Friday, February 24, 2006

Fun fact

For all the mileage finger-chopping gets in the Korea-related blogosphere, the number of people who actually cut off a small part of their finger as part of a Tokto protest is only one more than the number of US vice-presidents who have shot someone in the face.

Photo above: Tokto protestor Park Kyŏngja
Photo below: her son, Cho Sŭnggyu

Photo below: It's funny until someone gets hit in the eye, is peppered with birdshot, or later has a heart attack.

Although this post talked specifically about the number of people chopping off part of their pinky over the Tokto/Takeshima issue, in the interest of full disclosure I should acknowledge here that I was unaware that twenty people had done something similar at Tongnimmun (Independence Gate) in protest of Koizumi's visit to Yasukuni Jinja Shrine in 2001 (that was also a year in which the textbook issue was quite heated). As I mentioned at Marmot's I was away at that time, and there was some confusion when what happened was later explained to me (basically someone mixing up "cut" and "cut off").

The existence of these twenty extremists does not negate anything I've said here. Nor do the self-immolaters (there was a rash of these in 1992, not in protest against Japan, but in protest against the ROK government), nor the commiters of harakiri over labor disputes. These people are psychologically ill, and rather than using them for one some political purpose (and both sides can use the same person—they can be seen by one side as virtuous and self-sacrificing patriots and as nutty extremists by the other) people should be getting them help.

At any rate, I was partly wrong about this—I knew of two actual finger-choppers since last year's orgy of anti-Japanese sentiment in the media and at least one "attempt," but I thought these were the only ones this decade—and it's usually best to come clean about something like that, hence this addendum.


  1. Actually there have been two vice-presidents who have shot someone...

  2. Yes, there's that Aaron Burr nastiness, but there's been only one VP that has shot someone in the face.

  3. Kushibo,

    Haven't you forgotten to mention the other twenty Koreans who chopped off their fingers?

  4. While I acknowledged twice, once here and once at Marmot's, that I was not aware of the incident you're speaking of, that incident from 2001 does not fit the description of "the number of people who actually cut off a small part of their finger as part of a Tokto protest."

    If you can find more from last year, I would like to know about it. Given the orgy of anti-Koizumi/Japan sentiment, I would gracefully count any finger chopping done in protest as part of a Tokto protest.

    I know there was an "attempt" by a politician to do so in Shimane Prefecture, but he conveniently failed. It was a publicity stunt and nothing more.

  5. I do want to mention also that I never heard or read phrases like "finger-chopping wacky" until after the incident last year. Hence, it appears that notion/meme is relatively new.

  6. You are techically right, Kushibo, the twenty Koreans who cut off part of their little fingers in August 2001 did not do it to protest Dokdo; they did it to protest Japanese history textbooks. By the way, twenty other Koreans were also scheduled to cut off their fingers, but police stopped them.

    I do not know of any more fingers being chopped off last year, but 135 Koreans did chop off their fingers in 1974 to protest something unrelated to Dokdo or history books.


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