Japan from the inside out

The cleanest race

Posted by ampontan on Monday, June 7, 2010

B.R. MYERS, author of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why it Matters, explains in this YouTube interview why the response in South Korea to the sinking of their naval vessel is more subdued than might otherwise be expected. It’s slightly less than 10 minutes, and every second is worth watching. Mr. Myers is excellent (the interviewer less so).

He makes a point of telling Americans that they are not defending capitalism against communism on the Korean Peninsula, but a moderately nationalist government from a radically nationalist government.

FWIW, from my very modest store of knowledge on this subject: When I studied the Korean language, all the Korean teachers invariably mentioned that the North Koreans considered themselves to be the only ones upholding the pure Korean traditions, while the South had become degenerate and Westernized.

One Response to “The cleanest race”

  1. cheonan said

    To the “outside” world intellectuals who don’t read Korean,

    This is a remarkable story of people – the governed(although they are in theory supposed to be the actual governor in democracy), not their government – making difference in the world (history).

    1. Compare and contrast.
    “More enlightened” American people, Congress and media; Bush; WMD; War (and huge suffering),
    ( )
    “Supposedly less so enlightened” Korean people; Korean President Lee; Cheonan; prevention of War (so far).
    (I am including among ‘the Korean people’ the Korean-Americans.)

    2. Also remarkable is that the “inside” Korean people braved the government prosecution.
    Caveat: Under the current South Korean regime, South Korean citizens can be sued for defamation by their own government officials, and defamation in South Korea is a crime (as well as a civil offense) prosecuted by the government’s own centrally controlled national prosecutors who selectively choose or choose not whom to prosecute.
    Recently, Shin Sang-cheol, “an expert placed on the JIG [Joint Investigation Group] by” the National Assembly, got (criminally) sued for defamation by a government official for expressing disagreement over the current South Korean regime’s version of the Cheonan Incident. ( )

    (South Korean people’s firsthand knowledge about the pro-government polls is that they are ridiculously overinflated.
    A proof: war-fear-mongering South Korean President Lee Myung-bak got unexpectedly humiliated on the June 2 election by the “Supposedly less so enlightened” Korean people,
    when “survey conducted by the major daily [pro-government]Dong-A Ilbo and the Korea Research Center from May 24 to 26[7-days-before] forecast[ed] that Oh would beat Han by 20.8 percent.”
    Actual election result: 0.6 percent(=”47.4 percent”-”46.8 percent.”)
    Source: )

    3. A list of early English publications on Questions on the Cheonan Incident and the Power of South Korean Netizens can be found at (by LetsTry Reason) and newer writings at .

    Also, look at: “the U.S, South Korea, the U.K, Canada and Australia, but not Sweden [NOT Sweden], contributed to the second-statement findings [claiming that North Korea might be guilty]” – “Five reasons why the the JIG’s 5-page statement cannot be considered scientific and objective, nor … ‘international’” ;
    “Russian Probe Sees No North Korea Hand In Cheonan Sinking! Russia Says Sea Mine Sunk Cheonan” ; ; ;,0,4196801,full.story

    4. Compare and contrast.
    9/11; Al-Qaeda; brags We did it(, was not wrong, not sorry about it and we will do it again).
    Cheonan; North Korea; brags We didn’t do it (therefore, presumably, was wrong, sorry about it and we will not do it). (Why the difference?)
    Crime and punishment. If we are taking consequentialist moral philosophy, and if the utilitarian utility of punishment is to prevent future crime, then punishment serves little or no purpose (maybe to others but not)to North Korea who says ‘We didn’t do it,’ because either (a) the North didn’t do it, therefore the punishment will be outrageous injustice,
    or (b) the North did do it, but ‘We didn’t do it’ basically implies ‘We will not do it.’
    (This particular ‘it’ hardly gives the North any payoff.)
    *If you don’t get scared of us, how can We become the terrorist, and if you don’t know We did it, how can you get scared of us?

    5. Representative democracy is not pure democracy. (Pure)Direct democracy of a nation-size is now (or becoming) possible, through recent developments in computer science and technology, making secure private Internet-voting, democratic online discussions, cheap instantaneous micro referendum and freedom of choice to vote directly on an issue or use an agent possible.
    The science (computer science) should finally make the people, the governed, the actual de facto governor in democracy.

    6. I take this honor of hereby formally asking the folks in Norway to consider awarding a Nobel Peace Prize to the “Supposedly less so enlightened” Korean people including myself,
    who in early days, among various activities, proposed the “outside” world contact initiative for the Cheonan peace, providing email addresses of all the foreign embassies in Korea, U.N., Hillary, Obama, and the foreign media.

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