Kushibo on the Hogwash Corea vs. Korea Debate

You probably know about this article if you’re into Korea stuff at all, but anyway, here’s a link to where Kushibo writes about the ridiculous debate on Korea versus Corea.

No, the Japanese did NOT change it to a K to humiliate the colony alphabetically. They did some really bad things, but this was not one of them. It’s one of the more dismissable, insane complaints that people who want to sound political, but don’t know anything, wave around whenever they get a chance. Kushibo demonstrates this devastatingly, and then asks the question,

what exactly does Corea hearken back to? It was the spelling of the country when its people were suffering under the weight of a corrupt and oppressive monarchy that was unable or unwilling to meet the challenges of the era, which helped Korea become swallowed up by Japan.

Wow, criticism of the late Joseon. This is something I very rarely hear online, intelligent criticism of the monarchs who, after all, ended up unable to defend the nation against Japan. “We’re a small country,” I hear so often. Nobody seems to notice that Japan was a small country, too. It’s true, and frankly, it makes the “we’re a small country” seem like a scrambling excuse for why Korea fell to the Japanese. Does size have anything to do with it? Or were the weaknesses in the policies of the rulers, the relative impermeability of social classes, the sanctioned unemployment of the yangban, and so on? Aggression is aggression, no doubt, and one should blame the colonizer for colonizing. But one should also be willing to criticize one’s own past leaders who didn’t manage to do enough to hold off foreign aggression. Japan did evil, and the Joseon failed to stave them off. Which leads to the very interesting moment when my girlfriend is looking into a photo book of mine and sees commoners dressed in yangban’s outfits (for the sake of a photo), and she sees an ancient indigenous social system in rapid collapse, whereas I see the growing permeability of—and generalized collapse of—oppressive and strict class lines into new, uncertain, and unfortunately colonially-constructed ones. Which is not to say Japan’s invasion was a good thing. But I do think most people wouldn’t be doing as well as they are if something hadn’t happened to cut away the privileges of the ruling class… and I do sense an unwillingness to blame that ruling class for having weakened the nation to the extent they did.

Ooof, I’m off on a tangent. Kushibo concludes with the very well put following thought:

If anything, these fabrications diminish what has actually happened to real people at the hands of the Japanese. It is an insult to the Comfort Women and the forced laborers, for example, because it says to those people, “Sorry, but your actual suffering is not enough for us to whip up anger against Japan, so we have to make stuff up.”

He hit the nail on the head there.

Go read the whole thing. And stop spelling Korea with a C.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *