The Courtroom Special feat. Hippiefreak of Anime Tree Part 1 of 3: A Korean Perspective on Anime

Hey guys and welcome to a special three part edition of “The Courtroom.”  Hippiefreak of Anime Tree was kind enough to sit down and have a chat over some interesting topics.  I wanted to do some posts involving an Asian perspective on Asian things.  Part 1 deals with being Korean and liking anime (since Hippiefreak and I are both Korean).  Part 2 deals with appreciating different cultures regardless of race.  And Part 3 deals with America’s view of Asians.  

Judge: Alright, if my memory serves me correctly, part 1 was detailing being Korean and liking anime correct?

Hippiefreak: Yes it was.

Judge: Ok. So just to start off, do you have any initial thoughts/feelings on the matter?

Hippiefreak: Well, anime in this time and age has fans all around the world. Although Korea and Japan’s relationship is still “edgy,” it doesn’t stop Korean people from loving anime.

Judge: I would agree with what you said. There were times in my life especially when I was younger where my dad would have some issues with me liking anime since it was Japanese. That wasn’t his only reason, but it still was a reason.  I used to think that liking anime and Japanese things moar than things of my own culture was a bad thing.  But in the end, it isn’t a big deal; I value my Korean ancestry and appreciate Japanese things as well. No harm no foul.

Hippiefreak:  During my childhood, anime was easily like Spongebob in America.  I watched them before I even knew it was anime or made in Japan.

Judge: That’s really a good point.  I thought that everything on Toonami was American made since the voices were in English haha. Hell, I didn’t realize until I was older that even the classic Transformers series was animated in Japan.

Hippiefreak: Mmm. Also, I read that there are a lot of Korean workers in the anime business.  They may not create the material, but they help a lot of them get on the air.

Judge: Yeah I can see a lot of Korean names in the credits of anime.  Manhwa and manga are really the same thing…just the country of origin is different. They both get translated into the other’s language anyways.

Hippiefreak:  On a side note, I love Freezing’s art.

Judge: Oh yeah, Freezing’s art is awesome.  Probably the most prominent Korean manga writer is Lim Dal-young, who wrote Freezing and Black God.  One of his most famous works in Korea is Unbalance x Unbalance.  When it got translated to Japanese, they changed the names of the characters from Korean to Japanese.

Hippiefreak:  That reminds me of something else as well:  Slam Dunk is a pretty famous series in Japan.  In the Korean localization, they changed the names of the characters.  Hanamichi Sakuragi became Kang Baek-ho.

Judge: I don’t know if changing the names of the characters is worth it.

Hippiefreak: Probably not, but it may mean that Korean media would rather prefer the Korean names.  I actually saw a video of the Korean Slam Dunk where people said in Korean that they wished Slam Dunk was Korean and not Japanese.  There seems to be some nationalism or rivalry going on.  But still, they’re watching it right?

Judge: True. I think living in America, we’re moar open to stuff. Although I have met a few Korean-Americans who still get ruffled about Japan because of what their relatives tell them (the 2009 World Baseball Classic provoked a lot of debate between members of my Korean Student Association). The main-landers are really xenophobic.  Didn’t the Koreans get pissed of their portrayal in Hetalia?

Hippiefreak: Ah yes.  The protest against the South Korean depiction was so large that they removed him from a lot of official works.  Pretty extreme I would say because a lot of the series’ characters are pretty stereotypical as well.

How can a country get so bent out of shape about a show where ALL characters are stereotypes?

Judge: Yes I agree. I know from stalking Sankaku Complex that 2ch likes to bash Korea a lot.

Hippiefreak: Like I’ve said, Korea’s relationship with Japan is very edgy.  It’s mostly because Japan owned Korea with an iron fist less than a century ago.  I think I worded that wrong, but Japan didn’t treat Korea so well. A personal experience being that my late grandfather was forced to fight in the Japanese army during WWII.

Judge:  Yeah. A lot of fuss is being made in Korea over the Japanese Prime Minister paying tribute to the soldiers who died in WWII.  That and the comfort women ordeal.  The way I see it, what happened 60 years ago was pretty bad, no one is arguing that.  But like slavery in America, it’s in the past.  It’s time to let go.

Hippiefreak:  Correct me if I’m wrong but I think Japan never formally apologized to Korea.  Not completely sure on that, but if that’s the case, the Koreans still have a small right to be angry.

Judge: I actually don’t know haha. But if you look at this way, in another 25 years, most people who were alive at the time will have died most likely.  Is it really reasonable to have people who weren’t alive at the time apologize for something they didn’t do? I think people just need to let go. The sins of the past shouldn’t apply to the people of the present.  What Hitler did to the Jews for example.  Should today’s German people have to constantly be reminded of that?  What I’ve learned is that apologies for the most part are empty.  Who cares?  They’re just words.  Time to look to the future.

Hippiefreak:  Makes sense as less than a century ago, America enslaved African-Americans.  And currently, their music and culture dominate the media.

Judge: And sports too!

Hippiefreak:  Yes that too.  But racism is still prevalent in the U.S. and the hatred between Japan and Korea still exists.

Judge: Yes that is true.

Hippiefreak: Time will tell how long it lasts.

Judge:  Unfortunately, it will never go away.  People will hate each other for silly reasons till the end of time.  We’re imperfect creatures.  Anybody who thinks otherwise is an idiot, plain and simple.  We’re never going to come to some ultimate understanding of one another *cough*Gundam 00*cough*

Hippiefreak:  A sad fact but I agree with you.  But case in point: some people HAVE moved on.

Judge: Yes, which kinda leads into our next point.  We’ve touched on it a bit already, but regardless of race, I think it’s perfectly alright to appreciate others’ cultures. In fact, it shows peaceful coexistence…(STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!)

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One Comment:

  1. Hey guys – thanks for this series of posts! I missed it the first time around, but I'm glad to have found it now. I'm also Korean-American, but I'm a hapa. I'm half-white/half-Korean.

    The issues with Korea and Japan are really deeply rooted – much of what you mentioned is what feeds it. During WWII, Korea was made a colony of Japan and the Koreans were humiliated in how they were treated (ex. they were forced to change their names into Japanese ones). Add to that the conscription and the comfort women, and you get why the Koreans were angry. Imagine if you were forced to fight for another country against your own's wishes while your sister was being used as a prostitute by your enemies…not so good.

    Then, Japan's refusal to apologize for many of the atrocities during WWII adds further fuel to the fire. The country is very nationalistic (as is Korea, of course) and pride and avoidance of shame are of utmost importance, and the extreme conservatives continue to rewrite history to make everyone else the aggressor, including Korea. There are also more modern issues related to nationalistic pride.

    Luckily, the younger generations on both sides have made some in-roads. Its interesting to even see some commentary on such issues in anime (Hetalia's a poor example, but the commentary on revisionist history in Broken Blade is a good one).

    Still, I think we need to understand why the pain is there. The people from that era are largely still alive and are still living with physical and emotional hurt. The effects of that war, which Korea did not ask for, still affect the way of life for all these people and for their descendants. Simple apologies would lead to dramatic shifts, because it would help lead to healing.

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