Thursday, June 16, 2011

Koreanization of America,
Florida and California edition

Okay, I'm not really saying that these places are becoming Koreanized or that Korea is actually exerting more influence. Rather, this is a term I like to use when something happens in America (or elsewhere) that Korea bashers and naysayers had characterized as unique to Korea (OINK: only in Korea), typically something that "would never happen in the US."

Alternatively, it can include things that have happened in America (or Canada, etc.) but, were they to happen in Korea, the commentariat in the K-blogosphere peanut gallery would be all over it as racist, nationalist, jingoist, backwards, etc.

The first is a "skirmish" that occurred in the California State Assembly. And while it can't possibly compare to the furniture-breaking, skull-cracking donnybrooks that have broken out in the halls of power in Seoul (or Taipei), that it happens at all in Sacramento is a bit shocking.

From the Los Angeles Times:
It all began when Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) likened a portion of the Democrats’ budget plan, a plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies, to a “Tony Soprano” insurance scheme.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) quickly rose to say that “as a proud Italian American, I resent that and I would respectfully ask the commenter to make an apology to Italian Americans in California."

Wagner retorted, “I will apologize to any Italian Americans who are not in the Mafia and engaged in insurance scams,” to audible murmurs and grumbling in the chamber.

Then Wagner rose again. "My apology, if one is needed, is sincere," he said. "My reference is certainly not one that no one in this room gets… I think my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially one who seems to be extraordinarily outraged over this for reasons I don't understand -- my reference is not lost on anyone here. This is not an attack on anyone. This bill is a bait and switch."

Moments later, Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), who is not Italian American, hustled over to confront Wagner and the two had to be separated by colleagues.
I found the part in bold somewhat amusing. I suppose, though, that some people without much exposure to Japanese surnames or who'd never driven through Gardena might assume a person named Furutani could be a paisano. For a long time I assumed Marisa Tomei was part Japanese.

There's video, but they only show very little of what happened (the stuff that causes offense starts around 2:45, with the brouhaha around 5:30). The cameras were focused on Sate Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma, who's kind of a looker. A real MILF, as in Ma I'd Like to be Friends with.

And next we go from Ca. to Fla. It seems one sports writer for the Orlando Sentinel who is perturbed about furriners winning American golf tourneys:
Asking who is going to win this golf tournament is like asking who is going win the national spelling bee. Actually, it’s even more difficult because at least you know the spelling bee winner is going to be American. These days, golf majors are ruled by players from lands far, far away.

Tiger Woods is off fighting the battle of wounded knee while Phil Mickelson is flying so far under the radar he is scraping the tree tops. And when he’s not scraping the tree tops, he’ll likely be hitting his golf ball into tree trunks.

But wait, there is hope for the red, white and blue. South Korean K.J. Choi, who was just granted American citizenship, will win this tournament. And then U.S. golf will be like many other products Americans enjoy: “Made in Korea.”
Of course, the American golf establishment isn't exactly the most international-thinking group you ever saw, so I shouldn't be surprised at the sentiment. But just imagine this were switched to the Korea Open and it was likely to be won by Americans who are starting to dominate golf, and just picture the reams of comments at, say, The Marmot's Hole, about how this is symptomatic of Korea's deep-seated xenophobia.

Golf is a Scottish game
dominated by Koreans
living in America
They'd also get on the case of the reporter for calling the newly minted South Korean, in our hypothetical role reversal, an American.

I should, perhaps, take my own advice and not get too worked up over a hypothetical that hasn't actually happened (yet).


  1. RE: The golf thing - Gross. I would probably just roll my eyes if I read it on a K-blog, but for it to come from home just makes me ashamed. Boo and hiss.

  2. To be fair, I think a lot of the commentariat would react much the same as you.

    I have lived about two-thirds of my life in the US, mostly in California and Hawaii, where such parochial furriners-versus-us views are rare (but not unheard of at all).

    But when I travel inland a bit, I start to see the insular and ignorant views that people know better than to air on the Pacific coast. Like the woman at the gas station in Kanab, Utah, near Zion National Park, who said she would refuse service to any French person who came by.

    Okay, I'm danger of going off on a rant.

  3. Hahaha, well if it's a rant about the fine people of Utah, you're in good company. What is that saying? "If you don't have anything nice to say, come sit next to me."


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