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Clearing up misunderstandings on my Dokdo posts

November 17th, 2006 . by Gerry-Bevers

I had not intended to comment further on my being asked not to post about “Dokdo” on the Internet, but I think a few things need to be cleared up.

First, I want to thank all of you who have written posts of support even though nothing has really happened to me. I still have my job, and no one has threatened me nor been rude to me, though I do sense that people are avoiding me and that there are fewer smiles from fellow professors in the hallways and cafeteria. However, that may just be my imagination. I hope it is. Anyway, the president of the school is one of those who still smiles.

My contract comes up for renewal in the next few weeks, but that has nothing to do with my “Dokdo” postings. It is just an annual event that has happened each year for the past six years, and now is just that time of year. Though it is possible that my postings could influence a decision on my contract, I want to give my school, especially its president, more credit than that.

Second, I was surprised when I got the urgent request to come downstairs to meet with the president of my school, but when I got to his office and found out that he wanted to talk to me about my “Dokdo” postings on the Internet, I was even more surprised and somewhat embarrassed. I was surprised because I could not understand why he would concern himself with such matters, and I was embarrassed because my postings had caused that concern. Though his face was somewhat stern and the tone of his voice serious, the president was quite polite while explaining the situation to me.

The president said that he normally supported free speech, but that the sensitivity of the “Dokdo” issue in Korea and the medium through which I was expressing myself caused him concern, especially considering the Internet situation here in Korea. He said that he had already received complaints and was worried that it could lead to problems for the university. He did not consider the Internet a worthy medium for scholarly discourse and suggested that I publish in academic journals, instead. Personally, I did not understand that request since I am not a historian and do not consider myself qualified to publish in academic journals, but I did understood his concern in regard to the Internet here in Korea. I think many of us know how vicious and immature Korean “netizens” can be. That is why I agreed to stop my postings.

Third, I think it is extremely unfair to call “Occidentalism” a hate site just because it focuses on controversial issues between Korea and Japan, issues that are often ignored or distorted in traditional media and on other sites. For example, challenging Korea’s traditional anti-Japanese claims does not make Occidentalism a hate site; it makes it a debate site. If you want to look at pictures of autumn leaves or keep track of cultural activities in Korea, go somewhere else because that is not what this site is about. In my opinion, this site is about controversy and debate, especially debate on controversial issues related to Korea and Japan. Surely people can discuss such issues without being labeled hatemongers?

There are several things I disagree with Koreans on, but that does not mean I hate Koreans. If I hated Koreans, I would not have spent the better part of my life in Korea. I like Koreans, and I feel very comfortable here. I just think it is a shame that there is so much anti-Japanese and anti-American propaganda spread in Korea since we all have similar values and basically believe in the same things.

Fourth, I want to say that The Marmot’s Hole is a great blog and that Robert Koehler seems to be a very fair and intelligent person. I sometimes get frustrated and lose my temper with people just as most people do, and I have sometimes taken out my frustration on Robert, simply because I felt he was ignoring certain issues on his blog. However, it does not take me long to realize how unfair and silly such outbursts are. Afterall, it is ridiculous to expect someone always to agree with you or share your concerns. From what I have seen, Robert has always handled such childish outbursts from posters with fairness, dignity, and diplomacy.

Fifth, this incident has taught me something that I consider to be quite disturbing, which is that the anti-Japanese and anti-American emotions in Korea are deeper than I realized and outweigh even reason and “facts.” Since the knowledge of my postings on the Internet has spread around my school, a couple of Korean professors have engaged me in conversation, seemingly hoping to change my views on the subject. I have essentially listened passively because it soon became quite apparent that they knew very few of the facts concerning “Dokdo,” which means they quickly changed the subject from Dokdo to Korean colonialism and anti-Japanese rhetoric, explaining to me in vague terms all the sufferring that Koreans experienced during that time, including the supposed forced-name change. Then they drifted off into describing, again in vague terms, some of the evil things that the US has done in Korea. For example, I have been reminded that the United States did not save South Korea during the Korean War out of the goodness of her heart, but for her own selfish reasons. One female professor on Thursday even ended her lecture on Dokdo by talking about Iraq.

After listening passively to one particularly long lecture, I said, “Well, the historical facts surrounding Dokdo are not really related to the colonial period or to the US military presence in Korea.” The professor responded that I needed to look at Koreans’ emotions on Dokdo, not the facts, because “facts are too cold.” If even Korean professors put their emotions ahead of facts and reason, will any of the problems between Korea and Japan ever be solved?

Korea has great potential, but Korean nationalism is killing Korea and wasting valuable resources. Korea needs a Martin Luther King who is courageous enough to stand up to the nationalists, tell the dirty truth about Korea’s colonial and post-colonial history, and start Korea on the path to greatness. Where is Korea’s Martin Luther King?

 


78 Responses to “Clearing up misunderstandings on my Dokdo posts”

  1. comment number 1 by: tomato

    kojibomb,

    Why do you ask the reasons for Japan claiming Takeshima? Ask what on earth the Koreans are up to when they occupy the island and use it as a symbol for their nationalism and Japan-hate.

  2. comment number 2 by: kojibomb

    tomato,
    we already know why Koreans are occupying the island… to use “it as a symbol for their nationalism and Japan-hate.” I don’t know where they are going with this though… become terrorists? lol

  3. comment number 3 by: tomato

    kojibomb,

    Since you seem to live outside of Japan, the information that you receive might be distorted a little bit. The Japanese government did not suddenly claim the island in 2004, it was the prefecture of Shimane (where Takehsima belongs) who designated “Takeshina Day” in 2004 in order to “commemorate” 50 years of Korean occupation. I’m sure they were fed up with the Japanese goverment’s incompetency in handling the issue, so they choose the 50th year of occupation to remind that the situation has not been resolved at all.

    The S Korean government and the S Koeran people reacted furiously, even though they have been constantly engaged in similar or even more provacative acts like creating a post stamp of “Dok-do” and beafing up the occupation forces on the island. I think they are really pathetic and paranoid, and almost every sound person in Japan was offended by the S Korean arrogance and childlishness over the issue with all the moaning & groaning, finger cutting, harakiri, flag-eating, and paranoid government reports of Japanese F-15s flying close to “Dok-do” (this was the greatest lie I’ve ever heard from the S Koreans, and made me seruiously doubt their intellect). In the end, the effort of the Shimane people paid off, because now, more and more Japanese are aware where the problem really is- in ultranationalistic S Korea.

  4. comment number 4 by: kyopou.s.

    what the hell

    the hell with all nationalists. got a great idea. Chinese stay in China, Koreans stay in Korea and the Japanese stay in Japan and mind your own business.

    treesjess, saw you in marmots hole too. we get the idea. korea does need improvement in that area. about you being Japanese or not, this dude or dudette can be a Japanese-American, Japanese-Canadian or an ethnic Japanese from another country.

    And the hell with Japanese products. I do not own one single product from Japan or related to Japan. Samsung, LG, I-River, SKC, Daewoo electronics, Kia, Hyundai, Samsung-Renault, Hynix semiconductors, and so are great companies with great products. the hell with sony, nintendo, panasonic, canon, toyota, nikon, or whatever the hell those companies are.

    korea, japan, china, whatever… blah blah blah.. who gives a shit…

    pottery, chinese characters, architecture, food, kimchi, sushi, rice, fireworks, compass, spaghetti, finger cutting, flag burning, demonstartions.. blah blah blah

    just stay in each of your own countries and mind your own business.

    but I do go gotta say that democracy is great..

  5. comment number 5 by: pacifist

    To every Korean and American-Korean,

    Gerry, ponta and I and many others are not hating Koreans, we love Koreans and Korean culture. So that we are sorry to see the Koreans deceived by their own government.

    It is your job to correct the lies and half-lies of the government.

  6. comment number 6 by: Fantasy

    Kyopou.s. said:

    Treesjess, saw you in marmots hole too. we get the idea. korea does need improvement in that area. about you being Japanese or not, this dude or dudette can be a Japanese-American, Japanese-Canadian or an ethnic Japanese from another country.

    And the hell with Japanese products. I do not own one single product from Japan or related to Japan. Samsung, LG, I-River, SKC, Daewoo electronics, Kia, Hyundai, Samsung-Renault, Hynix semiconductors, and so are great companies with great products. the hell with sony, nintendo, panasonic, canon, toyota, nikon, or whatever the hell those companies are.

    No, I agree with the other commenters above – s/he seems to be a Korean agent provocateur, intending to make this blog look racist.

    BTW:

    I, as a German, have absolutely no problem with buying both Japanese AND Korean goods, wherever I get the better deal. On average, Japanese stuff is more pricey, but also of higher quality. So, e.g. I was seriously considering buying a Hyundai car. But my wife (a ROK national) objected to that on account of safety considerations. So I bought a Toyota instead, which has been tested better in case of an accident.

  7. comment number 7 by: Toshiharu Honda

    What the japanese guys here are talking about on the island dispute sounds like a seven- year- old kid crying over pieces of peanuts grabbed away by his five- year- old brother.Even if the international justice court settles the issue in favor of Japan, Korea will NEVER RETURN the island. What is the point of their arguments. They will not help anything. What they are doing is only inflaming Korean hatred towards Japan no matter how groundless korean claims are.

  8. comment number 8 by: Gerry-Bevers

    Honda,

    I think you miss the point. If the Dokdo/Takeshima dispute were taken to the International Court of Justice, the facts surrounding Dokdo/Takeshima would come out. That is important. Even if the islets are not returned to Japan, at least Koreans would come to know the truth, which would mean the value of “Dokdo” as a tool from stirring up anti-Japanese hatred would decrease.

  9. comment number 9 by: tomato

    And the hell with Japanese products. I do not own one single product from Japan or related to Japan. Samsung, LG, I-River, SKC, Daewoo electronics, Kia, Hyundai, Samsung-Renault, Hynix semiconductors, and so are great companies with great products. the hell with sony, nintendo, panasonic, canon, toyota, nikon, or whatever the hell those companies are.

    I wonder, why can’t they stop Manseiing theirselves? Unlike ponta and the others who seem to be nice to Korea, I rather think Korea is running out of steam, and its society collapsing into turmoil. In the end, like you said, who cares?

  10. comment number 10 by: tomato

    What the japanese guys here are talking about on the island dispute sounds like a seven- year- old kid crying over pieces of peanuts grabbed away by his five- year- old brother.

    Well, Honda-guy, how old do you have to be to live in utopia where everybody is nice to each other, and nations let go of territorial claims for the sake of phony friendship?

  11. comment number 11 by: kyopou.s.

    I, as a German, have absolutely no problem with buying both Japanese AND Korean goods, wherever I get the better deal. On average, Japanese stuff is more pricey, but also of higher quality. So, e.g. I was seriously considering buying a Hyundai car. But my wife (a ROK national) objected to that on account of safety considerations. So I bought a Toyota instead, which has been tested better in case of an accident.

    your wife has an outdated thinking. Hyundai DID suck before. It is the end of 2006 and practically 2007 now.

    Hyundai and Kia are on the list of the safest cars in the U.S.A. It was on ABC News, Yahoo! and MSN as well.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15820639/

    I met a German exchange student at my school. He owns a Samsung camera and a Samsung LCD TV.

  12. comment number 12 by: Matt

    I met a German exchange student at my school. He owns a Samsung camera and a Samsung LCD TV.

    Hi. The stuff about Korean products being crap was started by Treesjess, who is NOT Japanese, just someone pretending to be Japanese. I happen to own a Samsung mobile phone (although I also own a Sony Ericsson mobile phone as well). I do not really think that it important which country produces good quality or bad quality, as the market will decide to reward or punish based on the reality of the situation.

    Lets keep the discussion on this thread about Dokdo.

  13. comment number 13 by: ponta

    Honda

    What the japanese guys here are talking about on the island dispute sounds like a seven- year- old kid crying over pieces of peanuts grabbed away by his five- year- old brother

    I don’t understand what made you think that suggesting to send ICJ is like the act of 7 year old kid.

    7 year old kid would just slap his younger brother and take peanuts away.

    ICJ is the most rational way to settle the issue peacefully.

    And 5 year old Kid has right to grow up by knowing the truth.

    Just appeasing a kid with tantrum will result in the birth of a monster like KJI.

  14. comment number 14 by: Toshiharu Honda

    tomato-chan, ponta-chan,

    Your comments remind of what Douglas MacAthur told about the Japanese people.

    12 YEARS OLD

    You need to grow up.

  15. comment number 15 by: Matt

    tomato-chan, ponta-chan,

    Your comments remind of what Douglas MacAthur told about the Japanese people.

    12 YEARS OLD

    You need to grow up.

    Before this turns into a mudslinging match, I would remind you that you, ponta, tomato and myself are all playing in this sandbox together. Calling the other people in the sandbox childish is meaningless.

  16. comment number 16 by: Toshiharu Honda

    tomato-chan, ponta-chan,

    The issue also reminds me of the northern islands.
    As you are well aware, Russia will return the two islands anytime.
    Our government has kept insisting the return of the four islans for
    the last 60 years knowing that Russia would never do that.
    We have far more important political and economic agenda with
    Russia such as development and procurement of gas, oil and
    other natural resources. The Japanese are short-sighted and
    do lack strategy, aren’t they ?

  17. comment number 17 by: Fantasy

    @Kyopou.s.

    As for cameras or similar items, safety is, for obvious reasons, not much of an issue, unlike for cars.

    But, in any event, I am pleased to hear, that the Korean car industry has improved. I will check that claim and take it into account. If your claim is really true, my wife and are open to buy a Korean car next time. And I do like the Hyundai design.

  18. comment number 18 by: Fantasy

    I have read only now Matt’s admonition to keep this thread strictly
    related to the Dokdo / Takeshima issue. Therefore my previous comment was off-topic.

    Sorry about that !

  19. comment number 19 by: ponta

    Toshiharu Honda
    Thanks

    tomato-chan, ponta-chan,

    Your comments remind of what Douglas MacArthur told about the Japanese people.

    12 YEARS OLD

    You need to grow up.

    If you want to reconstruct this argument in the way an adult does, you have been given the chance here..But be careful to separate the evaluation of the debater from the evaluation of the argument.

    The issue also reminds me of the northern islands.
    As you are well aware, Russia will return the two islands anytime.
    Our government has kept insisting the return of the four islands for
    the last 60 years knowing that Russia would never do that.
    We have far more important political and economic agenda with
    Russia such as development and procurement of gas, oil and
    other natural resources.

    As for the four islands, there are several a discussion going on,
    One:Japan should concede, just takes three small islands;for, that is much more economical and realistic.
    Two;Japan should wait, because for Russia to participate European union, territorial issue must be settled, And Russia wants to participate, so Russia will concede.
    etc.
    ………
    Yes I blame Japanese government for missing the past chance to settle it, but unlike your assumption, it is not the case that Japan has had no strategy.

    As for Dokdo
    By claiming the title to Dokdo, Japan has nothing to do lose. Korea will lose enormous amount of money. Korea is already spending much money on Dokdo.
    (it might be a good idea for Sanryo to produce hello Dokdo to sell it Koreans. that will bring Japan money)

    I don’t treat Korea as i treat kids. I always treat Korean people on this blog as an rational people capable to reason, even when i don’t agree with them, even when they make insulting remarks. I am afraid that to say Korean people are like 5-year-old kid can be insulting for some Koreans.

    I think Koreans have right to know the truth about Dokdo, the truth about how Korean government and historians who has been deceiving the people about dokdo. And i believe Korean people should be given the chance to act on the justice. Sending the issue to ICJ is the best way to attain these goals.

    You said you believed Dokdo belonged to Japan, and at the same time, you have been talking as if Japan should give up Dokdo.
    All the reasons that you have given for your argument is that Japan needs to deploy coast guard ships, and it cost a lot.
    I argued the deploying the ships was necessary whether the dispute between the two countries exist or not. So the money spent like that is not a waste for nothing.

    And another thing you did for your case was to claim that Tomato-chan and Ponta-chan(btw, chan is the word mainly used for kids) should grow up, citing what MacArthur said of Japanese 60 years ago. (I don’t see the point of citation, though)
    I wonder if the reader will be convinced by your remark..

    (For your reference, if I claim here, Honda chan, this is such an poor argument as good as the one 5 year-old-kid can make, I am shifting the focus from the examination and evaluation of the argument to the evaluation of the debater. And this is unnecessary and undesirable for the good discussion; or to call the opponent debater a kid has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the argument. A Kid can make the valid argument.
    And to call an adult person a kid can sometimes be insulting.
    And if i insist here, Toshiharu chan, grow up, I am making a speech irrevant to validity of my argument, probably out of desire to show I AM superior ,more authorized. And this is unnecessary and undesirable for the good discussion. Since I want a good discussion, I do not make such an claim. I am sure you understand what I am trying to say. Thanks)

  20. comment number 20 by: shadkt

    What is Toshiharu’s point?
    Is it just me or does he remind us of someone?

    Anyhow, if he is Japanese as he claim to be, what exactly is he proposing?
    That it would be adult of Japan to just GIVE Takeshima to SK?
    What precedence would that set? It certainly would not help with
    the Northern islands invaded by Soviet immediately after Japan’s
    surrender to the U.S.

    If SK is adult as she claims, the International court is the place to settle things once and for all.
    Japan is ready to accept the result. All it takes is SK’s courage and
    honesty.

  21. comment number 21 by: shadkt

    One more things, people, don’t get dragged by Toshiharu’s “chan”
    calling and condescending manner.
    It so reminds me of you know who.

    If need be, I hope Matt or Darin will take appropriate actions.

  22. comment number 22 by: tomato

    One more things, people, don’t get dragged by Toshiharu’s “chan”
    calling and condescending manner.
    It so reminds me of you know who.

    Yeah, I sensed the same thing when he started talking about “childishness” of Japanese claims over Takeshima….I would say a very sarcastic comment.

  23. comment number 23 by: Toshiharu Honda

    to tomato:

    I am a little bit disappointed to know that you do not have a sense of
    humor. I thought tomato and ponta(an affectionate way of calling a raccoon dog) were cute and would sound more cute if chan was added. It also sounds friendlier and closer when addressing my fellow country
    men. no other intention !! Do you remenber Eisaku Sato, one of the
    most unpopular primeminister ? He said ” I want to be called Ei-chan”.
    Mr. Kamei(I forgot his first name) , ex-LDP strong man ousted from
    the party by Koizumi always calls Junichiro Koizumi “Jun-chan”.
    Now that you seem to be offended, I will never call you totato chan.

  24. comment number 24 by: Matt

    Toshiharu, Japanese people have various terms of address that you use according to your relationship with them. If you are Japanese as your username suggests, you should know that calling strangers with the suffix -chan looks like you are trying to belittle them, no matter what your intention was. It looks like ponta and tomato have told you what they think of it, and you said that you wont call them that anymore, so problem solved. Lets move on.

  25. comment number 25 by: Toshiharu Honda

    TO: ponta

    Don’t be so harsh to a 5-year-old toddler.
    Tell him gently and kindly what’s wrong with him.
    He will be a good boy.

  26. comment number 26 by: tomato

    it’s strange how the trolls just don’t get it when they’re warned…all the time.

  27. comment number 27 by: ponta

    Do you remenber Eisaku Sato, one of the
    most unpopular primeminister ? He said ” I want to be called Ei-chan”.
    Mr. Kamei(I forgot his first name)

    -chan can be used as an affectionate way of calling adults ,as you said., But is is because it is primarily used for kids,
    And the meaning depends on the context.

    tomato-chan, ponta-chan,

    Your comments remind of what Douglas MacArthur told about the Japanese people.

    12 YEARS OLD

    You need to grow up..

    This is the context in which you used the word…..
    Anyway I think you get the message.
    Let’s discuss in a friendly and meaningful way.
    Disagreeing opinions are welcome.

  28. comment number 28 by: GarlicBreath

    Kyopo.p

    KIA=Killed in Action. Funny how you notice only the good things about anything korea.

    In fact, there are so many problems with Kias it’s hard to know where to start. Most cars have one or two problems that tend to be dominant — Ford’s 3.8l V-6 engine, to pick an infamous example. But with Kia, pretty much everything seems to go wrong

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/kia.htm