his past comments, I think he is “really that dim”.

    This movie, which is a few years old, spoofs English language learning in Korea in a funny way and has a convincing waygookin actor:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YgG2JSfkVg&feature=related

    P.S. I’m really new to commenting in general and don’t know how to block quote or anything and not as knowledgeable as many of you but thought I’d add myself in.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Ask Michael Breen what he thinks about how satire goes down in Korea.

    Big difference between poking fun at yourself or you own country and someone else poking fun at yourself or your own country.

    I always thought Koreans were really funny, and good at self-deprecating humour (as individuals). Not so good at national self-parody though, but that’s to be expected considering the ROK’s modern history.

  • hamel

    Here is a video of the lone protestor. Anybody been to this pizza shop?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFOyPb2B1OY

    I wonder if the owner was in on the gag.

    What is interesting is that in the video, it appears as if the Youtube user who uploaded the video of the “Protest in Brooklyn” is “anonguise.” The real “anonguise” uploads anti-Scientology videos, and doesn’t have any video up now resembling this one. So it looks like the film makers actually made a fake Youtube screenshot for the purposes of the ad.

    As to which company made the film: in the video when they show the screen of the blog, the URL bar is shown and the address in it is http://www.addictmediafilms.com. That website is not currently existing, and according to my Whois Lookup search has never been registered. However, a company named Addict Media Films does exist.

    Here is the blog/resume of a guy who works for them as first AD and producer:
    http://lenardokuma.wordpress.com/
    Look at the list of clients: Samsung, Hyundai Card, McDonalds, Daum TV, SK Telecom. This is a heavy hitting firm. And according to Daum Place, their HQ is in 선릉, Seoul. http://place.daum.net/place/Top.do?confirmid=12787281

    So it looks like, alll arguments about the history of irony and parody in Korea aside, this commercial might just have been made by Koreans.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    To be fair, I know what theKorean means.

    Com’on Yuna; you know better than that. You Have To SINCERELY Apologize!

  • Yu Bum Suk

    #74 I was just about to bring up Michael Breen. Mr Lee: “This waegookin’s making me look like an ass. Quick, lawyers, make me look like a much bigger ass!”

    Koreans will indeed make fun of, and really bitch about, Korea, but you’ve got to get to know them very well first. What’s really funny is being around a good Korean friend and a Korean stranger when a topic comes up, like say Korean education, which every Korean complains about all the time. The stranger will try to make some claim about it and then my friend will say ‘He already knows everything’- i.e. don’t bother attempting a snow job.

    Like others, I don’t know what the target audience is. Americans? Most of them have no idea about Asians’ tendency to make questionable historic claims. Foreigners in Korea? Yeah, that works, but not as well as ‘We’ve trained our staff how to make pizzas with no corn or sweet potato for you’.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #78,

    As I was saying, the production company claims to be based in New York.

    Here’s the website I was talking about:

    http://www.gumshoepictures.com/

    And here’s their Youtube page:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/gumshoepictures

    Now, as to who is behind Gumshoepictures…It’s probably a well-known agency, one that is not necessarily based in New York.

  • nambangui horangi

    Excellent research there, Hamel. Much appreciated. And #81, yes, I think it’s clear from the filming that regardless of where Gumshoe claims to be based, it obviously went back and forth between US & Korea for the making of this project. A friend has identified one of the buildings in one of their sidebar videos as being at the Academy of Korean Studies. These guys really know what their doing, and the list that Hamel provides suggests that these people are at the top of the game–and it shows.

  • soju81

    I had an audition for this “documentary” a long time ago, but they didn’t choose me. It’s interesting to see how the finished product looks… It’s a bit different from what I was told it would be.

  • nambangui horangi

    @83, As somebody who has made a documentary (hopefully I get to remove the “” on that) myself and is currently in the process of making a second, all I can say is it was interesting to see how the finished product looked in comparison to what happened when my co-producer originally set out to make it….and I expect the same thing to happen this time (albeit this is scripted and we’re reliant on the footage we’ve come up with…). Hamel will probably have some interest in that himself, I imagine :-).

  • Pingback: Creative Korean Advertising #26: Koreans Laughing at Themselves « The Grand Narrative

  • hamel

    Someguy: yes, but the ad agency seems to be based in Seoul. So perhaps a collaboration?

  • yuna

    To be fair, it’s had a big input from Koreans (or Korean native speakers..)

    The Korean otaku in the beginning, when he says
    “이분이 도둑놈—이죠” (translated into English as “I hate Marco Polo”, which doesn’t do justice)

    That line is very funny in Korean and must have been written by a funny native-standard Korean person who can speak the language (maybe the actor?)
    To mix 분, and 놈 in that “still has to be polite and respectful to refer to Marco Polo” in a language which possesses many levels of respect.

    Maybe something like this in Japanese..
    この方が 泥模ですね。。

  • yuna

    The British Asians have been doing this for a long time:
    Why Father Christmas is Indian
    Terrible suit,
    Why the Queen is Indian

    All live in the same house, Indian, all work in family business, Indian, all have arranged marriages Indian.

    Superman is Indian
    Da Vinci is Indian

  • Arghaeri

    :-)

  • feld_dog

    To The Korean:
    Actually, in all seriousness, I would love a rundown on modes of satire throughout Korean history. Maybe you can e-mail me just a list of names I can research on my own? I just taught a unit on satire to very bright Korean high school kids in an AP English class here in SK, and actually showed the pizza ad yesterday (even though we had just finished the unit). Earlier, I had asked them to bring in and discuss any example of satire, encouraging them to find Korean ones. Only two kids (out of 12) came in with Korea-based satire (one was a cartoon on the WALK sign political correctness hoo-ha here; the other was a fairly lame political cartoon on 노무현 corruption). I’ve asked the kids if there are Korean equivalents to Jonathann Swift or Moliere, let alone Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, and they draw a complete blank. I would LOVE to educate them about their own culture the next time I teach this unit. (I suppose it’s too much to expect that their Korean teachers will teach them anything about Korean satire?)
    I admit to echoing the general 외국 consensus here about Korean culture’s overall lack of satire and irony compared to the West. But I would love to be corrected. Help us out, TK (or at least help ME out–some of my kids might actually be heading to schools like Berkeley very soon.)

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    feld_dog,

    I suggest, if your request is serious, to email TheKorean with the question. Then he can make a post on it in his blog, thus answering the question for many people, not just one person. It’s more efficient that way. I don’t think he has time to send detailed and personalized emails to everyone who asks him a question.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    feld_dog — I received your email. I will get to it as I do all emails.

    남방의 호랑이 (always liked your handle, btw)

    I was going to leave this thread, but I appreciate the effort you gave in your comment. So here are some of my thoughts.

    Basically, the discussion in this thread is muddled because there are many different ideas expressed with the same words. The ideas are:

    (1) Koreans don’t have a sense of humor.
    (2) Koreans don’t understand, or engage in, satire.
    (3) Koreans don’t make fun of Koreans.
    (4) Koreans don’t satirize certain aspect of their lives, particularly nationalism.
    (5) Koreans don’t utilize irony — of the kind you described — as a manner of humor.

    (1), (2) and (3) are clearly false. (4) and (5) are generally true. And (4) and (5) are hardly knock on Koreans’ (excellent) sense of humor. All (4) is saying is that Koreans are nationalists, and although Koreans constantly engage in satire, they rarely direct their satirical spear toward objects of nationalism. That’s not a problem — every culture as a sacred cow. All (5) is saying that Koreans have a preferred mode of humor that is different from, say, Monty Python.

    (As a side note, I find the “shared knowledge” irony quite obnoxious. It’s like those fucking hipsters drinking PBR for the sake of irony.)

    Now, what happens in these parts is that a lot of expats end up equating (4) with (1), (2) or (3). I find that deeply ignorant. Korean satire is abundant throughout its history. You can’t shake a virtual stick in Korean Internet without hitting some kind of satire. Shoot, just now I cracked up at the excellent satire of Korea’s cosmetic surgery craze. Those who say Koreans don’t use satire in pop culture don’t know what they are talking about.

  • Charles Tilly

    All (4) is saying is that Koreans are nationalists, and although Koreans constantly engage in satire, they rarely direct their satirical spear toward objects of nationalism. That’s not a problem — every culture as a sacred cow.

    Generally in agreement. But I’d tweak it just a bit: I agree with expat/outsider “complaints” that Koreans rarely direct their satire at “sacred cows.” But honestly, when you get right down to it, that’s just what the expat or the outsider wants to see happen. Now, they might be right in thinking Koreans should be satirizing/lampooning of sacred cows (I tend to think they are somewhat on this point), but this for Koreans to decide at their own time and convenience.

  • Charles Tilly

    Edit: I tend to think they are somewhat right on this point

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Those who say Koreans don’t use satire in pop culture don’t know what they are talking about.

    I stand by my original assertion that they just don’t know the language very well. It takes some fluency in the language to understand and “get” the satire that the people you are commenting about are utilizing.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    But honestly, when you get right down to it, that’s just what the expat or the outsider wants to see happen.

    That’s an important point, and one of the reasons why I find expats’ claims about Korea’s supposed lack of satire so ignorant. Essentially, the argument boils down to “I want to make fun of Korean nationalism.” –> “Koreans don’t make fun of Korean nationalism.” –> “Koreans don’t understand fun.” How stupid is that?

  • 8675309

    wk936@95

    “It takes some fluency in the language to understand and “get” the satire that the people you are commenting about are utilizing.”

    That’s putting it mildly. I think people are forgetting that humor, by nature, is and always will be a cultural phenomenon that doesn’t — and isn’t supposed to — translate well, let alone at all across cultures.

    If you think about it, the act of finding something funny or unfunny is determined solely by whether you are “in” on a joke, or not. So if you don’t get a country’s humor or are unmoved by Korean jokes or satire, not only does that mean you’re not in on it, and therefore don’t get it, it also means you were never supposed to get it in the first place!

    Conversely, American humor isn’t as universal as we’d like to think it is. For example, the movie “Wedding Crashers” starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson didn’t create the laugh riot among Korean audiences that Hollywood thought it would when it was released into the Korean market in 2006.

    Some of the reasons Wedding Crashers failed was that Koreans either didn’t get the jokes, or found the whole premise, i.e., crashing in on someone’s wedding to get free food, etc., not only reprehensible and odious, but also inherently unfunny and implausible, i.e., according to a few of my Korean friends.

    On the other hand, >slapstick and other kinds of low-brow schtick humor are one of the few forms of comedy that truly cut across cultures. Look at the global popularity of “Punch & Judy” routines, as well as the French love affair with all things Jerry Lewis, and the fact that Koreans of all ages seem to find the “Three Stooges” laugh-out-loud, shit-in-your-pants funny.

  • gbevers

    What is the video satirizing?

    It is satirizing Korean historical documentaries, which tend to distort or exaggerate flimsy evidence to make historical claims.

    I do not think it was an accident that the video showed the “Dokdo Is Korean Territory” poster while the narrator was saying the following:

    Sang-jun Han, history student dropout and passionate conspiracy theorist, was the site’s main contributor and blogger.

    The fact that a marketing video is poking fun at Korean historical documentaries, including those that promote Korean Dokdo claims, suggests that there are, at least, some Koreans who see the Korean historical documentary style as something deserving of ridicule.

    I think most Koreans would be embarrassed by the video, especially since it is translated for foreigners, so I cannot figure out whom the video is targeting, unless it is foreigners who also recognize the silliness of many of Korea’s historical claims.

  • gbevers

    Maybe the video is targeting Japanese and Chinese pizza lovers?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936
  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ kuiwon

    My Chinese friend is arguing that the part about Marco Polo stealing spaghetti is true…

  • nambangui horangi

    Thanks, TK, for responding seriously to my comment. A couple of additional notes here. Yes, humor in general is generally culturally specific, but satire especially so (even subculturally specific). I’m triangulated between the US, NZ and Korea and I can recall watching things in the Simpsons that I found hysterically funny a decade or more ago, when the Simpsons still had real bite, just flying right over people’s heads. Not a linguistic issue at all, but simply lacking the full cultural context to know what was being sent up (and sorry if you don’t appreciate dry, understated humor–I certainly don’t do it to be obnoxious, and only with the expectation that my interlocutor is going to find it funny as well. When I see that I doesn’t work, I pretty much withdraw it from my repertoire, but I try to approach life by giving people smiles/chuckles as much as I can. Out of curiosity, do you know Steven Wright, and if so, do you find him funny?)

    On another matter, back to the main thread: I’ve been monitoring both versions on YT closely b/c watching what happens on the net is closely related to my research interests and overnight, the subtitled video, though only adding 30,000 hits, has gone from 6 to 1 like to dislike ratio to being almost even, at 400 apiece. My guess, although I haven’t gone into detail on it yet, is that it went viral on 2-channeru, Japan’s biggest community website, and also a hotbed of anti-Korean sentiment and that people are watching the first minute and then getting all hot under the collar. Btw, for a fine piece on 2-chan and internet nationalism, see this article from Rumi Sakamoto:

    http://www.japanfocus.org/-Rumi-SAKAMOTO/3497

  • nambangui horangi

    Just to add a p.s. to that. I’ve just looked at the non-subtitled mirror version, and the like:dislike ration there is running 329: 44. Enormous difference. And one of the issues from negative commenters (and, oh boy, you can almost see this coming…..) on the subtitled-version is that in the graphic of the plane flying over the ocean from the US to Seoul, the body of water between Korea and Japan is titled in English “East Sea”.

  • ecw

    There still is nationalism in Korea, so national matters tend to be sacred cows, and it’s considered politically incorrect to satirize them.

    In the West, nationalism has been attacked, undermined, and pathologized, especially since the counter-culture. It’s not politically incorrect to satirize national matters. But there are other issues that are sacred cows and considered politically incorrect to satirize.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    sorry if you don’t appreciate dry, understated humor–I certainly don’t do it to be obnoxious, and only with the expectation that my interlocutor is going to find it funny as well.

    No worries. I’m not a hater.

    Out of curiosity, do you know Steven Wright, and if so, do you find him funny?

    I’m an avid lover of stand-up comedy (one of the best features of American culture,) so yes I know Steven Wright. He’s ok, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch the guy. I like really cerebral jokes (e.g. Eddie Izzard) or really stupid schticks and/or puns (e.g. Jay London.) A lot of people seem to think that Mitch Hedberg is like Steven Wright, although I severely disagree — I love Mitch and I paid to watch him several times. Can’t say I would do the same for Wright.

  • slim

    I took my parents to see Steven Wright last year. He’s less a satirist than an absurdist and I don’t think that his wordplay or contrived situation jokes travel well across languages and cultures.

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    I’m an avid lover of stand-up comedy (one of the best features of American culture,)

    Perhaps you mant Western culture? The poms were doing stand-up in music halls in the 18th century, and stand-up nights in pubs is pretty popular all over the commonwealth.

  • Arghaeri

    His statement wasn’t exclusive, and by limiting to what he knows, he avoids the risk of lumping all in as “western” when it might be incorrect.

    ps Never have understood why hoju is “western” when its clearly in the east. :-)

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    On the subject of stand-up, has anyone ever watched any furner stand-up comics in the ROK? I remember getting dragged along to to a stand-up gig once in Gwanju and it was really, really awful – one long, boring, loud, unfunny procession of casual racists sneering at Korean culture – you know, kimchi gags, agoshi stereotypes etc. I remember looking at all the dark expresions of the Koreans in the room, and left. Bad form, especially when you look like you’ve swallowed a sheep yourself.

    Lots of people are quick to point out that Koreans aren’t good at poking fun at their own country, but I think a worse trait is the willingness of westerners to poke fun of and criticise Korea (or any other country that doesn’t fit the western keyhole). What’s worse, a lack of cultural self-deprecation, or a lack of sensitivity?

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    ps Never have understood why hoju is “western” when its clearly in the east. :-)

    True dat. Although direction is a funny thing when you’re talking about a sphere. I tried to explain to someone once that there is no up or down in space. They just couldn’t grasp it.

    Kind of like why we insist on having north at the top of our maps, rather than south. Aside from precendent and familiarity, there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t run with something like this ;)

  • DLBarch

    Hoju @ 109,

    Hear, hear!

    Hoju @ 101,

    Nice map…never realized that ALL of Australia was really one big, upside-down map of Tassie!

    Sweeeeet!

    DLB

  • Cloud

    #101 It’s true my friend. Marco Polo brought back noodles from China. This is what I was taught in elementary school in America(an Italian discovered it). I did go to a rather small, private Protestant school though.

    #110 I always thought pushing for the name East Sea was silly, since it was only the East Sea from the prospective of Korea but now you bring up a very interesting point. Hmmm.

  • untold
  • Arghaeri

    My Chinese friend is arguing that the part about Marco Polo stealing spaghetti is true…

    Who is he arguing with, I’ve never heard anyone duspute it?

  • nambangui horangi

    Well, it turned out to be something that was worth co-authoring an article on with my colleague Rumi Sakamoto, who works on internet nationalism in Japan. People who were interested in this thread might want to have a look at this week’s Asia-Pacific Journal: http://japanfocus.org/-Rumi-SAKAMOTO/3629

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    @ # 110,

    Hahaha… silly Aussies. Trix are for kids.

  • 이종우

    Speaking as a Korean, the ad might have worked splendidly in Korea. However, since it was uploaded in youtube, every Japanese who saw the ad bashed it so hardly, that people are starting to think that as a documentary, not a parody ad….