Saturday, November 19, 2005

Just how much anti-Americanism? (Part 2)

From Korea's CSAT (College Scholastic Ability Test), also known as the Sunŭng [수능] Exam.

다음 글에서 어법상 잘못된 것은?
[Which numbered portion is grammatically incorrect?]

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, ①who promotes Habitat for Humanity, has toured various countries ②since 1994. In the summer of 2001, he ③has visited Asan, Korea, to participate in a house-building project. It was part of Habitat for Humanity International's campaign ④to build houses for homeless people. He worked along with volunteers for the program, which is ⑤named after him -- the Jimmy Carter Work Project 2001.

The above is an example of the anti-Americanism that pervades Korean academia today. This hate-filled passage, crafted by Korean academics with a chip on their shoulder about American hegemony, was forced on hundreds of thousands of teenage and twenty-something test-takers a couple years ago. It has since been foisted on millions more, after being reprinted in dozens of CSAT study guides. And the ugly truth is that there are many more questions--dozens if not hundreds--with the same vitriolic, US-bashing tone.


  1. "The above is an example of the anti-Americanism that pervades Korean academia today."

    I think it is a piss-poor example, and I do not understand why you are trying to convince people that there is not anti-Americanism in Korean academia.

    Here are just a examples I think are better than yours:

  2. The Chosun article was chopped off. Here it is again:

  3. I think Kushibo was being tongue-in-cheek with the posting.

  4. Sonagi wrote:
    I think Kushibo was being tongue-in-cheek with the posting.

    Yes, I was being tongue-in-cheek. Nevertheless, I think that Gerry has some valid points...

  5. Gerry Bevers wrote:
    "The above is an example of the anti-Americanism that pervades Korean academia today."

    I think it is a piss-poor example,

    Of course it was. It's not an example of anti-Americanism at all. But it is an example of the tone that pervades a lot of English-teaching materials. Material that gets overlooked by the media because it's not sensationalistic.

    and I do not understand why you are trying to convince people that there is not anti-Americanism in Korean academia.

    Gerry, while I do agree with some of your points, I think you are often too quick to jump to the worst-possible motive in explaining things. Case in point, I am NOT trying to convince anyone that "there is not anti-Americanism in Korean academia."

    There most certainly is. The far-leftist, pro-North, near-communist, anti-government, anti-American, and anti-Japanese Chonkyojo, the until recently outlawed "teachers union," is an example of anti-Americanism in Korean academia.

    As one of your links clearly shows, they have made dangerous inroads into Korean academia. This fringe group (yes, they are a fringe) and the associated chinbo/jinbo groups are also very good at manipulating news to whip up an unwitting public toward certain populist issues.

    They are dangerous. Fortunately, a lot of people in Korea are aware of this danger, and keeps them in check. Though certainly not enough to your satisfaction (or mine either, I guess).

    I'll address your links later (and thanks for them, by the way). But for now I will write WHY I chose to put up this post.

    In my work, I end up overseeing a lot of English-language material for publication and broadcast. Not just English-study materials, but documentaries, news content, etc.

    The fact is that there is far more "pro-American" than "anti-American" stuff. Far more. Even with Japanese-related stuff, the balance is toward neutral or pro-Japanese views, though the margin is less.

    This Carter passage, in particular, is one I have seen reprinted at least a dozen times. And yesterday, when I was dealing with it, I thought I would put that there as a post to present this other side that gets lost among the sensationalism. There are loads more of this stuff, too.

    The problem with the blogosphere's echo chambers is that they so often tend to focus exclusively on the anti- this or anti-that that they end up presenting a distorted picture of what really is going on. Even a description of Chonkyojo as anti-American or anti-Japan is missing the much larger point that they are also anti-government, anti-corporate, anti-capitalist, etc. Many "anti-" things that have nothing to do with the U.S. or Japan, though you wouldn't know it from some people's blogs.

    Yes, there is anti-Americanism and anti-Japan sentiment coming from Chonkyojo and their sympathizers and that must be checked, if not reversed. It is vital that that happen.

    But to take, say, the pictures in the Inchon subway station (which were taken down EARLY due to local complaints!) and paint it as the universal situation in Korea is irresponsible and wrong-headed.

    And when 0.0000004% of the Korean population -- two people in the same family -- cuts off a finger to protest Japan, and this is brought up again and again and again by Korea critics who then say, "but the supposedly offensive textbooks are only used by 0.3% of the country's high schools," it is disingenuous.

    There are lots of people in Korea who think anti-Americanism is out of hand. Even anti-Japan sentiment. There would be more if the press were presenting more fact-based stories. But that doesn't mean everything the Korean press reports on US- or Japan-related stories is hogwash, either. No offense, but the extreme to which you and Matt go is almost a mirror image of the extremist Korean view.

    Back to leftist viewpoints in academia. The people I work with, in fact, keep an eye out for Chonkyojo-leaning materials. I learned that the hard way when I asked about our policy (for a research paper I was doing) a little too close to having asked if the publishing department needed teachers/writers as referrals.

    The person in charge thought that I was trying to help some Chonkyojo-affiliated teachers get employment there, and I was given a very, very serious talking to. Very serious (I was persona non grata there for nearly a year).

    In the literally hundreds of writers I've been tasked to oversee, only one had materials that I felt had to be rejected because it was stuff like you had linked. In fact, it was little more than a slightly beefed-up set of passages like the Chonkyojo "test" mentioned in one of your links. I had meant for the writer to re-submit new materials, but instead he was fired outright.


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