Korean Mysticism and Anti-Japanese Thinking Series No.5 + Conclusion
By Tajima Osamu,
Chapter four: Anti-Japanese Korea was made by Japan
Varying images of Queen Min, ranging from a vicious beauty to the people’s mother, clockwise from top right: Sino-Japanese War and Amazon Queen Min (1965), Women at Jing Fu Palace (1971), Queen Min’s Magical Sword (1970), and Like Fire, Like a Butterfly (2009).
About the K-coefficient
Sympathy and superiority
When we Japanese talk about Korea and the Korean people, we feel somewhat awkward or undecided, as if something stuck in our throat. Even those who talk frankly about other countries, such as the United States, Russia or even China, become less than concise when it comes to dealing with Korea. For example, Japanese people say “Korean people” instead of “Koreans” or even when it is due criticism against Korea (Koreans), Japanese add, “I don’t think all of the Korean people are like that” or “Though the same thing applies to the Japanese…” as if in excuse. In speaking of Korea, the Japanese tend to be somewhat reserved or humiliated.
That is, “Korea” narrated through our speech or the pen is biased with a certain kind of propensity and I will call this bias “Korea-coefficient” or “K-coefficient” for short. Please regard K-coefficient here as something like a constant: when Japanese talk about Korea, the K-coefficient is always there. Flower-garden leftists and Korea-phobes are no exceptions. Quite naturally, there are individual differences in K-coefficient. It may be easier to grasp the effect with multiples of 1K, 2K, 3K, according to the greatness of effect of K-coefficient. For instance, regarding the telltaling diplomacy on the part of the Korean President, the Sankei Newspaper’s reporting can be multiplied by 1K, while the Asahi Newspaper’s by 3K.
In fact, reading the book entitled Asahi versus Sankei from Seoul: The Korean Peninsula—What to do with it or what will become of it (Asahi Shinsho), which features a dialogue between Mr. Ichikawa Hayami, the then Seoul Branch chief of The Asahi Newspaper and Mr. Kuroda Katsuhiro, the then Seoul Branch chief of The Sankei Newspaper, the difference in the reporting of Korea between the two newspapers is clear and evident.
Kuroda: When I criticize Korea today, you criticize my reporting as being discriminatory, dominating and making fun or making Korea look foolish.
Ichikawa: To be exact, Mr. Kuroda, you yourself may not intend to do so, but you make readers feel that way. [Laughs.] Mr. Kuroda, since you are a great reporter, you must take due responsibility.
Kuroda: Well, once you and other Asahi Newspaper reporters live in Korea, you unofficially complain that this won’t do, this is absurd, ridiculous and so on. But officially, you cannot report that, because you think that if you report exactly what you feel to Japanese people, you only increase discrimination and prejudice against Korea. At first, I thought that way, too, myself. But gradually, I came to think that is not right. It is hypocritical.
Ichikawa: No, that’s not hypocrisy. What I’m saying is that certain manners are needed.
Kuroda: If facts are inconvenient, it will be worse when you hide the facts or pretend not to see them. [omitted] Korea is no longer what it used to be. You can say what you want to say. You can criticize Korea. It is quite another matter whether Japanese people form prejudiced or discriminatory views as a result of your criticism. [omitted] Now that readers, viewers and listeners obtain information through their own channels and there are various contacts and exchanges through business or other occasions, the Japanese can judge Korea by themselves. It is the Asahi Newspaper’s peculiar sense of discrimination that the Asahi gives special consideration to Korea. In a sense.
Ichikawa: I don’t think we discriminate against Korea.
Kuroda: You Asahi people don’t look the Koreans in the face.
Throughout this dialogue, Mr. Ichikawa of the Asahi Newspaper firmly holds the stance that “we must give special consideration when it comes to criticizing or rebuking Korea, because it increases Japanese discrimination against Koreans.” What he probably meant to say was that we must give special consideration to the Korean’s complicated state of mind which derives from Japan’s past rule over Korea. At the same time, he meant that since Japanese people initially are discriminatory or prejudiced against Korea, articles that criticize Korea may further enhance such negative emotions. Mr. Ichikawa even said, “In principle, I don’t think it proper for the Japanese media to criticize Korea.”
The special “consideration” given to Korea here is the K-coefficient. Mr. Ichikawa uses the word “manners,” but I feel that this word is irrelevant.
Against this, Mr. Kuroda of The Sankei Newspaper added that his own reporting is (was) affected by the K-coefficient, “I thought the same way at first.”
I almost agree with Mr. Kuroda, “It is a kind of a sense of superiority to regard Korea as a victim or a weak neighbor because Japan once ruled Korea in the past. I thought it would be better and natural for us to regard Korea as an ordinary foreign country with which we should deal with on equal terms. This is the proper way to deal with a neighbor.”
In other words, by multiplying by the K-coefficient, “Korea” we speak of becomes far more than an ordinary foreign country and becomes a “special neighbor.” To remain a special neighbor forever does not constitute a sound relationship. That’s Mr. Kuroda’s point. Superiority, in the name of sympathy, as Mr. Kuroda puts it, is exactly what the K-coefficient is.
The Korean-style boom which suddenly appeared out of the blue must have been a product of a scheme using the K-coefficient on the part of the Japanese. It is doubtful whether professional critics were not at all affected by complicated psychology which made them think that Korean talent is excellent simply because they are Koreans or fear lest they should be called racist if they say they don’t like Korean dramas.
Acid or safe
11 PM was a ground-breaking midnight TV variety program. In the program, one of the most popular segments was a series called Trip to Secret Hot Springs. A bunny-girl reporter visited hot springs in various regions. In retrospect, I don’t think it was very exciting, but I remember that the hot spring segment was highly enjoyable to middle-aged or older men who were liked watching young girls bathe in spas. The Trip to Secret Hot Springs made its first overseas coverage and showed a Korean spa. I’m not quite sure about the location but it was a remote hot spring around Pusan. After the video segment showing the bunny-girl reporting on a hot spring, I clearly remember that a commentator at the studio in Japan, Mr. Fujimoto Giichi (a writer) said, “Now our bunny just said, ‘This is a safe spring, rare in Korea.’ But this is very impolite. I must apologize.”
“Huh?” I thought for a moment. If what Mr. Fujimoto had said was right, it would certainly have been an improper remark, misleading viewers. It was extremely impolite to the Korean tourist bureau that had allowed coverage. However, the bunny’s words clearly stayed in my ears. What the bunny really said, “This is an acid spring, rare in Korea.”
She just explained the hot spring’s acidic water quality. During the program, the bunny, who was watching her video segment, immediately called the station and Mr. Fujimoto admitted that he heard her wrong, making another correction. At that time, I wondered what made him hear “safe” instead of “acid.” One possibility is that the K-coefficient deep in Mr. Fujimoto’s subconsciousness did it. It was their first time ever reporting from Korea and no mistakes were allowed. Mr. Fujimoto was under such great pressure, fearing that the young reporter did not know about Japan’s era of Korean Annexation and would make a mistake in front of Koreans, that he heard the girl totally wrong. It is a delusion that perpetuates itself, that the Japanese are always giving trouble to the Koreans–while the Japanese struggle to avoid appearing arrogant to Korea. At the same time, it most likely that Mr. Fujimoto wondered to himself, “Are hot springs in Korea really safe?” really looking down upon Korea.
As I have stated, the K-coefficient is a specially flavored blend of excessive considerations born out of the Japanese sense of guilt toward Korea and essential superiority on the part of the Japanese.
Overcoming K-coefficient thinking
Even Mr. Fujimoto Giichi, who was a famous Naoki Prize winning writer, was entranced by the spell of the K-coefficient. In fact, intellectual elitists easily fall for the K-coefficient.
Of course, this book aims to help free readers from the influences of the K-coefficient. But an immediate fix should not be expected. In the first place, at present, it is impossible to completely eliminate the K-coefficient from Japanese thinking. Right or wrong, it is the Japanese’s character to be bashful and to retreat when speaking with others. If I could give just one piece of advice, I would remind readers to always be conscious about the ”K-coefficient” when touching upon things Korean and about Korea.
In speaking with your acquaintances about Korea, check yourself on what you say: “Now, I’m under the influence of the K-coefficient.” Perhaps it would help if you said to yourself, while watching TV, “This commentator has a high K-coefficient. Probably 2K.”
And, if possible, I would like readers to have keep the K-coefficient in the back of their minds. When you are hesitant to bluntly state your views on Korea, you can start off by mentioning, “I am speaking with the K-coefficient in mind.” Then your listeners will understand what you are trying to say without reservation. This will be a good thing. Outwardly, the conversation is polite, but at cost of serious conversation. In discussions with people who you do not know, such as when in serious discussion on topics of Korea or with a stranger, this technique of revealing their K-coefficient would be most helpful. Thus, gradually nullifying the K-coefficient will be the best way to overcome the K-coefficient.
Japan made anti-Japanese heroes
Heroes as terrorists
In Korea, a bizarre work of fiction has been the center of much discussion, wherein An Jung-geun, Ito Hirobumi’s assassin, travels through time and shoots Japanese Prime Minister Abe at Halpin Station. The title of the book is in fact An Jung-geun Shot Abe. In the book, Prime Minister Abe barely escaped death after he was shot. An Jung-geun was caught, red-handed for his attempted assassination. Thereafter, what Koreans think is the best part, the story starts. During the trial, a witness stated that, “Prime Minister Abe committed 15 crimes (including the comfort women issue, Takeshima Island, history textbook revision, Yasukuni Shrine and on and on) and defended his own righteousness while committing a crime that is condemned by most of civilized society. His grandiose, dauntless posturing moved the judge and, of course, influenced the outcome of the trial.
The author of this piece of time-travel pornography is Mr. Kim Jong-hyun, who is well-known in Japan for his widely received Days with My Father, which depicting family love. I then realized the bottomless filthiness of the Korean literary circle.
The three great Korean heroes are An Jung-geun, Yi Bong-chang, and Yoon Bong-gil—anti-Japanese terrorists.
Yi Bong-chang was behind the so-called Sakuradamon Gate Incident, which took place in January 1932. Yi threw a bomb at the Emperor Showa’s carriage and seriously injured an Imperial guard. Yoon Bong-gil was the ringleader of a bombing that occurred during a ceremony of the Emperor’s birthday held at Hungkou Park in Shanghai in April of the same year (1932). He threw a bomb at the crowd present at the ceremony, killing and injuring many people. While these two assassins were rather popular as Korean professional killers, Jung-geun was by far the most popular and familiar of all Korean murderers. Furthermore, it may not be a stretch to say that Jung-geun is an idol and super hero among the Korean people—in fact, An Jung-geun appears on various and numerous commercial items. Picture books, comic books and cartoons show An’s heroic deeds. Figurines, three-dimensional paper art reenacting the Halpin assassination, paper masks commemorating him are available even for toddlers, and so on, are on sale throughout Korea.
An Jong-geun was actually loved by Rightists
An’s popularity is unparalleled because he was the first anti-Japanese terrorist and his popularity owes much to how he is portrayed in Japan. “Portrayed” may sound misleading. While Yi Bong-chang and Yoon Bong-gil are regarded as mere thugs in Japan, An Jung-geun is somehow given a honorable status as patriotic fighter for independence.
It is clear from an essay An Jung-geun wrote in prison, entitled n Peace in East Asia, that An Jung-geun held reverence toward the Japanese Emperor and An heartily congratulated Japan on its victory in the Russo-Japanese War. Perhaps for this reason, both in the past and at present, so-called Japanese rightists think highly of An. Mr. Nomura Shusuke, a so-called leader of a new rightist party, stated that An Jung-geun was an esteemed historical figures. The observation that “lone wolf” An killed only one person might underlie rightist sympathies. An is seen as an ultra-rightist while terrorists such as Yi Bong-chang and Yoon Bong-gil are viewed as ultra-leftists.
It is well-known that Chiba Jushichi, a warden at the Port Arthur Prison where An was imprisoned, was in charge of An and was greatly fascinated by An’s character. The warden was caring and understanding of An until An’s death. It is an equally moving story that An, to reward Chiba’s devotion, made some calligraphy with Indian ink and gave it to Chiba as a token of gratitude. Chiba cherished An’s writing as a family treasure and never failed to perform mass for An for the rest of his life. Kurihara Sadakichi, the chief of Port Arthur Prison and Mizuno Yoshitaro, An’s lawyer, were Japanese who came to be closely united with An through a special friendship. Attorney Mizuno compared An to a valiant samurai fighter of the end of the Edo Period and maintained that An deserved the sentence of three years in prison, the lightest punishment for murder.
On the other hand, how were An Jung-geun and his case viewed within Korea, which was then called the Empire of Korea?
“Having lost Ito, we no longer have a great leader in the East. The prince had declared that he would devote himself with loyalty and justice to the development of Korean civilization, determined to be buried at Mt. Paektu. Although Japan has many statesmen, none but Ito truly desires peace in the East, looking far and wide at the global trend. Truly, Ito is our country’s benevolent father. If anyone dares to attempt to damage the benevolent father, the perpetrator is extremely ignorant of the reason of things. He may probably be a foreign wanderer.”
So stated Gojong of Korea when he heard of Ito’s death. After the revelation of The Hague Secret Emissary Affair , Ito dethroned Gojong. Since then Gojong had hard feelings toward Ito. However, Gojong held Ito in esteem, calling him a “remarkable man” and “our country’s benevolent father.” He expressed the deepest condolences upon Ito’s death. For An, however, Gojong had nothing but loathing, stating, “The perpetrator is a wanderer, totally ignorant of the meaning of things.” In the eyes of Gojong, it was Ito Hirobumi, not An Jung-geun, that truly wished for peace in the East.
The Korean Government reacted the same way. Among the intellectual class in Korea at the time, it was the majority’s view that “An committed a stupid crime, only to become the shame of the nation.” A war might have been declared upon the assassination of a prominent figure such as a former Prime Minister. It is quite understandable how the Korean people utterly trembled following the incident. The Korean Society, having thirty thousand members, stated that “the assassination was not at all the intention of the Korean people” and sent condolences. They even formed a delegation of members to apologize for the incident and sent them to Japan. Ten thousand people mourned in Seoul and mourning was held in other parts of Korea as well.
The meeting of the sons
In October 1932, twenty-three years after Ito Hirobumi was assassinated, a temple in memory of Ito was established at Namsan in Seoul. The temple was named Hakubun-ji Temple, based on the on reading of Ito’s first name. The chief promoter of the establishment was Han San-yong, who had been closely acquainted with Ito. Mr. Han was called the “Shibusawa Eiichi of Korea” and a leading figure in the Korean financial world. He was one of the founders of Hansong Bank. It is said that when the temple was built, a great sum of money was donated by citizens of the Korean Peninsula.
On October 15, 1939, a Buddhist ceremony for the thirtieth anniversary was held at Hakubun-ji Temple. On this occasion, Ito Hirobumi’s eldest son Bunkichi and An Jung-geun’s son An Jung-sen met for the first time. Mr. An Jung-sen lived in Shanghai, but he temporarily returned to Korea as a member of a pro-Japanese organization, the “Manchu-Korea Delegation.”
“For father’s atonement, sincere patriotism—destined son An Jung-sen pays homage at Prince Ito’s altar. At Hakubun-ji Temple deep in autumn, enshrined An Jung-geun, united in one by Buddhist benevolence.”
This was the headline from the Seoul Daily (dated October 16, 1939) which reported Mr. An Jung-sen’s visit to Hakubun-ji Temple. At the altar, not only Ito’s but also An Jung-geun’s memorial tablets and portraits were placed. Seeing Mr. Ito Bunkichi pray and give incense not only for his father but also for An Jung-geun, who had killed his father, An’s son was so moved as to burst into tears. On the next day, the two met at the Korean Hotel and reconciliation was officially made between the two sons.
Some say that there was political motivation behind the meeting. However, in the past and the present, in the West and the East, there is always an “intention” when it comes to conciliation. Rather, intentions make it easier to achieve conciliation. Above all, the meeting was a ceremony necessary to confirm the fact that a crime committed by parents does not reach down to their children.
After Korea regained independence, Hakubun-ji Temple was put under the administration of the Korean Government and was bought out by the Samsung financial conglomerate. Presently, at the site, stands the Silla Hotel Guest House. There is nothing left of the temple. However, it is worthwhile to note here the fact that until the very moment the temple was demolished, the temple stood at Namsan in Seoul, ensconcing the souls of Ito Hirobumi and An Jung-geun.
This was how An Jung-geun was regarded both in Japan and Korea until the War broke out. In fact, it was after Korea achieved independence that An became revered as a heroic fighter for independence. Still, An Jung-geun’s prewar reputation seems too exaggerated.
Allow me to repeat: it is my view that the inflated image of An Jung-geun among the Korean people must have something to do with the vindicatory view of An Jung-geun in Japan.
In the postwar years in Korea, it is very likely that there was a jump from “An Jung-geun was respected by the Japanese people” to “even the sinful Japanese could not help but recognize sound arguments made by An Jung-geun” and, furthermore, “what An Jung-geun did must be considered just.” Eventually, extreme pronouncements were made: An Jung-geun was a hero who fought against the evil Imperial Japan for peace in the East and a man the Korean people can be proud of,” while Ito Hirobumi was the “Imperial Japan’s ringleader for the invasion of Asia.” After the War, An Jung-geun’s “valiant action” was repeatedly dramatized in movies and other media, just like the story of Chushingura in Japan. Many such fables have helped make An Jung-geun a heroic figure. Fiction transforms into historical fact in due time. This is quite a natural phenomenon in Korea.
“Hate the crime, but not the perpetrator” and “Good for you, enemy!”
The Japanese people are very fond of the phrase of “Hate the crime, but not the perpetrator.” The catchphrase of a Japanese fictional hero Gekko Kamen [Moonlight Mask], written by Kawauchi Yasunori, was: “Don’t hate. Don’t kill. Let’s forgive.”
Some think that even the perpetrator of a crime deserves to be judged differently in the light of his character and the authenticity of his motive. Because of this view, there are cases in which a lot sympathy is unnecessarily extended toward criminals. Especially in cases where Korea and Koreans are involved, this tendency is remarkably present. To mention a few examples, one is the case of Komatsugawa High School in Tokyo in 1958 and the other an incident involving a Korean named Kin Kiro (Kwon Hyi-ro) in 1968. Both involved cruel murders and the perpetrators in both cases were Korean residents in Japan. Eventually, the murder cases turned into squabbling over racism. The public heard nothing but sympathetic appeals for the criminals. In Kim’s case, he murdered a loan shark because of a debt. The accused in the Komatsugawa High School case, Ri Chin’u (Li Jin Wu), was nothing but a criminal with an abnormal sexual penchant. He raped then killed a girl, one of his classmates. After he committed the murder, he abandoned the body on the rooftop of the high school and sent the victim’s belongings to her family. He seemed to enjoy his provocative acts. (He later confessed to murdering another woman before murdering his classmate.) Discrimination, poverty and the like—the mass media’s favorite clichés clouded the truth. This can be interpreted as meddling of K-coefficient in a different manner. Or, it should be perceived as sentimentalism, rather than meddling. (The two words happen to be pronounced the same as “kan sho” in Japanese.) The Japanese people are sentimentalists.
Besides, the Japanese people often fondly praise enemy, saying “Good for you, enemy!”
The following is the part of words written by Toyama Masakazu of Batto Tai [Drawn Sword Squad] (Japanese Imperial Army’s defile march), which is said to be Japan’s oldest military song:
We are the Imperial Army and
Our enemies are enemies of the Emperor, unacceptable in Heaven and on Earth
The enemy general is a hero equal to none in glory and victory
And the men who follow are also stalwart and warriors who do not fear death,
Even though they are brave enough to frighten the devil, heaven will not pardon their rebellion
Those who have crossed the Emperor have never prospered
Here, the head of the enemy refers to Saigo Takamori . It is said that this song was about the Battle of Tabaruzaka during the Seinan War (the Satsuma Rebellion) in 1877. The greatest words of admiration such as “a hero unparalleled in all ages,” “fierce and determined to die,” and “with valor” are used to for the enemy, which is typically Japanese in my opinion. I think a military song praising the enemy is very rarely seen anywhere, in both the East and West.
I’d like to inject a personal matter, but I am from Ueno, Tokyo and I feel very close to the bronze statue of Saigo-san standing on a hill in Ueno Park, something akin to a childhood companion. Behind Saigo-san’s statue are tombs of the Shogi-tai Squad members. The Shogi-tai, remnants of the collapsed Edo Government, were besieged at Ueno Hill and it was Saigo Takamori, leading the new government’s army, who utterly destroyed the Shogi-tai. It is ironic that Saigo himself later came to be called an enemy of the Emperor. However, history does not condemn Saigo or the Shogi-tai squad as “evil” enemies of the Emperor. The Japanese people well understand that Saigo and Shogi-tai soldiers acted as they did out of sincere concern for their country of Japan in their own desperate way. This would also be true of the Aizu Domain, which fought for the Tokugawa Shogunate, against the Imperial Army during the Boshin War in 1868. If Aizu soldiers were “evil,” the story of “Byakko-tai (White Tiger Squad) would have never been so passionately passed down to this day.
In Japan history, there never was absolute evil. Even Taira-no-Masakado , who truly proved to be an enemy of the Emperor, is enshrined as a myojin (shining diety). Such is the mentality of this country. Is this explanation persuasive enough?
The tragedy of Ye Wanyong
However, things are completely different in Korea. When it comes to discussing anything on earth, they can only be seen as right or wrong, just or evil, superior or inferior, black or white, victim or perpetrator. Dualism is all there is to it. To the Japanese people, the Korean people’s belief in principles and general rules seems to be totally intolerant and stubborn. On the contrary, to the Koreans, the Japanese view of “black and white at the same time” seems to be an ambiguous, irresponsible and deceptive attitude. The Korean people think that “evil” is evil and there is no room for extenuating circumstances; no consideration should be given whatsoever. Thus, the then Korean Empire’s Prime Minister Ye Wanyong (1858-1926), who signed the treaty of Japan’s Annexation of Korea in 1910, is now literally regarded as traitor, and his name remains in Korean history only as the object of cursing among the Korean people. No other opinions are allowed. After World War II, Ye had his tomb violently desecrated by his great-grandchildren and there is no place left for him to rest in peace. The act of desecrating a person’s grave and violating a person’s body is regarded as the most disrespectful means of vengeance, of fulfilling a grudge against someone. Post-war Korea, entirely rebuking Japanese Annexation period, pressured Ye’s descendants into carrying out this act of revenge in a cruel, dishonorable way.
Was Ye Wanyong really a kind of man who wished ill of his own country? Was what he did a shameful act, of selling his own country for personal gain? No, absolutely, not. Before people like Ye Wanyong started to civilize Korea after five hundred years’ of the Joseon Dynasty’s drugged slumber, Korea was about to collapse. Getting under Japan’s protection was the only way left to ensure the existence of Korea and the Korean people. What Ye and other wise men took was a decision reached after countless painful efforts. One of the major factors that brought the country to the edge of destruction was the existence of Queen Min, which I will explain later.
Incidentally, Ye Wanyong never learned Japanese at all and whenever people spoke to him in Japanese, Ye ignored them. Only when necessity arose, he talked with Japanese officials in English. Such an anecdote shows what a firm nationalist he was.
We ought to realize that it is almost impossible for modern Koreans to understand the subtle Japanese feeling, which has something to do with Bushido (Samurai spirit), such as “hate the crime but not the perpetrator,” or “Good for you, my enemy!”
“Some people think highly of An Jung-geun in Japan” means “An Jung-geun was just, no matter what,” and then “the Japanese people are afraid to be confronted with justice in the name of An Jung-geun,” and then “The ‘An Jung-geun’ card can be used against Japanese people who repeatedly assert historical fallacies.” This is the vector of Korean thinking or their line of logic. In other words, the Japanese way of thinking, that “what An Jung-geun did was not right, but we can understand what he wanted to achieve,” does not make sense in terms of the Korean way of thinking. We should stop hoping that somehow Koreans will come to understand our way of thinking, which will not happen.
I have already mentioned that if the Japanese freely apologize to Koreans on any matter, they will repeatedly demand apologies from us, forever. At the same time, if we freely praise certain Koreans for something, this will end up aggravating the Korean people’s already arrogant and hypersensitive attitude. One can perceive this from the Korean media’s masturbation-like reporting during the recent Korean-style boom in Japan, as all Japanese women supposedly fell for the charms of Korean popular entertainers. Flattery, irony, virtues of humility and social compliment are useless when dealing with Koreans.
I hope that readers understand my point, that making a hero and saint out of An Jung-geun was promoted after World War II, greatly influenced by the Japanese view of An Jung-geun. That is, the image of An Jung-geun, as an “altruistic man of conviction,” can be said to be a collaboration between Korea and Japan. Moreover, in Korea, even anti-Japanese heroes could not have been created without using a filter called Japan.
For this matter, we heard reports that Kin Kiro was received in Korea as “national hero who fought against racism” after he was released from prison and we also hear that he lives a quiet, out-of-the way life under the auspices of the Korean Government. Of course, the part referring to “fought against racism” was an illusion made up mostly by the Japanese media. When Kin Kiro returned home to Korea, he reverted to typy by committing felonies, including adultery, attempted murder and arson.
Yi Sun-Shin inflated during the Meiji Period
To mention another super-class Korean anti-Japanese national hero who equals An Jung-geun, we can think of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, the legendary hero who defeated Japanese Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s army, and led the Korean navy in the Bunroku and Keicho campaigns (in 1592-3, in 1597-8 respectively).
In the city of Pusan stands a gigantic bronze statue of Yi Sun-Shin, glaring in the direction of Japan. Also, in recent years, it has become customary for Koreans to wave curtains with portraits of An Jung-geun and Yi Sun-Shin during soccer matches between Japan and Korea.
As the same with An Jung-geun, Yi Sun-Shin’s heroic image has now established, a mix of both truth and falsehoods via various visual works and other media. Several years ago, Korean researchers reproduced a life-size copy of a tortoiseshell ship supposedly used by Yi Sun-Shin’s navy and put it afloat. The ship almost instantly sank.
The truth is that Admiral Yi Sun-Shin had been a totally forgotten historical figure until modern times. His revaluation took place in Japan around the Meiji Period.
Prior to that, the name “Yi Sun-Shin” appeared in story books of battles during the Edo Period, Chosen Taihei-ki [Story of Korean Peace] and Chosen Seibatsu-ki [Story of Korean Conquest], as an iron-cast enemy admiral. In these stories, Admiral Yi was a man of sturdy built, a monster who stood fast even when an enemy’s bullet hit him on the arm. To depict an enemy as overly strong is for dramatic effect. However, it can be easily seen that this exaggeration had a great influence in creating the image of Yi Sun-Shin in later years.
In the Meiji Period, a “Korean boom” emerged within the process of moving from “advocacy of a punitive expedition against Korea” to Japan’s Annexation. It was the original Korean-style boom, indeed. Along with this boom, heroic Admiral Yi Sun-Shin was unearthed from story books of the Edo Period. At the time of the Annexation, far from despising Korea, Japan took the trouble to unearth a Korean “hero” whom the Koreans can be proud of and at the same time, have the Japanese people say, “Good for you, my enemy!”
Moreover, a real story spread that Togo Heihachiro mentioned Admiral Yi Sun–Shin as a military figure who he admired and that Togo prayed for victory in the Battle of the Sea of Japan before Yi’s altar. Thus, the Korean people’s pride was further stimulated.
An Jung-geun’s misconception
Let’s get back to An Jung-geun. In my personal estimation, An Jung-geun is like, at best, Mori–no- Ishimatsu . Mori-no-Ishimatsu was careless, flighty and reckless, as characterized by the phrase “a fool never learns until he is dead,” in the Japanese traditional storytelling art of Naniwabushi. And yet, he had a very strong sense of justice and could not stand lies and wrong doing. Above all, he was the most faithful and devoted to his boss, Jirocho. He was a loveable character.
Imagine Ishimatsu commits a crime and is under detention, while I am the warden watching over him. I would be naturally charmed by his pure and honest character. And I would truly regret his current circumstance, that if only he had used his positive character in other fields; he surely would have accomplished something outstanding. I presume that An Jung-geun, too, was full of such personal charms.
An’s Ishimatsu-like side (carelessness) was evident in his “fifteen reasons for murdering Ito Hirobumi” which An cited during his trial.
The first reason was that Ito was the ringleader in the murder of Queen Min. I don’t know who told him such a lie, but this was An’s mistake. The incident did take place during Ito’s Cabinet. The murder was clearly committed by Woo Beomseon, commander of a military training battalion, and his gang, understanding Daewong-gun’s intention, which Woo Boemseon himself admitted. And he himself was killed in revenge for the murder of Queen Min. Among the people who were at the crime scene, Prince Sunjong, Queen Min’s son, testified that Woo Boemseon killed the queen, which is most likely to be the truth. Japanese Minister Miura Goro might be called an accomplice, in a broad sense, for tacitly allowing Woo Beomseon and his gang’s rebellion to occur. And there was also a possibility that Japanese political activists took part in the incident. However, it is perfectly clear that Ito Hirobumi had nothing to do with the incident.
As for reason number 14, An claimed that Ito poisoned Emperor Komei . This was also one of his delusions. Though it is wrong, it is very interesting to see that what made a Korean, An, kill Ito was to avenge a Japanese Emperor’s death. Isn’t this very proof that An Jung-geon had genuine reverence for the Japanese Imperial Family?
Laundering the image of bad Queen Min
It seems that a certain pattern has been established to make a Korean hero—first, a Korean historical figure is inflated in Japan and then the heroic image is sent back to Korea, where the Korean turns the image into a god-like anti-Japanese hero.
At present, in Korea, a historical figure is in the process of being idolized, to the degree Yi Sun-Shin and An Jung-geun are. That would be Queen Min, as I previously mentioned.
Queen Min was a foolish woman who led Korea to ruin. Queen Min made light of Korean King Gojong, her husband, and made the country her own, emptying the treasury for the sole purpose of Min’s prosperity. She constantly and violently confronted her father-in-law, Daewong-gun. She also involved in political intrigue, going from Qing (China) to Japan and then to Russia, rendering the Korean political situation in utter confusion. Without her, there would never have been the Sino-Japanese War or the Russo-Japanese War. The blood of Japanese youth would have never been shed. Japan’s Annexation of Korea would have never taken place. She was the worst queen ever, the most wicked woman under Heaven that ruined Korea.
Until the 1970s, this was exactly how Queen Min was regarded in Korea, no more or no less–Queen Min appeared as a villain in films of the time.
The first of the movies related to Queen Min which were made in Korea after World War II was Daewong-gun and Queen Min (1959), one film typical of the genre was none other than Sino-Japanese War and Queen Min (1965), produced by Shin Sang-ok and directed by Im Won-Sik. Judging from these titles, they must have made these films after being inspired by a series of Japanese films featuring the Emperor Meiji, such as Emperor Meiji and the Russo-Japanese War (1956), and Emperor and Empress Meiji and the Sino-Japanese War (1958), played by Japanese actor Arashi Kanjuro, or Ara Kan for short, of Shin Toho Productions. The Korean films were historical spectacles made in CinemaScope and with an all-star cast. The Queen Min portrayed in these films is literally an Amazon and a dictatress. Later, Producer Shin Sang-ok was kidnapped by North Korea together with his actress wife, Choi Eun-hee, who had played Queen Min in the film. Under Kim Jong-il’s command, Shin made the film Pulgasari, featuring a giant monster with Japanese Toho Production’s special-effects crew. He is a giant figure in the Korean film circle, partly known in Japan.
In the 70s, a strange film, Queen Min’s Magical Sword (1970) appeared which blended Queen Min martial arts. Im Won-Sik directed this film and actress O Su-Mi played Queen Min. Queen Min in Women at Jing Fu Palace (1971) was portrayed as a total pain in the neck, mercilessly harassing King Gojong’s concubine to her heart’s content while Queen Min’s adversary, Daewong-gun, was favorably depicted. At the end, Queen Min is killed and Gojong is reunited with his concubine lover, who has been expelled from the Queen’s palace—they lived happily ever after. Anyway, Queen Min was not favorably portrayed in this film.
However, in the 80s and onward, Queen Min under went a totally different appraisal, in which Koreans praised her as a “proud and benevolent mother of the people” or a “sad queen brutally killed by the Imperial Japan’s hungry wolves.” As is always, films and dramas preceded the reappraisal. In recent years, every time Queen Min appears in visual media, she has been laundered or purified. In 2002, Korean media company KBC produced a drama, Empress Meisei, which was also shown in Japan via satellite broadcast. The TV drama portrayed Queen Min as a proud woman with an iron will who lived a hard life, distressed by the times. Incidentally, Empress Meisi is Queen Min’s posthumous name. The Japanese version of the drama’s homepage reads:
“Empress Meisei” is, in a sense, the most symbolic figure in the modern history of Korea. The popular appellation “Queen Min” is a label used to despise Empress Meisei. Imperial Japan at the time gave her the name based on a colonial view of history. Many negative implications regarding “Empress Meisei” mostly derive from historical fabrications and forgeries produced by the Imperialist Japanese Government to justify the fact that they killed Empress Meisei and forcibly occupied Korea. “A power hungry woman,” “her sole goal in life is to enrich her kin at the expense of national interests,” “deeply absorbed in power struggles and fickle”—all of these were asserted by Japan at the time Empress Meisei was killed… “Empress Meisei is an iron woman.” Her greatness is implied by the words of the first Prime Minister of Japan, Ito Hirobumi, when he whispered, “There is no other way to invade Korea but to kill their national mother.”
Of course, what is stated above is entirely contrary to historical facts. The statements, “a power hungry woman,” “her sole goal in life is to enrich her kin at the expense of national interests,” and “deeply absorbed in power struggles and fickle” are the right assessments of Queen Min. In the first place, the appellation “Queen Min” means “a Queen from the Min Family” and there is no implication of hatred attached to it. Until modern times, there were no records of official female names either in China or Korea. The name of a famous Chinese queen Yang-kuei-fei (719-756) means “Her Highness the Queen from the Yang family.” Not to mention, Ito Hirobumi was against the idea of Japanese annexation of Korea and would have never said, “There is no other way to invade Korea but to kill their national mother.” This is totally untrue.
Around the time when the TV drama was aired, a musical, titled Empress Meisei (overseas title The Last Empress), was produced. This musical crossed the seas and was performed in London. At the start of the show, a totally irrelevant scene was shown, of an atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima, on the screen in the back of the stage. This had nothing to do with Queen Min. Londoners were naturally taken aback. The producer’s intention might have been to let the audience know that dropping atomic bombs over Japan was revenge for the assassination of Queen Min. The “atomic bomb” is a term often used by Korea to threaten Japan, with the implication of punitive punishment.
All started from a book
Where on earth did the new interpretation of Queen Min, as “the people’s mother” and “tragic queen”, come from?
Choe Kye-ho, visiting professor at Korean Kaya University, wrote in his book Korea—Two Thousand Years’ History of Downfall (Shoden-sha, 2001) the following:
A foolish female Japanese writer once wrote a sympathetic book about Queen Min. However, Queen Min was an abhorrent woman, disrespectful to her father-in-law, utterly distressed the people and ruined the country, while emptying the treasury. We should know that such ignorance of true Korean history helped to distort the relationship between Japan and Korea.
Though Mr. Choe did not say, the book sympathetic to Queen Min, written by a “female Japanese writer,” was The Assassination of Queen Min—The People’s Mother at the Last Moment of the Joseon Dynasty (Shincho-sha, 1988), written by Tsunoda Fusako (1914-2010). The book used many pages describing the struggles between Queen Min and Daewong-gun and decisively concluded that the assassination of Queen Min was singly Japanese Minister Miura’s responsibility. This feeds the Japanese sense of atonement. The image of a “tragic Queen Min” seemingly spread to Korea through this book.
As this image settled in Korea, people did not like the appellation of “Queen Min” and a movement took place to make “Empress Meisei” the official appellation. As I mentioned before, the title of “Empress” is a posthumous label (an honorable name given to a noble person after death). Therefore, it is quite strange to call Queen Min “Empress Meisei” while she was still alive.
Refracted feeling toward female members of the Japanese Imperial family
Conceding as far as I can, I would admit to calling Queen Min a “tragic queen”, who was forced from this world by murder. This much would be permissible. What would readers think if there was a wide-spread rumor in Korea that after her death, Queen Min’s body was violated by Japanese political activists? Of course, this rumor is an utter fabrication. This is going too far, as it seems to be blasphemy and does not promote the image of a “tragic queen”. Though I have no sympathy toward Queen Min, I cannot help but feel extremely disgusted by this allegation.
The source of this disturbing rumor was a vulgar novel, titled Abduction of the Crown Princess (2001), written by Kim Jin-myung. Mr. Kim is a forerunner in the field of ridiculous, anti-Japanese novels. He wrote a novel, The Rose of Sharon Bloomed Again (1993), with the story that a united Korea cooperate in developing nuclear missiles to use against Japan. The book sold four million copies, becoming a domestic best seller in Korea. Abduction of the Crown Princess outdid his best-selling book in terms of ridiculousness.
The novel is summarized in the book The Japanese Got Flabbergasted! The Korean People’s False History of Japan, written by Nohira Shunsui (Shogakukan Bunko). I have further summarized it as follows:
“In the year 200X, in Japan, a history textbook compiled by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform passed authorization and it becomes a big diplomatic issue. Then, one day, a grave incident occurred—Crown Princess Owada Masako was kidnapped by someone while she was visiting the Kabuki-za Theater to see a Kabuki play. The abductors, led by a Korean student studying in Japan, Kim Inu, placed a newspaper advertisement demanding that the Japanese Government disclose “Telegram #435” which was sent by the Japanese ministry in the Korean Empire in 1895, in exchange for the release of the Crown Princess.”
Having read this far, most people may get dizzy. Some may get angry and others may burst into laughter. But it is too early to be puzzled. The most upsetting is what is written in “Telegram #435”.
“The telegram is about the assassination of Queen Min. It was faithfully reported that Japanese political activistspolitical activists raped Queen Min’s body and in order to conceal the horrible fact, they cremated the body. The Japanese Government refused to make the telegram public. Crown Princess Masako somehow obtained the telegram herself and was greatly shocked to read it. With the telegram in hand, she participated in a UNESCO’s textbook investigation [Author’s note: I have never heard of such an investigation.] and made the historical fact known to the world. Thanks to the Crown Princess’s courageous action, the Japanese people’s atrocity and historical distortion were revealed to the world. Thus, the ambition of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform failed.”
How do you like that? It took me nearly an hour to get over the abhorrent feeling. Incidentally, Crown Prince Naruhito, former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro, chairman of the Society for Making New Textbook Fujioka Nobukatsu, the Seoul Branch chief of The Sankei Newspaper Kuroda Katsuhiro appear in this novel under their real names.
By the way, in Korea, they disdainfully call the Japanese Emperor “Il Wong” (“Jap King”), but they seem to have strange yearnings toward female members of the Imperial family. They often appear in silly, anti-Japanese books as entities of goodwill. In 2002, a student named Chon Son-hyok, who failed a university entrance exam, wrote a novel titled Chronicles of Baekje and presented the book to the Japanese Embassy in Korea. This incident attracted much attention. In the book, Princess Aiko, studying at Harvard University (oddly, the princess was given an English name, Jacqueline) falls in love with a young Korean man named Yo Min-hyok (a descendant of the king of Baekje) and comes to gain “true historical recognition.” Aside from the absurdity of the story, we know that there is a certain pattern in ridiculous Korean novels.
To them Koreans, “historical recognition” is not the one that Japan and Korea mutually examine and confirm, but the one that Koreans teach to others. In this novel, Professor Emeritus Wada Haruki of Tokyo University, a real person, appears in his real name. Professor Wada is one of the scholars that the Koreans recognize as a “conscientious Japanese.”
Let’s get back to the original topic. As I explained repeatedly, violating the dead is in Chinese and Korean culture. In fact, patriotic advocate of civilization, Kim Ok-kyun (1851-1894), is a typical example of this horrible culture. He led a coup d’etat against the Min administration, but his victory was only short-lived. After he briefly held power, he was murdered by Queen Min’s assassin. His legs and arms were cut off from his body. Then the limbless body was taken across the country and exposed to the elements. His wife was demoted to slave status. This is what the queen called a “benevolent mother of the people” did to her political adversary.
By the way, Kim Ok-kyun was close to Japanese Fukuzawa Yukichi and Toyama Mitsuru through firm friendship, and his tomb stands inconspicuously in Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo. He was not allowed to return to the soil of his home country.
The source of the rumored rape of Queen Min’s corpse
The rumored rape of Queen Min’s corpse advocated by Kim Jin-myung has now taken a life of its own and is regarded as a “fact.” This is an extremely serious situation. Stories depicting Imperial Japanese atrociousness get adapted and exaggerated, like in a game of word relay and finally spread throughout the world as true. This is the regular pattern used in Korean anti-Japanese propaganda, not to mention the case of the comfort women issue.
Mr. Nohira directly asked Mr. Kim Jin-myung about the credibility of “Telegram #435.” Mr. Kim admitted that “Telegram #435” and its contents of his own imagination. But Mr. Kim insisted that his story of Queen Min’s body being raped was based on Ms. Tsunoda’s book, Assassination of Queen Min. She also wrote the following: “Further, it is reported that some Japanese who were beside Queen Min’s body committed acts too horrible for me as a fellow Japanese to describe. Ishizuka Eizo, former councilor at the Legislation Bureau and interior advisor of the Korean Government wrote about the matter in a report to the Legislation Bureau officer Suematsu Kanezumi. The report started with a sentence ‘I truly regret to write about this,’ and concretely explained what was committed at the scene.” I suppose Mr. Kim referred to the above description when he said that his basis for the violation of Queen Min’s body was based on Ms. Tsunoda. However, Ms. Tsunoda herself did not mention anything regarding “the concrete act” in her book. Mr. Nohira wrote a letter to Ms. Tsunoda to confirm this. Ms. Tsunoda replied that there nothing of the kind, of “raping a dead body,” was reported. In later years, Mr. Nohira examined papers (related materials of the incident of the Korean Queen, And letters of Ishizuka Eizo) at National Diet Library Constitution Government Archives and found out that there was no mention of raping the dead Queen Min.
The following is the relevant part of the Ishizaka Report:
“Curiosity-seeking crowds entered deep inside, pulled out the queen, jabbed at her in several places using their swords and stripped her to the skin, examining the pubic region (laughing and roaring). Last, they poured oil and burned her body—to watch the scene is unbearable. And the Minister of the Imperial Household was said to be murdered by extremely cruel means. Or, perhaps, officers helped. Mostly, soldiers and Japanese committed these murders.”
The above can be read as: [After the murder] Curiosity-seeking crowds rushed into the palace, stripped Queen Min to the skin, examined her pubic region “amid laughers and roars,” poured oil over the body and then burned it.
There is no mention of raping a dead body. “Curiosity-seeking crowds” here may refer to Koreans. The truth is that Korean crowds played with the hated dictatress’s body for grim pleasure. This interpretation makes sense to a certain extent.
After all, author Kim Jin-myung fully used his extremely vulgar imagination regarding the “concrete fact” which Ms. Tsunoda herself hesitated to write straightforwardly in her sympathetic book of Queen Min and made up the story of “raping a dead body.” The following is the excerpt of “Telegram 435—raping Queen Min’s corpse” from Abduction of the Crown Princess, which Mr. Nohira quotes in his book. Allow me to use this excerpt again here:
Political activists took off Queen Min’s underwear. One of them…Queen’s pubic region, some political activists [how many of them is not known] took off their trousers, pulled out their penises and …Queen’s beautiful whitish body…in front of the Queen’s body smeared with semen, mercenariesshouted, “Banzai for the Imperial Japan!”
These are ghastly depictions–extreme thrill seekers and a type of pornography fit for the truly depraved. Even if the author’s intention was to instigate a sense of victimization and amplify readers’ anti-Japanese sentiment, the author’s sick imagination, of having the body of the Queen they call the “people’s mother” raped after death leaves me totally speechless. Even if it is fictional, it is grotesque beyond words, or perhaps it is so grotesque because it is fiction. Anyway, are we to say that this is nothing more than a latent masochistic desire of the Korean people for Japan?
Japanese made to sit down on the ground before the tomb of Queen Min
In truth, many Korean anti-Japanese incidents are created in Japan.
Both An Jung-geun and Yi Sun-Shin were first overrated by the Japanese, then their overrated praises went back to Korea, where they were further decorated and various merits were added and finally they became anti-Japanese icons. Now, Queen Min is about to join the constellation. An Jung-geun and Yi Sun-Shin are SK (Strong Korea) icons in that they struck back against hateful Japan, while the “tragic Queen” is a CK (Chicken Korea) icon. The strongest icon Korea has made in collaboration with Japan is none other than the so-called “military comfort women.” In terms of victimized women, Queen Min belongs in the same category as the comfort women. There are “sex slaves” on one hand and “corpse raping” on the other.
There is a bizarre group of people called “Society for Meditating upon Empress Meisei.” The society is said to consist of former and current teachers with the purpose of finding out the descendants of the Japanese perpetrators of the assassination of Queen Min, studying related materials and records, and investigating the truth about the murder. The society was formed in 2004, and since 2005, they go to Korea on October 8, the anniversary of Queen Min’s death, every year to visit Queen Min’s birthplace and her grave to express “apologies”.
In May 2005, invited by a Korean documentary production, the Society visited Korea, taking with them a Japanese man and woman who are allegedly descendants of the perpetrators of Queen Min’s murder (Japanese named Kunitomo Shigeaki and Ieiri Kakichi). The film crew shot scenes of this Japanese couple sitting on the ground and apologizing. The scene was broadcast by TV Asahi’s news program Hodo Station. I saw it myself and felt extremely nauseated. Arriving at the cemetery, the two Japanese “descendants” were met by a battery of cameras, focusing on them directly from the front, with a clear intention of exposing the Japanese and making them look like criminals. The setting was clearly predetermined. This is a sheer violation of their human rights.
Judging from the fact that the Japanese woman wore a cherry-blossom-colored kimono (formal Japanese wear), it is possible that they were invited by the Society under the pretext of making conciliation with descendants of Queen Min. A person claiming to be Queen Min’s great-grandchild arrogantly said to the Japanese couple, who were in tears, “To accept apology or not is not my business. An apology should be made at the governmental level.” I felt very nauseous again watching the scene. Koreans seem to be eager to make this matter another diplomatic issue.
Simply compare this case with that of the meeting between Ito Bunkichi and An Jung-sen I mentioned earlier. These two cases, of face-to-face meetings, may have taken place under the influence of politics. What a wide difference of impressions there are between Japan and Korea! Among the Korean reporters who showered the two drooping Japanese with the shuttering of their cameras and their jeering, there may have been some who firmly believed that the two Japanese are hated descendants of the devils who raped the body of Queen Min.
Did their ancestors Kunitomo Shigeaki and Ieiri Kakichi really murder Queen Min? Kunitomo was a Pan-Asianist news reporter working in Korea, and he was accused of being an accessory in the murder of Queen Min and was imprisoned in Hiroshima, Japan. But he and Minister Miura were not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. As for Ieiri Kakichi, he supposedly taught Japanese in Korea. It is totally unknown if he was involved at all in the incident. We should presume innocence until proven otherwise. Besides, it all happened more than a hundred years ago. Moreover, even if they were perpetrators, it is beyond Japanese sense to attribute their crime to their descendants. It was probably true that Minister Miura collaborated with anti-Queen Min groups behind the scenes with the intention of rebuking Queen Min. It was quite reasonable for the minister to foresee that if Queen Min was allowed to do as she liked, then, sooner or later, Korea would surely be swallowed up by Russia.
Who, then, rejected Queen Min on behalf of Korea? Kim Ok-kyun was among them, though he was killed before fulfillment of his wishes. Also, former military men who were abandoned by Queen Min were angry. The person who hated Queen Min most was none other than Daewong-gun—but he was not the only one. Queen Min was the target of outrage of all the Korean people, who faced extortion under Queen Min’s rule. The assassination of Queen Min was a critical historical event, taking place as various, complicated vectors of the time converged.
In a modern sense, assassination is never permissible. However, there were times in history when only extreme means, such as assassinations, could jolt the world into moving forward.
Both Ito Hirobumi and Queen Min lost their lives by assassination. However, it may take the Korean people a considerable amount of time for them to decide which assassination served them or who were truly devoted to the cause of the Korean people.
I believe that absolute evil does not exist in history. I pray that Queen Min rests in peace in my heart. However, it is not a good idea to make Queen Min a saint.
Is Japan hated because Japan did not trample Korea?—A Paradoxical view of the history of Japan’s colonial control
Japan did not trample Korea
Mr. Kurayama Mitsuru, a scholar of the history of constitutional government, made the following statement, entitled Imperial Japan fell because Japan treated the Koreans as human beings, in the Internet-version of the Weekly SPA, Daily SPA, dated November 22, 2013.
“The assassination of Ito Hirobumi foolishly committed by An Jung-geun triggered Japan’s Annexation of Korea. In the first place, Japan was not qualified to have a colony. And why not? This was because Japan was so naïve as to treat Koreans as human beings…To begin with, what is a colony, ? It is a place for exploitation. Were there resources to be exploited in the Korean Peninsula? No, there was nothing. In the land without resources, Japan earnestly endeavored to spread a currency-based economy, civilize society and develop infrastructure. These things were pursued with passionate commitment… As a result, Japan was to confront the Republic of China, to make it protect the rights of Koreans, who were Imperial Japan’s subjects. The struggle developed into the Manchurian Incident (1931) and further expanded into the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937). Japan was deeply involved in the management of the Chinese continent, which led to national destruction.”
Both the title and contents are shocking. When I read this, I agree with his view. I would like to add my own view in addition to those of Mr. Kurayama’s:
“To rule the Koreans, terror and high-pressured governance is needed. Force them to sit down on the ground and bend their heads, and tread over their heads with full weight.”
Some readers might say, “What an awful thing to say!” or “Are you a racist?” Well, I agree with you. Surely, my words are “awful.” However, hearing such criticism, I don’t flinch, but rather I feel happy. Why? You feel my words “awful,” because I think you are full of kindness and a sense of morality, which are truly Japanese national traits. And I want to say that yours is the standard view of the Japanese. I truly want to be one of the Japanese people.
Japan did not carry out “fear-ridden rule”. Japan was not able to use terrorism in the light of Japanese mentality and sense of morality. Newly accepting Koreans as their fellow citizens and companion, Japan treated Koreans as equally as possible with the Japanese people of mainland Japan. Japan provided the Koreans with education, completed its infrastructure and established public hygiene and all because of this, Japan is hated. This is not at all a paradox or ironic. Because Japan did not imbue the Korean minds with terror, the Koreans were able to safely assert anti-Japanese policies against Japan after World War II. In other words, Japan’s rule over Korea failed.
On the other hand, each Chinese dynasty, fully aware of the Korean people’s character (veiled masochism), ruled Korea without fault. The Chinese tread over the heads of Koreans, with full force, making them sit down and to bow to the ground. Then, with thoroughly imbued terrorism, China, as a master state, made the Koreans appreciate China’s superiority in body and soul. China’s approach was like sports training. The Japanese people, with the culture of cultivation, did not have a very concept of training. That is to say, the Japanese people have never been able to become totally sadistic to other peoples.
“Independence Gate” and “Grateful Reception Gate”
A gate made of piled granite stands in Seodaemon Park in Seoul. The gate is called “Independence Gate.” In recent years, many Korean young people have wrongly thought that the gate was a monument built to commemorate independence from Japan. In fact, the gate was built in 1887 as a wish for independence from Qing China, which was finally realized after Japan won the Sino-Japanese War, and the Qing signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki (Article 1 confirms that Korea is independent of the Qing). That is, Korean independence was achieved with the blood of Japanese youths.
Well, I wonder how many of Korean youths know that there used to be a gate called the Gate of Grateful Reception at the same place before the Independence Gate was built? What kind of gate was it? The gate was used by the Korean King to welcome the Qing’s mission in a most reverential manner, following Chinese etiquette between subjects and their masters—bowing one’s head, almost hitting the ground, three times and repeating the routine three times, namely, sitting on the ground and kowtowing (bowing deeply) nine times. This might be remotely understandable if the King of Korea is to pay respect to the Emperor of Qing as a servant. However, the reception given here is for a mere “messenger” of the Emperor. It is as if the president of an affiliate is made to bow down on the ground to an employee from the parent company. Still, humiliation felt by the Korean King must have been far greater, beyond comparison.
It was said that among such messengers were Koreans who were promoted to serve as Chinese eunuchs, serving the Emperor’s harem or at the Empress’s Palace of the Qing Dynasty. Korea, being extremely underdeveloped, was unable to send a tribute that could satisfy the great Qing Empire. So, all they could do was to send beautiful Korean boys and girls to Qing as tribute. Beautiful girls were chosen from among yangban (officials) families. This custom of “tribute girls” was followed not only by the Qing, but also by all Chinese dynasties that Korea paid tribute to. The history of Korea can be described as one in which wives (lovers) are actively “stolen”, offered to other peoples. On the other hand, boys were castrated and sent to Qing to serve as eunuchs. A eunuch comes to Korea, his home country, as an Imperial messenger.
The King sent a young castrated boy to a foreign land as tribute. Now, the eunuch sees that the king kneels at his feet—how did the King or the homeland that once deserted him as a young boy look to the eunuch? Imagine how the Korean King felt, bowing his head down on the ground and showing his utmost respect to a mere eunuch.
“Eunuchs from Korea, using their status of an Imperial messenger of the master state, pressured the Korean King and demanded bribes. There was a eunuch from Koryo named Wan Quantzoto who had his elder brother Ko-ju appointed to a high office and also had six hundred and thirty-four of his relatives become officials. Some demanded that their home prefectures be promoted. Others blackmailed the Korean King and made extraordinary demands of him. Thus, eunuchs exerted great influence over Korean politics.” (Korea, Unable to Recover, written by Ko Bunyu and published by Kobun-sha.)
Readers will see that castrated Koreans who became Chinese officers are seen as having a far higher position than the King of Korea.
Thus, the Chinese dynasties ruled Korea by making Koreans feel totally humiliated, treading over the heads of sitting Koreans and forcing them to bow to the ground.
Japan had no intention of abolishing the Joseon Dynasty
Koreans usually do not hesitate to say that the thirty-six years of Japan’s Annexation of Korea were under the “harshest colonial rule that has no parallel in all of human history.” It may sound quite literary, but so long as Koreans say, “no likes of it in all of human history,” one would think that Japan demanded far more humiliating duties from the Korean King and ministers than China did. At least, this is what people outside of Japan and Korea would believe it if they just hear Korea’s.
However, the facts are completely different. No Japanese person, including the Emperor Meiji, the first Japanese Resident-General of Korea , Ito Hirobumi, and the first Governor-General of Korea, Terauchi Masatake, demanded Chinese-style formalities of kneeling on the ground and kowtowing nine times from Korean King Gojong or his heir Sunjong, who was later enthroned. Far from that, Japan had Imperial Prince Yi Un, who had been chosen as Sunjong’s heir, study in Japan and marry a member of the Imperial Family, Princess Nashimoto-no-miya Masako, who was once favored as a consort for Emperor Showa. Thus, Japan treated the Korean dynasty as a relative of the Japanese Imperial Family. This took place at such time as when a country fell under another’s rule–it was regularly the conquered dynasty’s fate to be eliminated completely, root and branch, or to have their leader executed.
Of course, I don’t mean to say that Japan’s rule over Korea was without fault. There may have been inconsiderate policies that hurt the Korean people’s pride. There may have been pompous officers who did nothing but rant. The marriage of Prince Yi Un was certainly political in nature. However, it is an indisputable fact that the aim of Japanese rule was neither elimination of the Korean people nor the fall of the Korean dynasty.
Japan’s Annexation of Korea was different from European colonial rule
In Korea, in 2005, an infamous law targeting Koreans who supported Japan came into effect. The official name of the law is “Special law to redeem pro-Japanese collaborators’ property”. In Article 1, PURPOSE, reads: “By putting under the State ownership assets which had been accumulated by anti-Korean, pro-Japanese Koreans who cooperated with the Imperial Japan’s colonial rule and oppressed our people, justice shall realize and the people’s spirit shall rise.” In gist, assets are to be confiscated from descendants of those who accumulated a certain amount of assets, cooperating in policies of Japan and Korean Governor-General’s Office during Japan’s Annexation of Korea. Needless to say, this law conflicts with principles of modern laws that prohibit retroactive law and guild by association. The one who promoted passage of this law was President Roh Moo-hyun, who was a lawyer. This fact clearly indicates the backwardness of that country. The President himself proved that Korea is not a law-abiding country. A witch-hunt, like that of the Middle Ages, has begun in a neighboring country.
The concept of “pro-Japanese Koreans” mentioned here is defined in Article 2, Paragraph 1 as: “We hereby define pro-Japanese Koreans as those who concluded, signed or deliberated treaties, such as The Treaty of the Annexation of Korea to Japan, that infringe our sovereignty; Korean nobles; those who were active in the House of Nobles or the House of Representatives; vice-chairman of the central office (inquiry organ of the Korean Governor-General’s Office); or State Councilors, all of whom are considered as greatly pro-Japanese.” Those who were titled or became Diet members were labeled “pro-Japanese” and were judged as such. In February 2014, the Korean Court ruled that the descendant of Yi Hesun, who held the title of marquis during the Annexation period, pay all profits gained through land transactions to the Treasury. Plaintiff was a governmental organization called “The investigative committee of assets of perpetrators of pro-Japanese, anti-national activities.” This can be considered a present-day Inquisition.
Aside from this law and the bizzare Korean judiciary, take heed of the fact that during the Annexation, Korean people were able to obtain Japanese titles and enter the nobility and be elected into the Diet. If this was the very nature of “the harshest rule that has no parallel in all of human history,” then we should have Indian British royals or an African French President as well.
Class and discrimination
Britain, an old hand in colonial management, was adept at using divide and conquer. For example, when the British Empire colonized Malay Peninsula, the British did not directly rule, but they had Indians and Chinese merchants abroad settle there and had them control the Malays. This was very cunning of them in that the grievance of ruled Malays was directed toward the immediate rulers, Indians and Chinese, but not toward Britain herself.
Would history have fared better if Japan had had Taiwanese, Manchurians, Chinese merchants abroad or Polynesians settle in Korea and had them rule the Koreans, instead of having the Koreans establish an autonomous government? Perhaps the Korean people’s han (grudge) would not have been directed toward us Japanese. Japan’s rule would not have been criticized for being “the harshest rule that has no parallel in all of human history.” By now, Japan and Korea would be the friendliest neighbors in Asia.
In addition, Britain cunningly used tribal conflicts within colonial policy. Thus, while tribal conflicts turned the local peoples’ grievances inwardly, toward each other, this also served to prevent local tribes from uniting and revolting against Britain.
African countries, even today, are beset with tribal conflicts and civil wars, mainly due to policies employed by Whites during their rule are effectively still working there. And Whites continue to make much money by selling arms to each tribe in conflict-ridden Africa. Recently, China has joined in their war-mongering scheme. It is also said that conflicts among respective strata of caste in India became worse during the period of British rule.
Korea is a thoroughly class-based society, with the yangban noble class at the top and has been traditionally plagued with regional conflicts since the ancient period of the Three Kingdoms (Silla, Baekje and Goguryeo). The ruling Korean Governor-General’s Office must have fully known the situation, but they did not have the wisdom to use it in their favor.
Let me explain the Korean class system. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), there was a very strict class distinction in Korea, which went, from the top, yangban, upper-middle-class, ordinary citizens and servants. The actual ruling class was the yangban, which refers to the male lineage of those families who passed the Keju (official examination) for entry into either the literary field or the military field. There were two groups of civil servants and officers and therefore both groups were called yangban.
In official ceremonies, the King faced south, and facing the King, civil officials sat to the right (east) and officers sat to the left (west). They were also called dongban and xiban, respectively. Both civil servants and officers seemed to be equal in status, but, in fact, officers were far inferior to civil servants. Traditionally, it was believed that reading and being absorbed in empty discussions were the true calling for noble people. The Korean trend of undue emphasis on literature (civil servants) and almost no emphasis on the military (officer) directly corresponds to their latent sense of disdain against Japan. As readers may well know, in Japan, samurai had long been a part of the ruling class. The Meiji Government was practically run by local samurai groups called Saccho (Satsuma and Choshu, presently Kagoshima and Yamaguchi Prefectures). With this fact alone, Korea regards Japan as barbarous—a country where the people forget the pen and are ruled by the sword.
In the keju examination, there was another miscellaneous category, aside from literary and military arts. Miscellany referred to special knowledge, not relevant to the two types of arts—practical studies including medicine, astronomy, and foreign languages (Chinese and Japanese), which are specialized skills. The class that produced most of those who passed this category were the upper-middle-class, who were positioned between yangban and ordinary citizens in social status. Though their official rank was low, they were able to engage in official work. The ordinary citizens were farmers, craftsmen and merchants. The lowest class was slave, lacking in basic human rights, and they were traded for money. Their life or death was totally up to the owner. Korea during the Joseon Dynasty was a typical slave-based class society. Without their existence, menial labor would not have been performed. Outside of these strata, there were people called the Baekjeong (untouchables), who were equivalent to segregated villagers seen in Japan. They were engaged in slaughtering animals, selling meat, tanning, bamboo crafting, and served as undertakers. While they were segregated socially, they were exempt from the obligation of paying taxes. They were treated in the same manner as their Japanese counterparts. They were placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy, but it is more appropriate to say that they were placed outside the class system.
Japan introduced the Japanese principle of equality for all people in Korea, a pre-modern class-dominated state, and liberated slaves and the baekjeong. Opening the door to learning, which had long been monopolized by yangban and middle-class people, Japan spread primary education across Korea.
It seems that these endeavors worked against Japan. This is one of the reasons why Japan is still hated by Korea, being accused of having exercised “the harshest colonial rule that has no parallel in all of human history.” Rather, to bring the concept of equality for all during colonial rule must have been an experiment “that has no parallel in all of human history.” And this experiment ended up in sheer failure. Those who hate Japan of the Annexation period most are former yangban, who were stripped of various privileges under Japan’s policy of equality for all. President Syngman Rhee, who launched the Republic of Korea with the “anti-Japanese” state policy, was from the yangban.
Riddling comfort women issue from any point of view
One of the deepest-rooted issues that lie between Japan and Korea is the comfort women issue.
In recent years, Korea has been strategically working to change this from a bilateral issue to an international one. Korean built comfort women statues and monuments can be found across America, using Korean residents and students studying in the U.S. to plant them. Korea entered many comic books depicting comfort women at the Festival international de la band dessinee d’Angouleme in France. Korea publicly announced that they would apply for registration of the comfort women to the UNESCO Memory of the World. These movements clearly show that the comfort women issue has entered into a new phase. In dealing with this phase, Japan remains totally defensive.
Korean and Japanese sympathizers assert: “The Japanese military, in cooperation with governmental officials, abducted innocent Korean girls by force or using honeyed words throughout the Korean Peninsula, and took them to comfort stations set up in various places and made them sexually service soldiers there after; many of the girls were gang-raped in the process.” They condemn the Japanese Government for its failure to offer compensation or an official apology. Korea claims the number of forced comfort women is two hundred thousand. I can definitively say that their claims nothing but lies.
In 1944, the population of the Korean Peninsula was about twenty million. Supposing that the half of the population were females, there were ten million women. This number includes babies and older women. Then, suppose that women between 15 to 30 are eligible to work as prostitutes and roughly half of the total female population are in this age range (15-30), we get five million women. Korea claims two hundred thousand women out of five million were forcibly abducted and made military sex slaves. One out of twenty-five, in a case of a school, one or two girls in a class suddenly became missing as if by divine intervention. It is extremely puzzling that there was not a witness’ record or testimony available regarding such incidents of missing women. At that time, most police officers were Koreans. Why, then, did they fail to investigate the mysterious disappearances of so many young women?
Conquering by getting the conquered women pregnant with children of the conquerors
Now, a different story: between 1947 and 1948, Japanese soldiers abroad returned home to Japan in great numbers. What sights caught their eyes and made them bitter when they returned home alive and stepped on the homeland? The vast, scorched land, starving children, signs everywhere reading “OFF LIMITS”—all these must have been heartbreaking. In my opinion, I think what shocked them the most was the presence of streetwalkers, “pan-pan girls.”
When they returned, the Japanese maidens who had sent them off as soldiers going to war, waving small rising-sun flags, as good wives of soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army, now wore gorgeous red lipstick, spoke broken American and hung to the arms of American soldiers, once their enemies. When Japanese men faced this harsh reality, they could not help but to recognize it and accept it; totally helpless. The bad luck of being divested of their own women by conquerors has a great psychological impact.
A rumor arose around that time—General Douglas MacArthur, General Headquarters, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, fell in love with Hara Setsuko, the most popular Japanese actress at the time and she became his mistress most unwillingly, for the sake of her country. Regarding this story, the late Mr. Kato Koichi, a social and cultural critic, wrote in his book, History of Showa Scandals (Hanashi no Tokushu): “It was a demagogy born out of the spirit of little resistance of people who were harassed both tangibly and intangibly by the highest power of the time.” Speaking of Hara Setsuko, she was a nationally famous, top actress, dubbed the “eternal maiden.” She was the ideal image of a Japanese woman. Then, she was made a mistress of the head of the Occupation Forces. The “spirit of resistance” must have been quite refracted to a defeated nation. On the other hand, I was told by an older person who lived through the days under military occupation that there was truth to a rumor that had: Japanese men who rebelled against GHQ (General Headquarter, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) were all taken to Okinawa and had their testicles pulled out.” These two urban legends should be considered as a set.
Rob women of their virginity and castrate men. Rob men of different nations of their reproductive ability and plant the conquerors’ seed into the women. Thus, over a long span of time, diminish the Y chromosome of the conquered nation and assimilate with the conquerors. This is how the conqueror rules the conquered, and this fear is not a fabrication when we think of what is presently happening in Tibet and Uighur. Now in the 21st century, under a policy of the Chinese Communist Party, many Tibetan women have been forcibly moved to inland China to marry Chinese men there. In the case of a Tibetan husband and wife, when the wife becomes pregnant, she is forced to have an abortion. As punishment for certain crimes, young people are sterilized. If things go on unchanged, in less than fifty years, it is said that pure-blooded Tibetans will disappear from the face of the earth. It is horrible beyond words. In Uighur Autonomous Region, the same kinds of things are going on.
Battleground and rape
The method of domination by getting the conquered women pregnant with the children of the conquerors and producing half-bloods was most frequently used by the Spanish. During the Age of Exploration or organized maritime exploration of the world by Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries, Spain invaded many parts of South America on the pretext of saving souls for Christ and left many mestizo or half-bloods, between Spaniards and the local natives. Mestizos formed the middle stratum of the ruling structure and monopolized many important government posts, putting pure-blooded natives below them. To mestizos, the ruling Spaniards were at the head of the lineage and it was fundamentally implausible for mestizos to rebel against the Spaniards. This system can be said to utilize dived and conquer in a different manner.
To plant one’s own Y chromosome into conquered women, putting aside whether this is ethically right or wrong, is probably a behavior that is instinctive or unconscious. For example, for pygmy chimpanzees, which are supposedly second to humans in intelligence among the animals, when a new boss arises among the troop, the new boss attacks the old boss’ female chimpanzees and bites the infant chimpanzees (the old boss’s children) which bleed to death in front of the entire troop. Females, seeing their children killed, become sexually aroused at the sight of rushing blood and begin copulating with the new boss, instead of getting angry over the bloody sight. (Current Monkey Studies, written by Tachibana Takashi, published by Heibon-sha.)
A similar type of infanticide is also seen with lions.
In the case of humans, it is on the battleground that such primitive reproductive impulses most frequently appear. That is probably why in wartime and during following occupation, incidents of rape frequently occur. In fact, during the Vietnam War, wherever Korean soldiers went, it was reported that there were many cases of rape, arson, infanticide and even the killing of fetuses by cutting open the mother’s womb. Korean soldiers during war-time revert to pygmy chimpanzees.
Similar incidents took place in Manchuria, North Korea and Sakhalin immediately after the end of World War II. There were many cases of rape and murder of female Japanese residents in these areas by Koreans who became the cat’s paws of Russian soldiers. Futsukaichi Health Care Center at Futsukaichi-cho, Chikushi-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture was a medical facility where women who had been raped by Russian or Korean soldiers and returned home to Japan secretly had abortions or treatment for venereal diseases. Now, a small zizo shrine in memory of the aborted fetuses stands at the site of the facility.
The same was true of the situation in mainland Japan. Koreans, self-proclaimed “victors” banded together and committed various criminal acts including rape, taking advantage of the lack of police.
The Korean people seemed to become totally sadistic once they realized that they are dealing with the weak. However, when they are dealing with the strong, they submit in a masochistically servile manner. It is no exaggeration to say that they have an extremely peculiar mentality. The Chinese devised their way of ruling the Koreans with terror after the Chinese fully comprehended the Korean mentality. To Koreans, the Japanese spirit of wa (peaceful harmony) or concept of equality means nothing to them other than ”weakness” or “surrender.” Korea might have thought it would be easy to kill Japan in her sleep in the name of revenge over Japan’s long-term rule of Korea, if only an opportunity arose.
Rape and massacre date back to the time of the Bible
Whoops, I should be careful here. It may be misleading if I say that only Korean people are cruel, merciless rapists and murderers. I don’t want to be called a racist myself. In this regard, I’d like to show you the words from Moses in the Book of Numbers from The Old Testament. By the way, a prophet is a person who conveys words of God, that is, a kind of shaman:
Now, then, you shalt kill all boys among these children and kill all women that slept with men and knew men. However, you shalt let live all maidens who have not yet slept with men and not yet known men for yourselves. (Numbers, 31:17-18)
Similarly, in Judges:
Go to Jabesh-gilead and strike all inhabitants there, including women and children, with swords. Then you shalt do like this. You shalt annihilate all men and all women that have slept with men. (Judges, 21:10-12)
Here, God orders the people of Judea to annihilate foreigners (heathens) in battle. God orders them to root out all men, grown-ups and children alike, and to kill women who have “known” men. Non-maidens could bear their children with the “wrong” Y chromosome, and, therefore, they must be annihilated. As for maidens, God benevolently instructs them to take the maidens as trophies and enjoy those maidens to their heart’s content. Then, later, during the 11th to 13th centuries, the Crusades were organized to save the Holy Land and they faithfully followed God’s providence. They killed, usurped and raped. In the history of war, these things are repeated, over and over again.
Nevertheless, in modern wars, massacre and rape of civilians are grave war crimes, regardless of any reason perpetrators cite to as justification. It’s an undeniable fact that the system of comfort stations played a role of restraining potential sex crimes. On August 30, Douglas MacArthur landed at Atsugi Air Base outside Tokyo and the Allied occupation of Japan began. In U.S. military-related records, within a mere ten days after MacArthur’s arrival, 1,336 cases of rape of Japanese women by American soldiers occurred. (The U.S. Army documented over twenty thousand rapes in the European front.) GHQ (General Headquarters) was so embarrassed that they requested the Japanese Government to set up the RAA (Recreation and Amusement Association). Half-bloods created between American soldiers and Japanese women, whether victims of rape or as a result of prostitution, became a serious social problem.
A question naturally arises: Suppose that “the harshest colonial rule that has no parallel in all of human history” was implemented, would it not be true that a great number of children with their Japanese fathers’ chromosomes would be left on the Korean Peninsula? Regarding this question, the Korean Government has not produced any witnesses, let alone started an investigation. Isn’t this strange?
In reality, during Japan’s annexation period, the Japanese Government and the Governor-General’s Office, under the slogan of “Unite Japan and Korea into One,” encouraged intermarriage between Japanese in mainland Japan and Koreans. However, this attempt was not very successful. Japanese may have given a wide berth to having Korean spouses or vice versa. In factuality, marriages between Japanese and Koreans were limited in number.
I found an interesting article in Asahi Graph of December 29, 1953. The magazine’s feature was coverage of Japanese fishermen who were detained at a Pusan detention center after they were captured for allegedly crossing the Syngman Rhee Line . The article also mentioned briefly that there was another building accommodating nearly six hundred mothers and children. They were Japanese women who had married Koreans and remained in Korea with their children. Their Korean husbands had been killed in the Korean War (1950-53). They wanted to return to Japan, but the Korean Government detained them and kept them there in a ghetto-like facility. Regrettably, I don’t know whether they were allowed to go to Japan. I would like to add something here. It was Mrs. Yi Masako, wife of Imperial Prince Yi Un, mentioned earlier in this chapter, who organized the Japanese Women’s Society in Korea after World War II and tirelessly supported and encouraged those widowed Japanese wives, who were never able to return home to Japan. Throughout Japan’s rule of Korea, far from leaving Japanese Y chromosomes in Korea, in the cases of intermarriages, couples that had a Korean husband and a Japanese wife far outnumbered other couples. This is an extremely rare case in colonial history.
Inside and outside of Kisaeng sightseeing and the Korean-style boom
Mr. Kim Chi-ha, a leading Korean anti-regime poet, is well known for having been imprisoned many times, for advocating the democratization of Korea during Pak Chong-hui’s military administration. Mr. Kim wrote a long poem entitled The Tale Mr. Excrement (1974). The poem goes something like this: A Japanese group comes to Korea on a Kisaeng sightseeing tour. The leader of the group climbs up on the top of the statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin in Seoul and releases volumes of feces right there, and the man himself ends up being swallowed up by a pool of his own feces. The poem is full of jokes.
Kisaeng is, of course, a Korean geisha and here refers to a professional woman who entertains men at night, which includes sex. The Pak Chong-hui military regime set up a public-run Kisaeng house as a visitor resource, aiming to earn foreign currency to revive the totally exhausted domestic economy after the Korean War. Plainly speaking, they were public servants working as prostitutes. And their major customers were Japanese tourists. It may be unbelievable in recent years when female fashion magazines feature attractive tours of Korea, but it is no exaggeration to say that only two decades ago, a trip to Korea was almost synonymous for “sex-tour” for vulgar middle-aged or older Japanese men. Although the aim was to gain foreign currency, it would have been unbearable to accept the fact that Korean women had sex with Japanese men for money. The business was promoted by the state of Korea. This complex state of mind appears in the description of a Japanese man releasing feces over the statue of Korean hero Admiral Yi Sun-Shin. I perceive the quite un-Korean, somewhat sadistic bitter-sweet humor in the poem. At the same time, the Japanese man himself ends up dead amid his own feces. On Mr. Kim’s part, he must have felt a certain satisfaction there. I also feel that there is instinctive resistance among Korean women to having sex with foreign men for money. It may be interesting to compare this with the previously mentioned widespread rumor about Japanese actress Hara Setsuko.
A surplus male population in Korea
The Korean male-female population ratio is very distorted. At present, according to statistics, nearly 19.6 % of male population do not have marriage opportunities. (Stated by the Gyeonggi Province Research Institute on Family and Women.) Japan, too, has long been said to be a society with a surplus male population. However, Japan’s surplus rate has never exceeded 9%, so, the Korean rate is extraordinary.
In recent years, Korea has boasted of being a quasi-advanced country with her GDP ranking 15th in the world. At the same time, as is usual with advanced countries, the problems of late marriage and fewer children have become apparent since at least over ten years ago. In Korean society, “magma and summa” have been placed on one’s educational background and only graduates of the four major Universities of Seoul, Yonsei, Korea, Sungkyunkwan, and Ewha Woman’s University for women get jobs (now, even for graduates from these universities, it is not so easy to get jobs). It costs much money for parents to give their child a good education to enter the elite universities. It is a popular trend to acquire English conversation skills and families with financial advantages, if any, are eager to have their children learn English conversation as early as in early childhood. It is a shared dream of middle-class Koreans to have their children study abroad in future and, if possible, to have them obtain American or Canadian citizenship, hoping that their children will eventually invite them to live abroad together. As things are today, it is practically impossible for Koreans to have three or four children, unless they are very wealthy.
Besides financial problems, there are more headaches for Koreans. Based on deep-rooted Confucian culture, if the husband is the eldest son, his parents will half-menacingly oblige the couple to have a son as an heir. When the wife becomes pregnant for the first time, if they find out that it is a girl, in most cases, she is urged by her in-laws, both explicitly and implicitly, to get an abortion. In fact, Korea is a major pro-abortion country. Thus, countless female babies are gone before they are born, which results in the present distorted male-female population ratio.
My view is that the true nature of the Korean-style boom is that it is a state policy aiming at providing Korean men with Japanese women. The kisaeng sightseeing tour was a sad state policy. And in revenge for the humiliating memory of having Japanese men make love to Korean women for money, the Koreans came up with a new state policy of producing a Korean-style boom in Japan, which is worthy of their newly obtained status as a quasi-advanced country. Among young Korean men, “to erect Taegeukgi (Korean national flag)” is slang for having sex with a Japanese woman.
The Culture of castration is nonexistent in Japan
Recently, I heard the expression “herbivorous boys,” referring to young Japanese males. During the recent Korean-style boom, this expression was used very frequently, as in a context such as: “Korean males who are positive and passionate in everything are far more attractive than herbivorous Japanese males.”
Certainly, the Japanese people have been herbivorous from ancient times, judging from the historical fact that Japan was never able to adopt the dominant style of killing and raping occupied people, based on the logic of blood and lineage. For that matter, Japan should be proud of being herbivorous, instead of being ashamed of it. It is quite one-sided to conclude that herbivores are weak and are prey to predators. It is not easy for the lion or leopard to single-handedly kill an elephant or a rhinoceros. Mighty gorillas are herbivorous, too.
There has been no culture of castration in Japan. It is said that during Japan’s Warring States Period what amazed a Jesuit missionary who came to Japan was that there were no castrated bulls or horses in Japan. Some argue that this fact is the very refutation against the theory that Japan was conquered by a horse-riding race, for there is no way for a horse-riding race to survive without the knowledge of castration. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), there was a harem called O-Oku (inner palace), but there was not a single eunuch in O-Oku. The Japanese people had no idea of castrating domestic animals, let alone humans.
On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, tribute girls and eunuchs were very important tributes for Korea to regularly send to each Chinese dynasty. Korea has a disgraceful history of sending the daughters of yangban families as comfort women and castrated men to their master State of China.
What propels men to fight
In times of war, what stirs up men and makes them take up arms is fear and absolute anger at the thought that their enemies may come to rape their women–wives, daughters, and sisters. This instinct cannot be fully explained in terms of nationalism. It is part of the male instinct. Both carnivores and herbivores have the same instinct.
The French national anthem La Marseillaises, one of the most belligerent national anthems in the world, clearly indicates this. This song was originally a war song for the French Revolutionary Government fighting a war against Austria.
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras Egorger vos fils, vos compagnes! (They come to your arms and slit the throats of your sons and your wives!)
By the way, “egorger” is a verb, meaning to slaughter domestic animals by cutting the throat, to butcher, or to kill like insects. “To kill” is simply “tuer”, but “egorger” is many times far crueler. Then, the song moves on to the famous refrain.
Aux arms, citoyens, Formez vos batallions, Marchons, marchons! (Take arms, citizens, Form your battalion, March, March!)
Qu’un sang impur, Abreuve nos sillons (Their impure blood imbues our furrows.)
There is a phrase, namely, “war and peace.” However, I think it a little incongruous to put “peace” as reverse of “war.” Equally, I have mixed feelings about the words “love and peace.” Love and peace are not at all synonyms. There may be a few cases where love can keep conflicts away. However, almost all conflicts over human matters—lethal fighting and wars—are brought by love. There is love, and therefore, there are wars. The origin lies, as I just said, in the instinct to protect one’s wife, daughters, and females of the tribe from invaders (males of other tribes). To pursue this to the core, it is the instinct to protect one’s chromosome and pass it on to the future.
Let me repeat this. We are kept alive by the instinct to keep our own chromosome intact and to pass it on to the future. Suppose a certain people had as many as two hundred thousand of their women abducted, but they failed to rise in a riot. It would not be too much to say that the people might as well be extinct at that very moment. Biologically, they no longer have a raison d’etre. That’s how natural selection takes place.
Women who slept with the enemy
With France, after Paris was liberated from the Germans in August 1944, prostitutes who slept with Germans, women who bore German children, and an actress who supposedly had an affair with a German officer and the like were brought before a mob and, one after another, they had their heads saved and rocks were thrown at them. The peoples’ disgust of their women, “who slept with the enemy” went to such extremes.
The Korean dynasties, instead of protecting their own women, surrendered under the Chinese Army and offered their women, in order to survive. Quite contrary to angry French citizens who threw rocks at prostitutes who serviced German soldiers, Korea keeps throwing curses at the Japanese Government and the Japanese people, not at the comfort women who earned much money working for the Japanese Army. (Of course, I don’t mean to say that we should throw rocks at comfort women.)
The people who had failed to work for their own women came to throw their pent-up frustration over their miserable history at Japan, interwoven with anti-Japanese thinking—this is exactly what the comfort women issue is about. Besides, I can definitively say that Korean anti-Japanese thoughts and actions derive from the sentiment which should have been directed toward their former ruler, China, or the Joseon Dynasty and yangban, or from insolvent liabilities called “ham.” But all of these were changed to wrongly hold Japan responsible.
To rape women and make them bear the conqueror’s children and to castrate men and use them—Japan did not follow the manner of colonial rule by carnivorous cultures of the Whites and the Chinese, and for this very reason, Japan is still blamed by Korea now, seventy years after World War II ended. Japan failed to rule Korea. Colonial rule without fear and humiliation is nothing.
Well, I may have overstated this. In ruling other peoples, pleasure is an indispensable factor besides fear. It’s a sweet, maddening pleasure of opium. To sell narcotic and turn the ruled into cripples is the most effective and profitable way of colonial control that humankind has ever devised. That was what the Great British Empire, the most skilled colonial management expert, did.
At the beginning of the Meiji Period, Japan, a debutant in international society, was a green horn hot with sweet notions such as “the world is one family.” Japan followed the Great British Empire as a model of modern constitutional monarchy. However, Japan was not eager enough to learn how to run a colony effectively.
As Mr. Kurayama pointed out, it is reasonable to say that Japan was not “qualified to have a colony.” And that is why Japan’s rule of Korea is called “the worst colonial rule that has no parallel in all of human history.”
And I am so proud of Japan for that.
The Korean people never once fail to condemn Japan, using the almighty phrase “historical recognition”. However, to me, Koreans blushingly urging Japan to share the same HISTORICAL RECOGNITION which looks like a bunch of naïve boys.
During the existence of Naver, the Internet Korean-Japanese translation bulletin board, I often browsed the site with interest. When Japanese and Korean Netizens meet, historical controversy naturally occurs. To be fair, I have encountered not a sight where the Japanese side was a loser in any controversy. When the Japanese side pasted URLs of data, photographs and official documents based on primary historical sources and showed these to them, the Korean side instantly fell silent. We thought that the Korean side was fully persuaded by the Japanese presentation of facts and that the thread was abandoned. But on the next day, a new thread with an almost identical title was up, and controversy started again as if nothing had ever happened. Thus, the presentation of data by the Japanese side ended up being totally useless.
To put it simply, while the situation looks like abandonment of discussion or flight on the part of Korea, I don’t think they had such notion at all. I presume that historical data posted in the bulletin were so shocking that they preferred to think that the data did not exist. That is, they deleted them from memory. Like a child who happens to witness his parents in an act supposedly forbidden act.
Nobody wants to see nor imagine what his parents are doing. However, it is an undeniable fact that the act made him what he is today. This can be easily understood with mature thinking,
First, there is a cause to everything and then a result follows. Verbally, this reason sounds quite natural. It was Buddha that first discovered this reason. I cannot help but wonder why left-wing scholars and critics who advocate a materialistic view of history forget the reason and try to explain history exclusively in terms of feeling, sentiment and emotion when it comes to dealing with the relationship between Japan and Korea. However, it is also true that without perceiving the emotional part, it is impossible to understand the abnormal relationship between Japan and Korea. And I should say that this book is thoroughly focused on the emotional aspects of the Korean-Japanese relationship.
How, now, should a child who witnessed his parents’ act cope with this as a little boy? Most children try to forget about it by shutting out the “witnessed sight”from their consciousness. Some may rationalize it and deal with it in their own ways. For example, a boy may have interpreted it as “Dad and Mom are having a fight,” or “Dad is hurting Mom.” This boy may grow hatred toward his father without realizing it. Or when he grows up, he may have an extreme abhorrence of sexual intercourse itself. In my opinion, the theory that Japan’s Annexation was the act of rape is an exact example of this failed rationalization.
My true intention of comparing the Koreans to naïve boys lies here. One can say that they are pure-hearted. They are afraid of being hurt emotionally. Therefore, they become punitive toward others.
The Koreans sometimes act in haughty and insolent ways toward Southeast Asians, simply because they are the peoples of developing countries. However, here is a solid fact in which the Koreans can never dispute. It is the fact that Southeast Asian peoples fought against their former State master and finally won their independence, shedding their own blood. So long as their brave feats are marked in history, I don’t totally deny wars.
Now, back to Korea. Korea’s independence from Qing China was brought only after Japan defeated Qing in the Sino-Japanese War, and their independence from Japan was realized as a result of Japan’s defeat in World War II. In other words, the Koreans have never once experienced winning their independence on their own. Korea has not gone through a due process of development as a nation and therefore, Korea is a virgin, so to speak. In many occasions, Korea tends to act in a disproportionately haughty manner against neighboring countries. This is almost like a virgin, surrounded by grownups, pretending to look like a dandy playboy as much as possible.
However, boys have potential. For them, true nation-building or a chance to become a true man lies in the great enterprise of the unification of North and South Koreas. This one, we truly want them to achieve all by themselves, without our lending a hand.
And when they become decent men, an equal relationship between Japan and Korea will arrive in the true sense of the word.
May such a blessing arrive someday!