[Letter to the editor]Meijer’s insipid book deserves criticism

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[Letter to the editor]Meijer’s insipid book deserves criticism

I’m a Canadian who has lived in Seoul for 11 years, and I want to commend you on the insightful and honest critique you wrote on Maarten Meijer’s book, “What’s so Good about Korea, Maarten” in Saturday’s edition.
It’s about time someone publicly took issue with the poor quality, unsound and insipid stuff that most foreigners publish about their impressions of Korea. One only has to only visit the English section of Kyobo Bookstore to see the number of silly books put out by the likes of Meijer. Books like “Culture Shock,” “Ugly American, Ugly Korean,” etc. I briefly looked through Meijer’s book last week in Kyobo and was sorely disappointed. Not only, as you wrote, is he condescending about Korea and Koreans, but he has the chutzpah to advise Koreans how to improve their systems and country.
Imagine a Korean visiting Meijer’s country, The Netherlands, and publishing a book about what the former thinks is wrong with the country and what he thinks is the best to improve it. He’d be rightly attacked by the media.
What’s amazing is how yellow journalism such as Meijer’s gets published in Korea in the first place. And why is it front and center in the bookstores? You were too kind to Meijer. He seems like a nice enough fellow. But such colonialistic, imperialistic nonsense deserves to be thoroughly rebuked. I’m glad you rightly did so.
Mark Dake, Seoul

Treatment of Lt. Col. Pee is shameful
I am writing to thank you for your excellent Jan. 2 report by Lee Ho-jeong about an interview with Lt. Col. Pee Woo-jin, who was involuntarily discharged from the Korean Army after three decades of distinguished service for the sole reason that she had a double mastectomy to preserve her health and fitness to further serve her country.
Congratulations to Lt. Col. Pee for your professionalism and dedication! It should be a source of pride to all in the military establishment.
I am shocked and disappointed that such an action could be taken in the 21st century when Korea claims to be a globalized country. Even decades ago Mao Zedong acknowledged the fact that women hold up half the sky. We should not forget the strength of women throughout Korean history, which is noteworthy and a source of pride to this country.
Role models of courage and competence, such as Shim Saimdang, Queen Min, Lee Tai-young, and the 3,000 women who sacrificed themselves at Puyo in defense of their country, and now Lt. Col. Pee, can and must continue to inspire Korean women to make significant contributions to their nation and the world.
What a shame, however, that the still male-dominated military (who were raised by these very Korean women) continues to demonstrate to Korean society and, consequently, also to the world, that gender discrimination has not ended and that the varied talents and strengths of Korean women are neither fully put to use nor valued ― even today!
Sonia Reid Strawn, United Methodist missionary in Seoul
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