Saturday, May 8, 2010

2010 and still the "Irish of Asia..."

It's been a really, really long time since a true European country dominated the seas and had dominion over much of the world, but yet there are writers out there, who continue to look at East Asia through a Eurocentric lens -- take this article in the NRO for example. Under the title, the author writes the caption:
On “the Irish of Asia,” premature technology, making friends with the family gun, and more(April Diary - John Derbyshire).
I mean what annoys me about an analogy like this is that why a country in East Asia cannot be considered in its own context. Why the misleading reference to Ireland even as a dated reference? The author goes so far as to say "the Irish squared?" Ireland in contrast was not so much about a country that was fought over for its strategic geography, but more so about finding herself to be next to a much, much bigger island. Additionally, the causes for the extreme nationalism that is found in East Asia have reasons -- particularly in Korea(and Japan, where it sits dormant at the moment, and China on a separate level), that are not at all common with the Irish or other European nations, but more so with each other -- extremely long history as a single people for starters.

By the way, I had the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland last summer and if there's anything forgotten about the forgotten war, I think I saw it. In front of Belfast City Hall, there was a memorial to the Irish that had fallen in the Korean War; I thought it highly tragic and (just a tad ironic) that this is the only place where the Irish could mourn for those that had fallen in a far flung war literally on the other side of the world as Irishmen and not soldiers fighting on behalf of Great Britain. I'm not sure if the Irish that did fight there were conscripted and if they had any idea why they were there, but they were -- but, I doubt they were thinking they were fighting in "Ireland."

But, nonetheless, to the core part of this posting. I mean it is 2010 and Korea has pretty much had the same borders with the same people more or less since the 7th centure CE though with different names across the times. And, yes, Korea has had a very tragic history in the past century and a half or so and past tragedies are still current in that they have yet to play out (the peninsula remains divided), but I do not think that it does justice to Korea (or to the fallen Irish or to the readers of that article) to consider the country in a manner that comes off so ...

Yes, Korea's modern history which begins in 1876 is all about foreign powers fighting over influence on the tiny peninsula (Ganghwa Treaty 1876, First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), Japanese Annexation (1910-1945), Second World War (1937-1945), and the  Korean War (1950-53)).

However, since that time half of the peninsula has come to host the Olympics (1988), co-hosted the World Cup (2002), and is set to hold the World Expo in 2012 -- maybe they'll build a new Eiffel tower then, who knows? Now, these are contemporary events that have happened in a single generation and I'm not referring to some obscure technological advancement or historical event that may have occurred first on the Korean Peninsula thousands or hundreds of years ago. Additionally, there's a good chance that the average Chinese-American or Taiwanese-American in at least California will have more as much  knowledge of Korean dramas, music, and movies as the than the average Korean-American. It is also a member of and is soon set to host the G-20 (for whatever that is worth) and also one of two Asian nations (yes, out of all of Asia)  that is a member of the OECD. Additionally, the country is the third largest source nation for international students in the United States (behind India and China). There's also a large Diaspora of Koreans in the United States (about 2m), China (another 2m), and Japan (<700,000). And, South Korea stands as the United States' seventh largest trading partner (ahead of all countries in the E.U. minus Germany and the United Kingdom). Additionally, Korea will also find herself to be overrepresented at the upcoming World Cup in South Africa with both North and South Korea playing there.

Finally, more people live in the Korean Peninsula (73 to 74 million people or so) than all of Great Britain and Ireland put together (yes, that's more than England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland) or France or Italy or for that matter any European country aside from Germany and, perhaps, Turkey one day.

I think it's about time that this writer realizes that he is doing both a disservice to himself and gives the impression that he doesn't know what he's talking about when readers will most likely recognize Korea in its own context. It is, after all, 2010.

No comments:

Post a Comment