The Japanese government is not the problem. It’s the Japanese people.
That seems to be what the Chosun Ilbo is beginning to realize. In one of today’s editorials, the Chosun notes that in a recent opinion poll in Japan, 62% of respondents said they supported Prime Minister’s Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, double the number of respondents who opposed it. When asked in 2006 whether the next prime minister should visit the shrine, 60% of respondents said no, while only 20% said yes—you can see the marked change in attitudes.
For that matter, 50% of respondents in the most recent poll said it was OK for the prime minister not to show reflection on Japan’s atrocities and history of aggression or to swear off war during his Aug 15 memorial address for the war dead. Only 36% said the omissions were improper. Japanese prime ministers had always shown reflection on the past and sworn off war in their Aug 15 addresses.
The Chosun thinks the swing in Japanese attitudes is due to their prolonged economic slump and the rise of China. Obviously, the Chosun is concerned by this, although to its credit, it does note that Chinese provocations have played a role in this—for example, after China said in a recent meeting in Washington that it would never back down over the Senkaku Islands, the Japanese announced they were forming a marine corps. Of course, nowhere was it mentioned who—not so long ago, mind you—was more than happy to sell Tokyo the landing craft. It also didn’t mention how, just perhaps, some of Korea’s own hamfisted diplomacy may have played a role.
Bohai Strait Tunnel
The Chosun Ilbo thinks China’s Bohai Strait Tunnel—the start of construction of which is imminent—will usher in a logistics revolution in Northeast Asia. The KRW 47 trillion megaproject—which would reduce the travel time between Dalian and Yantai (currently an seven-hour ferry trip or 27-hour train ride) to 40 minutes by high-speed rail—has attracted interest in Korea, where several people in the ruling party, including President Park’s new chief of staff Kim Gi-chun and potential presidential candidate Gyeonggi-do governor Kim Moon-su, have expressed interest in building a Korea—China tunnel. The head of the Kumho-Asiana Group, too, has been an active supporter of such a tunnel. Unfortunately, the biggest backer of the project, its biggest backer—the late head of the Unification Church—is now dead, and the worsening of Sino-Korean ties has brought everything back to square one. The Korea Transport Institute, too, said in a 2011 report that the tunnel was not economically feasible.
Some North Korean operational guidelines for wartime found their way into the hands of the Dong-A Ilbo. None of it is particularly surprising—it’s largely framed in a way to make Korea—US exercises look like acts of war—although the Dong-A did find the part in bold (emphasis mine) rather interesting:
In the 2012 version, the North created a provision on “timing for declaration of war,” which didn’t exist in the previous guidelines enacted in 2004. There are three cases wherein a war is declared. The first is a case where the U.S. and South Korea confirm their intention to start war of invasion, or make military aggression into the northern section of the Republic (North Korea). This indicates the possibility for the North to launch military provocation by raising issue with South Korea-U.S. joint military drills, or the South Korean military’s single-handed exercise. The Ulchi Focus Guardian (UFG) that began Monday is also included in this category.
The second is defined as a case where patriotic capacities in South Korea demand support, or a situation favorable for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula is prepared in and around North Korea. “Patriotic capacities in South Korea” refer to pro-North Korean forces in the South, representing the North’s open intention that if those forces cause social unrest including massive violent demonstrations, Pyongyang could seek the reunification of the peninsula by force at the pretext of supporting those forces. The third is a case where “military provocations launched in a local area by the U.S. and South Korea spread widely.” This implies the possibility that the North could start provocation at a local area such as border areas including the Northern Limit Line on the West Sea, before starting a full-scale warfare by citing the conflict as an excuse.
Good to know which words I shouldn’t use
A Korean K-pop group is in trouble for using some offensive—and politically charged—online jargon:
The controversy began to build up in June, when Way, one of the Crayon Pop singers, tweeted ”You know you guys were ‘nomu nomu’ (very very) awesome today, right? We’re jealous of all your fashion sense. To our nomu cute fans, thank you and thank you.’’ And in an earlier television appearance, Choa was called by another member ”jjeolttuki’’ after coming to the stage dragging a foot.
Neither ”nomu nomu’’ nor ”jjeolttuki’’ are commonly advised for everyday speech, definitely not when you’re talking to an Internet or television audience. In the language of ”Ilbe’’ (www.ilbe.com), an online message board dominated by people supporting ultra right-wing politics, these words are disrespectful nicknames for late former Presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Kim Dae-jung, the last liberal candidates to have reached Cheong Wa Dae.
”Jjeolttuk’’ is particularly discomforting because it can be translated as ”a cripple.’’ Kim spent the larger part of his life as a politician with a hitch in his walk after suffering from torture during the military dictatorship.
Hwang Hyun-sung, the CEO of the groups management company, is apparently a big Ilbe fan. As is his singers, reportedly.
Park Chan-wook’s crowdsourced Seoul promotion film
Skip over Park’s bitching about big budgets stressing him out—this part is rather intriguing:
The interview followed a news conference for “Seoul, Our Movie,” a promotional film for Seoul, Park and his younger brother, Chan-kyong, a media artist, will take responsibility for making.
Under the project initiated by the Seoul City government, people around the world are allowed to upload video clips of less-than-five-minutes featuring the capital city on video-sharing site Youtube (www.youtube.com/seoulourmovie) between Aug. 20 and Nov. 9 under three themes — “Working in Seoul,” “Made in Seoul” and “Seoul.” The duo will select the best-made clips and edit them into the form of a promotional movie to be released in January.
Park said he will put his own twist on portraying the city.
There hasn’t been much uploaded to the Youtube site yet, but I do know some folk—some of whom are readers—who might have some good material for this.