YouTuber Ko Sung-kook prepares for his broadcast at a studio in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: REUTERS/Cha Sang-mi
politics

S Korean YouTubers lure Japanese viewers with attacks on Moon

21 Comments
By Sangmi Cha and Ju-min Park

Japanese citizens angry at South Korea's role in a diplomatic row over their wartime history that has spilled into trade have found some unlikely allies: South Korean commentators using YouTube to attack their own president, Moon Jae-in.

The South Korean leader has drawn the ire of conservative commentators at home for wrecking ties with Japan, a former colonial ruler now a key economic partner and fellow security ally of the United States.

To thousands of Japanese viewers, the YouTube channels offer a rare honest appraisal of an untrustworthy man who has turned against a neighboring democracy while courting the dictator of North Korea.

Relations between the two deteriorated this year as simmering disputes over Japan's wartime use of forced South Korean labour reignited and Japan imposed export curbs on high-tech materials to South Korea.

"The responsibility for this situation lies with President Moon Jae-in and his government's foreign policy," Ko Sung-kook, host of Kosungkook TV on YouTube, said on a broadcast earlier this month.

RTX70QKV.jpg
Mobile phones for a live broadcast film members of a conservative civic group taking part in a protest in Seoul, South Korea, on July 11. Photo: REUTERS/Cha Sang-mi

Ko, a veteran political commentator who has used YouTube as his main platform since last year, has 375,000 subscribers, including thousands watching him from Japan and some Japanese diplomats, he told Reuters, tuning in for the "real voice of conservatives" in South Korea.

Speaking in his modest office that doubles as a studio, Ko declined to identify the Japanese diplomats.

Standing on a stage in Tokyo's bustling Shinjuku district in May, with Japanese, South Korean and U.S. flags in the backdrop, Ko addressed an enthusiastic crowd of more than 300, including Japanese right-wing activists and fans.

"Is Japan with us, or against us?" he said through an interpreter. "Yes, Japan is with us, as we saw from the (Korean) war, as Japan supported almost everything they could as a U.S. strategic base."

But the Moon Jae-in administration had turned the relationship of South Korea and Japan into the worst since the two countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1965, he said.

Conservative South Korean YouTube commentators have seen their fan bases grow sharply at home thanks to their unforgiving criticism of the liberal president, who has struggled to fulfill his goals of creating jobs and reducing inequality while improving ties with North Korea's Kim Jong Un since coming to office in 2017.

As relations between Seoul and Tokyo deteriorated sharply this month, the channels have also resonated with Japanese viewers who had previously felt it was hard to get an accurate picture of South Korean views from mainstream media.

"I'm surprised at how decent this opinion is," one viewer replied to one of the videos in Japanese. "If people would listen to this Korea will also survive. It seems that Moon is deliberately trying to abolish Japan. It's all for Kim Jong Un."

Takabayashi Shigeo, a 39-year-old Japanese researcher who studies Korean history, subscribes to three South Korean YouTube right-wing political channels.

"These shows sometimes contain extreme views, but they are still useful for Japanese people to know about what South Koreans think," Shigeo said.

Kikuko Suzuki, a Japanese fan of a YouTube channel that airs anti-Moon videos, volunteered to translate shows on the channel for Japanese audience.

Suzuki, a tour guide in South Korea, said she showed Japanese visitors the videos to illustrate how some South Koreans still like Japan.

"They love it," Suzuki said of the videos, some of which call for an end to "anti-Japanese tribalism" in South Korea.

Some YouTube channels already offer Japanese subtitles, and others plan to follow suit.

Major Japanese media outlets including NHK and the Sankei newspaper feature popular conservative South Korean columnist Jeong Kyu-jae.

"We have Japanese fans and they know we are the mainstream conservative," Jeong told Reuters on the sidelines of a book promotion event this month.

Jeong says he receives "sizable" contributions in Japanese yen from among his almost-500,000 YouTube channel subscribers, but declined to disclose the donors.

Even some of the more minor YouTubers, using nothing more than a smartphone and a tripod, have found an audience in Japan.

Broadcasting live from anti-Moon rallies in Seoul, they proudly show off pledges of yen coming in via Super Chat, a YouTube tool that lets viewers pay content providers.

"I have 85,000 subscribers and among them are 15 people from Japan who shoot me yen by Super Chat, and one of them has been sending 2,000 yen five times a month for a year," said Ji Dae-hong, one of the broadcasters.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

21 Comments
Login to comment

If only the Japanese and the Koreans could realize that a strong political and economic alliance will be needed to fend off China!

The politicians can’t see the woods for the trees.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

"The responsibility for this situation lies with President Moon Jae-in and his government's foreign policy,"

Exactly. The current situation is a direct result of the ineptitude of the administration in ripping up the old agreement, which they had both agreed was "final and irreversible", and instead demanding... nothing. They've whined and been angry, but haven't put forward any proposal of an alternative solution.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

They are extremly biased toward right and not reasonable at all. Korean 40s who are the main ages to lead the country just ignore them. Those two have been heavy supporter former president Park who is in jail for bribery and other crimes. Shame on them ! If you got views on South Koreans from those two channels, you will be ridiculed.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Mr Moon is a good friend of the famous dictator who has nuclear weapons. He is also a good friend of the great emperor who has gigantic territory and power. And Japan is only a small democratic country. Go Japan.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

A strong alliance will be needed by both sides to fend off China? Not exactly. You can’t fend off what is already considered the number one economy in Asia. China is considered the world’s number 2 economy and number 3 military power.

You cant fend off something that has already overtaken them.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

Thank you Japan Today for this report. Thank you posters for your comments. IMO this issue to a much unfavorable turn since the new administration took the reins.  Like the song from Bob Seiger, blame it on midnight, shame on the Moon.  I pray for peaceful negotiations and final resolution.  Remember Tibet..

4 ( +8 / -4 )

If only the Japanese and the Koreans could realize that a strong political and economic alliance will be needed to fend off China!

This is what Koreans have had to listen to: China warning Korea about Russia, Russia warning Korea about Japan, US warning about the Soviet Union and so on.

Koreans need to be stronger. They were powerless and just let other counties draw a line and split their country into two. It’s Tim to stop being a puppet state to China or the USA and be one independent country.

People there don’t speak North Korean or South Korean. They speak Korean.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Like the song from Bob Seiger, blame it on midnight, shame on the Moon

Plus 1 for the Bob Seger drop!

or how about

Turn the Page....

5 ( +7 / -2 )

"Is Japan with us, or against us?" he said through an interpreter. "Yes, Japan is with us, as we saw from the (Korean) war, as Japan supported almost everything they could as a U.S. strategic base."

This!! And today the relationship between Japan and South Korea's security is not only unchanged but magnified tenfold. With possible changes in Article 9 and a true change in SK-JPN relations, this may go beyond just logistics in the future.

The media harps on the anti-JPN stories giving the impression that the whole nation is drunk on hatred for JPN, but stories like this show that there are people ion SK who are thinking rather than just being driven by emotion.

Japan is not SK's enemy. SK must stop treating Japan like it is. And Moon's attempt to bring SK and NK together by making JP a common enemy is foolish and destined to fail. Perhaps the recent joint Russian-Chinese intrusion into waters both claimed by SK and JPN will wake some people up to the importance of the US-JPN-SK strategic alliance.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

Standing on a stage in Tokyo's bustling Shinjuku district in May, with Japanese, South Korean and U.S. flags in the backdrop, Ko addressed an enthusiastic crowd of more than 300, including Japanese right-wing activists and fans.

Immediately I read " including Japanese right-wing..... " that was real stinky turn off for me .

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Glad to know that a small minority of S. Koreans are willing to have better relations with Japan.

To those S. Koreans stuck in the past, you can still use the victimhood issue, but use it to get closer to Japan and have better relations, use it to signed as many defense and economic treaties as you can. Your doing the opposite right now.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

There are many S. Korean Youtubers and internet commentators who can sympathize each other with Japanese right-wing anti-Korean chauvinists who are supported by Abe and Japanese business. An example of anti-Korean movement at a governmental level in Japan:

https://youtu.be/ieAqlgCzAXg

(English sub is available)

BTW, officially the best of Kim Jong Un is Trump, not Moon.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

That is the thing that I want to see people trying to achieve good relations with neighbors.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Now this is the kind of thing that should be given more attention by the time world media. South Koreans that question the stupidity of their own government, instead of blindly drinking the "all Japan is evil" Kool aid.

Since it doesn't fit their narrative, the world media will instead fixate on the "lingering bitterness over what Koreans consider Japan's refusal to properly acknowledge its colonial past."

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The market size of the YouTubers is non-existential compared with the huge market of anti-Korean bashing in the Japanese bookstores: https://youtu.be/Mcx4hpBowtA

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Of course these Japanese U Tubers are not only bashing Moon but Koreans in general. That could (and should) backfire on the Korean Conservatives.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

A good read: "Shinzo Abe's Underhanded Trade War Against South Korea: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/shinzo-abes-underhanded-trade-war-against-south-korea-68727

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

It is good to hear there are some rational and calm Koreans who value the relations with Japan. I think they should have the rule of the nation. Not a Communist sympathizer - Moon - who's parents are from Communist North Korea. Possible coup coming up.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

"A strong alliance will be needed by both sides to fend off China? Not exactly. You can’t fend off what is already considered the number one economy in Asia. China is considered the world’s number 2 economy and number 3 military power.

You cant fend off something that has already overtaken them."

You're confusing second largest with second best/most developed, etc;

China is second in size ONLY, mainly due to their 1.2 million people offering endless cheap labour.

China is well behind Japan and even South Korea in many other aspects and is unlikely to catch up any time soon, especially now China is ageing as fast (if not faster) than Japan, only much poorer.

A larger GDP does not tell the whole story.

Why are not millions of immigrants "assaulting" China's borders if they're so advanced and rich?!

Nah, instead we've got Chinese sneaking into Western Countries/Japan at the back of lorries.

How many Japanese or even Koreans you know are desperate to immigrate to China, illegally if necessary?

"Although China has made impressive economic and social development gains, its market reforms are incomplete, and its per capita income remains that of a developing country and less than one quarter of the average of OECD countries. The country is on track to eliminate absolute poverty by 2020 according to China’s current poverty standard (per capita rural net income of RMB 2,300 per year in 2010 constant prices). However, there are still an estimated 373.1 million people below the “upper middle income” international poverty line of $5.50 a day. "

https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview

0 ( +1 / -1 )

instead of blindly drinking the "all Japan is evil"

Same goes for Japanese blindly drinking "Korean think all Japan is evil". Remember me, what were the student asking ? To Abe to apologize, nor to Japanese neither to Japan. Perhaps, you should start wondering why.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Boy, I hope this guy doesn't end up in a ditch somewhere...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites