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First Korean female Prime Minister claims Dokdo/Takeshima as Korean land, declares Korean racial supremacy

April 10th, 2007 . by Matt

Korean Prime Minister

The then Korean Prime Minister, Han Myung-Suk, accused Japan of distorting Korean history, said that Korea’s claim to Dokdo/Takeshima was clear, and called on ethnic Koreans overseas to help Koreans to be the greatest race of the world. No one else has reported this, so I thought it was important that people know a little bit about what seems to be acceptable for the Prime Minister to say.

There is a long rant against Japan and baseless claims to Dokdo/Takeshima that supposedly extend back more that 4000 years, but what I found most interesting was in the last paragraph.

이어 “세계 곳곳에 뿌리내린 670만 재외동포들도 우리 민족의 장래에 더없이 소중한 자산”이라며 “7천700만 동포가 한마음으로 사회통합을 이루고 사회적 합의를 바탕으로 문제를 풀어 간다면 해내지 못할 일은 없으며, 머지 않은 장래에 으뜸가는 나라, 세계 최고의 민족이 될 수 있을 것”이라고 강조했다.

My translation –

Finally, “Our 6.7 million racial brethren that have laid down roots here and there overseas are also important asset to our race in the future.”, she continued saying “With one mind with our 77 million racial brethren we will achieve intergration of our society, if we get the foundation for a consensus in society, there will be no problems that we cannot overcome. We are not far from the the future when our country will be the greatest country, and our race should be able to become the worlds greatest race”, she emphasized.

Perhaps when she says that overseas Koreans are the Korean races most import future asset that she is talking about people like Korean American spy Robert Kim. This speech also reminds me of the Korean language book for Korean language learners that kindly lets the foreign reader know that their native language is an inferior to the Korean one, because Korean is the only one that can perfectly express all thoughts and feelings.

People will say that she is not talking about racial superiority, but I disagree. Suggestions of racial superiority always presupposes the existence of racial inferiors. That words like this can go unchallenged and uncommented on says more than the words themselves, in my opinion. However, what is most outrageous is the utter baselessness of the assertion of the great Korean race. Even if you accept theories of racial superiority (which I do not), there is nothing in terms of historical, technological, or social achievement, or any other field of endeavor that would suggest in the slightest that Koreans would be that race.


213 Responses to “First Korean female Prime Minister claims Dokdo/Takeshima as Korean land, declares Korean racial supremacy”

  1. comment number 1 by: Matt

    Especially considering the fact that the expansive sex industry thats in Korea today was all learned from Japanese practices.

    Besides all the insulting stuff you wrote about me personally that I am going to ignore, the above is just prejudiced. Japanese taught Koreans prostitution and are responsible for the size of the industry in Korea today? Come off it!

    “Aussieman” indeed.

  2. comment number 2 by: goda

    Aussieman

    >Especially considering the fact that the expansive sex industry thats in Korea today was all learned from Japanese practices.

    This is an insult to the Japanese.

    You should note the word. OK?

  3. comment number 3 by: empraptor

    Neither does the word “race” exclude language or customs origin, etc.

    An ethnic group would be an accurate translation. But as you must have noticed, the first definition listed for race excludes any mention of characteristics outside the physical.

    each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics

    This definition, rather than the second one you quoted, is how the word gets used most. This trend is prevalent to the extent that use of the word without any indication otherwise would be taken to have the first, rather than the second, meaning. I don’t know if it’s different ouside the US, but that’s how it would be taken here.

    I realize no one has commented here for a while I might not get a reply. I’m going to paste together bits and pieces I translated and put it here as an alternate translation.

    이어 “세계 곳곳에 뿌리내린 670만 재외동포들도 우리 민족의 장래에 더없이 소중한 자산” 이라며 “7천700만 동포가 한마음으로 사회통합을 이루고 사회적 합의를 바탕으로 문제를 풀어 간다면 해내지 못할 일은 없으며, 머지 않은 장래에 으뜸가는 나라, 세계 최고의 민족이 될 수 있을 것”이라고 강조했다.

    she continued, “The 6.7 million overseas brethren who have laid down roots all over the world – they too are most valuable asset to the future of our people”, and emphasized “If with one mind 77 million brethren unite and solve problems through concensus, nothing is impossible – our nation and people can become the greatest in the world.”

    I’m guessing she says the “overseas brethren” are also valuable assets in reference to Korean history and lands being valuable assets, as those are mentioned before.

    She was at Sejong Cultural Center and one of her quotes involve solving the North Korean missile problem peacefully. I think this alternate translation makes sense in that context.

  4. comment number 4 by: ponta

    empraptor
    Do you mean to say she is talking about North Korean people when she is talking about oversea brethren? The population of North Korea is 23,301,725

    And I think the word “ethnic group is not appropriate,

    An ethnic group undoubtedly possesses a communal identity and sense of cultural pride, but.. it lacks collective political aspiration.(page 106 politics/andrew heywood/palgrave foundation)

    She is talking about political agenda to make
    Korea the greatest country.

    Generally I don’t like citing Hitler, and I don’t mean to say she was like Hitler, but Hitler did talk about about German people in Poland.

    When a politician talks about oversea brethren and want them to be involved in his/her political agenda, I can not help but feel something very fishy, very dangerous.

  5. comment number 5 by: empraptor

    How do you fail to see that ethnic Koreans comprise an ethnic group? We do not have a collective political aspiration. Though I don’t know why we would not be considered an ethinc group even if we did have a common political goal.

    The fact that she suggests this co-operation to defend Korean history/territory and solve North Korean missile problem is not a reason to discount the fact that Koreans comprise an ethnic group. Why would anyone deny that ethnic Japanese or Germans or Chinese or … form ethnic groups? Individuals of each group trace their origins to same lands, share common culture and customs, etc. And neither does her suggestion that we work together suddenly make us not an ethnic group.

    When a politician talks about oversea brethren and want them to be involved in his/her political agenda, I can not help but feel something very fishy, very dangerous.

    That’s all well and good. But how does this pertain to making a correct translation?

    What she said was political BS. Though well-meaning, she suggests that ethnic Koreans who have taken citizenship abroad contribute to the benefit of Korea. I’m certainly not going to prioritize Korea above US and don’t feel I should have to contribute to Korea out of duty to the fatherland. And I think Gerry-Bevers has shown Japan has legitimate claims to Dokdo. So either she’s not well-informed or she’s being obstinate about that issue when she suggests Koreans should work to keep Dokdo.

    But when read by someone who knows of only the original translation, my criticism is taken to be of something different from what I had intended. So while I can criticize her for her Korean quote and also for what I think it translates to in English, I am reluctant to give the impression that the original translation is correct.

    Though I have not lived in Korea for 15 years now, I do speak the language with my family. Minjok and race don’t map to the same concept in my mind.

  6. comment number 6 by: General Tiger

    What most people fail to understand: In Korea, Minjok (nation) = Gukmin (people). In other words, she’s not talking about racial superuity: She’s talking about bettering the lives of the people of Korea.

  7. comment number 7 by: ponta

    We do not have a collective political aspiration.

    I am sure you don’t. The problem is she want you to have it.

    But how does this pertain to making a correct translation?

    If the word, “ethnic” has nothing to do with political agenda, but what she is talking about by Minjok is something to do with a political agenda, “ethnic” must not be appropriate translation.

    In Korea, Minjok (nation) = Gukmin (people)

    She is also talking about oversea Koreans who
    does not have Korean citizenship, isn’t she.
    But Gukmin, if I understand it correctly, 国民, which means nationals who has Korean citizenship, doesn’t it?

  8. comment number 8 by: empraptor

    ponta,

    In #204 you seemed to be suggesting “race” is a proper translation because one of the definitions listed was “ethinc group”. I wrote that “ethinc group” would be an accurate but “race” as used would not take this meaning. Then you assert that Koreans are not an ethnic group by quoting an absurd definition from who-knows-where. I’m curious as to who wrote such a narrow and illogical definition. If you look at other sources, I don’t think you would find another definition that denies the label “ethinc group” based on political solidarity.

    Ethnic Koreans form an ethnic group. Regardless of what they collectively do or do not do politically. The issue is what “minjok” translates to, not whether ethnic Koreans form an ethnic group.

    Personally, I thought your argument in #204 sounded more convincing.

    If “race” were being used to mean “ethnic group” and people took it that way and not something based solely on biological features, I would accept this since “greatest ethnic group in the world” would be awkward to say. But this is also why I suggested “people” as a translation, since it shows the individuals referred to by “people” comprise a group bound by a set of commonalities and also because “greatest people” is more natural than “greatest ethnicity”.

  9. comment number 9 by: ponta

    Then you assert that Koreans are not an ethnic group by quoting an absurd definition from who-knows-where.

    I have never said Koreans are not ethnic group. In fact, they are ethnic group. But the word “ethnic group” lacks the political connotation, according the textbook of Politics I cited.
    Since she is using “minjok” in a political context, my argument is that the word is not appropriate .what other candidates are there? Nationals, citizens? race? Since she is referring to people who do not have Korean citizenship, nationals, and citizen will disappear. And the word “race” has left. I think the translation is justified.

  10. comment number 10 by: General Tiger

    That translation is justified, but accusing her of racial superiority beliefs is not.

  11. comment number 11 by: empraptor

    ponta,

    Please share the source of your definition. If it’s not online, could you include the whole passage and explain its context?

  12. comment number 12 by: ponta

    empraptor said:

    ponta,

    Please share the source of your definition. If it’s not online, could you include the whole passage and explain its context?

    http://www.amazon.co.jp/Politics-Palgrave-Foundations-Andrew-Heywood/dp/0333971310

    Politics Palgrave Foundations Andrew Heywood

    page 106 the passage is under the title “what is nation?” and the chapter is about nations and Nationalism.

    It is an explanation of an ethnic group as against a nation.

  13. comment number 13 by: empraptor

    Thanks.

    I obviously don’t have the book on me. Could you please quote the whole passage? There seems to be some content missing between the tw o clauses quoted about ethnic group and politics.