[Outlook]Growing global‘It’s over the fence! It’s a home run that flies beyond the Dokdo islets and Daemado!”
“We should crush Japan. In the last World Baseball Classic, we beat them twice in the qualifiers, but when they beat us in the semifinal they were very arrogant. We should crush the Japanese media and Senichi Hoshino, Japan’s national team manager who usually says arrogant and offensive things. We should teach them some manners.”
“We have sunk Japan!”
These were words that commentators said during a live broadcast of a Korea-Japan baseball match at the Beijing Olympic Games.
It must have felt good to say everything that was on their minds. Many viewers also said it felt like a load was taken off their chests to hear those words.
By objective standards, Japan is still better in baseball than Korea, so it is natural that Koreans are very happy about the victory.
However, the comments leave a bitter aftertaste. It makes one blush to think how brutal they were. Even though Japan offended us over the Dokdo issue, did we have to express our nationalistic emotions so explicitly? It seems that we have revealed our inner selves all too easily.
Sports are about competition and the ultimate goal is to win. But from another perspective, sports are just sports and nothing more. Even if Japan beat Korea in the baseball match, the essential facts of the Dokdo islets wouldn’t have changed.
There was a risky moment in the game. In the qualification match against Japan, as Korea started to lead, a commentator mentioned Dokdo. In the ninth inning, Japan had a chance to make a comeback. Fortunately, Korea defended well, ending the game with a win. No one knows what would have happened otherwise.
The Olympic Games, of all international events, symbolize globalization best. The Beijing Olympic Games were attended by 204 countries, the most ever. More countries attended than there are in the United Nations - 192. In such a huge global arena, Korean athletes strived, combatted and won. Whenever a Korean athlete mounted the winner’s podium to receive a gold medal, all Koreans felt proud. We were proud of the athletes who fought with their talent and their skill, not with words. However, some live programs, which delivered their performances with words, were disappointing.
As countries compete against one another, the Olympics have obvious nationalistic aspects. All people cheer for athletes from their own countries. The question is one of degree.
It was said that Korean athletes faced disadvantages because Chinese audiences were united in their nationalism. In some matches, the Chinese audience cheered for whoever was playing against Korea, to an extent that defied understanding. They gave the impression that they hated Korea. Some netizens in China are still working to instigate anti-Korean sentiment, even after the Olympic torch has been extinguished.
Korea is a country that benefited more from globalization than it did from nationalism. There are some downsides to this situation, but we still must become a frontier of international trade, as we have few natural resources of our own. We have no other choice. If we stick to narrow-minded nationalism, there are limits to what we can achieve.
Some might say that our nationalism is a means of self-defense, as seen in the Dokdo issue. However, this logic is not persuasive both inside and outside the country.
Korea is no longer a weak country in international society. We should become more mature. We should abandon our tendency to stick to a clique of Korean nationals and instead live as citizens of a global society.
Pope Benedict XVI said recently that we must avoid going back to the nationalistic competition which has brought tremendously tragic results throughout history. It was a warning aimed at the conflict in Georgia, but we should heed this advice as well.
“I don’t think we are now better than Japan just because we have won one or two matches against them,” Kim Kyung-moon, the victorious Korean baseball team manager, said after the match. In these words, one can feel an open-mindedness worthy of a victorious general.
*The writer is a deputy international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.