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Friday, March 18, 2005

I knew they were right...

I was wondering the other day about the political orientation of the people surrounding the Japanese embassy in Seoul, cutting off their fingers, setting fire to themselves (etc), all over the Tokto (non)issue (see Kotaji passim et alia Koreanus blogium ad infinitum). Obviously, not being in Seoul it’s not possible to pop down to check out who’s hanging out burning Japanese flags, but it seems that I’ve got my answer anyway. According to the Marmot:
Something odd I noticed as I was doing a piece for the Chosun — the groups doing the protesting are, by and large, not the anti-American lefty loons you usually see protesting in front of embassies. No, this is a crew of an entirely different sort. The Korea Freedom League, Pan-Citizen Alliance to Defend Dokdo, Citizens’ Alliance to Stop North Korean Nuclear Weapons, Hwalbindan… these are some real, hardcore rightists. The kind of guys who’d normally be spending the day burning Kim Jong-il in effigy.
Oh My News also has a good article about the Tokto demonstrators (also a good English article), quoting the chairman of the Seoul veterans' association as saying that the whole Tokto crisis was actually the fault of the Korean left and their “inadequate nationalism” (어설픈 민족주의) and promotion of 'anti-Americanism'. So, the logic of this is basically that, because the South Korean left has stood up to US imperialism both on the Korean peninsula and in its recent murderous adventure in Iraq (this practice is usually known under the name 'anti-Americanism' for some reason), it has not paid enough attention to real issues concerning the Korean people such as the designs of a few Japanese loony rightists on some rocks in the middle of the East Sea. And therefore the whole Korean nation is under threat. Hmmm, personally I'm not convinced by this line of reasoning.

Anyway, it is quite clear that the whole Tokto thing, as well as being whipped up by the mainstream press, is being exploited for all it's worth by the Korean far-right and it is the right in general that is leading the protests. I'm not, of course, denying that there might be people of other political complexions out on the streets as well, but in general it seems to be a good excuse for a nice day out for all those semi-fascist, semi-gangster groups who rarely get to see the light of day in Korea these days.

Talking of fascist types, I finally found a picture of those Japanese fascists celebrating the passing of a bill to establish 'Takeshima Day' in Shimane Prefecture (they look strangely like schoolboys don't they):



Anyway, to everyone who's going to be out on the streets today/tomorrow protesting about the real imperial project of our times, have a good day. I'll think of you all as I file past the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, most likely shouting something horribly anti-American...

PS: If you think I've gone all soft on Japan, I've got a post on Japan/Korea/Iraq coming up which should hopefully be quite interesting.

2 Comments:

At March 19, 2005 3:43 PM, Anonymous sy said...

To be fair, the left has had its share in the business of setting themselves alight - over trifles such as democracy, workers' rights. It seems the right is catching up on it, at last.

Inadequate Nationalism? Pity it isn’t Internationalism.

 
At March 20, 2005 12:26 PM, Blogger kotaji said...

My sentiments exactly... Perhaps these rightists are correct that the nationalism of the Korean left is only half-hearted. I just wish it was even more half-hearted. The people who can actually defeat the rising rightwing in Japan are the Japanese social movements, workers and anti-war activists. The Korean left should be giving them all the help they can in their struggle, not falling in line with the Korean rightwing and government, calling for troops to be sent to Tokto and other such nonsense.

By the way, the BBC was reporting that yesterday's anti-war demo in Tokyo was 4500 strong. This might not sound like much, but in the context of Japan it's pretty bloody good (if the figures are correct).

 

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