Being a Japanophile is not an unpatriotic actI’m listening to a Japanese rock band’s CD as I write this column. My latest heartthrob (don’t ask my age, please, I know I’m not 13 anymore) is a group of Japanese pretty boys. Look at the dark circles under my eyes! Well, I saw three episodes of a Japanese drama online until dawn. Even the photograph you see on the right was taken on my last Tokyo trip a few weeks ago. Do all these define me, a full-blooded and (relatively) young Korean woman, as a traitor?
The answer is yes, according to some newspapers’ columns and stories, which appeared on the March 1 anniversary of the 1919 nationwide independence movement against Japan’s colonial rule. One even ran a column titled “Japanese influence all over, embarrassing the March 1 movement,” in which the writer complained about young Koreans swept up with the “Japanese wave” in fashion and comics. Quoting an anonymous Korean teen, the columnist lamented that the youngster spends up to 150,000 won ($150) a month for his collection of Japanese anime.
I guess the columnist might be the one who gave me a dirty look on the street when I was wearing my favorite kimono-patterned top. If the columnist is worried about the 150,000 won spent enriching Japan, I’m also guilty for buying CDs and other things, although I doubt the writer himself is completely free of made-in-Japan products. I write about Japan’s atrocities during World War II in the history column on Mondays and so I don’t think I should be brought before a kangaroo court for my individual lifestyle. I stand firm that Tokto belongs to Korea no matter what the Japanese say. For Korea-versus-Japan soccer matches, I of course cheer for my home country, although I think the Japanese goalkeeper Kawaguchi is quite cute. For the March 1 anniversary, I hung the national flag out of the window to give due respect to the independence activists.
The thing is, the biggest joy of my life at the moment happens to be the Japanese pop scene, which I hid myself from during the past two decades. As a cultural Japanophile, I have the right to enjoy what pleases me with the money out of my own pocket in this free country. Who knows, maybe a year from now, when I’m over my Japanese period, it may be African tribal music that I become infatuated with, although I’ll still be penning history columns.
So I beg those bored commentators to please stop making much ado about nothing. There are plenty of other stories out there, if you use some legwork, to celebrate the March 1 movement.
It’s nothing but an example of mental as well as physical indolence to write as if Korea has met its doom because its young people have been conquered by Japan’s culture. They are only listening to Japanese pop music and wearing kimono tops. It would be much smarter to use the time and energy to look at an effective policy to ask for the compensation due Korea in the political sense.
by Chun Su-jin