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[GOING TO THE BLOGS]AN UNHOLY ROW

Apr 16,2006
Calling it “an insult and defamation” to the Bible, the Christian Council of Korea last week launched a legal bid to have the film version of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code” barred from general release in Korea. For the host of “Oranckay,” (http://oranckay.net/blog) the actions of the council ― which “remained silent when torture was taking place in South Korea and now only talks about human rights as it pertains to North Korea” ― are bad enough. But for the Grand National Party chairwoman Park Geun-hye to champion the council’s “Talibanesque” cause is just rank hypocrisy, Oranckay says.
“If you’ve ever asked yourself why Korea’s traditional ‘democratic elements’ have their doubts about the motives behind the anti-NK protests organized by the country’s conservatives, I submit that it is largely the conservatives’ lack of respect for and understanding of, well, democracy.” Andy at “The Flying Yangban” (http://gopkorea.blogs.com/flyingyangban/) also raises questions about the conduct of Korean conservatives. “Some on the Korean right seem most interested in NK human rights as an issue with which to bash the Roh administration. While there is certainly no equivalency between trying to ban a movie and what is going on in North Korea, [Ms. Park’s] conduct here does raise suspicions about [her] true commitment to human liberty.” But equivalency is precisely the stick used by Joshua at “The Korea Liberator” (http://www.korealiberator.org/) to beat such arguments. “The question is whether a petty evil can denounce a much greater one, to which the answer, I think, is ‘yes,’ but not as credibly as a consistently courageous democrat could.” As always, underpinning this debate is the unshakeable assumption among much of the left and right alike that the other side only uses human rights as an expedient to promote a wider political agenda.

ISLAND MENTALITY
“Dokdo” is a word that can send Koreans, and a few bloggers too, into paroxysms of indignation. This week’s main Dokdo news concerns Tokyo’s plans to conduct a maritime exploration project near the disputed islets. “Plunge” at the blog “Plunge Pontificates,” (http://plungepontificates.blogspot.com), whose raison d’etre is to badger Japan into squarely addressing its history, is withering toward calls by the Japanese ambassador for calm by the Korean side. “Oh please,” he writes. “You must respond cool-headedly toward our provocation. GAH.”
But to many more in the blogosphere, bombarded with increasingly arcane arguments over whether Japan’s or Korea’s claim to the islets has more validity, the Dokdo issue is a big snore. In a highly entertaining post, Jeff at “Ruminations in Korea” (http://www.jsharrison.com/korea) pokes fun at the “Dokdo Riders,” a group of students riding motorbikes through the United States to support Korea’s claim: “If they are going on this trip to enlighten the world about Dokdo and turn the world’s opinion in favor of Korea’s claim over the islands, then they have utterly and completely FAILED. If they are trying to find a way to pay for a nine-month vacation and to make people at home think they are doing something, then they have SUCCEEDED completely.”

JUST PLAIN ODD
Ever wondered what Holden Caulfield, the hero of J. D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” would have been like as a 70-year-old English teacher in Korea? Me neither. But in one of the more quirky posts this week, “Tiberious aka Sparkles” at “Psychedelic Kimchi” (http://psychedelickimchi.blogspot.com/) has Caulfield recounting his first encounter with his boss-to-be at the English language institute. “After a while he said, ‘You look younger than my father, and he’s 43!’ But what he did afterward was, he left his hand resting on me knee, and stared at me sheepishly. Guys get all flitty with me a lot more often than you might think, even today, but I've never been comfortable about it.”
A new literary genre is born.


by Niels Footman


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