PSY Japanese Cartoon
It was recently reported by AllKpop that a Japanese magazine targeted at an adult demographic published a cartoon portraying PSY very ‘negatively’.

The cartoon features a character that possesses a striking likeness to the South Korean rapper beating someone whilst shouting out: “Gangnam Style!” He then proceeds to tie up two young girls and force-feed them Kimchi – a well-known traditional Korean dish.

Reading about this initially resulted in me simply smiling slightly, shaking my head and clicking away from the page. However, it started me thinking about the whole relationship between the two closely-situated countries of Japan and South Korea. Since I have developed an interest in the two countries for both their respective cultures and media content, I have come across countless instances of racism and a general frostiness between the two. This has become seemingly much more intense since the ‘Hallyu Wave’ has been crashing at Japan’s shorelines in recent years.

One of the most prevalent reasons for this that comes to mind would be that it’s partly due to the terrible history these places share. I am no expert in history (the amount I know on the subject is, admittedly, quite shameful), but most people are aware that Japan were aiming to control the Eastern part of the world under the Nazi regime during the Second World War. The Japanese sides were known to have taken many Koreans as prisoners, bringing them over to Japan to work for them. This then indirectly resulted in originally Korean citizens raising their families in the country, which meant there became a lot of mixed race individuals in the Japanese population.

This is, unfortunately, about as far as my knowledge stretches on the subject, but of course our history is said to make us who we are today. For instance, every person in the UK will have probably watched a World Cup match between the English and German teams at one time or another, only to hear upon England’s loss: “Yeah, but we won the war didn’t we?!” These sorts of statements always make me laugh at their ridiculousness, I sometimes respond with: “Oh, you fought during the Second World War, did you? You look incredibly young for your age!”

I tend to have a similar reaction to all things like this, including this Japanese cartoon featuring PSY. I find it all quite immature.

There are also more recent issues between the two countries as they fight for ownership of The Laincourt Rocks (a.k.a. Dokdo Island by South Koreans and Takeshima Island by Japanese), which has added to the list of excuses for racial discrimination between the two.

I remember quite a while ago, there was a time when male idol group B2ST/BEAST were promoting in Japan. They were asked to take part in a fashion show, and the designer requested that they wear kimonos for part of the event. BEAST proceeded to refuse on the basis that they wanted to respect their Korean heritage.

Personally, I felt that this only succeeded to make an issue where there was not one originally. I do not understand how wearing any country’s traditional dress would make you any less the nationality you truly are. I am a firm believer in the “When in Rome…” attitude when in another country, in fact I am planning to go to Japan during March this year, and I will make it a mission of mine to wear a kimono!

There may have been a lot of deeper issues that resulted in the members of BEAST making that decision and I may be jumping to conclusions about a situation that I have no true knowledge of. However, if the exact way it was reported stands to be the truth, then I cannot help but be slightly disappointed. I can understand when an individual would not want to partake in a foreign cultural custom because it goes too much against what they are comfortable with, but the reason for this particular refusal seems very weak to me.

I hope that the general consensus within most societies is to not make people suffer for the crimes that their ancestors committed, nor for the prejudices that were held by theirs or yours for whatever reason.

You may be reading this right now and saying to yourself: “Oh stop complaining and get off your high horse!” and I’ll admit, most of my editorials seem to result in thinly-veiled rants on society, with a slight reference to Eastern culture used as an example (sorry about that :P). However, I am VERY far from a ‘perfect’ person. I simply like to try and live my life in what I see is a right as much as I can.

Certainly, most people on this planet would like a world completely free of racism, but I personally see this as impossibility. If you are to look at the human race from an evolutionary perspective, we are all deeply coded to be somewhat ‘racist’.

If we look at animals in a pack, they will penalise any individual who is fundamentally different from them in any way. This is because this animal is not what they recognise as part of their group. It is tribal behaviour.

Humans have developed beyond this; we now have the capacity to accept those who are very different from us because we see it as right and fair. In short, I am saying that we still may not find this completely easy and find issues with this because, as humans, we can find any form of ‘different’ hard to accept at first thanks to our evolutionary background.

You may completely disagree with this argument, you may not believe in the theory of Evolution. To be honest, I am not 100% sure that I believe this stance myself. To me personally though, it seems like quite a solid argument and one worth considering when thinking about the concept of racism as a whole.

I understand that this rather rambling editorial may also come off as written by someone who has absolutely no sense of humour, but I can definitely see a funny side to racism (Yes, I typed it!). In fact, I even think it can work to bring people from different backgrounds closer to one another!

As a student in University, I have many friends who hail from various backgrounds – be that social and ethnic. There are friends that I constantly have highly racist or stereotype-filled conversations with. I give out a very politically incorrect insult and I get one right back. We have even gone as far to dub this behaviour “casual racism”. 😉

As you already know, racism is a very broad, complex and sensitive subject. You may disagree with the points I have made completely, or you may not and I say that is fine by me!

After all this, what I am trying to say is that, yes – racism is very wrong. But perhaps sometimes and in some cases, we should adopt a more relaxed attitude to the whole concept of difference between people?

To use a cliché that is so cheesy it’s almost frightening…

Don’t our differences make this world an incredibly interesting place anyway?

What do you think about this subject?
Do you believe there can ever be a world completely free of racism? 😀

[Sources used: Google Images,].


About Author

I love writing (especially about K-Pop) and am trying to improve my skills with every post!