Friday, June 25, 2010

Japan advances to knockout round

Congratulations to Team Japan, which beat Denmark, 3-1, to win the second spot in Group E, along with the Netherlands.

They join Korea Republic in representing Asia in the Group 16 round of play at the World Cup. They had a record of two wins and one loss in group play. But don't expect to see any Japan-Korea match any time soon; even if both teams make it to the semifinals and then keep going, they wouldn't be matched up until the final game or the match to see who comes in 3rd or 4th.

I don't know how many South Koreans may have been cheering on the Japanese. When both teams made it to the Round of 16 in 2002, when they were sometimes-uneasy cohosts, I knew a few people who wanted to see Japan do well because they wanted to see a Japan-Korean matchup, others who wanted to see Asian footballers do well, and no small number who just wanted to root for their neighbor and cohost (believe it or not, not everybody in South Korea hates Japanese people).

And when Japan got knocked out, I know of at least a few Japan-based Japanese (in addition to the Japanese who I knew in Seoul) who thought that rooting for South Korea was the natural thing to do once Japan was no longer in the running.

Sadly, such folks often get drowned out by the vocal types who, by design, speak up first with their unmitigatable animosity.


  1. I guess you never saw how, in 2002, Korean newspapers gleefully published photos of distraught Japanese fans weeping after their team was eliminated.

  2. They also showed pictures of Koreans weeping when Korea Republic got eliminated.

    And how does a newspaper publish anything "gleefully"?

  3. When it's clear that the pictures are being published to bask in schadenfreude. Go ahead, try to argue that it was out of solidarity, despite evidence to the contrary.

  4. extrakorea wrote:
    When it's clear that the pictures are being published to bask in schadenfreude.

    Korean media show distraught Korean people all the time, like when Pyongchangers lost the rights to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    What else are they going to show? If you are looking at the pictures and assuming schadenfreude, maybe your own assumption is at issue. Sure, when some of the loudest voices are confidently expressing their anti-Japanese sentiment, it's easy to extrapolate that to all the people with their mouths shut. But it can sometimes create a very misleading picture.

    That's when you get Western writers saying in books that when the US dropped bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Koreans thought two were not enough. Clearly that writer was taking vocal expressions of Japan today and assuming they were generalized views of Japan in 1945, ignorant that even anti-Japanese Koreans back then were keenly aware of the tens of thousands of Koreans killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the many more resulting hibakusha.

    But I digress.

    See, I'm not saying all Koreans are or have been rooting for Japan. Even in 2002, I was referring to the subset of KoKos who were. I thought it was clearly implicit in what I wrote that some South Koreans loathe Japan.

    Go ahead, try to argue that it was out of solidarity, despite evidence to the contrary.

    Evidence? That Beijing-based author uses China to make a generalized statement about billions of Asians, in an article that doesn't mention South Korea at all except to say that it, like Vietnam, suffered Japanese and Chinese invasions.

    Which evidence were you referring to?

    As for the solidarity comment, are those my only two choices: shadenfreude or solidarity? How about straightforward reporting: emotional pictures of crying people after a loss are tools of the trade in journalism. What else would you put in for that story?

    If you want to analyze this properly, you would need to (a) provide the photos of the event from a sampling of media, and (b) provide the photos of Japan's World Cup wins to see if there is evidence that the excitement was downplayed by the photos.

  5. ||"Korean media show distraught Korean people all the time, like when Pyongchangers lost the rights to host the 2014 Winter Olympics."||

    OK, that's a good point. As some bloggers/commentators (I forget who) have noted, whenever there's a celebrity suicide, there's lots of "funeral porn" in the media.

    I think there's definitely a different atmosphere these days than in 2002. Back then, Korea was co-hosting with (of all countries!) Japan, their former colonial masters and the only Asian country at that time to be classified as "developed." I really got the sense that many Koreans really wanted to prove that Korea was just as good (by having a better team, being better hosts, etc.). Korea went through, causing a mass soccergasm, but if Japan also went through, it would be all for naught. I really got the feeling that many Koreans wanted Japan to fail, even if the intent was not malicious. When Japan was eliminated, some gloated, but I think others simply felt relief.

    These days, I get the feeling that most Koreans are either indifferent or hope for Japan to proceed, and that very few want the Japanese to fall on their faces.

    Were you in South Korea during the time of the 2002 World Cup?

  6. @extrakorea: That "evidence" you linked to, as Kushibo pointed out, was China. I work with mostly Chinese and I know they weren't really cheering for Japan...they tend to cheer for their fave European teams. When I was in Beijing in '06, I was sitting in this huge outdoor plaza and watching Korea vs Switzerland on a large widescreen and I think I was the only one cheering for Korea (even my Chinese friends were rooting for the Swiss). So, you can't use China as an example...they were extremely jealous when Korea made it to the semi-finals in '02 (there are stories of students threatening Korean exchange students to not come out of their dorm rooms). But to the main point, I don't think all Koreans (particularly the newspapers you mentioned) necessarily enjoy it when Japan loses. IF you follow the online comments on the FIFA website during the play-by-plays, I've seen many Korean and other Asian commentators cheer and congratulate Japan as they are one of the few reps of Asia in the World Cup. I'm and ethnic Korean, and I will cheer on Japan to advance...until they play Korea.


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