Bitterness: Korea, Japan, and the tsunami

The following is a collection of paraphrased statements from a fellow teacher. The teacher’s English is very much a work in progress, so take it all with a grain of salt. (Also, the Korea Red Cross is doing a lot in this crisis, so please don’t assume “everybody in Korea” thinks this way (edit: see link). This was one conversation I had, and I thought I’d share because, obviously, there are some people who think this way. And I do take liberties with assuming the roots of the emotions are in the historical conflict between the two countries, but, as many who live here would agree, I don’t think they are unfounded liberties.)

I don’t want to help Japan.

(Why not?)

You know Dokdo [the island group that both countries claim]? Dokdo is Korean, but Japan tries to say it is Japan.

Korea tried to send doctors to Japan, but Japan said they didn’t want Korea’s doctors because they are not certified in Japan.

If businessmen and singers want to give their money, that’s fine, but the government should not give any money.

Japan let the radiation into the ocean, and it is destroying the ecosystem. Now we can’t eat things like fish or seaweed because of their radiation.

The ocean currents will carry the radiation waste to Korea.

Japan gave information about their nuclear waste to America and France but not to Korea.

I can’t vouch for the validity much of what was said. If the statements about rejection and information-sharing have truth in them, then both countries are obviously still holding on to their historical tension.  And yet…

It reminds me of the Americans that gloried over the tsunami because of Pearl Harbor, to which I could only respond with a Really now? Really??

I understand Japan committed unspeakable monstrosities against Korea and other Asian countries.  I feel immense compassion for the many elderly women alive today who can tell stories of how they were forced to become “comfort women.”

I understand bitterness. It’s a human thing. We all struggle with it.

But people are hurting, starving, dying. Mostly elderly, mostly poor.  Your pain is very important, and history should not be forgotten, but this is real, too.

This is happening now.

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One response

  1. Agreed. I’ve actually heard some people here in America say that Japan deserves it – for various reasons. Complete shock. People don’t understand that WE ALL deserve it, but we should just be thankful that we were spared and help and pray for those to which it did happen, as much as possible.

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