Skip to content

Korean Children’s Drawings

Wow. Marmot’s Hole just blogged about some pictures drawn by children on display in a subway station. See the pictures here, with a second set of photos here. If these pics go down for any reason, contact me and I’ll mirror them.

I am almost inclined to believe this is some kind of prank, especially since the poster, someone named “Gord” appears to have completely bought the Japanese right-wing nationalist narrative of the colonial period in Korea. Perhaps his love for comics eventually led him to spend a little too much time with the illustrated books by Japanese fascist writer Kobayashi Yoshinori.

However, the pics seem to be legit. I find it so hard to imagine organizing an entire group of children/teenagers to produce such a huge collection of artwork showing such amazing hatred for Japan. Another posting on the website says they come from this junior high school. Notice the much more watered down selection of pictures from the collection the school chose to include on the school website here. They include only “positive” images of patriotism. There are some articles online about this in Korean which I haven’t read but those of you who can might want to check out here, and here.

There simply can be no better follow up on my posting yesterday where I mention the large numbers of children at the prison museum that I argued cultivates a blanket hatred for Japan.

These pictures are absolutely amazing, and will regrettably feed the arguments of right-wing Japanese who wish to portray, wrongly, Koreans and Chinese as all rabidly irrational nationalists who spew nothing but violent threats and lies about the past. This serves neither the purpose of encouraging a productive and careful consideration of the tragic legacy of war and imperialism in East Asia, nor serves the future of grass roots level relations between the peoples of this region. Neither do, however, the pictures in question and the people and institutions which instigate the emotions that motivated these students.

UPDATE: Ok, some of you have read the comments and I’m starting to get bizarre emails as well. Apparently my English above, designed to show my shock at the pictures, was too difficult and a number of readers think I am claiming that the pictures are a fabrication when I say “I am almost inclined to believe.” For the record, I think the pictures are real. Zheesh…

UPDATE: I just got an email from someone nice enough to send me a link to an article discussing Korean reactions to the pictures. He notes that the general majority seemed to have an adverse reaction to the pictures.

{ 18 } Comments

  1. Nomadism | 2005.6.20 at 4:03 | Permalink

    Geez, I saw these pictures a few days ago, and just when they were about to leave my head, and then they were widly posted by the major websites – something that is very typical these days, i.e. the media acting a little late.

    I’ve seen Marmot’s Hole’s post and the comments, and all kinds of thought are really running through my head, which, I won’t state because I have to clarify my thoughts.

    Just one small comment: I don’t know who actually added the English translation / commantaries, but I did find some slight mis-translations. Sometimes this exaggerated the pictures, but sometimes, a correct translation would be more shocking.

    Well, I’m guess we’ll have lots to talk about tommorrow :-). Oh, I can give you some details with the Professor Kim Min-su incident.

  2. Muninn | 2005.6.20 at 6:52 | Permalink

    Hey thanks for the comment. I have some regrets about posting the pictures. I don’t want to inflame emotions more by showing something which surely is not that representative.

    I’ll see you tomorrow!

  3. Antti | 2005.6.21 at 0:04 | Permalink

    Those “articles” are not news but only convey what’s been said on those online comments, and nothing’s been asked from the concerned school for example. I haven’t seen any of the more respectable media paying attention to this.
    (In the few newspaper sites and online newssites where I tried to search with the place name of the school, all I got was some real estate info…)

  4. Muninn | 2005.6.21 at 2:05 | Permalink

    I see…

    I have been scanning the Japanese media coverage of Korea related topics since the 18th of June and I see no mention of the pictures so far in any major newspaper, although they seemed to have reached the Japanese blogosphere.

  5. Nomadism | 2005.6.22 at 2:36 | Permalink

    After your comment that the Japanese really don’t care so much of the ‘dockdo’ incident, I’m getting a little bit curious. “How much do the Japanese really care about what’s going on Korea?” …

    I’m thinking that they really don’t care that much, as it seems to be on the Korean press… but it’s only a guess for me

  6. Muninn | 2005.6.22 at 2:41 | Permalink

    Well, the mainstream newspapers report on the issues when they become big on the Korean side, but there it is far from a central concern for most Japanese. The anti-Japanese sentiment during the soccer matches and violence against the embassy probably raised more concern.

    My feeling, based purely on anecdotal evidence, though is that it is not a high-consciousness issue. However, that is a separate question than, “What does the average person in Japan think about the issues at stake.” For that, the various surveys that are printed in Japanese newspapers are a better guide.

  7. rene | 2005.6.23 at 7:36 | Permalink

    Some of the negative drawings are horrible, but it’s children’s drawings, for sanity’s sake!

    Are the korean children’s hatred of japan any greater than that of american children of the 80s when their president called the soviet union the “evil empire”? Or is it any different from what deep south american children are tought to think of gays?

    How can one equal the children’s drawings as the sentiments or temperments of the korean public?

  8. Muninn | 2005.6.23 at 8:33 | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment Rene, but I’m not shocked at the fact that kids would make drawings such as these, but that they were put together as an organized school event where most likely the teachers had plenty of opportunities to step in and make comments about the kinds of images being drawn and most of all the fact that these drawings were seen as appropriate to include in an advertised exhibition in a public place (which shows a lack of shame) is indicative of something more than just chilren’s hatred of Japan.

  9. shakuhachi | 2005.6.25 at 11:51 | Permalink

    I am almost inclined to believe this is some kind of prank, especially since the poster, someone named “Gord” appears to have completely bought the Japanese right-wing nationalist narrative of the colonial period in Korea.

    Its no prank. Gord is a real guy and maybe you should examine his claims rather than dismissing him outright.

    I find it so hard to imagine organizing an entire group of children/teenagers to produce such a huge collection of artwork showing such amazing hatred for Japan.

    If you think that, then you need to go out and meet some Koreans! Seriously, there is nothing unusual about this, except that it has come at a time of heavy propaganda from the Korean government and media.

    These pictures are absolutely amazing, and will regrettably feed the arguments of right-wing Japanese who wish to portray, wrongly, Koreans and Chinese as all rabidly irrational nationalists who spew nothing but violent threats and lies about the past.

    Japanese people that expose Korean and Chinese lies about the past are always labeled ‘right wing’ whatever their actual political orientation. Being of the scholarly persuasion, I would have thought you to be beyond labels that serve obscure the truth. I dont have to remind you that the quality of an argument has nothing to do with the political orientation of the person making it.

  10. Muninn | 2005.6.25 at 20:55 | Permalink

    Dear Shakuhachi, I find your response to be a bit dissapointing. If you read the paragraph after “I am almost inclined to believe” you will find that I admit the legitimacy of the pictures and even link to the school which put together the exhibition.

    Also, if you were a regular reader of my weblog you would hopefully find that I am the first person to point out the problematic aspects of national historical narratives, especially in China, Japan, and Korea. That you label this as “Korean and Chinese lies” is tragic, since first of all your refusal to include “Japanese” in this statement implies that you somehow believe that Japan alone has been telling the truth of the past. Equally problematic is the idea that there is only one single narrative of the past in each of these countries. As my past postings show, I focus on the problems of the nationalist narrative, both on the factual level, and its implications for subsuming all aspects of the historical social experience.

    The quality of an argument should indeed always be considered, but political orientations are not like the color of ones clothes distinct and separate from one’s view of the world. They go hand in hand with the kinds of arguments, and thus the quality of those arguments, that one makes. A marxist determinist is unlikely to be found making anti-marxist arguments about history, and similarly nationalists are not likely to be found making arguments which deny the centrality of the nation as the subject which moves through history.

  11. shakuhachi | 2005.6.26 at 2:02 | Permalink

    Also, if you were a regular reader of my weblog you would hopefully find that I am the first person to point out the problematic aspects of national historical narratives, especially in China, Japan, and Korea.

    I am a regular reader, and I enjoy reading your blog immensely. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing your findings about colonial collaboration. I have my own theory based on observation, but I would like to see yours.

    That you label this as “Korean and Chinese lies” is tragic, since first of all your refusal to include “Japanese” in this statement implies that you somehow believe that Japan alone has been telling the truth of the past.

    I dont exclude the Japanese from anything. Japan unleashed the madness of war in China and is therefore responsible for whatever happened there, whether the intentions of the Japanese were good or bad. While China and Japan were having a military conflict that was bound to cause atrocities (I consider war itself an atrocity in itself, and Japan and most of the other powerful nations of the day seemed determined to use war to fulfill their objectives), much of the criticism from China, and particularly Korea, is based on outrageous propaganda.

    The quality of an argument should indeed always be considered, but political orientations are not like the color of ones clothes distinct and separate from one’s view of the world.

    I agree with you that labels can be convenient in getting to the meat of the matter, and that self proclaimed marxists are likely to advocate marxism. I am saying that Japanese people who are not right wingers are described as such if they debunk Chinese or Korean propaganda. For example, people that have debunked the numerous composite photos of ‘atrocities’ supposedly commited by the Japanese army. While a label can be valuable, labels in this case are used to silence inquiry, and to stifle debate.

    A good example would be the Korean understanding of the way ‘comfort women’ were recruited. In the Korean way of thinking (I have met hundreds of Koreans and ALL of them think this), the Japanese army would raid a Korean village and drag off girls, forcing them to become prostitutes. Obviously this is not true, and there is not even one verifiable case of this happening to Korean women. The truth is that most of the women were already prostitutes (Koreans also claim that Japanese were the ones that brought prostitution to Korean, which stands at odds with Korean paintings hundreds of years old that show Korean nobility cavorting with Korean prostitutes), and the minority that werent were sold to Korean pimps by their parents. Most likely the parents didnt tell their daughters that they were being sold to be prostitutes, and once they were in the pimps clutches, they couldnt get out without paying back the pimp with interest. The Japanese army is responsible for setting up a system that is inherently open to abuse, and thats it. The same abuse continues in modern day South Korea.

    It is also noteworthy that the comfort women were paid for their services, so calling comfort women ‘sex slaves’ doesnt fit.

    All the evidence points to the ‘comfort women’ system being voluntary, but any attempted to explain it rationally based on actual facts simply means being shouted down as a right winger. Koreans profited from prostitution before, during, and after the Japanese administration, but instead of facing their role in it, they simply seek to blame the Japanese.

    My problem with the Korean interpretation of history is not that the Japanese interpretation is more convincing, just that the Korean one is self contradictory and flies in the face of common sense.

  12. CCC | 2005.6.27 at 23:28 | Permalink

    Do you really think the photos were prank?
    Man, the pictures were drawn by Gyeyang middle school kids and their homepage put up some of the pictures.

    Before you labeling someone to avoid constructional discussion, you should do research.

  13. Muninn | 2005.6.28 at 3:46 | Permalink

    Um…this is the second comment written by someone who apparently didn’t read my posting, or else has difficulty understanding the word “almost” Please refrain from commenting if you haven’t read the posting, it tends to prevent constructive discussion.

  14. unko zamurai | 2005.6.30 at 12:08 | Permalink

    What I say from now has no relation with what you are blogging.
    It would be better to stop using the word, “Japanese right wing nationalist”.

    You may not believe me, in Japan, “right wing nationalists” also means the label for such people who had been against outrages by communists or communist nations. For example, those who accused China for slaughter in Great Cultural Revolution were called nationalits. those who believed the slaughter by Pol Pot group were called nationalits. And last decade, those who got angry with the kidnappings of innocent Japanese by North Korea were also called nationalits.

    After the demise of Soviet Union, the communist force are still strong among politics and mass media in Japan. Such force has prefered that word “Japanese right wing nationalist” and often made a show of their opponents as nationalists even toward abroad.

    Now japanese internet are developed, and internet users know well that such power had once believed the North Korea as Heaven on Earth, admired Chinese Great Revolution uncritically, fabricated the crimes of Japanese armies and denied the kidnappings by North Korea.
    Such users just see a man/woman, who loves “japanese nationalists”, as one of communists or simply as a ignorant.

  15. Muninn | 2005.6.30 at 17:03 | Permalink

    Um…no…I will continue to use the term to refer to those who are 1) right wing and 2) nationalist.

    I think there was slaughter in the Cultural revolution and by pol pot and I’m certainly unhappy about kidnappings. That doesn’t make me or anyone else a right wing nationalist.

  16. (´∀` ) | 2005.6.30 at 19:09 | Permalink

    絵と右翼がどう関係あるの?
    わけわかめ~。

  17. Muninn | 2005.6.30 at 20:44 | Permalink

    (´∀` ): my use of “right-wing” and “nationalist” referred to a historical narrative about Japanese colonial rule in Korea (see the posting), it was not in reference to the pictures. However, the pictures themselves are, of course, a great example of hateful nationalism as it exists among the children and is promoted by their education and environment.

  18. Online Surveys Pay | 2010.3.17 at 16:08 | Permalink

    The website loads in plain code exclusively.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. [...] ogroll – I recommend his site to anyone interested in nationalism in East Asia). Munin has posted his opinion on the Korean childrens drawings, and we are discussing his post [...]

  2. Cartoon Central | 2005.7.3 at 9:57 | Permalink

    Korean Children’s Drawings

    Here’s a whole area of illustration I know nothing about….