Friday, April 20, 2007

Why Are Koreans Afraid of a Backlash?

Because there was one here in 2002, and it was very ugly, reminds Koreanologist Michael Breen in Fears of Backlash Are Misplaced:
    That’s because that’s how it is here.

    Consider: in 2002, when a US military vehicle ran over two girls in a street, Koreans came out en masse to hold candles in protest outside the American embassy. Activists displayed pictures of the bodies to stir up passions. It went on for weeks. This was for a traffic accident. Instead of saying what idiots they were, presidential candidates with the notable exception of the eventual winner, Roh Moo-hyun, posed for pictures with them.

    When the vehicle’s two operators, both Americans, were found not guilty by an American military tribunal, of intentional manslaughter, one of my Korean colleagues, an otherwise sensible man, was so angry, he said that they should have been handed over to Korean courts and jailed even if they were innocent to assuage the ``feelings of the people.’’

    The scary thing is that politicians, bureaucrats, prosecutors, and tax officials in this country are driven to make decisions for precisely this kind of reason. What else is the entire Lone Star witch-hunt about if it’s not a civic group-lawmaker-prosecutor chain reaction? Watch how this case unfolds and, whatever deal is reached, note the absence of real evidence.
Some of the happenings that I remember that year were mass rallies in which American flags were torn to shreds, businesses posting signs banning Americans, and an elementary shool teacher who had his students write "Korea One, America Mongrel" on oriental fans, in their own blood!

That said, the incident in America, while deliberate, was at the hands of a deranged indivual. The incident in Korea, while accidental, was at the hands of a foreign state's military.


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