A few comments got deleted from various commenters over at the marmot’s hole because they were off topic. In relation to this comment by Hamel –
Shak: I grow weary of seeing Gerry claiming some intellectual and moral high ground. Yes, he does express a contrarian viewpoint, but so what? I do that sometimes too.
When you say that he apparently does it “in a society that refuses to consider points of view outside the official political orthodoxy” are you speaking of this blog, or Korea? Because the two must not be conflated.
I am aware that Gerry has spent some decades in Korea, and has some facility with the Korean language. I do not see any signs, however, that he “is able to take Korea on Korean terms.” I would say that of, for example, Oranckay, who essentially lived his entire adult life here, or John Linton, who grew up here.
As to my big mouth that likely can’t string a sentence together past the minimum 호프 Korean, well that’s funny. Is this really to become a “my Korean is better than your Korean” debate? I won’t claim to be any great shakes in the language, but I don’t like to blow my own trumpet.
As to what Gerry said about Dosan, I agree it wasn’t that unusual per se. I don’t necessarily think he meant anything negative. But for many here, the fact that Gerry is speaking about a Korean independence figure, and that he tends to speak mainly on Japanese colonisation of Korea and Dokdo, well, you do the math, as the Americans say.
I answered –
There is a substantial difference between whatever contrarian viewpoints you express and the specific viewpoint that Gerry has been expressing.
Virtually all Koreans, probably statistically 100%, agree that the Liancourt Rocks are historically and legally part of Korea, and have been for centuries. Any opinion that goes against this is considered distortion and lies. This unanimity of opinion in itself is problematic. I cannot think of a single issue in Australia, for example, that inspires such goose stepping in opinion. I think it is fair to say that the Dokdo issue is a cultural taboo. Discourse outside of accepted orthodoxy is proscribed, with harsh penalties dealt out to those that deviate.
I doubt that you have ever had a contrarian opinion, or if you did, expressed such a contrarian opinion regarding a Korean sacred cow to your Korean hosts. There are quite a few issues that are open to debate in Korea, but the one that Gerry discusses is not one of them.
That is why, regardless of the merits of his arguments (which I think are excellent), Gerry’s work is very important. There needs to be dissenting opinion. There being no dissenting opinion in Korea on this issue, this taboo, and it is very unhealthy. Think about it – Gerry expresses an opinion backed up with vast amounts of data, yet all we have are people ascribing evil motives to Gerry’s work without even dealing with the substance of his argument. We are not talking about a normal academic issue here, or even a territorial issue, it is a taboo.
Anyone can have contrarian views about safe topics, and have them safely – I am sure you are the archetype of that. Having a contrarian view about topics in which 100% of people are going to disagree with you despite themselves being basically ignorant of the topic in question is another thing all together. A little support for someone that actually faces societies taboos would be helpful. Your snide insinuations, sarcasm, and disingenuous remarks are just part of the taboo enforcement mechanism, whether you consciously participate or not.