Thursday, 8 April 2010

National Branding and historical politics

....variety of ideas.
Today Korea Times has informed about the newest national advert in the US.
Korean ownership of the Dokdo Island will be promoted by 100 000 hand rubber bands in the USA, just after the full page article in New York Times and Times Square billboard.

This is just one of the actions of Korean authorities to promote the country and it's interests. Korean PR and soft power has been deeply involved in promoting Korean dramas ( soap operas) in the Far East, Korean music and contemporary youth bands, even Korean fashion brands.

This has caused increased numbers of Japanese and Chinease who travel to Korea just to learn the language or watch the house or caffeteria of their favorite amants from the soap operas ( here especially girls).

That would be enough on national branding in this post.

There is however another interesting issue about Korean politics and foreign relations with it's neighbors.
Dokdo is an island otherwise called Takeshima by Japanese and is located in the sea south of Korean coast. There are some traces of natural resources on the island, but the whole conflict in Japan has deeper roots.

This is more about memory and historical politics. Japanese occupation has exceeded Hitler's regime in accuracy and implementation of methods and left huge traces of bad memories in both Koreas. So therefore the ownership of Dokdo is more a matter of national identity and common sense of harm which has never been excused for up till now. Historical politics in Korean education system builds many myths about nation's history as it helps to improve the identity and mobilizes human powers into any action for the common goal (whether real or imaginary).

There might be critics of such policy of the state which tells a lot of tales to Korean children, but on the other hand the same happens in Japan.

Contemporary Japan had not experience any denazification process as it was done in Germany post World War II. In the West it would not be accepted that Nazi officers are invited to tv stations where they are treated like national heroes in the 21st century in front of millions of young Japanese. This attitude is simmilar to the attitude of current Russian leaders who still try to deny the massacres of Katin ( see KatyƄ of Wajda if you are interested, but warning, the movie contains drastic scenes). However current Russian leaders stopped denying communist crimes, these crimes are nameless, they were done by anonymous people who "had their orders". This quote: "I had my orders" is also very often mentioned by Japanese veterans when they sometimes face more detailed quations about their actions during the war.

Tensions between Tokyo and Seoul are big and not easy to resolve. But time heals the wounds as I have mentioned before and young generation of Japanese raised on Korean Wave will show different attitude, also young generation of Koreans who have no historical burdens will be able to say: "It is past now. We will remember but we do not have to hate".

What will be with Dokdo then? I don't know, but knowing the energy of Koreans in fighting for their interests, it will be Dokdo and it will be Korean.

I am sorry if this post is not answering all as I write in haste this time.

Korea Times on Dokdo Bands: and this one a movie on Katin

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