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The Way to Hug Them; Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da

 

<Cover Story>  
   The Way to Hug Them; Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da

    “In China, some of the Korean exchange students behaved badly towards the Chinese.  Because Chinese culture is different from Korean culture, Korean and Chinese students often misunderstand each other.  When I was in Beijing during this summer vacation, everyone I met was kind to me.  However, nowadays the Koreans and the Chinese are arguing on cyber space,” said Cha Eun-bit, a student of Chinese Literature Department at Dongguk University(DGU).  China is one of the closest countries to Korea.  Both countries have had economical, political, social and cultural exchanges for a long time.  However, the latest survey made by the  Chinese on cyber space showed Koreans were the worst tourists in China. 
<Part 1. A Survey on Korean Students and Chinese International Students at DGU>
   According to a survey measuring the relationship between Korean and Chinese students, both groups of students generally felt neutral toward each other.  About one third of Korean students at DGU don’t like Chinese students at DGU.  25% of Korean students answered ‘Bad’ and 5.95% of Korean students answered ‘Very Bad’ for the question  ‘What do you think about Chinese students?’  44.06% of Korean students who checked ‘Bad’ chose ‘Chinese down-scale products’ for the reason for having bad feelings about Chinese, and 30.50% of them chose ‘Chinese criticism towards Koreans.'  These results come from a series of incidents between Korean and Chinese like the Tibet demonstration, the broadcasting at the Beijing Olympics and the melamine scare.  One of the comments was that ‘Chinese students are noisy in class.’
   When asked ‘What is the cause of anti-Korean sentiment?’ 45.95% of Korean students and 45.16% of Chinese students chose ‘Korean students' ignoring Chinese students.’  20% of Korean students chose ‘the Envy of the Chinese towards the growth of Korean economy and culture like the Korean pop culture wave as to anti-Korean sentiment. About 23.53% of Chinese students don’t like Korean students at DGU.  This is not a small percentage.

Part2.What Made the Anti-Korean Sentiment in China?
   Korea and the China historically maintained a good relationship.  The Korean pop culture wave in China proves this.  But the situation began to change rapidly.  Many Koreans saw this change in the behavior of Chinese spectators who often displayed hostility to the South Korean athletes during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  What made the Chinese hate Korea?  Let's take a look at the long story between Korea and the China. 
2002 Korea-Japan World Cup
  "The anti-Korean sentiment erupted first at the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup," said Park Young-hwan, a professor of Chinese Language & Literature.  "Many Chinese people were annoyed by the street cheers from Korea residents in China.  They began protesting about this and soon there was a fighting in the street between Chinese and Koreans."  As the Korean team continued to win in the 2002 World Cup, the Chinese media criticized Korea by making many negative claims such as "the Korean team wins only because they get special treatment and have an unfair home field advantage."  The 'Koreaphobia' refers to the fact that the Chinese football team has never beaten the Korean team since 1978. 
Chinese Nationalism
  "The more economic growth a nation achieves, the more nationalism the people have," said Prof. Park.  Needless to say, this also applies to China.  Economically developed after the reform and opening-door in the 1970's and 1980's, Chinese nationalism has became a self-destructing arrogance.  Chinese born in the 1980's even called this new nationalism the "New Generation".  This is the main source creating the anti-Korean sentiment in China.  Here are some examples that show the connection between the anti-Korean sentiment and nationalism.
Registration of Kang-Neung Dano-je with UNESCO
  On May 6th, 2004, the vice-president of Chinese Cultural  Ministry announced that South Korea was stealing Chinese culture 'Dano-je', when South Korea registered Kang-Neung Dano-je Festival to world heritage organization, UNESCO.  The China opposed the registration but the UNESCO accepted the registration none the less.  This hurt Chinese pride and nationalism, so anti-Korean sentiment grew stronger in China.  In response to the resentments expressed by Chinese media, Prof. Park said "What Korea registered is not 'Dano-je' itself but the Gang-neung Dano-je Festival.  Things were misinterpreted by the media."
Distortions in Korean drama
  Korean dramas were also used to promote anti-Korean sentiment.  It seems like only a moment ago that the Korean drama 'Dae-Jang-Guem' was well received in China.  Now some Korean dramas are restricted or censured by the Chinese government.  "The underlying reason for this absurd treatment is Chinese nationalism," Prof. Park said. 
   He went on to say that in terms of nationalism it is reckless for Korea to twist Chinese history by making distorted drama plots.  There is certainly a tendency for Korean historical dramas to depict Chinese as foolish or inferior to Koreans, as illustrated in 'The Immortal Lee Soon Shin,' 'The Four Guardians of the King,' 'Dae Jo-yeong' and 'Yeon Gaesomun.'  One of the Chinese netizens even said with indignation, "These Korean shows mistake true for false and they mix up history.  It's comparable to Japan's covering up and distorting its invasion of China."
2008 Beijing Olympics
  Right before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, an incident occurred that still exasperates the Chinese people.  The fact that a South Korea network SBS leaked the scenes of Olympics opening ceremony rehearsal was revealed. "It ruined the opening ceremony called 'Festival Prepared for 100 years', making the Chinese believe that Korea betrayed them," Prof. Park said.  Obviously, this feeling spread throughout the Chinese public and re-enforced the anti-Korean sentiment. 
  Then there was the protest in the middle of the Olympic torch relay in Seoul by South Koreans protesting the China's repression of Tibet and the problem of North Korean refugees.  Fighting erupted between the Korean protesters and Chinese supporters.  This added to the anti-Korean sentiment later compounded with the SBS incident.
Fake News Reports Feeding Public Mistrust
  It is also believed that the source of the anti-Korean sentiment comes from fake news reports made by Chinese netizens.  Nowadays many netizens in China create 'fake news' to gain attention or for their own private interests.  This is usually called 'Ka-de-ra communication' which spreads biased rumors by intention.  "Chinese nationalism is distorted through the circulation of false reports," said Prof. Park.  "People who don't know the truth are likely to believe those groundless rumors," he emphasized.  This can be seen in an example of the recent controversies surrounding 'Korea's registration of HanZi to UNESCO'.
Koreans' Antagonistic Posturing Against China
  A Survey of 35 Chinese students at Dongguk University(DGU) shows that  Koreans' antagonistic posturing causes most of the anti-Korean sentiment (45.16%).  It's common knowledge that Koreans usually have the tendency to look down on the Chinese.  "Koreans ignore the Chinese because Korea precedes China in the modern industry," said Prof. Park.  Nowadays, this attitude is accepted by most Koreans.  Most of Koreans despise products 'Made In China'.  Most of Koreans distrust and fear China.  Most Koreans think that China is under-developed, poorly-educated and not enlightened.  It is worth pointing out that Korean companies in China often behave arrogantly and irresponsibly.  In a short moment, Korea and China may become more exclusive towards each other.  In this respect, the anti-Korean sentiment was mainly caused by Koreans' attitudes.    
Problems Expected  
  Experts say that there won't be any 'serious' damage to the economy, but they anticipate a short-term loss through the boycott of Korean products.  Just as Koreans like to buy Japanese products because of their good quality, likewise Chinese generally like to buy Korean products. 
  The main issue is whether the diplomatic relations will become worse or not.  "The most worrying aspect of the matter is the fact that the Chinese government uses the anti-Korean sentiment for their own gains.  The Chinese government is neglecting the fake news reports and the anti-Korean sentiment or even helping them to spread out," said Prof. Park.  The point is that this situation could help China hold a dominant position on the problem of Tibet, Northeast Project and so on.  Taking all those into consideration, it is expected that Korea will be damaged potentially by the anti-Korean sentiment.   

Part3. The Way to Hug Them; Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da 

Solutions; What Can Be Done
  The Post interviewed Park Young-hwan, a professor of Chinese Culture, about the solutions of the problems. 
  "First of all, the role of media is the most important thing.  The media should not make a hasty 'generalization'.  In addition to this,  imperialistic terms promoted by other countries should be avoided, such as the following title, "Korean pop wave defeat the China!". 
  Secondly, Korea should import more Chinese cultural products including Chinese dramas.  Many Chinese people think that the Korean government has imposed an embargo on importing Chinese cultural products  for Korea's growing trade surplus with China.  This could cause a boycott on Korean culture products.  Special care should be taken in balancing the trade between trading partners.
  When it comes to netizen, they should be careful about their words.  Using emotional words tends to create conflicts.  It must be replaced with more refined words. 
  In historical or cultural matters, controversy must be mediated by the academic world, not by the media and public.   Recent controversies are thought to be the result of the media and public who don't know much about the truth.  Therefore, those issues should be handled in the academic world by experts. 
The Way to Hug Them; Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da
  There is also a special thing what we can do-'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da'.  'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da' started  last September 3rd mainly because of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This made many Koreans reconsider our relationship with China.  This attitude continues today.
  At the conference on Korea held in Da-rean, China, on September 3rd, they decided to start 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da'.  It means that "Modest and kind approach to Chinese".  Lim Young-ho, a vice-president in Korean Union in China, said that many religions have joined this movement, and if this movement spreads more and more, conflicts between Korean and China will diminish.  This idea has caught on in China and also spread to Korea.
   Joong-ang ilbo, one of daily newspapers in Korea, has actively promoted 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da'.    According to You Sang-cheol, Chief of the Joong-ang ilbo China institute, said that this movement is not a passing fade.  He asserted that China is important to Korea and that finding solutions for national conflicts between China and Korea is essential.  For better relationship between China and Korea, 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da' is one of the solutions.   For this reason, he actively supports and promotes this movement.
   'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da' is also happening at DGU.  There are two reasons for this movement.  One is because there are many Chinese students at our school and  another is because we want a better relationship between Korea and China.  DMC(Dongguk Media Center)- including The Dongguk Post,  The Dongguk newspaper, Dongguk University Broadcast System- also promotes this movement.  The Dongguk Post reported and advertised this idea on this magazine, and The Dongguk newspaper advertised and wrote articles about this idea.   Yoon Jae-woong, a professor in charge of DMC, said that Dongguk newspaper will report on this in the next issue and Dongguk University Broadcast System is considering special programs.  He added that this active promotion will help Chinese students at DGU,  and also improve DGU's image.
    The Post met several Donggukians to hear their opinions.
Joe Won-Woo(Junior of Environment Engineering), a member of Irrang, responded as follows:
   "When I meet Chinese people, they are very good people, but when I mention a sensitive issue like Chinese-Korean relation they refuse to talk about it.  Koreans also don't like to talk about these issues.  Both parts don't want to mention anything.  How long will this situation go on?  We must make a strong effort to make it better."  He added that this effort should go on regardless of how the movement is received. "In these times of globalization we can't avoid meeting foreigners, but I think that many Koreans have a fixed idea about particular countries.  For example, the words "Zang-Kae" shows unconsciously what is the true Korean attitude toward Chinese.  This attitude is not acceptable.  This effort is expected to help change Korean's fixed ideas to particular countries, therefore this movement must go on and apply not only to China but also to other countries"
Lee Su-Heyon, A Chinese student at DGU(Freshman at International Studies) also responds as follows.   She said many DGU students are helpful and usually she feels welcome on campus but sometimes she feels unwelcome by people off campus.  She added that "I think it depends on the person more than on the relationship between countries.  Many newspapers and some netizens exaggerate the problem between China and Korea, they only highlight the bad points.  I think that this is a big problem.  If this movement spreads thorough newspapers and mass media, people will have a better understanding and relations between China and Korea will improve." 
    Not only Korean but also  Chinese are making efforts to improve relations between China and Korea.  Many Chinese in Korea were shocked with the Koreans' attitude toward China and reconsidered their actions and comments towards Koreans.  So they began  the 'Sam-Wha' movement.  'By Sam-Wha' it means that Chinese act, speak and  face Koreans warmly.   The 'Sam-Wha' movement is similar to the 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da' movement. The People's Newspaper, a famous newspaper in China, promoted the idea of 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da'.  They said through their newspaper as  follows. 'Relationship between Korea and Chinese is very important. So the promotion of this movement will improve the relations  between Korea and China.'
  
Conclusion
   As the Post pointed out, these conflicts have meaning for Korea and China in some way or another.  Park Seok-hong, a professor of Chinese Language & Literature, said that "there are always two sides to every problem."  He continued to say, "the good thing about the problem is that it could be an opportunity  to communicate with each other.  These problems between Korea and China might show the fact that they have interest in each other and this is a way to improve the ties between the two countries."
    Some experts, however, fear that 'Gyoum-Ta-Ma-Da' and other efforts may be a one-time event.  It all depends on how actively the two nations try and participate in this movement.

Yun Sang-young  letterbee@dongguk.edu

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