Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Korea takes down Japan 4-1 in World Baseball Classic Qualifier

It's not quite a freeway series, but Japan and South Korea keep finding themselves on the same baseball diamond and except for a stinker of a first game, South Korea is doing quite well at the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

They celebrated St. Patrick's Day (um... since Koreans are the Irish of Asia?) by defeating Japan 4-to-1 in San Diego's Petco Park (good God, can we please go back to naming stadiums after people or cities, corporate-controlled America?). With it's successive strike-thrus of the running score, the Marmot has a visually appealing and succinct rundown of the game.

The South Korea team, who the Korea Times reminds us are the reigning Olympic champs, are guaranteed a spot in the semifinals, but they have one more Pool 1 game to play: South Korea will go against either Japan or Cuba — whoever wins on Wednesday night in San Diego — on Thursday night at 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (3 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time; 10 a.m. on Friday, Korea/Japan time). Expect a lot of long lunches on Friday in Seoul and around Korea.

So that means there is a fourth chance Korea and Japan will go head to head. The winner there will go against the runner-up from Pool 2, which will be either Venezuela or the United States (since the Americans from the US Mainland defeated the Americans from Puerto Rico — hey, why doesn't Hawaii have its own team?).

The loser in Thursday's match (Korea versus Japan or Cuba) will go against the Pool 2 winner (again, either Venezuela or the United States). The Venezeula-US match-up will be played on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (8 a.m. in Korea/Japan, if anyone cares).

It gets better. If Korea and Japan both win in the semifinals, to be played March 21 and 22 in Dodger Stadium, they would face each other for a fifth time in the final match-up on March 23. Whoever else moves on to the finals, attendance may end up being higher if Korea and/or Cuba keeps moving further along.

Anyway, the Korean team ended up planting a flag again (been there, done that crap) which will likely not go over well with too many people in Korea who are actually from America. I already left my comments at Brian's site that I don't think this is much different from planting a similar flag at the South Pole or the top of Mt Everest, but just to err on the side of caution give it a rest.

And leave the dogdam Tokto/Dokdo posters at home. I'm sympathetic to Korea's claim on the islets, but for criminy's sake, give it a rest already.

[below: If the Korea team plants one more flag on the mound in a World Baseball Classic game, I'm going to fervently request General Motors to "plant" as many American flags in front of GM-Daewoo headquarters as they have at General Motors in Michigan.]

UPDATE (next morning):
Apparently the Japanese baseball team also agree with my notion that the flag-planting after a victory is an innocuous post-game ritual akin to planting a flag at the South Pole or the top of Mount Everest (hat tip to cm).

I thus retract my earlier statement that GM should plant all those flags at the headquarters of Korea-based GM-Daewoo, unless GM buys a Japanese car company and does the same there.

Still, no matter how many flags the Japanese team plants the "Ichiro Hirobumi" name-calling by the Chosun Ilbo was beyond the pale. I don't care if the Japanese press does the same (which they may or my not, I don't know, but leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki apparently has a garlic-related insult-spewing mouth on him).

UPDATE (the day after the first update):
Brian-in-Chŏllanam-do commenter Msta suggested that the Japanese flag-planting (above) is a photoshop fake:
As far as I know, Japan never did flag-planting.

Compare the images... Aren't they too similar? You can easily create the image with Photoshop.
So I checked out Msta's links (here and here and here) and, I'll be darned, that does look exactly like the Korean flag was photoshopped into a Japanese flag.

So that's at least one photoshop, but one of the photos cm linked to is not there anymore (I think it showed a Japanese coach but I could be remembering it wrong) and I had found this photo which looked authentic before I posted this update and linked to it at Brian's site, and all that lent credibility to the first photo.

After seeing Msta's evidence, though, I looked around a bit and it appears that Japan's flag-laying "ceremony" was after their final win at the 2006 WBC, perhaps when it's more appropriate to "claim" a field.

But that kind of ceremony, if that's what the Japanese team was doing, still seems to be along the same lines as Korea's planting a flag after victory against their rival (which is an explanation, kiddies, not a rationalization). Frankly, I find it difficult to imagine even Japan's flag-laying "ceremony" was an official part of the WBC's planned closing, since laying down an American flag like that (had the US team won) would be all wrong, so I don't think that would be included as an "official" thing.

Msta also asks:
I don't really care if they plant their flag or not, but why lie that Japan did it too.
That's a good question. I guess it's because some people get a real kick out of making things up or just having a little fun. So in the absence of evidence of a full-blown flag-planting by Japan, I hereby retract what I said about it and give Msta credit for bringing it to my attention.


  1. Howdy, thanks,I didn't know garlic-eater was an established slur in japan. Are there any others that you know? (the only other one I know is josenjin)

  2. For the benefit of anyone else who might read this, JW, I'll just mention that you're referring to this comment at Brian's blog.

    Yeah, the garlic-eating thing is a big one. Chosenjin (it's a ch, not j) is another one although the origins are simply "person of Chosŏn." It's just that it was used in such a derogatory way — sort of like Colored and Negro, I suppose — that it came to be considered something of a slur.

    My ex-fiancée is a zainichi Korean from Kyoto who went to school in Osaka. She actually has a very positive impression of Japan (she's proud to be from there) and she doesn't feel zainichi are treated as badly as in the past, but she does have a few negative things to say about random bad treatment like that.

    It's funny, though, how some gaijin can adopt some of these ethnic tensions themselves. Here in Hawaii I have an acquaintance who is a full-blown Japanophile. When she had to go to a predominantly Korean neighborhood to buy a used kimono, she told me, she could "tell by the stench" she was in a Korean neighborhood.

    Totally gratuitous. It's as if she thinks she's ingratiating herself with the Japanese students here (there are LOTS of Japanese students in Hawaii) by bashing Koreans, but one Japanese that we both know who overheard this told me privately that she thought that kind of thing was unfair and uncalled for.

    Most of the native Japanese I know in Hawaii (and back in Korea) have a generally positive view of Korea and Koreans. That's not much of a surprise in Korea, since a self-selecting group who might already have rosy impressions would be the ones who take up Korean and/or go to Korea, but that doesn't explain Japanese in Hawaii (except that they encounter a lot of Korean students who are from similar backgrounds).

    Animosity between Korea and Japan makes me sad. It really does. And seeing people who deliberately fan the flames of animosity or tension just piss me off.

  3. Thanks. With the Koreans and Japanese (especially Koreans), I pretty much assume a certain level of ethnic tension unless you can prove me otherwise. I guess that's why insults like "garlic eaters" or "jjokbari" wouldn't surprise me or offend me as much. And, I know for a fact that most koreans -- the vast, vast majority -- would be more than willing to happily work with Japanese to put food on table, so the hostility doesn't worry me much.


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