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Kenkanryu article on Wikipedia vandalized

April 13th, 2006 . by Matt

Kenkanryu

Wikipedia had an excellent article on Kenkanryu, painstakingly written and compiled by Wikipedia contributor of Manga articles, Ryosuke. The Main Issues section of the article has been hijacked and vandalized by an anonymous anti Japanese user (unfortunately probably Korean). This is how the Main Issues article looked before it was vandalized.

The book covers a variety of Korean-Japanese disputes, including the Liancourt Rocks territorial dispute, Japan’s annexation of Korea, and the Japanese history textbook controversies, with a viewpoint mainly criticizing South Korea and its anti-Japanese attitude. As this book was written in the manga format, seen by many as being friendly and easy to sympathize with, many people who previously had no interest in Korea took the author’s “correct understanding of Korea” on board, so much so that its contents are seen as “truth” rather than opinion to readers with previous anti-Korean sentiments. The book has been widely promoted on anti-Korean websites and on message boards such as 2channel where right-wing opinions are dominant. For example, the website The Other Side of South Korean Soccer They Didn’t Want You To Know (知らされなかった韓国サッカーの“裏側”, Shirasarenakatta Kankoku Sakkā no “Uragawa”), contents from the book (explanations of actual photographs imitated in the manga) are provided as evidence of alleged misjudgment of the South Korean team in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as a result of bribery. In contrast to the Japanese internet, the Japanese media does not have as much of a right-wing presence; the book had been refused publication for two years, and some Japanese newspapers refused to advertise the book. Excerpts from the book have been adopted by famous conservative newspaper columnnists, however, including Kanji Nishio, Kōyū Nishimura, Takahiro Ōtsuki and Masao Shimojō. The book also shows marked influence from the “liberal historical viewpoint” held by the Japanese Society For History Textbook Reform, and the book holds a historical viewpoint common to that of Yoshinori Kobayashi’s Gōmanism series. There have been no attempts yet to debunk the book using written and physical evidence, but a supplementary volume has recently been released entitled The Truth of “Manga – The Hate Korea Wave”! (マンガ嫌韓流の真実!, Manga Kenkanryū no Shinjitsu, ISBN 4796649735, published by Takarajima-sha and released 2005-10-21), using evidence to support its claims that the arguments presented in The Hate Korea Wave are based in fact.

That article is neutral. Compare that to the way it was changed.

“The Hate Korea Wave” portrays Koreans and Chinese as base peoples, advocating confrontation with them. The book says South Korea owes its current success to Japanese colonialism and describes China as the “world’s prostitution superpower”. It reveals some of the sentiments underlying Japan’s current worsening relations with the rest of Asia (see Yasukuni Shrine) as well as the country’s longstanding unease with its own sense of identity. Much of Japan’s history in the last century and a half has been guided by the goal of becoming more like the West and less like Asia and the book, perhaps inadvertently, betrays Japan’s conflicted identity: longstanding feelings of inferiority toward the West and superiority toward the rest of Asia. For example, the Japanese characters in the book are drawn with big eyes, blond hair, and Caucasian features; the Koreans are drawn with black hair, narrow eyes and very Asian features. China and South Korea’s rise to challenge Japan’s position as Asia’s economic, diplomatic and cultural leader has been inspiring renewed xenophobia against them, especially amongst the rising class of unemployed young Japanese. The reality that South Korea had especially emerged as a rival hit many Japanese with full force in 2002, when the countries were co-hosts of soccer’s World Cup and South Korea advanced further than Japan. Television broadcasts from South Korea during the tournament showed that the country had surpassed Japan in some aspects of technology such as mobile phones and high-speed Internet. At the same time, the so-called Korean Wave (television dramas, movies and music from South Korea) swept Japan and the rest of Asia, often displacing Japanese pop cultural exports.

The book covers a variety of Korean-Japanese disputes, including the Liancourt Rocks territorial dispute, Japan’s annexation of Korea, and the Japanese history textbook controversies, with a viewpoint mainly criticizing the Republic of Korea and its perceived anti-Japanese attitude. Through using the manga format, seen by many as being friendly and easy to sympathize with, it was made with the intention to spread widely the author’s “detestable reality of South Korea” to people who had no previous interest in Korea or were unfamiliar with its recent history, with the idea that by doing so would “make as much of a hit as Gōmanism Manifesto did” (said by the author himself). Readers with previous anti-Korean sentiments have taken the author’s “correct understanding of South Korea” on board, so much so that its contents are seen as “truth” rather than opinion to its supporters. The book has been widely promoted on anti-Korean websites, blogs and message boards such as 2channel where right-wing opinions are dominant. The contents come mainly from facts/opinions claimed by critics of South Korea, and there are even cases of inserting content directly from the book by websites criticizing South Korea (many reproducing photographs directly from where they are presented in the book) in the form of supplementing the book’s contents, and also in the form of introducing information raised on the 2channel Hangul Board. For example, the website The Other Side of South Korean Soccer They Didn’t Want You To Know (知らされなかった韓国サッカーの“裏側”, Shirasarenakatta Kankoku Sakkā no “Uragawa”), contents from the book (explanations of actual photographs imitated in the manga) are provided as evidence of alleged misjudgment of the South Korean team in the 2002 FIFA World Cup as a result of bribery.

In contrast to the Japanese internet, the Japanese media does not have as much of a right-wing presence; the book had been refused publication for two years, and some Japanese newspapers refused to advertise the book. Well-known revisionist writers have contributed four written articles to the book, however: Kanji Nishio on the Korean people, Kohyu Nishimura on the South Korean media, Takahiro Ōtsuki on the “Hate Korea Kitchens” (嫌韓厨; Kenkanchū), and Masao Shimojō on the Liancourt Rocks dispute. The book also shows marked influence from the “liberal historical viewpoint” held by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, and the book holds a historical viewpoint common to that of Yoshinori Kobayashi’s Gōmanism Manifesto series (the mentioning of Yoshinori Kobayashi’s name in the article on the ongoing debate over comfort women is also seen as a sign of his influence). There have been no attempts yet to debunk the book using written and physical evidence, but a supplementary volume has recently been released entitled The Truth of “Manga – The Hate Korea Wave”! (マンガ嫌韓流の真実!, Manga Kenkanryū no Shinjitsu, ISBN 4796649735, published by Takarajima-sha and released 2005-10-21), using evidence to support its claims that the arguments presented in The Hate Korea Wave are based in fact.

Let me quickly analyse what is written here. I am not going to analysis too much, because I intend to have the article changed back, but lets set the record straight.

The book says South Korea owes its current success to Japanese colonialism and describes China as the “world’s prostitution superpower.

It mentions that Korea could not have reached its current level of development without the public goods left behind when Japan lost WW2. As for calling China the “world’s prostitution superpower”, it does not. No such sentence exists in The Hate Korea Wave. China and Chinese people are not even a subject in this comic, for that matter.

It reveals some of the sentiments underlying Japan’s current worsening relations with the rest of Asia (see Yasukuni Shrine) as well as the country’s longstanding unease with its own sense of identity.

Uh, it does? No it doesnt.

Much of Japan’s history in the last century and a half has been guided by the goal of becoming more like the West and less like Asia and the book, perhaps inadvertently, betrays Japan’s conflicted identity: longstanding feelings of inferiority toward the West and superiority toward the rest of Asia. For example, the Japanese characters in the book are drawn with big eyes, blond hair, and Caucasian features; the Koreans are drawn with black hair, narrow eyes and very Asian features.

Not true. This is a black and white comic. No character in this comic has blond hair – all characters have either black hair or slightly dyed brown hair, as is popular in Japan. Differences in hair color are designed to assist in telling the characters apart.

China and South Korea’s rise to challenge Japan’s position as Asia’s economic, diplomatic and cultural leader has been inspiring renewed xenophobia against them, especially amongst the rising class of unemployed young Japanese.

More China? The comic has nothing to do with China. As for “renewed xenophobia” being inspired among “unemployed young Japanese”, how about some proof?

The reality that South Korea had especially emerged as a rival hit many Japanese with full force in 2002, when the countries were co-hosts of soccer’s World Cup and South Korea advanced further than Japan. Television broadcasts from South Korea during the tournament showed that the country had surpassed Japan in some aspects of technology such as mobile phones and high-speed Internet. At the same time, the so-called Korean Wave (television dramas, movies and music from South Korea) swept Japan and the rest of Asia, often displacing Japanese pop cultural exports.

Besides being nonsense, why is this in an encyclopedia article about Kenkanryu?

The rest I do not agree with either, because it is more of the same, and I think I made my point above.

While I was writing this, someone else changed (vandalized) Wikipedia’s Kenkanryu article again, possibly in response to my complaint in the talk section of Wikipedia. I am not going to go into the changes because I intend to have it changed back, but go and take a look if you wish.

I think it is 99% likely that a Korean has vandalized this article (who else would care enough?). What I want to say to Koreans that are concerned about issues like this, the East Sea, Dokdo, and other issues is that they should not campaign in a way that disturbs other people. Sending spam emails to foreigners is not the way to convince foreigners that the Dokdo is Korean land, and spamming message boards and Wikipedia changing the name of the Sea of Japan to the East Sea will only annoy foreigners who frankly dont like it that Koreans think they have the right to decide what the Sea of Japan is called in English. I know that Koreans want foreigners to believe their point of view but really, Koreans are their own worst enemy. Korean strategies for convincing foreigners usually annoy and upset them. Imagine a student doing a geography report checking Wikipedia and finding that the Sea of Japan is listed as the ‘East Sea’, and submitting a report about the ‘East Sea’ to the teacher. The student will fail. This is not the way for Koreans to convince foreigners.

I understand that Koreans feel strongly about certain issues, but when it comes to the English language, the English version of Wikipedia and anything else in our language, please, leave us alone. Write whatever you want in the Korean version of Wikipedia. We want accurate information that isnt influenced by Korean nationalism, irredentism, or other Korean issues.

Some foreigners will probably be fooled by the false information contained within the Main Issues section of the Wikipedia article, but the joke will be on the Koreans that changed it because foreigners will become angry when they realise that they have been decieved. Koreans trying to be patriotic usually make people anti Korean, not pro Korean.

My advice to Koreans wanting to convince foreigners is to calm down and relax.


14 Responses to “Kenkanryu article on Wikipedia vandalized”

  1. comment number 1 by: opeth

    This week the Japanese media has been talking about the North Korean government’s abduction of Japanese and Korean citizens, because DNA tests done by the Japanese has proved that one of the Japanese victim’s husband proved to be a South Korean. The families of the victims on both sides (Japanese and South Korean) stated that they’d want to face the problem hand in hand. It is ironic that Japan and South Korea has shared the same idea both emotionaly and logically (though not the South Korean government) that goes against another country in Asia in this way. And that country is basically made up by families of South Korean citizens. Ironic especially for South Korea I would say.

  2. comment number 2 by: ponta

    Yes, I agree,And thanks Matt for your effort.I really appreciate it.
    The changed version awfully misrepresents Kenkanryu.
    The change just gave me the idea how they distort the fact, and make up story to their taste.
    Their imagination is just hilarious.
    As I said before, if koreans are so interested in this comic, they should ask their lawmaker to let it be published in korea.

  3. comment number 3 by: umetaro

    Actually, this is who made the changes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Deiaemeth

    You have every right to make changes to the article that you think are NPOV. I suggest you make the changes and ask the other editor to cite references for the statements you think are untrue. if you can cite references as well (i.e. page numbers, actual text) reversion to your changes will be easy to argue if anyone has complaints.

  4. comment number 4 by: Curzon

    who else would care enough?

    Plunge?

  5. comment number 5 by: Matt

    Actually, this is who made the changes:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Deiaemeth

    You have every right to make changes to the article that you think are NPOV. I suggest you make the changes and ask the other editor to cite references for the statements you think are untrue. if you can cite references as well (i.e. page numbers, actual text) reversion to your changes will be easy to argue if anyone has complaints.

    I dont know much about Wikipedia to be honest, to the extent that I didnt even know who made the changes (except my speculation, which turned out to be correct). Thanks, Umetaro.

  6. comment number 6 by: umetaro

    When I have time I’m going to edit some of the articles on there. There are some really glaring inaccuracies in wikipedia. Like the Treaty of Ganghwa article…

    in 1875, Unyo, a Japanese ship, approached Korean coast without permission, in the name of measuring the coastline, but actually fired some shots to surprise Korean guards. Korean coastal guards who were guarding forts in Ganghwa Island fired a cannon as a warning to the Japanese crews, who took it as an attack and reported to the Japanese government.

    The Japanese provoked them, but the Koreans fired first. Which is really the point of “provocation.” It also omits the Japanese firing back as well as going on to demolish a fort near incheon. There’s also no mention of the Chinese mediation between the incident and the actual landing of troops months later. The errors and omissions in the Tonghak Rebellion article are just as bad. Sometimes wikipedia makes me sad.

  7. comment number 7 by: ponta

    It mentions that Korea could not have reached its current level of development without the public goods left behind when Japan lost WW2

    By the way, it seems this statement is partly affirmed by a historian.

    Bruce Cuming

    Q Isn’t it true that 80 to 90 percent of what the Japanese built was destroyed during the Korean War?

    A ・・・the bombing in South Korea and the destruction of facilities was much, much less than North Korea. Your argument works perfectly for North Korea, which was cleaned like a slate by American bombing. But nonetheless, any engineer will tell you that if you have a rail bed that has been bombed, it’s much easier to repair it than to build it from scratch, and all through the bombing that went on for three years in the North, the North Koreans kept the railways running.

    If the Japanese left nothing, why is the colonial central government building only being torn down now, in the 1990s? Why is the Blue House, which the Japanese governor-general and successive South Korean presidents used for their presidential mansion, only being torn down now? Why is the Seoul railway station still standing? Why are all these colonial buildings there?

    Q whatever might have been built by the Japanese, there were lots of Koreans who were running them, who knew all the nuts and bolts. And I think that the Japanese did that for them, they trained a number of Koreans to run the railroads.

    A ・・・it isn’t just the railways, it’s lots of other places. Koreans are a talented people, and in the context of a fifty-year imperial experience, lots of them saw the virtue of going to Japan to get an education. Much of the postwar South Korean elite got an education like that

    link

  8. comment number 8 by: GChaos

    The text used in the changes was taken from a New York Times article written by a JAPANESE journalist.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/19/international/asia/19comics.html?ei=5090&en=b0d32e601cb39284&ex=1290056400&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

    I think you should get the facts before making generalized accusations like it must have been Koreans.

  9. comment number 9 by: Matt

    I think you should get the facts before making generalized accusations like it must have been Koreans.

    GChaos, I wrote that “I think it is 99% likely that a Korean has vandalized this article (who else would care enough?)”. I am talking about the article on Wikipedia. The person that vandalized the article is this person. Another commenter more experienced with Wikipedia was able to find it.

    Lets see what he says about himself.

    I’m a Korean-American currently residing in California. I’ve lived in Canada, Thailand, and South Korea before.

    I made a guess, and the facts prove me right.

  10. comment number 10 by: GChaos

    Ok, I guess it’s an issue of semantics. The Korean person made the actual changes, but the words were penned by a seemingly Japanese person.

    In any case I just get annoyed by both sides. Japan AND Korea should acknowledge each other and help each other grow, not get mired up in tit for tat squabbles over the past. I think gross nationalism on both ends is counter-productive.

    I’m Korean myself, raised in California since I was 3. I’m sure lots of Koreans must hate this site, haha. Luckily I consider myself pretty objective, and looking through the content I find that it is pretty fair and balanced for the most part. I think the reason many might feel this site is anti-Korean is because it focuses soley on Korea instead of pointing out misinformation or BS from both sides.

    That said, even I can see the flaws in many Koreans. Growing up in the states, I assimilated many interests deemed un-korean. When I started skateboarding, listening to punk/metal music, etc. some of my Korean friends began to call me a sellout saying it’s for “whiteboys.” Over here if you don’t fit the “korean” norm, they stare at you funny. It all traces back to nationalism.

    That said, I’m going to look into reading this manga.

  11. comment number 11 by: Matt

    That said, I’m going to look into reading this manga.

    I posted the Korean translation of that manga on this site. Did you find it?


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