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Real Friends?
  • Park Nu-ri, Social Desk Editor
  • 승인 2005.04.20 14:01
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  “Korea-Japan Friendship Year 2005 aims to promote a friendly feeling between the two countries and mutual understanding among Koreans and Japanese. It will be realized through all kinds of exchange works and introductions of each country's culture. (www.jkcf.or.jp/friendship2005)”
 "Korea-Japan Friendship Year 2005 kicked off this week with festivities celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries. (The Korea Herald, 2005.1.27)"

 "Japan enacted Takeshima Day (The Segye Times, 2005.3.16)"

  Korea and Japan, are they real friends?........................Ed.

Part 1. History of Korea and Japan Relations
  Relations between Korea and Japan relations go back approximately 1500 years. But the relations haven't always been friendly.
  In the Old Joseon Age, Korea offer as a gift like Se-hyung Dong-gum (a fine bronze sword) to Japan. The two countries' relations started from that time.
  In the era of the Three Kingdoms, Korea exercised its influence over Japan by disseminating Goguryeo, Baekje, Silla, and Gaya civilization. From these civilizations Japan started to develop its politics and culture.
  During the Geryeo era, invading Japanese pirates were a serious problem. Geryeo opposed Japan by repulsing them or doing tributary trade.
  The Joseon era saw the two countries frequently breaking off and reestablishing diplomatic relations. Then, a Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 was caused by Toyotomi Hideyoshi(豊臣秀吉)'s ambition. Yi Sun-shin and his militia were active in fighting him. After this war was over, diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed until Joseon diplomatics were dispatched to Japan.
  From the end of Daehan-Empire age, Joseon protected itself from Western influence and resisted westernization. On the other hand, Japan chose westernization to modernize its culture and gain national power.
  In 1895, Japan, which was waiting for an opportunity to make inroads into Korea, created an incident, robbed Korea of its sovereign rights, and concluded a high-pressured unfair treaty.
  While under the rule of Japanese imperialism for 36 years, Koreans was deprived of their rights. After being emancipated from colonial rule after World War II, Korea and Japan did not have diplomatic relations.
  Korea held the 2002 World Cup together with Japan. Taking this, they promoted cultural exchange between the countries and opened each other's doors completely. We had maintained friendly relations with Japan until recently. But Korean anti-Japanese sentiments have reverted to the time of Japanese colonialism. This is because of Dokdo and distorted history.
 Part 2. The Dokdo Dispute
-Suicides Attribute to "Takeshima Day"
 As soon as Shimane-ken proclaimed Takeshima Day, some Koreans committed suicide. On the 17th of March, an old man threw himself into the Han River. He was a patriot who fought in the Vietnam War. He carried a protest banner that read, "Dokdo is our territory! Why do you invade?" 
 Some suicides set themselves on fire out of love for their country. Then, on the 13th of March, some people protested in front of the Japanese Embassy by cutting off their fingers.
-Civic Campaigns to Boycott Japanese Products
 Lots of citizen groups are organizing campaigns to not  buy Japanese goods. The Seoul Young Korean Academy, established by An Chang-ho in 1913 for self-reliance and training competent persons, proclaimed, "The Law of Shimane-ken means that Japan is a slave of militarism. We will keep this campaign until Japan ends its aggressive acts."
-No Japanese!!
 Lake Hills, a golf and resort company prohibited Japanese from using its Yong-in and Jeju resorts. And some Japanese restaurants in Seoul had signs saying, "No Japanese." on their doors.
 This anti-Japanese sentiment, caused Japanese tourists and students to feel threatened seriously.
-Korean-Japanese Cyber War
 After Japanese Prime Minister Goizmi Junichiro announced Dokdo is Japanese territory both country's netizens went to war each other. The height of the cyber war was on http://bbs.enjoyjapan.naver.com. One Japanese asked, "Why is Korea still undeveloped?" He answered by saying Korea was a tributary of China two thousand years. In response, a Korean netizen called the man "monkey." Some netizens are terrorizing each other's web sites.
-Cancellation of Sisterhood Relationships
 Gyeongsangbuk-do, which is managing Dokdo, broke off its 15-year relationship with Shimane-ken. Lee Eui-geun, the Governor of the province, said the relationship of the two regions is ruptured because Japan's declaring that Dokdo is their island is just the same as an act of aggression.
 Also, Uigeongbu indefinitely delayed any physical exchange with Japan.
  Governmental and nongovernmental relations are getting worse, too. 

Part 3. Influence of the Worse
-Economic Side
  Many economic experts say the anti-Japanese feeling won't influence the financial sector. But according to a poll by the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 55% of companies expect that this situation will have negative effects on the economy. Actually, 16% of them responded that they suffer trouble nowadays. And 64% of trade firms answered that imports and exports between the two countries are going to shrink. So there is a need to increase domestic production of spare parts, diversify our importing countries and so on.
 Kang Shin-ho, the chairman of the Federation of the Korea Industries, advises Koreans not to mix business with private sentiments.
-Diplomatic Side
 The war of nerves between both countries will spread beyond the region. Japan's candidacy for the United Nations (UN) Security Council caused this. On March 31, the Korean ambassador to the UN, Kim Sam-hoon, said, "Japan does not have international trust. And they are unqualified for the UN Security Council. We will block their efforts to achieve the position."
 President Roh Moo-hyun announced he isn't afraid of a hot diplomatic war.
 Owing to the tense diplomatic situation, various diplomatic schedules are in disarray.
-Cultural Side
 In the cultural field, movies and popular songs are hardest hit. The performance of NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)'s symphony orchestra, for example, was postponed to next year from this May.
 The movie industry is covered with a dark cloud. Imported Japanese movies that were about to be released may not be.
Also, it can be harmful to cultural exchanges for  entertainers such as BoA and Bae Yong-joon.
 Kim Yong-ki, a professor in the Dept. of Japanese Lang. & Lit. at Dongguk University (DU), emphasized that, "Cultural exchange is the key to this dire situation. Therefore, both countries should increase cultural exchanges."

Part 4. The Key for Friendly Relations
  The Japanese government passed a distorted Japanese history textbook. This is why Japan incurred Korea' wrath. Worried voices about anti-Japanese sentiment are rising and many experts take a dim view of future relations. According to the Post's poll, 31% of Donggukians believe that the nations' relations are getting worse. But, it is essential to formulate an amicable relationship for both countries' development, even though there are some historical problems to be resolved.
 For thirty-six years, Korea was under the control of Japan and the Japanese committed acts of brutality at that time such as comfort women and historical distortions. Korea and Japan have been at odds due to the problems of reparation.
 "Japan has not apologized for its past wrongs to Korea. Japan's insincere attitude exasperates Korean and causes anti-Japan sentiments. The German Prime Minister, for instance, shed tears and asked forgiveness of Israel over Germany's atrocities. Japan has to offer spiritual compensation not material compensation. "For a better relationship, Japan should show Korea true repentance." said Jeong Gyeong-su, a student in the Dept. of Industrial Engineering at DU.
-Comfort Women
On March 27, the chief secretary agent, Abesinjo(安倍晋三), of Liberal Democracy Party said, "Comfort women are fiction." And "a new middle-school textbook does not describe the comfort-woman issue adequately," said Shimomura Hakubun, the parliamentary vice-minister of Ministry of Education.
 Korean victims requested that the Japanese government discuss this matter in 1992. The victims want the government to teach children about comfort women to prevent it from happening again. But Japan continues to conceal the matter. Because of its attitude, many Koreans strongly criticized the Japanese government. The Korea government is looking closely at public resolutions demanding that Japan apologize and pay Korea re.
-Dokdo Dominium
 The current Dokdo conflict inflames anti-Japan sentiments. A campaign is under way to inform Koreans about Dokdo.
"Although Dokdo is ours, most nations recognize it as a Japanese possession. Japan has convinced the world that Dokdo is theirs, while the Korean government has not asserted sovernty. We have to proclaim to the world that Dokdo is ours. The government also has to encourage economic exchange with Japan and tell citizens to avoid excessive anti-Japan," said Jeong Gyung-su, who manages Dokdo Jikimi (guard) mini-homepage.
-The Perversion of History
 The Japanese government and the rightist organization Saeyukmo are behind the new distorted history  textbook. The Japanese Education Ministry is going to evaluate eight textbooks to be used from next year. Among them, two textbooks have been criticized for sanitizing invading other nations and one of the two textbooks states that Dokdo is Japanese territory and includes a picture.
 While nations support globalization as a way to peaceful coexistence, the Japanese have not given up rightwing militarism. 
 The Federation of Korean in Japan announced that "Japanese consciousness isn't the same as rightwing consciousness. Don't regard all Japanese as being on the right. As anti-Japanese sentiment spreads in Korea, anti-Korean sentiment will spread in Japan."
 The Korean government will try to resolve these past historical problems. 

 Relations between Korea and Japan are in a tangle. If the two nations untangle the knot, the relations will get more friendly. Both nations have exchanged various fields to improve past problems. The relations were getting better, but current relations are broken by Dokdo. To make the friendly relations in the future, we cannot leave the problems unsettled. The two nations have to clear up historical matters.
 Citizens have to end passionate and violent demonstrations and inform the world logically.
 The Korean government should work diplomatically with China, Russia, the USA and North Korea and reach an agreement with these countries and Japan.
 "Korea has to become a national power. It is clear that Japan is regarded as a powerful nation all over the world. It is possible for Japan to dominate the Dokdo issue because Japan is more privileged than Korea. Korea needs diplomatics who can get support from the six nations. Korean students have to raise the power of diplomacy by developing the IT Industry. Relations between Korea and Japan don't only depend on the two nations and but on the whole of Northeast Asia. Becoming a key Northeast Asia can work in Korea's favor," said Kwan Hyuk-rok, the manager of Northeastern Asia Research Institute.


1 How do you feel about Japan?

1. Hostile
2. Friendly
3. Not bad

1-2 If you answer "Hostile," why are you hostile to Japan?

1. Cruel actions during the colonial period
2. Because of cultural differences
3. One-sided attitude about Dokdo dispute

2 What do you think about future relationship between Korea and Japan?

1. Will be friendly
2. Will be hostile
3. No change

3 What kind of relationship with Japan do you want?

1. A good relationship after solving current problems 
2. Only formal relations
3. No relations is better

4 Which exchanging with Korea Japan expand?

1. material exchange
2. human exchange
3. scientific exchange
4. technical exchange
5. cultural exchange

Park Nu-ri, Social Desk Editor  nuly1221@dongguk.edu

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