Archive for February, 2007

Korean Nationalism

February 23, 2007

I went to Seodaemun prison yesterday, a museum converted from a prison used by the Japanese during the occupation. It is worth the trip. The wax evil Japanese torturing the wax patriotic Koreans was thought-provoking.

I’m tempted to say it is perfectly natural for a small country like Korea to be nationalistic, but nationalism doesn’t seem to be restricted by size (look at the US).

Virtually all countries have atrocities in their past (Korea seems to be an exception). Japan should apologize for the occupation and “comfort women”; the US should apologize for nuking Japanese civilians, and so on. At what point does it become ridiculous to insist that a nation apologize for past injustice? Should all European countries appologize to Native Americans? Should northern Germans and Danes apologize to the Celts?

In the museum, I kept thinking the Koreans really need to get over the whole Japanese thing. Then I kept thinking there are many living Koreans who lived these events, and want remembrance. I went with my co-teacher, Min-jung, who mentioned that her grandfather is missing part of a finger from the Japanese occupation.



Part of the reason the country seems so obsessive over its relations with Japan and China is that these two countries constitute 95% of Korea’s international history.

I do think it was absurd that so much hostility was directed at Preseident Roh for suggesting the East/Japan Sea be renamed the Sea of Friendship.


Diary of Samuel Pepys

February 20, 2007

A few days ago, I read this in the Diary and laughed out-loud:

18 August. Lord’s Day. I walked towards Whitehall, but, being wearied, turned into St. Dunstan’s Church, where I heard an able sermon by the minister of the place; and stood by a pretty, modest maid, whom I did labour to take by the hand and the body; but she would not, but got further and further from me; and, at last, I could perceive her to take pins out of her pocket to prick me if I should touch her again; which seeing I did forbear, and was glad I did espy her design. And then I fell to gaze upon another pretty maid in a pew close to me, and she on me; and I did go about to take her hand, which she suffered a little and then withdrew. So the sermon ended, and the church broke up, and my amours ended also, and so took coach and home, and there took my wife, and to Islington with her.

My hero (not really). Here is a modern way to read the diary:

Samuel Pepys

February 18, 2007

I find myself fascinated by The Illustrated Pepys, a version of Samuel Pepys’s diary that includes some period illustrations. It’s really quite fascinating to get such a direct look into such a bygone time. The writing is easy and informal, and goes by quickly yet vividly. It helps that the time was so interesting: the Great Fire, the Plague, the end of Cromwell, the beginning of modern science (Hooke shows up, although I’ve seen no mention of Newton), war with the Dutch, etc.