Dr. Dogmeat to the rescue! I love it. Since the Japanese occupation, Korea’s constantly believed deep in its collective heart that it is unworthy, that its traditions and culture have no real value, while showing the public face of that kind of pathology : blustering declarations, vociferous but shallow, about the glory of the march into the future and the glory of the Korean nation. In ’88, the government ‘passed a law’ with fingers crossed behind its back, ‘outlawing’ the consumption of boshintang, while the only real change on the streets was that more obvious restaurants joined their back alley kin in the shadows.
This is a much better approach, and perhaps a sign that South Korea is finally overcoming the self-loathing brought on by a century that included the Japanese occupation, the agony of the Korean War, and the indignities of being an American lapdog (thanks to the understood need for the 44,000 American troops stationed here in Korea). The nation was (re)built in the last 50 years, and this tiny little dot on the map has the 11th biggest economy on the planet now. (Happy voice) Mad props, you guys! (Serious voice) What a heartbreaking price you’ve had to pay, though.
Maybe it’s a step forward to be able to stand up and say (in Korean) “f–k you, mate. We’ll eat dog if we want. And you can kiss our hairy asses if you don’t like it!”.
Perhaps the collective averting of Korean faces from the recent past is almost over. Koreans have collectively turned a blind eye, and it has resulted in a nation so ravaged by lack of civic pride, by runaway industrialization and it’s concommitant cancers, by a blind forced march into an unclear future, and so completely unable to fruitfully connect threads of its cultural heritage to the realities of the present that I fear for its survival.
I chronicle the symptoms of the crisis here, couched in the rhetoric of an annoyed bystander, padded with attempts at humour, but it’s real, and it’s coming. Maybe Dr Dogmeat is a step towards Korea coming to terms with its own identity, and understanding that there are other strengths than the merely monetary.
Or maybe I’m just talking sh-t. Hard to tell sometimes.
(via Metafilter, and though it hasn’t started as I write this, the discussion there is probably where you want to head next, if you’re interested.)