Dokdo Is Ours is proud to introduce a new addition to our stable of advice columnists. As always, if you have a question for "Ask an Internet Troll," "Ask a Korean Promotional Brochure," "Ask the guy who wrote the English Raps on Jewelry's CD"or "Ask a Pissed Off English Teacher Who's Been Here Too Long," you are welcome to send an e-mail to dokdoisours at gmail dot com. Serious. All letters sent so far have been answered!
Dear Pissed Off English Teacher
Hi! I'm Sandy! I'm 22, and I came to Korea to add some international experience to my application to the American Academy of Diplomacy, and work towards my life dream of working internationally as an ambassador and diplomat. I've only been here for a few months, so I'm still trying to learn more about the subtleties of intercultural communication and understanding, as well as getting used to the honorific codes in interpersonal interactions so important to Koreans. Anyway, I recently had a strange conversation with a Korean friend about a couple of islands called 'Dokdo' which are apparently part of a territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. I'm wondering if you could explain the context of this conflict for me. Also, when I asked, "What's the big deal" -- after all, it's only a couple of islands -- my Korean friend got a little agitated. In your opinion, what is the most tactful way to discuss this issue with Koreans, and is there anything I should avoid saying, or doing, while talking about Dokdo, in order to avoid another awkward situation?
First of all, before we get into any of the points in your letter, or address your question, I'd just like to remind you, by referencing events that happened before you came to Korea, that I've been here longer than you. I was here for the beef riots. I was here for President Roh's impeachment. I was here before Chunggyecheon, I was here when Jeon Ji-hyun was still a real person, I was here for English Spectrum Gate and the Armored Vehicle Riots and the World Cup and the IMF Bailout and the Asian Financial Meltdown and I may have been the guy to offer Dangun's garlic-breath-bear Father his first post-cave mentos. I used to toss chocolate bars to the Korean kids running behind my buddy's military vehicle, back when hooker hill went uphill both ways.
Second, I want you to know that, while I've lived that long in Korea, but I still can't speak Korean, I still know more about Korea than any of the Koreans I meet (not that I have any Korean friends, but why would I want a bunch of clones on my speed-dial anyway), because I can look at Korea objectively since I didn't grow up here, which means that comparing Korea with my home country and finding it wanting is ALWAYS more valid than any Korean's view of their own country. If a Korean disagrees with me about this, it is obviously because they have been brainwashed by their Korean-only, By Nationalism-Wacky Koreans For Nationalism-Wacky Koreans racist media.
When a Korean tries to approach you about the Dokdo issue, it is only because he is racist, and attempting to discriminate against you, and oppress your natural rights, guaranteed by international conventions, by pigeonholing you into the role of cultural pariah -- that is, Dokdo Non-believer, and force you to take an AIDS test even though foreigners obey the law WAY more than ANY Korean. If you refuse to drink the Dokdo Kool-aid from the KKKorean pure-blood fetishist, they will label you "wangta" and treat you like shit, because they're confucian, and confucianism is basically an excuse Koreans use to treat everyone like shit except other Koreans who are older than them... who they only lie to, and cheat behind their backs, rather than doing it openly, like they do with white people, south-asians, people from other provinces of Korea, and people younger than themselves. This is why you will never fit into Korean society, because all Koreans are inherently racist. It's in their DNA, right next to the "I believe Kimchi cures everything" gene and the "If it's on the internet and it says bad things about America, it must be true" gene and the "thirty-million gullible brainwashed saps can't be wrong, so I'd better follow the crowd, plus, this movement has a cartoon character! Squee!" gene. All Koreans are racist. All Koreans generalize about others, ALL the time. There is no hope for Korea in the future because inherently racist societies must fail in the world scene, and Korea will never change, Korea will never open their mind and see another point of view, and Korea will never try to understand other cultures. I'd realized that by my third month in Korea, and nothing I have seen, heard, or read since then has changed my mind, and nothing ever will.
Sorry... what was your question again?