I don’t usually pass comment on Korea Times editorials—not that they are poor editorials, mind you, but the only folk who read them are a) English-speaking expats and b) foreigners. Still, as a Facebook friend of mine noted, the conclusion of the KT’s editorial on Kaesong probably says a lot:
The day of the resumed talks, a day before the 68th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese occupation, is symbolic enough. As the former colonial ruler is about to revive its hideous militaristic past, until when should the biggest victims of the Empire of Japan, which imposed colonization and consequent national division, fight with each other? And until when should Koreans suffer insults from Japanese leaders because of their own divisiveness?
Koreans have too long a way to go to become mired in such self-ruinous rivalry.
For the record, I think such rhetoric about Japan is unhelpful. Whatever the faults of the current Japanese administration—and, IMHO, they are many—they’ve killed far fewer Koreans than the North Korean regime has.
That said, the Japanese do make it difficult sometimes. On the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima—a day when Japan really should have been pondering the mistakes of their past—the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force was instead busy launching the biggest warship Japan has launched since World War II, a helicopter carrier that, with a few modifications, could carry F-35s (which Japan plans to import). According to yesterday’s Chosun Ilbo editorial, the Japanese originally wanted to name the ship the Nagato, after the flagship that led the attach on Pearl Harbor. This led to American protests, and the name was changed, this time to the Izumo, the name of the flagship of the IJN 3rd Fleet during the invasion of China.
Mind you, the fact that Japan is launching what looks like to everyone (regardless of Japanese denials) like a light aircraft carrier is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. After all, with China commissioning its first aircraft carrier (a vessel considerably larger than the Izumo), it’s no surprise that Japan is responding. If I had to guess, I’d say the Korean navy probably understands Japan’s concerns, too—it wasn’t so long ago, after all, that Korea was running joint naval drills with the JMSDF (and the US Navy) and contemplating the sale to Japan of amphibious assault vehicles.
Unfortunately, the Abe administration has really poisoned the well. Even PM Abe’s address at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony didn’t help. More “woe is us, poor victims of World War II” crap, with not even a single mention of the mistakes that led Japan to getting bombed in the first place. Granted, I suppose that could look a bit incongruous when you’re launching an aircraft carrier on the same day.
Not the smoking gun
Korea University’s Center for Korean History has unveiled a diary of a Korean manager of a Japanese military brother in Southeast Asia, evidence that, according to the Korea Herald, “Japan’s imperialist army directly managed Asian women for sexual slavery, dealing a fresh blow to Tokyo’s denials of responsibility”:
The diary shows that the Japanese army received revenue-related reports from military brothels, examined the bodies of sex slaves and regulated the relocations of sexual entertainment facilities.
“The diary shows the case in which the Japanese military with an absolute personnel management authority issued direct orders and took control of issues regarding the comfort women (sex slaves),” Park Han-yong, professor at the university center, told a press conference.
“This diary is a historical record that shows the Japanese military, the Japanese Government General of Korea and its military command in Korea were involved in the forced mobilization of Korean women for sexual slavery.”
The problem for the Korean side is that, at least from what I can gather from the report, this doesn’t prove anything that we didn’t already know. Nobody’s really disputing the fact that the Japanese ran brothels. What the Japanese dispute is that the Japanese military “kidnapped” women. Frankly, the Japanese right’s fixation with this issue reminds me of those Americans who attempt to downplay or mitigate Western responsibility for the slave trade by claiming that “Africans sold us the slaves” or “Africans practiced slavery, too.” Still, it’s probably technically true that the Japanese military didn’t “kidnap” women to send to the brothels, and efforts to prove they did are probably a waste of time better spent on addressing the larger issue, namely, that the Japanese military oversaw one of the largest—and one of the most abusive—human trafficking rings in the history of man.
Speaking of the comfort women, you know, I’m willing to admit there may be room to debate the specifics, but calling the victims of mass rape “ugly, well-paid whores” pretty much makes you the most reprehensible man on the planet. That this jackass got a book deal in Japan is telling.
So, I take it you didn’t like “Snowpiercer,” then?
Korean pop culture writer Mark Russell reviews “Snowpiercer.” It isn’t pretty:
As I wrote Sunday, I found Snowpiercer to be rather ridiculous, heavy-handed and empty-headed. Not offensively terrible (like Kim Jee-woon’s I SAW THE DEVIL or everything Michael Bay has ever touched), but just really “meh.” For a director as good as Bong Joon-ho, I expect better and hold him to a higher standard.
Big picture first: the story just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work as science-fiction, and it doesn’t work as allegory. Just because a story with huge freakin’ plot holes was made by a favorite director doesn’t mean those holes aren’t there and aren’t massive. Even if you accept the silly idea of a train being the only thing to survive this massive, planet-wide cooling (and with a movie like this, you just sort of have to accept the initial premise, or why even watch?), nothing following makes sense.
I do think the slight to Michael Bay was unfair. “The Rock” was an infinitely enjoyable film. Everything he’s touched since has been offensively terrible.
Interestingly enough, the film’s Korean producers are denying (HT to Haisan) earlier reports that Harvey Scissorhands is cutting the film himself for dumb US audiences:
“Harvey Weinstein could have done the editing himself, but he asked Bong’s opinion first and requested him to work on it for English-speaking audiences,” said Lee Chang-hyun, a manager on CJ E&M’s movie team, adding that Bong agreed to the suggestion.
Having reread the Twitch report, however, it didn’t say Weistein was cutting the film himself; it says he ordered Bong to cut the film. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like CJ E&M is saying anything different here.
Transgender mix-up in Suwon
You have to hate when this happens. Police reportedly got called to a bathhouse in Suwon when what appeared to be a man dressed as a woman walked into the female bath. When the cops came, the “man” protested, explaining that he was a post-op transgender. A female cop investigated and found that he was indeed a she. So she wasn’t charged, although she did get hit with a KRW 20,000 fine for entering the bath without paying admission.
Now, here’s a question. What happens when Korea starts along this path? Will pre-op transngender folk be allowed to use the woman’s side of the bathhouse? Just curious.
This is no way to get people laid
Casey Lartigue, Jr. looks at the follies of government-supported dating:
Based on the article–background checks, the need to be formally introduced by others, fear of talking to the opposite–I’m amazed there are 50 million people in South Korea. But then, considering that Korea allegedly has 6,000 years of history, I guess it took that long to get to 75 million (including both North and South Korea).
Mr. Lartigue focuses on the travails of Mr. Park Chang-won, who must be one of only a handful of firefighters on the planet who can’t get a date.
Yes, I’m back to Thesis
As you no doubt notice, we’re back to Thesis. The latest version of Thesis a) has gone responsive (i.e., it looks good on mobile devices) and it plays better with DIsqus.