Occidentalism
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Comments over at Marmot’s

March 11th, 2009 . by Matt

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.


3 Responses to “Comments over at Marmot’s”

  1. comment number 1 by: dokdodevil

    “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 suspect that the Koreans don’t notice cultural orthodoxy, otherwise they would talk about it. Likewise in Australia we notice that which is contentious but ignore the orthodox. Those who deviate are dismissed as mad or not fully human. For example, any questioning at all of the Israeli position on anything brings abuse and boycotts. This is not a problem for us because we never think about that part of the world until asked, and then almost everyone’s comments are the same.

  2. comment number 2 by: Errol

    The faded glory of the Marmot’s Hole. The Norma Desmond of Korean bloggers. He was the greatest of them all. You wouldn’t know, you’re too young. In one week he received 17,000 unique hits. Men bribed his hairdresser to get a lock of his hair. There was a maharajah who came all the way from India to beg one of his silk hanboks. Later he strangled himself with it!

    It wasn’t the hanbok that got smaller, it was the Klogosphere that got bigger.

    The witty insights of dogbert are now few and far between, it is even longer since we have had the pleasure of baduk’s rambling dreams. The brilliant Brendon Carr is rarely, barely, briefly seen, while his eminence grace, the thoughtful, erudite Sperwer, is the only one still worth his place on the team. Marmot’s is morphing into a photo-blog, there is no room left at the inn for thoughtful commentators

    Hamel, a second rate Kushibo, himself an intellectual lightweight, grateful for a job as a paperweight at a fourth rate institution like Griffith University.

    How inconvenient for the facts not to fit the prejudices of a running dog of Korean imperialism.

    From the Hills of Myanmar
    To the shores of Malagasy
    They fight Korea’s battles
    In the air, on land, and sea;
    First to fight for the Liancourt Isles
    And deny the abuses of Joseon slavery;
    They are proud to claim the title
    Of running dog for the Korean team.

    As John McEnroe was wont to say, you cannot be serious Matt, to worry about old dogs desperately performing tricks for their owners.

  3. comment number 3 by: Errol

    Hamel, a second rate Kushibo, himself an intellectual lightweight, grateful for a job as a paperweight at a fourth rate institution like Griffith University.

    Perhaps hamel and kushibo could get jobs as accommodation agents for Griffith University.

    Cr MacPherson said Griffith University students settled in the Sunnybank area, which is now known as Brisbane’s “little Asia”.

    “They don’t rent rooms, they rent mattress space, and it doesn’t matter whether it is in a bedroom or not. We’ve seen mattresses being rented in hallways, on closed balconies … it is appalling. It’s like living in prison.

    “I don’t want to target any one group specifically, but it is a cultural thing. In some countries it is perfectly acceptable to live six to a room and they don’t understand why it is a problem. We don’t do that in Australia.”

    It is believed the (Korean) man had made up to $6000 a week by subletting it to 31 others against the terms of the lease, which stipulated a maximum of six people were allowed to reside there.

    Students rent mattress space for $90pw

    Raid finds 37 people living in single Brisbane house

    She believed a number of Asian residents had set up website businesses to attract students.

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