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Korean kids nurtured to remember history with anti-Japanese toys and games

28 Comments
Port Arthur prison, where Ito assassin Ahn was held before his execution

The animated movie "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train," which set records in Japan last year, has already been seen by over 1 million viewers in South Korea.

But Shukan Post (April 2) reports that a Korean citizens' group objected to an ornament that the movie's young protagonist wears on his ear, the design of which "evokes the image of the Rising Sun flag." 

"In response to the citizens' group protest, the design was changed in the Korean version of the film," says Toshiharu Hirai, an assistant professor at Hanyang Women's University in Seoul. "But the group has not stopped there; it's proceeded to demand that Netflix clearly explain 'Not only about the ear ornament, but regarding Japan's history as a war-crime country.'" 

Koreans had previously forced the closing of an exhibition of the popular "One Piece" comic which carried an image resembling the Rising Sun flag, and sought to halt sales of a similar image displayed in Burger King outlets. 

This time Shukan Post draws its readers' attention to "anti-Japanese games."

In April 2020, a Busan-based toy manufacturer named Oxford placed on sale a toy composed of plastic blocks (similar to LEGO toys) titled "Independence Army's Righteous Fist in Harbin." The toy lets children assemble a model of the station in Harbin, China, where Korean patriot Ahn Joong-geun assassinated former Japanese prime minister Hirobumi Ito, the first Japanese Resident-General of Korea, on October 26, 1909. 

According to Hirai, the toy was issued to commemorate the 110th anniversary of Ahn's execution by hanging in Ryojun Prison. 

The set, which is priced at 45,000 Korean Won (about 4,300 Japanese yen), includes a steam locomotive and figurines of the "independence soldier" armed with a pistol and hand grenade and his target, a white-haired man in a Western suit labeled "Hirobumi," who's shown grimacing in pain. 

The toy is described on a Lotte-affiliated sales site as "Blocks that recreate a historic moment" that "children will enjoy." 

"This toy set, aimed at children age 8 and above, is made up of over 400 pieces, and is likely to be a bit difficult for children to assemble by themselves," says professor Hirai. "I suppose that it is designed as a means by which Korean parents can convey to their children the 'saga of a hero' who resisted the Japanese annexation of their country." 

Korean kids can also avail themselves of a patriotic game called the "Dokdo Defenders." Dokdo (literally, "Independence Island") is the name of the Liancourt Rocks, two disputed islands that Japanese refer to as Takeshima, Shimane Prefecture, in the Sea of Japan -- or East Sea, as Koreans call it. 

The opposing players roll two dice and advance their pieces over a board, with their "mission" following a course to wrest control of the islands from Japan. 

"'Wednesday,' an adventure game for the over-15 set on the theme of the 'comfort women' (wartime sex slaves), was released online last December," notes journalist Ha Jonggi. "I don't have the figures for the number of downloads, but it can be played in Japan or anywhere else in the world." 

The game involves a Korean woman named Suni who is the sole survivor of a comfort station in Indonesia. She is able to go back in time to try to rescue the other women. 

"In addition to the comfort women, the game also involves prisoners of war who are killed or  forced to become laborers," says Ha. "Some Japanese in the game are portrayed as being kind, but others engage in bestial acts such as killing prisoners with their swords and so on, and that's the main lesson the players will learn." 

According to Ha, the contents of Wednesday -- which takes its name from day of the week a comfort women support group protests outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul -- were apparently subsidized to the equivalent of 11.4 million Japanese yen by an agency of the Korean government.  

If the shoe were on the other foot, and Japanese companies produced toys ridiculing South Korea's president, wonders Shukan Post, would they be able to brush off objections by saying, "Well after all, they're just toys"?

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28 Comments
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These toys and games don't seem all that different from what Americans of my generation used to play with, like Davy Crockett shooting Mexicans at the Alamo and that kind of stuff.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Korea really is pathetic with this obsession. Hypocritical cry babies or what.

6 ( +17 / -11 )

The Koreans need to move on instead of perpetuating anti-Japanese education. These are not "mere toys".

They are toys deliberately created to prolong the hatred of Japan and the Japanese.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

Smart kids very quickly feel or know themselves that this is only stupid propaganda. They play with it or talk like pleasing the adults and teachers, but have inside much more healthy feelings and points of view, free of such propaganda. What do you think for example, we had to hear or read or play with, every day from kindergarten to university, when we were children or young adults in Eastern Europe? Now see yourself, have we survived that or that former communist dictatorships us?

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

At least the adventure game one seems to offer some degree of depth, in not portraying all Japanese as a monolithic evil entity. I would have to try it to really gauge though, and I probably won't be doing that.

The lego-esque one though, good gods. Who wants their children to be recreating a historical assassination in lego? Propaganda aside, that is already morbid as hell.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

History is very important.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

The propaganda is strong with this country.

If Korea would put the effort that they waste trying to disparage Japan over century-old history into growing, building, and creating things of excellence, Korea would be an East Asian power on par with China or Japan. But Korea keeps punching itself in the face with these stupid political stunts.

None of this is done out of any genuine concern for the past or with any aim toward a better future. Korea’s addiction to propaganda is merely a naked effort by politicians to gain power in the present. Stoke rabid nationalism with propaganda, and use that to win elections. That’s all this is, and Korea suffers culturally and economically for it.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

mikeylikesitToday  08:39 pm JST

Korea would be an East Asian power on par with China or Japan

As impossible as it is, you mean both Koreas unified? Or just South Korea? Because South Korea has less than half the population of Japan, and would have trouble being on par with western European countries like France and Britain, and of course Germany. Japan is considrably bigger than all of them.

Totally agree with the rest of your post though, spot on.

As for Korean propaganda, they only punch as hard as they can take (which is not much). The moment they do some actual damage to Japan they will be ousted from GSOMIA, Japan will vacate its embassy and we might even see some JSDF manned installation on Takeshima. It's not hard to surmise that South Korea would rather just keep up with these harmless pussy cat swipes and keep the status quo intact.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Larkin's poem, 'This Be The Verse' springs to mind.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Time to forget the past and move on to the future.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

The Koreans will move on when Japanese society fully owns up to its past. Until then future generations of Koreans and Chinese will continue to despise Japan and rightfully obsess over destroying it in a future war. Retaking the Diaoyu islands will be nice place to start.

5 ( +14 / -9 )

The Koreans will move on when Japanese society fully owns up to its past. Until then future generations of Koreans and Chinese will continue to despise Japan and rightfully obsess over destroying it in a future war. Retaking the Diaoyu islands will be nice place to start.

Wait, you think Korea obsessing over destroying Japan and its people through war is right until all of Japanese society owns up to its past? Do you think the world will congratulate Korea once it has committed genocide against the Japanese people? Should all Japanese and half children be killed too you think?

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

@Darmstadt

They wont stoop so low as to that of Imperial Japan, which actually commited genocide and attempted to destroy the cultures of the people they conquered. Instead they will cause sufficient economic and infrastructure damage to force Japan to capitulate, demand territorial concessions (Diaoyu islands) and force Japan pay up and own up to its past crimes.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Wow, nice, clickbait.

Look, Busan-based toy manufacturer named Oxford made such toy. That is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is, that we releas(ed) school books deny(ing) Nanjing massacre (we like to call it 南京事件, Nanjing incident), sweep Unit731 under the carpet and so on. When some loony in South Korea comes up with anti-Japanese sentiment, our media just get the bait and point towards South Korea saying "look, it's true, all SK and everyone there hates us. Oh and they eat dogs too!".

I am not a fan of the collective responsibility. It's time to get over it. Both them, South Korea, and us, Japan. Bringing up old things and pouring salt into old wounds will not help us move forward. And blaming each other "but he started it first" is a nonsense. Our governments are really the same. Corrupted oyajis, visiting hostess bars after "hard work" and just being maliciously mischievous

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

DarmstadtToday  10:18 am JST

The Koreans will move on when Japanese society fully owns up to its past. Until then future generations of Koreans and Chinese will continue to despise Japan and rightfully obsess over destroying it in a future war. Retaking the Diaoyu islands will be nice place to start.

Wait, you think Korea obsessing over destroying Japan and its people through war is right until all of Japanese society owns up to its past? Do you think the world will congratulate Korea once it has committed genocide against the Japanese people? Should all Japanese and half children be killed too you think?

I was raised in my family to despise Japanese because of Pearl Harbor in WW2. This from my dad who never served one day in the service. He uses this as an excuse to Japan-bash today. He thinks the US should've nuked the Japanese out of existance as revenge for Pearl Harbor. And never mind the Korean and Vietnam Wars. That's just more excuses for him to hate everyone of the Oriental race. He thinks they're all 'Communist' whether they truly are or not. And since 1990 it's been Arab/Allah - bashing time for him too.

I grew up with war toys but I also knew that history and today are necessarily the same thing. It's stupid to hate a nation or a race, you hate the enemy government.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

CORRECTION

starpunkToday  12:46 pm JST

DarmstadtToday  10:18 am JST

The Koreans will move on when Japanese society fully owns up to its past. Until then future generations of Koreans and Chinese will continue to despise Japan and rightfully obsess over destroying it in a future war. Retaking the Diaoyu islands will be nice place to start.

Wait, you think Korea obsessing over destroying Japan and its people through war is right until all of Japanese society owns up to its past? Do you think the world will congratulate Korea once it has committed genocide against the Japanese people? Should all Japanese and half children be killed too you think?

I was raised in my family to despise Japanese because of Pearl Harbor in WW2. This from my dad who never served one day in the service. He uses this as an excuse to Japan-bash today. He thinks the US should've nuked the Japanese out of existence as revenge for Pearl Harbor. And never mind the Korean and Vietnam Wars. That's just more excuses for him to hate everyone of the Oriental race. He thinks they're all 'Communist' whether they truly are or not. And since 1990 it's been Arab/Allah - bashing time for him too.

Serbia under Slobodan Milosevic used the past of cruel Ottoman Turk rule as an excuse to commit genocide against Muslims during the 90s. And the ISIL scum use the Crusades of 1000 years ago as an excuse for their 'jihads'.

I grew up with war toys but I also knew that history and today are NOT necessarily the same thing. It's stupid to hate a nation or a race, you hate the enemy government, not the people. There are times when peoples need to bury the hatchet.

The late Pres. George Bush was a WW2 POW, abused by Imperial Japanese troops. Years later he went to Japan again as a diplomat/politician and he was mature enough to know that Japan was a different place with a different government - a democracy and not fascist.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@mobius217,

Koreans and Chinese will continue to despise Japan and rightfully obsess over destroying it in a future war.

Promoting bigotry and genocide is never righteous. It is merely a sign of mental illness.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@asdfgtr read my second comment

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Promoting bigotry and genocide is never righteous. It is merely a sign of mental illness.

Destroy as in damage Japan's economy and infrastructure through warfare. I bet the CCP will be very eager to do that in their attempt to retake Daioyu islands if American military withdraws from Japan. And as Japan's global relevance and economic status declines, expect Korea and China to intensify their political and military offensive against Japan.

And the ball in in Japan's court. Their descision at present will determine if the Koreans and Chinese continue to hate them or forgive them.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

And the ball in in Japan's court. Their descision at present will determine if the Koreans and Chinese continue to hate them or forgive them.

Absolutely the right wing nutters are a minority here, but yet the government seems to be full of them. Tradition is a chain around the neck of the youth.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The relations between Japan and the other Asian nations might be better if Japanese society were able to admit how horribly they treated the conquered nations. Just because Japan has forgotten history, that doesn't mean everyone else wants to.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

What about educating the young about the barbarian pre-colonial Korea and the things they used to do overt there as well? Like fathers impregnating their daughters to prove their fertility to potential bachelors.

What about teaching them about how Japan helped the people of Chosen to become a modern society and sowed the seed for them to become a technologically advanced nation and how the Japanese government helped to preserve hangul (seen at that time as the writing system of the lower classes) when most locals would rather use Hanja or Japanese.

I guess playing the victim card pays off better these days.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The patriotic games are unfortunately not exciting. The assassination set is not a game and might be better used as a shrine.

The moral of this story is that when some country like Japan commits atrocities for years and years then that country should expect years and years of anger from its victims. That Japan wants the world to forget what it did only adds to the the Koreans' anger.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For those of you that say Koreans should "move on", don't forget this is happening in a context of increasing right-wing nationalism and denialism in Japan. I think any society that was wronged in the past would actively counter the whitewashing of history by their aggressor.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just do not bother with a "Korean" version and do not even license Japanese anime in Korea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pres. George Bush was a pilot during WW II, and was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, but he was never a POW. Of the eight planes shot down while strafing Chichi Jima, only George Bush survived. The other pilots were killed and eaten by their Japanese captors.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Do you mean all east Asian countries teach people only via propaganda ? Nooo really ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1glennMar. 26  09:45 am JST

Pres. George Bush was a pilot during WW II, and was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, but he was never a POW. Of the eight planes shot down while strafing Chichi Jima, only George Bush survived. The other pilots were killed and eaten by their Japanese captors.

He still had enough maturity and sense to not hate all Japanese or the entire Oriental race for that. Those Japanese cannibals were war criminals, fascists, scum. They and their totalitarian regime paid the penalty for their crimes.

After the war Japan changed, the Orient changed, Asia changed, the whole world changed. Now Communism was the biggest threat. And things changed again in late 1989 when Communist regimes in Europe fell.

You hate the enemy government, not the people or the race/color they are. And you don't use past abuses as an excuse for the bigotry either. If you do, you're just as stupid and rotten as the enemy governments. And you also haven't matured a single day since then, or that matter - since 4th grade at best.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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