politics

U.S. envoy to Seoul shaves off controversial mustache

53 Comments
By Sebastien BERGER

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The envoy's mother was Japanese and, with Koreans still bitterly resentful of Tokyo's 1910-45 colonization of the peninsula, commentators claimed the mustache alluded to the fashions of imperial governors-general from the period.

So the man is being judged on his genetics.

This is called racism.

34 ( +42 / -8 )

Can Korea be any more ridiculous?

30 ( +38 / -8 )

Speed, in one word, yes. I visited the country for business countless times, and their hate for anything Japan related is only topped by their ridiculous ways of ofending others. I've experienced racism, my good looking female colleague was sexually harassed and ccomplaining to the bosses of my offending counterparts made situation worse. We usually end up refusing any kind of dinner invitations (extremely offending for the hosts), and end up insisting on business only discussions.

18 ( +25 / -7 )

Mr Harris, for his part, showed class. Pity about the others involved!

18 ( +25 / -7 )

Geezer should have grown a chonmage too, out of spite.

Seriously!

8 ( +15 / -7 )

This is racism by South Korea. An ethnic Japanese man is being bullied simply because of his race. It is sad Harris backed down and shaved his moustache, he should of told his abusers where to go.

19 ( +25 / -6 )

Did the Koreans forget which countries fought and died to liberate their country from the Chinese?

19 ( +25 / -6 )

Pretty sure the easily triggered offended by everything will find something else to get offended by. Maybe they'll find his eyebrows insulting.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

A better President would have recalled the good Ambassador for "consultations' and chided the Koreans for their petty criticisms of is ethnicity, saying something along the lines that the US sent Admiral Harris USN Retired to be the US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea for his regional expertise and not to be abused in the press for his ethnicity.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Wax on, rip off. Probably looks years younger. A lot of mustache envy in Korea.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I liked his mustache. It seems to me almost all S Koreans think Harris is still Japanese. How smart they are!

6 ( +12 / -6 )

The question is: What doesn't trigger S. Korea when it comes to Japan...The answer is Everything.

Add Mustache to the list of complaints.

Japanese text books.

Apologies which they don't like.

Compensation paid which they don't like.

Name Sea of Japan.

SDF force patrolling the area.

Intelligence agreement they cancelled.

8 ( +16 / -8 )

I'd say it was a poor choice in Washington. Knowing how these two countries are always at each other's throats, why send someone with a background the hosting nation would have difficulty with.

-18 ( +5 / -23 )

I usually have some sympathy for South Korea on political issues, but this is stupid. I agree with posters above that Korean commentators are being racist.

15 ( +18 / -3 )

"I'd say it was a poor choice in Washington. Knowing how these two countries are always at each other's throats, why send someone with a background the hosting nation would have difficulty with."

His last job before becoming the US Ambassador was as PACOM. Hard to imagine anyone more qualified for the post than Harry Harris. For the US government to make a choice not to assign someone to a particular position for reason of their ethnicity would be highly illegal under US law.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

"It seems to me almost all S Koreans think Harris is still Japanese"

The irony is that the Japanese would never consider him to be Japanese. He's a foreigner to them.

2 ( +10 / -8 )

Of all the things to hit the news...

Yet more proof that some people in SK will look for any excuse to bash the Japanese.

And contrary to what some people are saying, this is not racism.

How can it be? Most people in both countries are the same race.

This is just plain stupidity.

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

The irony is that the Japanese would never consider him to be Japanese. He's a foreigner to them.

It seems to me all Japanese consider Harris is an American.

17 ( +18 / -1 )

This is borderline 'Harry Harris Harra'.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

China: I technically ruled Korea for thousands of years as a client state. Regularly, Chinese emperors intervene and ruin Korean affairs, like the current division of Korean peninsula.

Korea: I am cool with that, master.

America: I brought peace and economic prosperity to South Korea and Japan. Unknown to them, our investment firms actively destroyed their economies during one of speculative attacks in 1997. We now own pretty much all banks in South Korea, and of course our 4-Stars General can have the authority above the South Korean president in the case of wartime.

Korea: No problem, master. I am always loyal to you.

Japan: I industrialized and developed Korea after centuries of backwardness, even China considered Korea was poorer than one of its frontier provinces. I admitted to have done some brutal war crimes but I repaid it with the technology transfer to Chaebols and development of South Korean economy.

Korea: Curse you, filthy Japanese! Koreans will never bow to you again!

9 ( +17 / -8 )

Ridiculous.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Not exactly related to the article, but when I visited Korea in 2016, I went into a shop and bought an umbrella. On my way out, I mindlessly let slip a ありがとうございました out of habit. The lady who ran the shop got super upset at me and said, in English "This is not Japan. This is Korea." I apologized and explained I live in Japan and I spoke Japanese out of reflex. She gave me a "Yeah whatever" kind of answer and was visibly still upset when I left.

There is still some deeply rooted anger left amongst Koreans towards Japan. It was /interesting/ to experience it (sort of) first hand.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

I am thinking that with the election coming up, you know who figures that getting the ambassador to shave his mustache off will be worth a few Korean-American votes.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Harry Harris visiting a traditional barbershop months after his facial hair became the object of unusual criticism.

No one's pointed out it makes him look like Gomez Addams.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

What is really sad is that the vast vast majority of Japan-hating South Koreans never lived through the 1910-1945 colonial period and are the product of a biased one-sided education based on revisionist history, and that perpetuated hate prevents South Korea itself from moving forward. More and more the entire world is beginning to see the extent to which this hate is carried to be "silly" at best and a "disorder" at worst.

The US was bombing Japanese and German civilians until 1945, but the people of both countries do not harbor perpetual hate towards America. Even the Vietnamese, whom we were bombing until 1972 do not harbor endless hate.

The Korean revisionism includes claiming to have been invaded by Japan when it was annexed with Korean's both for and against it, no battles were ever fought between Korea and Japan leading up to the annexation. It also denies the role Koreans played in WWII not just in China but in Philippines where the treatment of allied POWs by Korean guards, resulted in War Crimes convictions. It claims that Koreans were "forced" to serve in the IJA despite the fact that many became officers and one a Lt. General, convicted as a war criminal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Sa-ik

This anti-Japan posture goes back to the founding government of the ROK, which was an anti-Japan Korean government in exile during WWII. It simply did not change after WWII was over. The result today is that despite being an "ally" and protected by the United States, South Korea's unwillingness to improve relations with Japan has raised considerable concern in the United States.

Ambassador Harris is an American and a representative of the United States. If Japan is capable of treating him as such, why are the South Koreans incapable?

9 ( +16 / -7 )

Anti-japan

Anti-South korea

they both exist.

i see a lot of korean haters here as well. So its not just korean hating japanese.

both countries need to work together.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

Give ‘em hell, Harry!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

There is a news story on CNN. Clearly he was concerned about the virus. And secondly. He was hot under the mask with the added insulation under the nose. Great story one of the few on CNN. The barber shop he went to has a great history as well. I would not mind taking a shave or cut myself there. It sent a palliative and positive message. All this other stuff is just utter nonsense.

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/27/asia/harry-harris-mustache-south-korea-scli-intl/index.html

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I can’t imagine waltzing into my bosses office wearing a BabyMonkey T-shirt, shorts and beach sandals.

Their is something called “appropriate wear”.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

On the flip side to some comments about Koreans hating Japanese, when I visited Korea with friends 9 years ago, we went to a restaurant and since we couldn't speak Korean and the server couldn't speak English, we were able to communicate in Japanese because the server studied it.

So... not all Koreans?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

But these Koreans who disliked the US envoy's mustache must really dislike K-pop idols from Japan too. They surely must see it as an invasion of their culture or something. eyeroll

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Their is something called “appropriate wear”.

There is nothing wrong with the traditional Japanese mustache. Perfectly appropriate wear in Japan and the USA. If Koreans have a problem with it, tough. Ridiculing and attacking other cultures appearance, customs and dress is just pure racism.

i see a lot of korean haters here as well. So its not just korean hating japanese.

I dont see any "Korea haters", I see people against racism, and sticking up for Japan, who is constantly being bullied and pushed around by Korea for doing nothing wrong.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Anti-japan

Anti-South korea 

they both exist.

i see a lot of korean haters here as well. So its not just korean hating japanese. 

both countries need to work together.

Yes, there are people here who will automatically bash Japan no matter what ( they usually get hit with unusually uniform flurries of thumbs down ) and those who automatically bash Korea no matter what ( they usually get unusually uniform flurries of thumbs up ).

All very childish.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

A good ambassador cares not just about those he represents, but also about those who he interacts on a regular basis. He cares about other countries and people. He learns the culture and seeks to integrate into the social framework of those with whom he serves as ambassador. So if shaving his moustache makes him more acceptable, do it, like they say when in Rome, do as the Romans After all, a good ambassador is going to have to deal with lots of different situations, personalities, political undercurrents and often deal with less than ideal situations with those who not wish to come to terms.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Last time I was in Korea my wife and I had a wonderful time that was until they realised she was Japanese.

We spoke English the whole time I knew what would happen if we spoke Japanese.

On our last day we went back to a mung bean paddy place we had gone to on our first day.

Like the first time they were very friendly that is until they asked us where we were from, before I could stop her my wife said Japan.

Suddenly everything changed no service and when the bill came it was three times what we paid the first time for the exact same meal.

When I said something about the bill they threaten to call the police.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@Novenachama

This has nothing to do with culture or when in Rome,blah blah blah.

This is Korea acting like a child.

If he was not part ethnically Japanese they wouldn't care about his moustache.

Pettiness.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Congratulations Moon, you have once again managed to take the Korean peoples mind off the horrendous job you are doing as president and refocus them on to the important things in the world, in this case the facial hair of the American Envoy!

Seriously let it go! Move on!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

We do the same thing with Hitler's mustache. Even Jordan couldn't get away with it. Demonizing a mustache is pretty dumb if you ask me.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

As a citizen of S. Korea, I do not like this kind of fuss, but I respect his personal choice, whatever the motivation was.

Racism is not unique to S. Korea. More serious is in Japan and the U.S.

Symbolism and ritual have haunted both S. and N. Korea. The root can be traced to Song Si-yeol, the most famous Confucian fundamentalist during Joseon dynasty: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_Si-yeol

To them, statues of comfort women are more important than the surviving comfort women. They even play with the statues, like doll play. Yes. Mustache can be more important than any physical provocation.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

I can understand how wearing a Hitler style mustache is not a good idea, and may never be acceptable. But it's ridiculous to associate a fairly generic style mustache with Japan's Imperial Governers.

Then again, though he may be uniquely qualified for the job, giving the Korean ambassador's job to a man who is half Japanese seems pretty insensitive considering the history between the two countries and continuing animosity. It may be he contributed a lot to someone's campaign and so he was given the job. Weren't there any better choices that that?

-13 ( +0 / -13 )

giving the Korean ambassador's job to a man who is half Japanese seems pretty insensitive considering the history between the two countries and continuing animosity.

So which ethnicity would be acceptable to these awful bigots? Caucasian Americans only? That is incredibly racist, illegal and discriminatory. The USA will send ANY ethnicity they wish to act as their envoy. Anyone who disagrees is racist.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

koreans are so petulant and childish its sad

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Racism is not unique to S. Korea. More serious is in Japan and the U.S.

Well...Here we go again with this "Japan vs Korea" thing.

Nobody in Japan will prohibit Korean people to dress Korean clothes, eat Korean food, or talk Korean in public places. Nobody in Japan will charge more money from Korean costumers just because they are Korean. Nobody in Japan will deny jobs to Korean immigrant. In fact, Korean people have chances to get jobs in Japan and live here.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

This is the first time I heard that moustache could offend a determined nation.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Koreans being babies as always.

Have some national pride guys cmon.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, I know there are some very fine Korean women who are quite attracted to some well-groomed facial hair.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Is it part of Korean culture to argue over the tiniest thing?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oh yeah. Lets go after the South Koreans for being silly and get all smug. Meanwhile, if point to Adolf Zeising, Adolf Scharf and Adolf A. Berle to show that Adolf is a fine name for my baby boy most of you would have a conniption. And lets not forget all the people that flip out when they see swastikas at Buddhist temples. Or the Spanish teachers that got in real trouble over teaching the Spanish word for "black". Or those who got trouble for using the Polish word for "Polish male".

Yeah, the South Koreans are a bit over-sensitive. Just like most humans about something or other. And lets remember that cancel culture is definitely not uniquely South Korean. Frankly I am embarrassed to be human for what the majority of humans do, say and think about a whole bunch of stuff. That said, yes, the South Koreans were totally silly about this. But don't act like its just them being silly today, yesterday or last week. Or will be tomorrow.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

What else would you expect? Even in the award-winning movie Parasite they had to bring up the history.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Fighto!

This is racism by South Korea.

There is no explicit ban against racism in both Korea and Japan. Can't apply US and EU norms over there.

An ethnic Japanese man is being bullied simply because of his race.

And you think that doesn't happen in Japan, even to the richest man in Japan?

@zichi

Did the Koreans forget which countries fought and died to liberate their country from the Chinese?

Well, Harris is Japanese American, so...

@Desert Tortoise

A better President would have recalled the good Ambassador for "consultations' and chided the Koreans for their petty criticisms of is ethnicity

A better President would not have sent a Japanese American as an ambassador to Korea. It's same as sending a Palestinian American as an ambassador to Israel.

The irony is that the Japanese would never consider him to be Japanese.

Oh, Japanese are fine with hafus, as long as the other part is Caucasian, as is the case with Admiral Harris.

@Ken Wyatt

Most people in both countries are the same race.

Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese do not consider each other to be of same race.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

"A better President would not have sent a Japanese American as an ambassador to Korea. It's same as sending a Palestinian American as an ambassador to Israel."

First of all it would be illegal under US law to consider someone's ethnicity when considering candidates for a position. That consideration is off the table. He is American, not Japanese. Period. Full stop. Second he is probably the best qualified individual for the post considering his previous post was PACOM where he held overall responsibility for defending South Korea. If anybody in US Government service today knows the region best it is retired Adm. Harris.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

There is no explicit ban against racism in both Korea and Japan. Can't apply US and EU norms over there.

But the position was filled by the US government which does recognize racism.

And you think that doesn't happen in Japan, even to the richest man in Japan?

And you think that makes it OK?

Well, Harris is Japanese American, so...

Japanese Americans fought against the Japanese in WW2 so...

A better President would not have sent a Japanese American as an ambassador to Korea. It's same as sending a Palestinian American as an ambassador to Israel.

That would be racist and illegal. Israel would never be so childish as to take issue with something so petty.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps president Moon should shave his head. It offends Buddhists

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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