Japan from the inside out

More Korean duck soup

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, July 24, 2008

SOME OF YOU probably thought I was being a wise guy when I compared the South Korean reaction to Japan’s inclusion of the Takeshima territorial dispute in their school curriculum to the Marx Brothers’ movie Duck Soup. (See the second post down.)

But how else to explain the outburst of Kwon Chul-hyun, South Korea’s ambassador to Japan, who was summoned back to Seoul last week? Mr. Kwon visited the headquarters of Hannara (The Grand National Party), which is the current ruling party, to give a report on his Japanese adventures.

If he wasn’t eating Duck Soup, he must have been drinking something. Here’s what he said, as reported by the Chosun Ilbo. Keep in mind this is going from Korean to Japanese to English:

“Japan has the same island country characteristics as England. They dislike isolation, so they have the inherent desire to advance onto the continent. South Korea should utilize that against them.”

This was going too far even for the South Koreans, and party members chastised Mr. Kwon for speaking in a manner unbecoming a diplomat. One Hannara party official led him out of the hall without a word, and the rest of the conference was closed to the public. Another party member told the press that the audience was bewildered. Cha Myong-jin, a National Assembly delegate and the person responsible for party press relations, is said to have expunged that portion of the ambassador’s remarks from the official record.

This brings to mind several questions:

First, how much did Mr. Kwon’s family have to spend to buy his way into the diplomatic corps?

Second, whose bright idea was it to send to Japan someone so disoriented from reality, rather than to some small, unimportant, and out-of-the-way place? Someone needs to tell Hannara about remittance men.

And finally, how could the ambassador spend more than a month here without realizing that the only people who think the Japanese would be interested in another continental invasion are running on the fumes of an overtaxed imagination?

As for the photo, reader Mac sent that along, and I thought I’d put it up in case you haven’t seen it. It’s from a demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul last week, when a group of bravos hammered nine pheasants to death, cut off their heads, dripped their blood on the Japanese flag, and then tossed their corpses onto the embassy grounds. Dig the military threads.

Onlookers were supposed to think they were green pheasants, which are the national bird of Japan, but it seems they had to make do with butchering the Korean variety instead. There might be some symbolism in there if you think about it.

Mac says the lads also chewed on the bird guts. While it is a game bird, and some might find it tasty, pheasant sashimi probably isn’t that appetizing.

Besides, guys, you’re supposed to squeeze all the blood out first.


I had to piece the story of the ambassador together out of three different reports. One I read this morning in today’s edition of the Nishinippon Shimbun.

Their account of the story was curious. They mentioned that Mr. Kwon called Japan an island country—which they said was a subtle Korean insult—but left out the part about the inherent Japanese desire to invade the continent.

Surely they knew about it and snipped it on purpose. Why? To prevent a heated reaction from their readers and avoid creating a bad impression of Koreans, obviously.

Remember that the next time you read a rant from a Western journalist, or a disaffected foreigner writing in the English-language press in Japan, or some blog, that would have you believe the press in this country often whips the insular, narrow-minded populace into a nationalist fervor.

Baloney. It just doesn’t happen, and anyone who spends any amount of time here and is intellectually honest knows that.

It does happen in other East Asian countries, however. But none of them is an island.

12 Responses to “More Korean duck soup”

  1. Bender said

    Just curious. What he said seems to be in line with the official Korean stance. I remember president Roh giving a speech about how Japan took the rocks as its first step to annexing the Korean peninsula.

  2. fh said

    From my understanding, the pheasants killed in the protest last week were actually the domestic “Common Pheasant” (known in Japanese as 高麗雉, or Korean Pheasant).

  3. ampontan said

    Thanks for that, Fh.

    Bird names can be tricky. For example, just looking up 雉(or雉子) itself gives “common pheasant” as a definition. The same dictionary gives “ring-necked (Chinese) pheasant for 高麗雉. I don’t know why, because those characters sure don’t mean China (g).

    The green pheasant is a subspecies of the common pheasant found only in Japan, according to another source.

  4. Ken said

    Link of Reuters reporting the video that Korean phesants raw bowels are dug in is uploaded in TAKESHIMA-SHIMANE PREFECTURE.

    Korea herself was teaching Takeshima is not in Korean territory and the US defined Takeshima as Japanese territory as follows.

    “Don’t go too far with your childish behavior, Koreans!” by Asahi Weekly.

  5. […] Give a listen to Kwon Chul-hyun, Korea’s ambassador to Japan (currently recalled to Seoul in protest of the whole Dokdo thing): Japan has the same island country characteristics as England. They dislike isolation, so they have the inherent desire to advance onto the continent. South Korea should utilize that in reverse. […]

  6. What is it about extreme Korean nationlism? It’s one thing to be patriotic but they seem to go way over board. To me it is similar to the reaction they had about American beef imports. Yes, I understand people being worried about suspected unhealthy beef. But the Koreans were having massive and sometime violent protests against allowing American beef into the country. To me it seemed to be more a nationalistic response to protect dear Korean domestic beef.

    I also am seeing this overheated extreme nationalism in China now as well.

  7. ChoSeungHui said

    Watching Koreans reminds alot of watching “The Three Stooges” on TV..except that in the case of the Koreans, they aren’t acting. The stuff they say is real.

    “Island Nation” is an insult in Korea? Hahaha…I think it stems more from an inferiority complex in that both the UK and Japan being small island nations were able to kick major ass (namely that of Korea) in the past few hundred years. Please, believe me…Korea wishes secretly that it could have been even 1/10 as powerful as an island nation such as Britain or Japan. Too bad they are stuck with being only a half-ass island (peninsula).

  8. ChoSeungHui said

    Koreans don’t want to take the Dokdo/Takeshima issue to the ICJ in The Hague because Korean culture and society does not recognize the court system of justice and law. Koreans have no concept of “laws” and “rules”. In Korea, whoever screams the loudest or waves the largest amount of money in his hand is the person who rules over others. Such a lawless and corrupt society in which there is no concept or respect for ethical principles would be a joke if it tried to actually adopt a civilized legal system such as those employed by first world countries. Koreans also are incapable of understanding the concept of having to provide evidence to prove an argument. In Korea, whoever screams the loudest is the one who wins an argument, not the person who provides the best evidence.

  9. ChoSeungHui said

    Japanese, Americans, Chinese, Europeans and all other civilized first world countries consider Dokdo a place to collect bird dung. They think about it as much as they think about what the weather is like in Borneo.

    Koreans think of Dokdo as their heavenly birthplace and will lose sleep over it and pull their hair out 24 hours/day, 7 days a week constantly watching the internet to see if the wind direction has changed on Dokdo. pathetic.

  10. […] ROK Ambassador to Japan Kwon Chul-hyun for his provocative rants against his Japanese fantasy, it’s not the Japanese antagonizing the South Koreans that’s the reality at all I had to piece the story of the ambassador together out of three different reports. One I read this […]

  11. mac said

    I am trying to think about a suitable caption to a cartoon of ‘The Pheasant Atrocity’ (which no doubt the ‘sneaky’ neo-imperialist Japanese will revise in their kindergarten text books to something innocuous “The Phasianus Colchicus Incident”).

    The best I can come up with so far is;

    First pheasant: Funny, I always thought I would end up working in Chinese restaurant
    Second pheasant: But … I voted for the GNP and Lee Myung-bak!?!
    Third pheasant: But … my father was imprisoned and tortured by General Park for speaking out about similar atrocities after the Korean War
    Fourth pheasant: But … my brothers brought in revenue by fighting in a Korea division for the Americans in Vietnam War
    Fifth pheasant: But … my aunties brought in foreign currency by patriotic surrender in American camptowns and servicing Japanese Kisaeng tourists.
    Sixth pheasant: Sisters, we must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of all that guano on Dokdo …
    Seventh pheasant: My cousin Dong-Sun in Flushing says that if this was America, we would have made it through until the first of October …
    Eighth pheasant: I am just glad they did not rape us first before they killed us

    On a less serious note … I was looking at the English language pages of Lee Myung-bak’s blog and am wondering at some of the constructions. Bearing in mind this is an intelligent gentleman at the helm of a modern nation

    Quickly after a “Clarification of President’s remarks on the Dokdo issue on July 15”, the president issued a press release, “Dokdo issue should be coped with through a long-term strategy, not expedient measures” in which he wonderously was able to weave into the Dildo Islands issue the entirely unconnected reference of the shooting of South Korean tourist by North Koreans and compared Japan to unrepentant Nazi Germany revisionists.

    Meanwhile, Korean is most certainly winning the cyber war with a fabby Flash power website of Dokdo, remarketed as The Island of Peace. If I have time, I will transcribe the commentary likening it not just to Yakusuni Shrine but a “imperial threat to Korea and other Asian countries” etc.

  12. Aceface said

    “Bird names can be tricky. For example, just looking up 雉(or雉子) itself gives “common pheasant” as a definition. The same dictionary gives “ring-necked (Chinese) pheasant for 高麗雉. I don’t know why, because those characters sure don’t mean China (g).”

    Resident bird-watcher is here.

    Common Pheasant is basically a species originated in Asia,and introduced into North America as gamebird.I’d imagine those who introduced the birds hesitated to use the word “common” to an alien species to America.Also certain sub-species originated in North East Asia is being called as “Ring-Necked”,because lots of sub-species including Japan’s Green Pheasant doesn’t have white ring around it’s neck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: