Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How Kim Jong Il Lost Japanese Fans: Say That Again?

Here is a generally competent TIME story about the decline of North Korean influence over Koreans who are permanent residents in Japan because of the persistent economic and moral decay of the North Korean regime. Unfortunately, the TIME copy editors have managed to make it sound like a story about Kim Jong Il (not totally off the mark) and the Japanese (completely wrong).

Oh well, to those people, I guess we all look alike.

What's amazing is that the headline is still there. Apparently, nobody has even bothered to point it out. As one who has been annoyed by the media's willingness to extensively rewrite an article then repost it without notice, perhaps I shouldn't complain. But the lack of interest is depressing.

By the way, I say "generally competent" because of the following explanation:

"[I]n the organization's heyday, South Korea was viewed among zainichi as little more than an American poodle."

That will come as a big surprise to the Mindan and its member zainichi. Mindan, established in 1946, is the anti-Communist, pro-South Korean doppelganger of the Chongyron. If you look at their website, you can see that the Mindan makes verifiable claims which show that it has always been a powerful social and economic force among the zainichi. Of course fortune has been much kinder to Mindan than to Chogyron in recent decades. The relative fortunes of the two, like everything else, mirror the relationship between the two Koreas themselves.

Incidentally, the fact that Bryan Walsh uses the word zainichi in its Japanese, not Korean, locution without hesitating may be an indication of the extent to which the Koreans in Japan have become assimilated. Their hearts still beat Korean, but their minds now work in Japanese.

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