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Category: East and Central Asia (page 2 of 96)

The World According to Xi and Hitler-mania

After China has engaged in rancorous disputes with several neighbours in Asia – Vietnam and the Philippines – over their egregious claims to most of the “South China Sea” and after the US has participated in joint military exercises with countries like the Philippines, and the decision by the Japanese cabinet to reinterpret the constitution, giving the Japanese military freedom to fight overseas, Chinese President Xi now thinks that “China-US confrontation, to the two countries and the world, would definitely be a disaster” and the US should “should mutually respect and treat each other equally, and respect the other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”, i.e., give us what we want or else. (cite)

Adding to the flames of hate against Japan that is so in style with Chinese politicians, A Chinese newspaper’s graphic showing a mushroom cloud engulfing the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki accompaning an article that claimed “Japan wants a war again” (cite)

Not to be outdone by flaming, flying Chinese dragon rhetoric, a Malaysian member of parliament tweeted about the soccer game between Germany and Brazil, declaring WELL DONE..BRAVO…LONG LIVE HITLER…

Hitler’s example lives on . . .

A New Era in Korea – Minus the American Influence

President Xi of the People’s Republic of China, and a large entourage of Chinese businessmen (Alibaba, Baidu), are currently visiting South Korea. The PRC is hoping for improved business ties but this time, there is, IMHO, the possibility of a sea change on the Korean peninsula.

Why and how?

China wants to change that status quo – they want to do so through money and through a redefinition of regional security – without American influence.

First, in business, China is proposing the foundation of a $50 billion “Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank”, first proposed by President Xi in October 2013, during a tour of Southeast Asia. This bank would have the PRC holding a fifty-percent stake in this bank and has hinted at benefits to those nations that participate and Xi’s visit to Seoul, currently under way is very much about the benefits to South Korea. (we will get to what South Korea might actually want from joining this venture shortly). South Korea has expressed an intent to become an offshore trading centre in Chinese currency (renminbi) and this current meeting is expected to address this as well.
For South Korea, this is useful and important since South Korea’s two-way trade with China was $229 billion last year, exceeding the combined value of South Korea’s trade with the U.S. and Japan. Xi told reporters after the 2013 summit that the two countries will strive to boost their trade to top $300 billion (cite). This trade has been hampered by the fact that both countries transactions have been based in US Dollars (because the Yuan and Won are not directly traded) which costs more and reflects the indirect influence of things American in Asia. A statement from South Korea’s finance ministry and central bank said the South Korean won will become directly exchangeable with the yuan, joining major currencies such as the U.S. dollar, Japanese yen and euro that are convertible with the Chinese currency. The decision also makes the yuan only the second currency after the U.S. dollar that is directly convertible with the won. (cite)
China has also given consent to South Korea’s investment of tens of billions of yuan (billions of USD) in Chinese bonds and stocks. The PRC Government is encouraging businesses to invest in Korea as well. Chinese investors are highly interested in cultural content, software and real estate development, thus would explain the drive by the Korean side to have Chinese investment in the so far failed Saemangeum Project (cite) or the attempt at luring Chinese investment in the Yeosu – Dadohae Haesang National Park area, as well as some yet to be announced projects.

There is also the issue of the recent Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the PRCs desire to exclude powers – such as the U.S. – from regional security, suggesting an arrangement, guided by the PRC that is more than a little reminiscent of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere plan of Showa Japanese origin. As reported in The Diplomat:

Xi called for the creation of a “new regional security cooperation architecture.” He proposed that CICA become “a security dialogue and cooperation platform” for all of Asia, from which countries can explore the possibility of creating a regional security framework. He further indicated that China would take a leading role in exploring the creation of a “code of conduct for regional security and [an] Asian security partnership program.”
In promoting China’s vision for a new regional security framework, Xi took specific aim at the basis for the current status quo: military alliances. Xi tied such alliances to “the outdated thinking of [the] Cold War.” “We cannot just have security for one or a few countries while leaving the rest insecure,” Xi said. “A military alliance which is targeted at a third party is not conducive to common regional security.” Xi in turn offered an alternative vision for Asia, one based on an all-inclusive regional security framework rather than individual alliances with external actors like the United States.” (cite )

The real horse dealing that is not hinted at in the Korean press (which has been very quiet yet unmistakably pro-Chinese) is how will the PRC, under Xi, will resolve the issue of reunification between the two Koreas. The South Korean Government reportedly wants substantial help from Xi for making reunification a reality – in both financial aid and in the momentum that can only come from the DPRK’s only substantial supporter. Though many believe that the PRC will likely not destabilize the DPRK, if the ROK buys into the Chinese sphere of financial and political influence, rejects the American presence in the region and further guarantees their responsibility in dealing with the potential North Korean refugee problem, I honestly don’t see how a belligerent DPRK could possibly avoid change and reunification with the southern half since it would be a matter of survival to do so.

I suppose this is logical; solving Korea’s problem long-standing problem with the north and the cost of unification, while resulting in the exit of America’s influence in Korea and pushing the US further out of the region and likely gaining more support for the egregious regional claims made by the PRC. There is little America can do about this too, since the Chinese have the means to deliver the reality of unification to South Korea and whereas the U.S. can not.

Looking into a Sino-Korean future; also worrisome is the shortage of personnel to staff the larger Korean projects and the increased likelihood that more Chinese will see living and working in Korea as business ties and opportunities grow in the future. What impact this will have on Korean society remains to be seen and considering the tremendous potential influx of money into Korea, the Korea of fifty years from now will likely be a very different one from what we observe today in terms of world view and its relationship with Europe and the US.  Some may even talk about Korea as being a Chinese colony, wistfully remembering the days when their elders talked about how Korea was really an American colony.

Japanese man self immolates himself in apparent protest to Abe’s collective self-defense law changes

Yesterday afternoon a Japanese man, apparently in his 60’s, wearing standard salaryman attire, sat on some girders near the busy Shinjuku Station.  With a blow horn he  announced that he would immolate himself in protest to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial collective self-defense law changes.

man shinjuku south exist self immolate burn death protest abe shinzo collective self defense law suicide death

(Image from Japan Trends)

According to the blog Japan Trends, he cited government actions to “involve Japan more in war,” droned on for 30 or so minutes protesting Abe and his government and then proceeded to poured several bottle of brown liquid onto himself and eventually making good on his claims by igniting himself.  There is a YouTube video of the actual suicide moment.  The footage is graphic, so viewer discretion is advised.

Here’s more at Japan Times and Al Jazeera.

Japan’s Statement on the Kono Statement

Within the past hour Japan issued its statement on the Kono Statement.

Issued in August, 1993, the Kono Statement acknowledged for the first time “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women.”  In a contemporaneous news article,  the New York Times reported on South Korea’s reaction:

South Korea, where most of the women were seized, expressed qualified approval for Tokyo’s admission. “We appreciate the fact that in its latest report, the Japanese Government now acknowledges that coercion was involved in the entire process of recruiting, transporting and managing ‘comfort women,’ ” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We also appreciate the fact that the Japanese offered an apology.”

As late as June 17, 2014, Seoul’s Foreign ministry reiterated (according to Yonhap News) “that Japan’s 1993 statement acknowledging the Japanese imperial army’s mobilization of wartime sex slaves was made based on Tokyo’s own investigations and judgment.”  From the cited Yonhap News article,

The Kono statement was written based on Japan’s own judgment on the issue, (foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said in a briefing), adding that the Korean government made clear that it is not a document needed for prior consultation or agreement with another country.

Arirang News released the following,

Japan announced in its findings today that according to latest Japanese reports the review says the Korean government also played a role in the wording of the Kono statement. Japan’s Jiji News Agency reports that Seoul and Tokyo held discussions on what the statement will look like, under the condition that their dealings be kept a secret. This will definitely trigger heavy criticism from South Korea.

All this leaves observers asking “why?

UPDATE:   In addition to the statement that the Korean government played a role in the wording of the Kono Statement,  Japanese media is reporting  the report claims the Japanese government did not verify the validity of testimonies given by 16 Korean comfort women who were the basis of the Kono Statement.

UPDATE 2:  Although Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference  that Japan will continue to uphold the statement and not seek to revise it or change the government’s official stance, China’s Shanghai Daily connected the dots:

In essence, the panel has suggested that the findings were inaccurate, if not fallacious, and the final statement itself unsubstantiated, in a move that quickly drew the ire of the South Korean Foreign Ministry who blasted the Japanese government saying its action were “deeply regrettable” and a “contradictory and pointless act.”

Unfortunately, I agree.  Japan’s panel’s 21 page report on the Kono Statement seems to have pulled much of the punch behind the Kono Statement by questioning the validity of statements, findings, and testimonies underlying the Kono Statement.

Korea’s Joong Ang Daily reported that Japan’s panel found “in the drafting of the Kono Statement, ‘there was intensive and detailed mediation with the Korean government’….”

The Japan Times, which described the crafting of the statement as a “tug of war”, went into more of the contentious details of the negotiation.  Among them, “the report further states that Seoul indicated that if Japan did not comply with the revisions, it would not accept the Kono apology in a positive way” and “the Korean side told Tokyo that ‘it has a policy not to seek financial compensation.’ ”

From a practical standpoint, I find Japan’s panel’s finding that Korea had significant input credible for the simple reason that Japan could not risk issuing a statement that Korea would reject; however,  I find Japan’s revelation of such nonetheless duplicitous.

Regardless of the extent of Korea’s input, Japan signed it.

UPDATE 3:  For those straining to hear the voice of reason and the  supposed silent majority in Japan, The Japan Times published an editorial on its English website, Stop Undermining the Kono Statement.  The following is an excerpt:

If the government is to uphold the 1993 statement, as it says it will, then the Abe administration needs to do what the statement says Japan will do and make proactive efforts to settle the long-running dispute, instead of repeatedly attempting to play down the nation’s responsibility for the ordeal of the women forced into wartime sexual slavery.

…Following the release of the review’s outcome, the Abe administration repeated that it would not change the Kono statement. If that’s the case, then the administration should wholly commit itself to what Japan said in the statement, and seek to repair ties with South Korea that have been strained at least in part by its attempt to question the stance of past Japanese governments on this matter.

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – The Real Fallout from Living Next to A Thug

Domino_Cascade

Living next to the DPRK is difficult for most but the real problem is the People’s Republic of China and their bully tactics that threaten to drive neighbouring nations into acquiring nuclear weapons. Zachary Keck writes about the massive build-up of conventional arms by the PRC and its bully tactics that is slowly but surely pushing regional powers into considering a nuclear deterrent since their interests are directly and laterally threatened by a rising fascist power.

Though President Park was quoted as saying that more nuclear testing by the DPRK could result in “a domino effect by providing its neighbours with a pretext to arm themselves with nuclear weapons”, the real concern is the DPRK’s historic sponsor, China:

Although North Korea is unlikely to precipitate a nuclear arms race in Asia, China’s growing military capabilities and assertive diplomatic posture very well might. Indeed, just as history has demonstrated that states don’t need nuclear arsenals to deter rivals from attacking them with nuclear weapons, it has also demonstrated that nuclear weapons are extremely effective in deterring conventional military attacks. Thus, states that face rivals with overwhelming conventional military power have a strong incentive to acquire nuclear weapons to negate their rivals’ conventional superiority. (cite)

Other editorials certainly suggest that countries, like Vietnam, certainly have incentive to go nuclear, so as to protect their borders in the event that the PRC is tempted to trespass too far since  China has 14 times the population and 37 times the economy of its neighbour, thus arrogance has a fertile place to grow. (cite)

Even if the Philippines is awarded a ruling that China’s claim to the South China Sea has no legal basis, will not likely change the reality in the region – China is unlikely to leave areas it controls at the say of a judge in The Hague – but it will make it hard for Beijing to keep arguing plausibly that it always acts with respect to international law (source), and considering such, many would be foolish to not keep a gun in the house even if it were a technically illegal firearm.

Even so, there will be more pressure on regional nations to keep Chinese fishermen – as state proxies – in check (as demonstrated by their use against Japan and Vietnam).  Chinese pirates have long been a part of regional history in Asia that pre-dates quite a few of their claims of territory too.

U.S. Military Hacked in South Korea

The details of up to 16,000 South Koreans that have worked for the U.S. Command here have been hacked. (link)

According to the military, the affected system (hack) is a human resources recruiting system separate from the U.S. military network  

Maybe that is 16,000 Koreans that will be getting loan offers from companies in the PRC?

What Time Is It?

89_military-souvenir

Today marks a terrible anniversary and this cheap-looking watch is a souvenir of things past that certain people want forgotten or claim didn’t really happen.

What Obama should do

So Obama apparently enjoyed a cosy Sushi dinner at a Ginza joint with probably less than 10 people present, including Caroline Kennedy the US Ambassador to Japan, and Abe Shinzo. They probably sat and ate at one of those typical shoulder-to-shoulder counters at one of those posh sushi joints smaller than a shoe display case attached to one of those walk-in closets in most American houses.

Abe chose the menu apparently, hearing that Obama was a sushi fan. I wonder if Abe pulled one of those stunts – “Guess what you’ve just had, Madame Ambassador! Delicious, wasn’t it? Mwahahaha!” Probably not.

Obama is coming straight from Japan to Korea in a couple of days.

Ahead of his trip to Asia, the Whitehouse released Obama’s answers to his “interview with Yomiuri Shimbun”.

The policy of the United States is clear—the Senkaku Islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

I think Obama’s last attempt at getting Abe and Park to hold hands and be nice to each other went rather dismally at the Hague. As we know, Abe tried to break the ice with his attempt at Korean, but was met with a rather stony expression from Park.

Abe was recently asked at a Japanese Yomiuri TV show, “Were you surprised at being dismissed/ignored by Park?” to which he graciously replied “I heard her condition was not so good on that day. Maybe there was some problem with my Korean accent, although my wife had told me it was good.”

Park, on the other hand, has apparently been on the phone with China’s Xi namely to ask China to do everything to dissuade North Korea from further nuclear tests, as North Korea is clacking its pots and pans in the kitchen cupboard filled with supplies of “the enriched variety” , ahead of Obama visit to make him feel welcome. However, I see Park’s phone call more like phoning a current boyfriend to placate him ahead of an ex’s visit, to ensure nothing will happen. I notice she is so transparent and likes to do that – she also had a chummy meeting with Xi just before the last 3 way meeting between Japan US and S.Korea at the Hague.

So what should Obama do, as that is my title?

He should apply exactly the same principle w.r.t what he told Yomiuri Shimbun to his East Asian allies as well.

If his standard is based on “which country administers” then surely there is your answer.
Obama’s clear stance on the Senkaku islands has probably made Abe chuffed to bits, and if he really wants Japan and Korea together, Obama can and should tell Abe to lump it because “it is equally clear to the US that 독도 is administered by Korea.” If Abe can lump that, I think there will be some ray of hope between the Japan and the Korea relations.

However, “as if that would happen.” I invite comments on why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t happen.

Maybe Obama will want to have a question from the Korean press. Anyone? Anybody? From the Korean press? Anybody?

Reneging on An Agreement – The PRC seizes A Japanese Ship Based Upon WWII Claims

emotionThere is talk in South Korea about compensating Korea’s Comfort Women from WWII, however, no court in Korea has decided to seize Japanese assets in lieu of compensation.  Currently, the Shanghai Maritime Court, in abeyance of a 1972 joint communique between Japan and China, has ordered the seizure of a Japanese ship owned by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd. , as compensation for the loss of two ships leased from a Chinese company, before the two countries went to war in 1937 (cite).  The two ships were subsequently used by the Japanese Army during WWII.  

The Shanghai court ordered the seizure even though Japan and the PRC had signed a 1972 joint communique, when the two countries established diplomatic relations, that renounced war repatriations.  The PRC maintains that the seizure is not for war repatriations but is a civil matter.  This seizure comes upon the very recent visit of 150 Japanese politicians to Yasukune Shrine as well.

As reported by the BBC:

The owners of the Chinese shipping company (Zhongwei Shipping) sought compensation after World War Two and the case was reopened at a Shanghai court in 1988. The court ruled in 2007 that Mitsui had to pay 190 million yuan ($30.5m, £18m) as compensation for the two ships leased to Daido, a firm later part of Mitsui, Global Times and Kyodo said. Mitsui appealed against the decision, but it was upheld in 2012. . . (cite)

This sets a very ugly precedent that could ultimately chill business relations between the PRC and Japan, as well as serving a reminder to foreign business in China, that  operating in the PRC does carry risks that go beyond labor issues.  This raises the spectre of PRC retaliation against South Korean interests if anything should go sour between the two countries though South Korea has attempted to make nice between both countries by repatriating the remains of Chinese soldiers <reality>invaders</reality> from the Korean War.

The U.S. must help mediate between Korea and Japan

So, says Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel C. Sneider over at Foreign Affairs magazine. Shin and Sneider are Director and Associate Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.

You need to register (it’s free for three article views a month) to see the whole article, but here are a few slices:

Japan and South Korea have made repeated efforts over the past two decades to resolve their wartime history issues, but progress has always proved short-lived. South Korean officials now openly plead for the United States to step in. 

[…]

Even so, China’s bid for regional domination makes it nearly impossible for the United States to continue to stay out of the fray…. By taking a leading role in dealing with the wartime past, the United States could make it difficult for Beijing to use it for political gain.

[…]

The oft-stated notion that the United States has no responsibility for history issues is a convenient myth. The United States made several key decisions right after the war that laid the groundwork for the current dispute. These range from its decision to put aside the issue of the emperor’s responsibility to its efforts to rehabilitate nationalist conservatives — including Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, the wartime minister in charge of Japan’s military industry — to counter Japan’s leftward drift, all of which undermined efforts within Japan to make a clear break with the past...

[…]

Such decisions made sense in the context of the Cold War because of the imperatives of the struggle against the Soviet and Chinese Communists. But they don’t anymore, and it is incumbent on the Untied States to help the region reconcile its past once and for all.

Here is a more moderate appeal (i.e. largely not involving the U.S.) by Ogata Sadako, former president of Japan International Cooperation Agency, Han Sung-Joo, former foreign minister of South Korea and Ezra F. Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, in last Friday’s Washington Post opinion section.

Korean words starting to get loaned into Chinese

I would be the first person to admit many Chinese loan words have made it into Korean.  However, it’s interesting when there are reports that the reverse is happening.

The Chosun Ilbo reports that due to the popularity of Korean dramas in China, Korean terms such as “oppa” (오빠) and “ajumma” (아줌마) are entering Chinese popular vernacular.  The Chinese, however, are putting different meanings behind the words.  오빠, which in Korean can mean anything from a female’s older brother to a female’s older male friend or even boyfriend/lover, has adopted the Chinese characters “,” pronounced “ou-pa” in Mandarin and the meaning of “…amorous feelings toward the subject.”

Ajumma/아줌마?  Well, the Chinese already has a popular word for “auntie,” (阿姨/āyí in Mandarin) the rough equivalent of “아줌마” so it’s adopted the meaning of “…to refer to tough women.”

The battle for Japan’s soul

It get’s rather tempting sometimes in blogs like this to discuss the Japanese as a monolith and generalize.  That they collectively think or feel a certain way.  That they, as a group, do not think or care about what they did during World War II or the decades before.  Additionally, it would be tempting to say that they, as a group, are leaning towards historical amnesia to all the bad things they did for much of the first half of the 20th century.

As evidence you have the increasing right tilt of their current majority government- the LDP, anti-Korean protests in Tokyo’s Koreatown, Neo-Nazism, sanitation of their history text books, etc.  There is even the apparent white washing of their Imperial war past by renowned animator and film maker Hayao Miyazaki.

Could it mean there is a tilt in Japanese politics and society to forget the unsavory things they did during the Showa Era?  Worse still, could it mean that Japan is reversing itself to adopt a greater military stance against its neighbors?

Perhaps, but this isn’t the whole story.  Anti-Korean protests are met by large (sometimes largeranti-racism or pro-Korean protests and groups of Koreans and Japanese band together to clean up anti-Korean graffiti.

Then there is this:

(Photo credit: War is Boring, via Drawn and Quarterly)

Above is a sample from Shigeru Mizuki‘s recent manga, “Showa 1926-1939: A History of Japan.”  For those of you who don’t know, Mizuki, age 92, is one of Japan’s premiere manga cartoonists, particularly horror genres,  and a veteran of World War II.  His recent manga on the Showa Era shows remarkable honesty to the brutality of Japan’s Imperialistic policies, particularly against the Chinese and Koreans.  Excellent post over at War is Boring offers a good summary.

Could there be a conflict brewing in Japanese society?  One that is battling for Japan’s soul?

Norihiro Kato, professor of modern Japanese literature at Wasada University, has an excellent op-ed in the New York Times on the subject, where he argues that Hello Kitty is a symbol of Japanese denial of their war time atrocities, Godzilla is a symbol of Japan’s sense of victimhood and unresolved pain of losing World War II.  The over “cutification” of their popular culture a result of Japan’s inability to properly face-up and resolve their history.

Racist Japanese football (soccer) fans

Japanese football fans of the team Urawa Reds got their team in trouble by showing a banner of “Japanese Only” at a game against the Sagan Tosu. The Japanese League has ordered the Urawa Red Diamonds to play a home game without any fans present for the next home game.
For me it’s blatantly obvious what the fans meant by the banner, especially if you just glance at the wiki entry of Sagan Tosu – the team they were playing against, but apparently not to Debito Arutou, who’s written a whole article and a online check-box thingumajig to find out what people think the banner intended. I’m surprised he mentions China (like, come on Japan is not China, so should behave better) but not South Korea.

Bringing Tokdo, Comfort Woman etc to the sports arena is distasteful enough but I would say it rests precariously on the “political” side of the fence.. However players making monkey faces (yes, I’m talking about Ki) at fans’ Rising Sun Flag and banners like these are clearly going towards the more ugly end of the spectrum. In fact, I would say they are just ugly juvenile miming of the European league hooliganism, which has so far managed to evade the Asian football leagues, but perhaps no longer.

How to grow STAP Cells and a national scandal involving stem cells

There were many congratulations and hullabaloo last month as a paper on producing STAP cells got accepted in the Nature magazine. STAP is short for “Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency”, and in layman’s terms, these refer to cells which can be “stressed” into becoming a basic block cells (stem cells) to become other kinds of cells, the so-called “pluripotent cells”.
The main author from RIKEN (a Japanese government research institute in KOBE), Haruko Obokata, 30, became an instant celebrity not least for her age and pretty looks amid a muttering of first Japanese female “Nobel-prize” here and there..

However, a little over a month after the publication, there is concern about the legitimacy of the paper, the latest call for retraction by one of the Japanese co-authors of the paper itself. The main concern has been some image duplication/misuse and the lack of replication of result so far despite attempts by the outside institutes, despite the authors following up with a ‘how to’ manual – which reads like ‘a how to make a perfect sponge cake – with extra ふわふわの感じ..’

There has been some interest in this in the South Korean press, as South Korea knows all too well about stem cell related national disgrace. I think it’s early days for dismissing the result altogether. The co-author who asked for the withdrawal himself still believes in the main result, but if you read that one lone comment on the Nature blog, it’s “Sounds Familiar?” time again. And this article paints a rather glum outlook.

So now is the time to comment and to predict, and to refer back to it and say “I told you so!”(similar things happened with a few physics sensationalist results recently, where there was a period of time where speculators were commenting on the blogs/FB before some further investigations reached a conclusion..i.e. it’s “bets are on time!” – pure punting, without knowing the full detail..)

Personally what’s more interesting for me, Continue reading

Korean drama about aliens, love and fried chicken big in China

Yep.  That’s the unlikely premise of “My Love From the Star.”  Strange plot aside, I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that the lovely Jun Ji-hyun is staring.

A pretty good performer in Korea, with an average ratings of 22.6%, it is apparently at least as popular, and probably a good deal more popular, in China.  In one of the episodes, Jun Ji-hyun’s character apparently has a love for fried chicken and this has lead to mobs of Chinese to form enormous lines at Korean fried chicken places.

It isn’t just food where hilarity has ensued.  In a recent Washington Post article, it would appear that Chinese government officials are talking about the drama as well and bemoaning the fact that Korea’s drama making skills are so much better than theirs:

“Well aware of the craze the drama has created in China, one committee of China’s political advisory body (called the CPPCC) spent a whole morning bemoaning why China can’t make a show as good and as big of a hit.”

Ah, a proud moment for kimchi-cheerleaders?  Maybe not.  What Wang Qishan, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and perhaps one of China’s top seven Communist Party leaders, said about the issue may be rather unsettling, if you are Korean:

“The core and soul of the Korean opera is a distillation of traditional Chinese culture,” Wang said. “It just propagates traditional Chinese culture in the form of a TV drama.”

I get it.  At the end of the day everything in Asia ultimately belongs to China!  I love how he turned that around.  Bravo, bravo.  Very smart Mr. Wang.  Very smart indeed.

UPDATE:

Here’s more on Wang Qishan and Korean dramas and a fuller version of his “quote”:

Wang then attributed Korean telenovelas’ success to their “Chinese spirit”.

“Sometimes I watch Korean dramas on and off. After watching for a long time, I realised I understood why Korean dramas are ahead of ours,” said Wang, who is known for a keen interest in popular culture.

“I’ve been wondering why Korean dramas have [invaded] China. How can they cross the ocean and influence the US and even Europe? In the past few years, they have come out with a Gangnam Style.

“The core and spirit of Korean dramas is the exact sublimation of Chinese traditional culture,” Wang was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “They use TV dramas to disseminate Chinese traditional culture.”

He is apparently also a fan of NetFlix’s House of Cards and has a bit of a reputation as an anti-corruption “tsar.”

This has caused buzz among  Chinese news sources who are trying to interpret what Wang is saying.  A Sina.com editorial thinks Wang is directly criticizing Chinese cultural officials.  The Zhengzhou Evening Post blamed China’s backward cultural bureaucracy and censorship for the failure.  Some media outlets believed Wang’s remarks were meant to encourage government officials to be open-minded and engage more actively with the young online community.

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