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"?© Japan Today