One of my students wrote an essay on Jo Jung-rae, who is a famous and well-known author in Korea. A friend of mine read his epic ten-volume Hangang (The Han River) back during my second year here, and spoke of it with praise, but also seemed to find reading it onerous. Interestingly, she was studying Japanese at the time and her boyfriend told her to study it (but, then, he was studying Japanese then, too, and was quite good at it).
That’s ironic, because according to the essay my student wrote about his epic, Hangang, and about the author himself, he is filled to the brim with hate for Japan. Dokdo used in the standard way — “Japan has declared Dokdo is theirs”, he quotes him as saying, without any effort to define who “Japan” is — and claims that Koreans have suffered the worst of any colonial people. I swear, sometimes I think people who think this way need to go live in to the Congo for a year or two.
Well, googling for confirmation of some of the things in the essay, I happened across Antti’s post regarding Jo Jung-rae on holocaust and the Japanese occupation, and found some pretty disgusting claims:
How many Jews were killed by the Hitler government of Germany during the Second World War?According to the Jews the number was three or four million.
So how many of us Koreans were massacred and killed by the Japanese during the 36 years of Japanese colonialism? Is it three million? Or four million? Or is it six million? Unfortunately that estimate has not been made public or official. My estimate is between three and four million. With the writing of Arirang, I am going to make that figure concrete.
That task is one of the objectives of writing Arirang. With the fact that three or four million of us Koreans were killed by the Japanese, I’ll present a question to the readers and to the whole nation.
A school class of 60 children are getting five lashes on their palms. Which child of the 60 feels the most pain? I have made this question to several people, and all have immediately answered that it’s the first child. But it’s a wrong answer. The correct answer is the last child. It is because the first child is freed of the fear of lashing after receiving the strokes and can be at peace while the other children are lashed.
However the 60th child has to feel the fear each time the children before him are lashed.
A hint for this answer can be found also in a proverb. “The one who is caned first is the luckiest.”
The Jews were killed on for three years, but Koreans were killed during a period of more than ten times of that, 36 years. Which people suffered more?
Even though we suffered horrors ten times more than the Jews, how is it possible that we still don’t know many of us Koreans died?
And how do we feel the tragedy of another people, Jews, as if it was our own and detest the German army while wanting to avoid talking about own tragedy, forgetting and avoiding it? Was it because the times were different? Or was it different?
When naked Jewish girls were dying in gas chambers, the girls of our people were getting gang raped in Southeast Asian jungles as troop following corps in a similar manner. So how have we become such ignorant masses?
We have been subjected to two kinds of mass hypnosis. First, we have been hypnotized by the Jews who have made numerous novels, movies and TV dramas to tell about their suffering for the whole world. Second, we have been hypnotized by the pro-Japanese, who seized every sphere of the society after the liberation and with their organized plot have made the talk about Japanese occupation sound ignorant and stupid.
Jews have maximized their suffering and while securing their self-esteem, and have used it as a power to develop their future. In reverse to them, we have been guilty of living in shame. But to know the history correctly, nothing is too quick or too late. Because nation is immortal.
July 1994, Jo Jung-rae.
The mind boggles.
By the way, wasn’t the Holocaust more like six million Jews? That’s the number I seem to recall, and Wikipedia notes it’s the most commonly given one, though scholars range from 5 to 7 million. You’d think someone with such a “passion for history” might have bothered to look that one up. Unless, of course, he did, and then just made up a number in its place to fit his theory. Either way, I’m a little nervous about the way he’s seen as someone who can speak authoritatively about history. If he distorted this fact, so openly, and was not called to task by the public, what else has he distorted in ways that people are simply receptive to? How many other falsifications has he held up as fact? It sure doesn’t help to instill trust in his knowledge and/or intellectual honesty.
In any case, the interesting (and somewhat off-putting) story that I found in the student paper was that Jo, who apparently is the bestselling author in Korea, has a heck of an estate coming to his son and daughter-in-law. But, you see, writing his novels was really hard. He ended up in the hospital for a while after writing Hangang, after all. So, you, in order to ensure that his daughter-in-law appreciates the inheritance, he’s told her that she cannot receive it unless she copies out his ten-volume epic Hangang out by hand.
The monstrous egotism that stands behind assigning such a task simply baffles my mind. And that he would make his daughter-in-law — not even his own flesh and blood — do it, is just deeply off-putting… if this story is actually true. I mean, who does he think he is, the Yahwhist? She’s not supposed to have any career or aspirations of her own? She has to copy out what he’s already written, word-for-word, or else her husband is cut off from the family fortune? I can’t find any information online about this, of course, so it might be some apocryphal story that my student found online and included in his writing. (And, shockingly to me, he offers this as a positive example of the author’s “appreciation for hard work”… where, really, if it is true, it strikes me as just an appalling demand for deifying regurgitation, yet another onerous demand for respect from, oh yes, the one person it’s always okay to treat like crap, the daughter-in-law.)
Anyway, as I say, I don’t know if this is an apocryphal story, and I don’t even know if the daughter-in-law completed the task. The student hints that she undertook it, but then refuses to tell whether she completed it, urging me to look online for the answer.
Ugh. I think this is one of the first fiction books reviewed by my students to which I am not going to reply, “I wish I could read it!”
(And yeah, I know, Antti likes the series, and I know the author and the book are different, but… yeah, no, I just don’t think I could get into it, knowing what I know.