[FOUNTAIN]Complaining correctly of distortions“Three hours before my maternal grandfather passed away, I saw him for the first time. My mother had never met her own father after she got married until his last moments. When I was young, my father, who was supposed to be working, often stayed home. I asked why, and he said he had quit. As this repeatedly happened, I stopped asking.”
The 46-year-old Baek Jin Hoon was elected to the House of Councilors in the Japanese Diet this year. He adopted the Japanese pronunciation of his Korean name and goes by Shinkun Haku. His name card states, “My mother’s country ― Japan, my father’s country ― the Republic of Korea. A Member of the House of Councilors, Shinkun Haku.” Last year, he became a naturalized citizen of Japan.
Mr. Baek was born in Tokyo during Japan’s rapid economic growth. He had been psychologically hurt from the discrimination against the ethnic Korean community in Japan and grew up in an extreme poverty. His Japanese maternal grandfather wanted to never see his daughter again when she got married to a Korean man. Although Baek’s father had a college degree, he was frustrated after constantly losing a job over his ethnic background. His brother killed himself when he was in his 20s. Mr. Baek himself failed to get a job at major companies because he was a Korean.
When Mr. Baek lectured at Lotte Hotel in Seoul, he explained the vicious cycle of emotional confrontation between Korea and Japan. When a Japanese politician makes a provocative remark, the Korean media furiously condemn it. Then the Japanese media picks out the most radical comments and offends the Japanese rightists. The Korean media makes the Japanese readers think that Koreans are always fuming at Japan over historical issues, he claimed.
Mr. Baek suggested that we can gradually resolve the discrimination and prejudice. When Mr. Baek commented on Japanese television as a Korean Peninsula expert, he mentions the distinctly Korean lifestyles, military service, wedding and marriage cultures and student life. The Democratic Party of Japan nominated him as a party candidate because his television appearances appealed to voters. Mr. Baek said that the Japanese would have fled if he had spoken of historical issues first.
Historical issues, but cheerful communications.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.