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Former beauty queen writes book – “I was hated by Korea”

August 6th, 2006 . by Matt

megumi kaneko
The girl that got hated by Korea

A former Kanto region beauty queen suffered an extreme backlash from Koreans over some comments that she made about Kimchi, among other things.

Megumi Kaneko, a former Miss Japan Kanto, had dreams of becoming an actress. Not just any starlet, mind you, but one whose fame would extend beyond Japan’s narrow borders.

So in September 2004, she headed to South Korea, which by then had seduced Japanese TV views with a slew of wildly popular serialized dramas.

Ten months after her departure, however, Kaneko returned to Japan, much earlier than planned, dejected and depressed.

What had happened? The answer is that she soon found herself the target not of adoration, but of a barrage of criticism and harassment from tens of thousands of Koreans.

Her problems, she says, all started with a “misunderstanding” over something she wrote about kimchi, the Korean national dish of pickled cabbage and other vegetables. The offending comment was printed in her own column, titled “Kankoku Tsushin (Korean Correspondence),” which was carried in a Japanese tabloid.

“I wrote, ‘Japanese people refrain from eating kimchi from three days before they return home because the smell easily remains in their bodies.’ That seems to have been interpreted as a slight, that kimchi smells bad,” Kaneko says.

Another perceived insult was her printed comment that “there are many ‘plastic-surgery beauties’ in South Korea.”

Both comments were picked up by a Web site of a major South Korean newspaper, and reaction from readers was fast and extremely furious.

In a single day, more than 20,000 angry comments flooded the site.

Kaneko was the subject of all manner of barbs, from being accused of being a porn actress to a prime example herself of the wonders of plastic surgery. Some of the readers even threatened to attack her physically should they ever spot her in the street.

“Go back to your own country. If you don’t, you’ll have rocks thrown at you,” one reader said.

Meanwhile, many of her closest Korean friends gave her the cold shoulder. A shop clerk reportedly told her, “This store doesn’t serve people who hate Korea.”

“My situation was even reported on the news of the national broadcaster. On a variety TV program, one question was, ‘What’s the name of the most famous Japan person?’ One panelist said ‘Megumi Kaneko.’ ” To an extent, Kaneko was the victim of extremely bad timing. The kimchi remark surfaced in May last year, when acrimony on both sides over a dispute concerning the Takeshima Islands, which is claimed by both Japan and South Korea, had hit its peak. Anti-Japanese sentiment was rife throughout South Korea at the time.

Yet despite all the bitterness she endured, Kaneko is not angry. Rather, she’s optimistic over the prospect of friendly ties between her country and its neighbor.

“When you watch things like the support given to the South Korean national soccer team, you see how so much passion they can focus toward a single direction, which I think is really fantastic,” she says. “But I’m disappointed that it was me who was exposed to such force.”

“If we can continue a dialogue with each other, I believe that we will be able to build mutual understanding and agreement,” Kaneko adds.

She has even written a book about her experiences, called 韓国に嫌われた私 (I was hated by Korea).

I am guessing that it was only a matter of time before she became hated, anyway. Koreans dont mind putting foreigners (especially Japanese) on the spot about political issues, so it would only have been a matter of time before she was asked on Korean television if Dokdo/Takeshima was Korean territory or Japanese territory, and if she said Japanese territory, they would hate her, but if she said Korean territory, she would be a traitor back home. Needless to say in Japan there are many Koreans doing well, like BOA, and the Japanese are polite enough not to put them on the spot.

There is plenty of Japanese talent out there, but for the reasons I give above, I think its nigh impossible for them to succeed in Korea.


24 Responses to “Former beauty queen writes book – “I was hated by Korea””

  1. comment number 1 by: James

    Wow, such hatred for her valid comments about kimchi and plastic surgery beauties. I can only imagine the rage that would have been ignited had she wrote about the fact that some Koreans eat dog meat.

  2. comment number 2 by: Japan Probe

    […] Anyway, read the full story over at Occidentalism. Help Japanprobe Grow by sharing this post:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  3. comment number 3 by: KapSin

    I am not surprised that Miss Kaneko was unfairly harrassed for an innocuous kimchee comment. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t agree with this statement:

    “There is plenty of Japanese talent out there, but for the reasons I give above, I think its nigh impossible for them to succeed in Korea.”

    There are Japanese entertainers who succeed in Korea. U Min (I don’t know her Japanese name) is an example.

  4. comment number 4 by: Rose

    I feel bad for her but I guess it is a good thing that increasingly more people are coming to realize that Koreans are out of control, and harmful to Japanese.
    But the saddest part probably is that Koreans would keep doing the same things to whomever their nationalistic ego turns its ugly head.
    Korea is most likely the only democratic nation on the face of earth where freedom of speech is suppressed by the people.
    And the strange thing is that they don’t even know or care.

  5. comment number 5 by: Matt

    KapSin, isnt 유민 an ethnic Korean? I always assumed that she was.

    I just checked wikipedia and it doesnt say anything about that. Nicely spotted, KapSin.

  6. comment number 6 by: sqz

    「金子恵美の韓国通信」を知っているとは、管理人もかなりマニアックだな。
    日本語がわかる人は、スポニチのサイトを探せば、記事が見つかります。

    実際に記事を読めばわかるけど、金子恵美さんは親韓家ですよ。
    Megumi Kaneko is a pro-Korea.
    Everybody will understand it if really read all articles.
    韓国人は親韓家の日本人さえも排斥してしまうことこそ問題でしょう。
    It is problem that Korean hate even Japanese of pro-Korea.

  7. comment number 7 by: KapSin

    Matt,

    Not sure if she is ethnic Korean. She does look at least partly Korean, however. So I wouldn’t be surprised if she has some Korean blood in her.

  8. comment number 8 by: KapSin

    Rose,

    I would agree with this:

    “Korea is most likely the only democratic nation on the face of earth where freedom of speech is suppressed by the people.”

    The term “democracy” (and certainly “liberal democracy”), though often bandied about among clueless Westerners, is really a misnomer when used to describe the monstrosity that is the Korean political system.

  9. comment number 9 by: Matt

    There is nothing inherently good about democracy. At its worst it means a blood thirsty mob. As far as I know, the American founding fathers (thought to be the founders of modern democracy) were against democracy, and set up a constitutional republic with limited suffrage. In the case of Korea, it is people using democracy to shut out or prohibit minority opinions.

    That is why President Bush is wrong to attempt to spread democracy to places like Iraq. The people there are anti-American and very pissed off. They will elect people that represent that view.

  10. comment number 10 by: KapSin

    Matt,

    I agree 100 percent. Democracy becomes benign usually only when combined with liberalism or a system of rights. Fareed Zakaria is perhaps the most powerful exponent of the view that democracy without liberalism (or what he terms “illiberal democracy”) is worse than benign authoritarian regimes.

  11. comment number 11 by: ponta

    The tragedy is that some Koreans often read their own prejudice into Japanese actions.
    Here is another tragedy.An Korean actress,崔志宇, complained that she had to endure a false rumor in Japanese weekly magazine that Japanese shot film with a mask on the mouth because her Korean team smelled of Kimchi.She said in an angry voice in the interview at SBC,,”I though I couldn’t eat even Kimchi (in Japan)”
    However what the article in question said was that she went in a bad mood , looking at Japanese staff with a mask probably because she thought the mask was to avoid the smell of Kimchi, but the truth was that they put it on because of hey fever.(it was in spring and and heyfever is rampant in spring in Japan) You know, even “truly evil” Japanese would not do that to the best actress in Korea.

  12. comment number 12 by: KapSin

    Ji-woo as the “best actress in Korea”? LOL!

    She’d qualify as one of the “best looking” perhaps but…

  13. comment number 13 by: Richard

    유민 is ethnically Japanese. Her real name is 笛木優子.
    Nakashima Mika also has a rather large fanbase in Korea, especially for one who has done little to no promotion outside of Japan.

    By the way, I remember reading a statement by BoA over ugly treatment she received even by her staff when she first debuted in Japan..

  14. comment number 14 by: Matt

    Nakashima Mika also has a rather large fanbase in Korea, especially for one who has done little to no promotion outside of Japan.

    Mika Nakashima is already huge in Japan, so she does not need to do self-promotion in Korea, which is what I am talking about. An example of a Korean doing self-promotion in Japan would be Yoon Son-ha (윤손하), who is not that famous in Korea.

    By the way, I remember reading a statement by BoA over ugly treatment she received even by her staff when she first debuted in Japan..

    Really? I would like to read about it. Do you have a link for it?

  15. comment number 15 by: randomcow

    There is plenty of Japanese talent out there

    haha – dude, you haven’t watched Japanese TV lately have you? There’s nothing.

    RC

  16. comment number 16 by: ponta

    remember reading a statement by BoA over ugly treatment she received even by her staff when she first debuted in Japan..

    Really? I would like to read about it. Do you have a link for it?

    Yes,i also would like to read about it and see how it was.
    The problem is that just as in Ji-woo’s case,there might be a misunderstanding.
    It is likely that every new singer,Japanse and Korean, have a hard time when s/he first debutes,but it seems some Korean people transform it to the story of how badly she/he was treated because she/he was Korean :It seems that many Korean people love that kind of stroy.
    (Of course,if the treatement is based on racism, Japanese society should be blamed,though)

    Anyway,it is good to hear Japanese actress can be successful in Korea.

    (BTW I know little about Korean actor and singer;for that matter,i know little about Japanese acoter and singer..)

  17. comment number 17 by: ponta

    유민流民Yumin笛木優子 wiki(Japanese edtion)

    韓国デビュー時は日本人であることを隠していた。後に日本人であることが明らかになると、一部からは日本人への嫌悪感からくる批判の声が飛び出す。しかし多くの暖かい声などにも支えられあきらめずにがんばれたという。

    wiki/Japanesee edition of yumin

    Translation

    when yumin debuted, she was hiding the fact that she was Japanese. Some Koreans started crticisms of her out of the disgust against Japanese when they knew that she was Japanese. However, she has not given up because of a lot of warm support

    Kaneko was unlucky she didn’t have warm supports.

  18. comment number 18 by: Matt

    when yumin debuted, she was hiding the fact that she was Japanese. Some Koreans started crticisms of her out of the disgust against Japanese when they knew that she was Japanese. However, she has not given up because of a lot of warm support

    So if you want to be a talent in Korea you should hide the fact that you are Japanese? Lol.

  19. comment number 19 by: torren

    Wow, they must really be crazy to chase her away. Well, their loss. I am curious though, what were her reasons for attempting a career in Korea? Less earnings, political issues, rougher country, etc.

  20. comment number 20 by: KidfromOhio

    The dumb whore decided to make dumb honest comments, isn’t it NATURAL for one’s citizens to be cruel to foreigners..??

    Am I dreaming if a foreign guy – let’s say the globally most hated muslims – would talk negative about one’s culture…let’s say Austrailia,

    Would Austrailians just IGNORE the comments? and go – hey…uh…please stay in our country and talk garbage about us…that’s cool… 🙂

    …..

    …….
    ……….

    …. are you kidding me?

  21. comment number 21 by: GarlicBreath

    Kyopo from ohio

    The dumb whore decided to make dumb honest comments

    Sounds like you hate this beautiful japanese girl too. Oh yeah you are korean.

    isn’t it NATURAL for one’s citizens to be cruel to foreigners..??

    For Koreans its normal. In more civil nations its frowned upon or illegial.

  22. comment number 22 by: KidfromOhio

    I’m guessing your culture has NO racism..eh? I’m just guessing. I LIVE in US moron, and I’m guessing I NEVER see americans do anything cruel to foreigners – mexicans being spics, white men calling nigger joke this nigger joke that – haha, you’re obviously dumb.

  23. comment number 23 by: GarlicBreath

    KyopofromOhio

    I’m guessing your culture has NO racism..eh?

    Racism exists in all cultures. My peer group frowns upon racism.

    I’m just guessing. I LIVE in US moron, and I’m guessing I NEVER see americans do anything cruel to foreigners – mexicans being spics, white men calling nigger joke this nigger joke that –

    I dont care where you live. I know many Americans and I have never heard them say N****R or S**CS. Perhaps your “american” friends are racist. I have heard in the Korean community there is a lot of racial hatred twards blacks and latinos, so I suppose that among your friends you hear that kind of language a lot. That says a lot about your friends and you. Very shameful.

    haha, you’re obviously dumb

    More shameful behavior from the Korean living in ohio.

  24. comment number 24 by: Errol

    haha, you’re obviously dumb.

    Kid, you don’t have a lot of credibility in the smarts stakes if you’re studying in Ohio. Along with the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ohio is a notorious pay for degree school for Koreans.

    But if you are a Korean just born in Ohio that’s OK.