Sunday, December 06, 2020

Catherine Kim is full of shit

What is it with gyopos who become journalists?  Do they all transform into leftist cunts?  I'm thinking specifically of racist piece of shit Sarah Jeong, a purported journalist who used to tweet nasty things about white people, but other such cunts exist.  Thanks to a link sent over by my best buddy Mike, I have now made the acquaintance of Catherine Kim, who submitted a "Letter from Korea" article to Politico Magazine.  The link to her article is here, but I'll be quoting it extensively in order to debunk most of its bullshit.  I haven't done a proper fisking in years, but this article angered me enough to take to the keyboard to set the record straight.

Headline:  Koreans Believed America Was Exceptional. Then Covid Happened.

Subtitle:  With American Covid-19 deaths sprawling and Trump raging against the election result, South Koreans' respect for American leadership is plummeting.

[NB:  Kim's words will be blockquoted and boldfaced.]

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—In Korea, the United States is called 미국 (pronounced miguk), which directly translates to “beautiful country.” It has always seemed like a fitting name, considering Korea’s longstanding admiration of the U.S.  Until now.

We're already off to a bad start.  Yes, it's factually true that the Korean word for "America" is miguk, and miguk does indeed mean "beautiful country."  But "longstanding admiration"?  No:  South Korea has had a longstanding love-hate relationship with the US, one characterized by a mixture of respect, resentment, admiration, envy, praise, and sneering scorn.  And the article's subtitle is mendacious as well:  the word "sprawling" implies that the US is suffering a disproportionately huge number of deaths.  If you trust the untrustworthy Johns Hopkins pandemic website, COVID-related deaths in the US currently total a little over 279,000.  For a population of 328.2 million, that's a death rate of 0.085%.  If you insist on measuring deaths against total infected (thereby essentially ignoring most of the US population), then the fraction is approximately 279,000/14,373,000, i.e., 1.9%.  And that's "sprawling"?  I can't say that a survival rate of 98%-99.9% strikes fear into my heart.

These days in Korea, TV broadcasters talk about the U.S. with grim faces, flashing to B-roll of lines of Americans wrapped around buildings waiting for Covid-19 testing or graphs depicting an exponential growth of pandemic deaths. Newspaper headlines question the strength of U.S. democracy above pictures of demonstrators protesting mythical claims of voter fraud. One recent column in the Hankyoreh, a major center-left daily newspaper, is titled, “Covid-19 and the downfall of the U.S.” Another headline, in sisajournal, a popular weekly current events magazine, reads: “The surprising election system that makes you wonder ‘Is the U.S. actually a democratic country?’” And it’s not just in the news. In boardrooms, in classrooms and in casual dinner table conversations, you’ll hear the same sense of bewilderment: How did the U.S. lose its way?

The Hankyoreh is described as "a major center-left daily."  Wow.  No:  the Hani is far-left, and it does not moderate its opinion, especially about America. As for "exponential growth of pandemic deaths," this is bullshit on several levels.  As with gun-death statistics, the US counts its stats differently from the way the rest of the world does.  A car-accident victim infected with SARS-CoV-2 is listed as a COVID death, a fact that exaggerates US death statistics.  Kim's article obviously isn't interested in considering that.  Then there's the phrase "mythical claims of voter fraud," which also betrays leftist bias.  I've been watching Tim Pool—a leftie—on this very issue, and if one thing is clear, it's that there's a fucking mountain of evidence of voter fraud out there.  As for "exponential growth of pandemic deaths," I'd say Check again.  Refer to my mortality-rate discussion above.

"Is the US actually a democratic country?"  No, it isn't, idiot.  It's a constitutional republic.  There's no one-man-one-vote direct democracy in our national elections.  When you vote, you're voting for an elector of the Electoral College.  The Electoral College is in place to prevent high-population states from ruling the rest of the country through a tyranny of the majority.  Without the Electoral College, the country's future would be solely determined by California, New York, and maybe Illinois.  The White House would be occupied by an unrelenting series of Democrat morons (which is not to say that Republicans can't be morons:  look at Dubya).  Korean journalists should study some basic US civics before making their hypocritically moralistic pronouncements.

It’s a shocking development for a country that has, for decades, largely viewed the United States almost like an older sibling—a model of success and progress that Koreans were proud to emulate. Now, many Koreans see the U.S. as a failing country, deeply divided and unable to meet basic challenges. The shift began after President Donald Trump’s 2016 win, when many Koreans were shocked to see him claim the presidency after a string of scandals. But the clincher has been America’s bungled response to Covid-19, followed by Trump and the GOP’s recent efforts to contest the legitimate results of the 2020 U.S. election. For Koreans, the past year has exposed the deep problems within the American system, from hyperpartisanship and deep distrust in government to a poor health care system—issues that have long been familiar to Americans, but not to Koreans, many of whom have maintained the idea of American exceptionalism far longer and livelier than many Americans.

I actually agree that the US has deep and fundamental problems—what country doesn't?—but those problems aren't covered in the above-quoted paragraph, which spuriously implies that Trump's supposed "string of scandals" was somehow legitimately scandalous.  A wave of investigations—mostly led by partisan Democrats—turned up no concrete evidence of any sort of scandal, which means the left has to stoke its own fury by inventing scandals, and it's been doing this for four years.  

The paragraph blithely mentions "America's bungled response to Covid-19," and I agree that, overall, the US's response could have been way better.  Reliable testing was a problem from the beginning; deciding on a policy regarding masks and other forms of infection control proved to be an exercise in wishy-washiness (Dr. Fauci infamously went from "masks are useless" to "you must wear masks!" in a span of months); worst of all, lockdowns have been a disaster, essentially strangling the US economy.  

But notice that most of these problems are blue-state in origin; red states are doing fairly well, relatively speaking.  Minimizing lockdowns and other forms of governmental interference has proven to be the right route to take in both red states and in countries like South Korea and Sweden.  So heedlessly lumping all US states together into a single, monolithic "America's response" is a disingenuous rhetorical move.  President Trump, in keeping with the 10th Amendment of the Constitution (which is the foundation for US federalism:  national government deals with national affairs; state and local governments deal with state and local affairs), left it up to each individual state to handle the pandemic in its own way, trusting that the wisdom of local governance would be superior to decrees-from-on-high emanating from Washington, DC.  Trump was right to take this approach, and if anyone is to blame for a bungled response, it's the blue-state governors and their ideological allies.

Then there's the claim of a "poor health care system."  This is definitely a case where Korea needs to cast out the beam in its own eye before pointing out the mote in America's eye.  American's health-care system has problems, mainly related to the fact that, as Styx points out, it's not free-market enough.  To that extent, I think the US could learn a thing or two from the Korean system, in which most levels of health care are vastly cheaper (and, arguably, more efficiently administered).  That said, the Korean system, from my experience, is riddled with problems ranging from gruesome sanitation issues to overly hasty diagnoses to closed-on-Sunday delays to utter defeatism in the face of cancer (Korean doctors tends to give up when someone is found to have cancer; if I ever get cancer here, I'll know I'm done for).  So whose health-care system is poorer?

Korea’s admiration of the U.S. was always bound to drop somewhat as Korea grew from one of the poorest countries in the world into its 10th-largest economy, says Lee Hyun-song, a professor of interpretation and translation at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies who wrote a 2015 article about Koreans' changing perception of Americans up to the early 2000s. But, he says, Trump’s tenure, and really 2020 in particular, has accelerated that process, especially among younger generations of Koreans, who are expressing more pride for their country and less likely to turn to the U.S. for guidance.

“There was a strong belief that there was a lot to learn from the U.S., but then that faith in Americans crumbled after they voted for Trump,” he says. “As we’ve watched the U.S. fail to contain Covid-19 and rebel against mask-wearing through the media, we’ve come to realize that the U.S. is no longer a more ‘developed’ country than us.”

Professor Lee, quoted above, correlates a US failure "to contain Covid-19" with a rebellion "against mask-wearing."  The jury is obviously out regarding the efficacy of masks, and it's insane to argue otherwise.  I don't wear a mask because I seriously think it'll protect me from infection; I wear a mask because (1) it might help with the droplet problem associated with coughing and sneezing, and (2) it prevents unnecessary social ostracism.  Social pressure can affect one's daily ability to function; as an introvert who despises most social situations, I think that social pressure is a stupid thing, but even I must bow to it if I hope to go to and from work without being deprived of a service, e.g., the ability to get into a taxi.  (Most taxis these days sport decals saying "No mask, no service."  That's simply the reality here in Korea.)  Otherwise, as far as I'm concerned, the mask is 90% security theater—pretty close to valueless.  So I disagree with Professor Lee regarding the value of masks, and I think the Americans who "rebel" against mask-wearing may very well have a point.  Lee's tossed-off "fail to contain Covid-19" earns him an enormous FUCK YOU from me:  how can a maximum 2% mortality rate be considered a failure?  If you want to talk about real failure, talk to idiots like Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, who shunted COVID-ridden patients into nursing homes, effectively killing tens of thousands of elderly folks.  The American media, in utter denial of this mass murder, awarded Governor Cuomo a fucking Emmy for his supposed "leadership" during the pandemic.

If Korean "faith in Americans crumbled after [Americans] voted for Trump," that's because the international news media were no better than the US-based domestic media when it came to Trump Derangement Syndrome.  The domestic and international bias against Trump was cranked up to 11 from even before the man's swearing-in, and it remained at 11 for four years, so of course Korean perceptions have been distorted thanks to the neverending torrent of lies they've been fed.  Trump isn't Hitler; he isn't Satan; he isn't Mussolini (as one severely deluded friend of mine recently argued).  If he were any of these things, people would be terrified to say so out loud.  Let's review a meme I displayed before:


It hasn’t always been like this. Korea has historically maintained a friendly relationship with the U.S., and in a 2013 BBC poll, Koreans viewed the U.S. the most positively out of all the Asian countries surveyed. It’s an alliance that dates back to the 1950s, when the U.S. helped end the Korean War and stabilize the Korean peninsula. And since the 1970s, the two have become close trade partners: Korea was the United States’ sixth-largest supplier of imports in 2019.

Korea has also been a successful target of U.S. soft power. In 2016, 53 percent of the movies in theaters here were Korean, while 42 percent were American. As Hollywood infiltrated Korean theaters, the audience left star-struck by scenes of grand, glittery parties, patriotic soldiers and heroic protagonists. U.S. education has also long been seen as the gold standard in Korea, a necessary rite of passage for the elite or a ticket to social mobility for those that can scrape together the funds. It’s the second-most sought after destination for college, following just behind China, a more familiar destination which borders Korea.

The above sounds so rosy, but Korea's relationship with America has long been turbulent.  True:  the older generation here, the one that remembers the Korean War from direct experience, largely appreciates the US and what it did for South Korea.  But whatever warm sentiment may have radiated from that generation faded fast over the ensuing decades as South Korea transitioned from a dictatorship to a markedly leftist economic power.  And in recent decades, it's become obvious that the younger generation has either learned a pack of lies at school, or it's simply forgotten whatever proper history had been taught in class.  This is how Korea ended up with a generation full of Hankyoreh-headed numbskulls who think North Korea is actually an okay state while the US is far more dangerous to the peninsula.  

Also:  the above paragraphs are correct in saying that Koreans consume a great deal of American culture, but the ugly underside of that reality is that Koreans—who are obsessed with being able to claim they invented everything first—often take American cultural products and tropes and Koreanize them.  On this blog, I've used the examples of Doritos corn chips and the Uber ride-sharing service:  Korea responded by crowding out Doritos with its own (inferior) corn chips, and Uber ride-sharing was summarily booted out of Korea to make way for Korea's own Kakao Taxi service.  Korea's supposed respect for and admiration of America have never been pure and sincere:  there has always been an aspect of subversion and illicit expropriation (if theft is too indelicate a term for you).

Using the phrase "successful target of soft power" reveals the standard Korean victim mentality.  Korea has long tried to portray itself as a victim of different circumstances.  There's some truth to this (Japan occupied Korea for thirty-six years), but Koreans have played the victim card far too often, at this point, for the notion of victimization to have much meaning.  Korea, as an economic and technological power, has risen to global status in recent decades—a fact it can be justifiably proud of.  It's far from a victim these days, and until it shakes off the victim mentality, it will never rise beyond its position at the lowest part of the top tier.

The comment about "trade partners" made me smile cynically.  The US is a large trading partner with South Korea, but South Korea's largest trading partner, by far, is China.  This is problematic these days, given China's pariah status.  China is increasingly seen by most of the world for what it is:  (1) a rapacious country intent on metastasizing itself throughout the world through shamelessly obvious imperialism (viz. the rape and murder of Tibet, the constant belligerence toward Taiwan, the recent repression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong, the Belt-and-Road Initiatives that financially enslave African and South[east] Asian countries, etc.), as well as (2) an unethical country that engages in massive human-rights violations, aggressive militarism in the South China Sea, and any number of underhanded business/economic practices ranging from the illicit tweaking of yuan-dollar exchange rates to the creation and maintenance of slave-labor conditions in its domestic factories to the manufacture of dangerously poor-quality products.  So Korea is in an awkward position:  China is its largest trading partner, but there's pressure from the rest of the sane world to decouple from China.  This is something South Korea can't do:  the money is simply too good.  The US, at least, has the option of divorcing from China and pivoting to India.  Can Korea do the same?  Not likely.  Anyway, my point is that, in terms of South Korea's collective consciousness, its trade partnership with the US isn't in the foreground; its partnership with China is.

There have been flares of anti-Americanism in Korean history, but most were short-lived and targeted specific American entities. Anger in the 1980s was directed at the U.S. government for siding with Korea’s military dictator and helping him suppress peaceful protests for democracy. In 2002, it was directed at armed forces stationed in the country, after a U.S. military vehicle accidentally killed two schoolgirls. And in 2008, Koreans shunned the U.S. beef market—and criticized President Lee Myung-Bak—after Korea announced it would resume imports of U.S. beef despite concerns of mad cow disease. This time around, though, the criticism is both broader and more fundamental: Koreans are beginning to doubt the very idea of America as a beacon of prosperity and progress, as well as its standing as a global superpower.

I love how the above paragraph is written as a grudging concession to the idea that US-ROK relations have been rocky.  The flareup in 2002, however, was a strong indication of a vast and constantly simmering anti-Americanism, which I've been alluding to throughout this entire fisking of Kim's utterly misguided article.  In 2008, the reaction against US beef was positively unhinged.  Kim doesn't go into any details in her piece, but angry farmers were actually chucking buckets of dung at Korean purveyors of US beef.  This, too, was a sign of a much larger attitude problem vis-à-vis the US.  As I said, South Korea exists in a love-hate relationship with America.  And there's plenty of hate.

Some of that questioning began with Trump, whom many Koreans saw as a shocking U.S. presidential choice who bulldozed democratic norms and sowed division. It didn’t help, either, that he also often let loose on longtime U.S. allies, including Korea. He demanded a 49 percent increase in South Korea’s contribution to their shared defense costs, hiking the price up to $1.3 billion; he’s strained the economic relationship by demanding new amendments to trade deals; he even bashed the Academy for awarding Korean film “Parasite” Best Picture. As a result, Koreans’ confidence in Trump sits at just 17 percent.

Again:  if the choice of Trump was "shocking" to Koreans, this is thanks to a distorted perception caused by the left-leaning Korean media, which engages in lying to an extent that rivals CNN's mendacity.  And for what it's worth, I don't even know what the phrase "bulldozed economic norms" means.  Is this a reference to Trump's dismantling of the most unreasonable aspects of the abysmal nightmare that is Obamacare?  His reform of the tax code, such that small, medium, and large businesses can reap greater benefits?  His deregulation of businesses to allow for more breathing room (again, not just for big business)?  His creation of jobs, especially for blacks and Latinos?  If the "economic norms" being referred to are the typically leftist-socialist measures that increase state control and stifle business operations through an abusive level of taxation, then I'm goddamn glad Trump bulldozed those norms!  And if South Korea suffers because it's unwilling to act in an equitable way, as a true trading partner should, then maybe South Korea deserves to suffer.  This also applies to the US/ROK military relationship, in which the ROK has long benefited, and the US has long taken the far heavier burden.  Trump, with his "America First" policies, saw the US/ROK arrangement as a hardship on the US; is it wrong to want to rectify that?  Only from the perspective of a spoiled-brat nation that has gotten used to having its own way while also claiming to be a victim of everything and everyone around it.  Time to grow up, Korea.

But disappointment in the U.S. has peaked this year, particularly as Korea has been praised for its pandemic management while the United States maintains the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the world. Following strict contact tracing, universal mask wearing and transparent communication from the government, Korea currently has seen about 35,000 cases of the virus and experiences less than five Covid-19 deaths a day. In response to the two countries’ diverging paths, favorability of the U.S. in Korea has dropped from 80 percent in 2018 to 59 percent in 2020, according to Pew Research Center.

The shifting attitude is particularly noticeable in the Korean media, where news broadcasters and reporters often inject commentary into their work. Essentially every news segment about the U.S. right now is tinted by criticism. During one recent report by center-left broadcast station YTN about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock’s apology for ignoring their own advice that discouraged Thanksgiving traveling, the anchors closed with a scathing line: “The hypocrisy of these leaders who are in charge of people’s health and coronavirus control, during a period that is crucial to curbing the pandemic, makes you wonder if their apologies are even sincere.”

Catherine Kim here betrays an amusing lack of self-awareness.  She reports on complaints about Andrew Cuomo and Michael Hancock without noting that these men are left-liberal Democrats.  Whether because of ignorance or because of stupidity, Kim fails to realize that reporting on her fellow lefties is verboten.  She has forgotten, at least for a moment, to stick to the narrative, which is that All Righties Are Bad and Wrong.  She also leaves out the fact that plenty of other leftie mayors and governors have ignored their own injunctions in order to be able to attend huge parties and family gatherings, often without wearing their much-ballyhooed masks.  It's nice to see (if Kim is to be trusted) that Korean commentators are noticing the hypocrisy of the American left, but Kim herself fails to highlight that she is here critiquing lefties, which again makes her less than honest.

Kim Won-jang, a reporter for KBS, the national public broadcaster of Korea, made his disappointment clear in a recent column tilted, “There is no #1 America.” Kim, who studied in the U.S. in 1993 and later brought his whole family to the country in 2012 for a year, documents his dismay at the president’s rhetoric against immigrants, the U.S.’ failing response to Covid-19, the unfounded claims of voter fraud and Trump’s refusal to concede the election.

Of the three stupid claims in the above paragraph's final sentence, I've already dealt with the first two, i.e., "failing response to Covid-19" and "unfounded claims of voter fraud."  So let's deal with "Trump's refusal to concede the election," which is asinine on several levels.

First, Trump has every right to use legal means to contest an election that he suspects was fraudulent and unfair.  As Tim Pool relentlessly documents, there is plenty of evidence that something was very wrong.  Second, Al Gore did his level best to contest the 2000 election, dragging out the process until at least mid-December.  Was this not Gore's prerogative?  From my perspective in 2020, I'd have to say it was indeed.  So why deny this prerogative to Trump?  Third, it is the height of hypocrisy for left-liberals to express exasperation and shout "Just concede, already! The election was untainted!" when this is not the song they've sung for the past four goddamn years.  "Trump's refusal to concede the election" has nothing to do with his being an orange-faced man-baby whose ego and petulance are blinding him to reality.  The reality is that there is plenty of electoral malfeasance to investigate, and Trump had better fight to the bitter end.

Aside:  if Kim Won-jang brought his family to the US for a single year, does that make him and his family experts on life in America?  Don't make me laugh.  Imagine if I tried to pass myself off as an expert on Korean culture after only a year in country.

“Is the U.S. actually a No. 1 country?” Kim questions in his article, published on Nov. 9. “It can’t even manage a presidential election, the largest event in the country. Yet again they need the help of the police. And if things get out of control, they aim at citizens. It’s like Zimbabwe. The president denies the election results, and social trust is at a rock bottom.”

While some may point to a booming stock market in rebuttal to America’s critics, Kim told POLITICO that it’s clear economics cannot be the only measurement of a successful country: “No matter how well Tesla’s stocks perform,” Kim says, “the U.S. will only stray further and further from its greatness if its people—many of different languages and ethnicities—can’t unite under common values.”

I've heard Zimbabwe and Venezuela comparisons voiced by the right, so I can't get too worked up about that aspect of Kim Won-jang's comments.  I've said it myself:  a crucial measure of a country's health is its ability to undergo nonviolent transfers of power, and we may be standing at the brink in this regard.  If, for example, Trump regains the White House through the perfectly legal means of either the House delegation (which is GOP-dominated and will vote in Trump's favor) or the Supreme Court (which will likely vote 5-4 in favor of Trump, assuming Justice John Roberts is his usual turncoat self), the left will once again go nuts, and given that the left is already rioting, murdering, and causing billions of dollars in property damage (the left wants you to think this violence comes from the right—more bullshit), it will be nothing for the left to throw yet another tantrum and riot even more once Trump is back in the Oval Office (assuming he does get back in, which is far from a sure thing).

Kim Won-jang's gibe that the US "can't even manage a presidential election" betrays a great deal of ignorance about the US electoral process.  There is nothing, thus far, to indicate that the process has gone off the rails.  Trump is doing what Al Gore did in 2000; there are various legal provisions, protocols, and procedures to guide the process that's unrolling before us.  Don't confuse turbulence with chaos, but do understand that, if this election evinces any sort of banana-republic-style electoral malfeasance, it's all coming from the left, not the right.  "And if things get out of control, they aim at citizens."  I'd need to read the original Korean to get a better handle on what this means, but as it stands, this translation is frustratingly vague.  "Aim at citizens"?  What—the government under Trump is gunning citizens down or something?  Qu'est-ce que tu fumes?

I have to say, though, that I completely agree with this:  "...the U.S. will only stray further and further from its greatness if its people—many of different languages and ethnicities—can’t unite under common values."  That is the very unum of e pluribus unum, and it's the very thing being rejected by the left, which, thanks to postmodernist thinking, contends that we each are all islands of radical subjectivity, unable to unite under any common banner because common banners are "totalizing," which is a PoMo way of saying "smooshed together and steamrollered into an oppressive homogeneity that utterly disrespects individual diversity."  So Kim gets most things wrong but one thing right:  America is at its best when it unites under a set of common values, all of which have been delineated time and time again, if only the people would shut up and listen.

For Kim and many Koreans, the change in American leadership over the past few years can be summed up by comparing two elections. In his column, Kim describes John McCain’s 2008 concession speech as gracious, in which the former Arizona senator accepted his defeat the night of the election and promised to support Obama as “my president.” That night in Korea, broadcasts were near universally approving, characterizing the election as a moment that elevated the first Black U.S. president and bolstered the U.S.’ reputation of progress and innovation.

Kim’s retelling of the 2020 election isn’t as kind: “Fast forward 10 years. Donald Trump is tweeting ‘71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!’ while ignoring reality,” he wrote.

So, like many Never Trump Republicans, Kim's focus is on the superficial:  in 2008, the contenders were "gracious."  Give me a fucking break.  This is the trap so many potential—but not actual—Trump supporters have fallen into:  they can't stand Trump because he's a crass boor, therefore they can't get behind his policies, principles, and agenda.  This is the opposite of pragmatism, and it's the attitude of a loser.  I should also note that the Korean appreciation of decorum has its flip side:  Koreans are attracted to instances of ritual propriety, partially because of the (altered and distorted) Confucianism that permeates Korean society and culture, but Koreans can be downright Trumpian* in their crassness, rudeness, boorishness, racism, law-hatred, and selfishness.  As much as Koreans might seem to respond to authority and hierarchy, Korean culture contains a strong undercurrent of obnoxious rebelliousness against authority that manifests, for example, in its loud-and-proud protest culture, and even in its dung-throwing opposition to foreign products in the Korean marketplace.**

Kim Won-jang writes that Trump tweeted about receiving the most votes ever for a sitting president "while ignoring reality."  Oh, and what reality is that, pray tell?  That the election was flawless, fair, and completely unmarred?  Are you, Kim Won-jang, in the godlike position to make that judgment?  Fool.  Imbecile.  One year in America doesn't make you anything more than a fucking tourist in my country.  And to hell with your rose-tinted memories of 2008.  John McCain was an asshole, and as later events confirmed, he deserved to lose.

Kim says he decided to write the article because the current state of the country is far different from his earlier memories of the U.S. When he was younger, he remembers watching “A Few Good Men,” a movie that taught him the diverse country united under a common identity of being American. The same cannot simply be said anymore, he says, and a division among the people has cost the country both its faith in elections and public health.

It's strange to see, once again, the interweaving of so much rightness and wrongness in Kim Won-jang's thinking.  Once again, he leans toward the notion of "united under common values/a common identity," and he correctly perceives that the current US is a fractured, balkanized place, which is the result of, among other things, the insidious influence of postmodernism that emanates out of American academe and poisons society at large.  As PoMo would have it, America has always lacked a core because all things lack cores (ironically, this claim is itself the sort of "totalizing metanarrative" that postmodernists claim to hate).  

I'm not sure how "A Few Good Men" taught Kim the value of e pluribus unum.  I saw the film (which began life as a stage play) as primarily a character study about Lieutenant Kaffee (Tom Cruise), the talented Navy lawyer who goes from trying easy cases to putting himself on the line to defend two innocent men.  One of the defendants is black, but from what I recall, absolutely nothing is made of the defendant's race; it simply isn't a factor in the plot.  So on what basis does Kim Won-jang see "A Few Good Men" as a lesson in e pluribus unum?  The movie wasn't about racial conflict, nor was it about class conflict.  At its heart, it was about one man's discovery of his own capacity for courage in the defense of truth.  As for whether Kim is right about Americans' loss of faith in the electoral process:  as pundits like Tim Pool and Styx agree, either way, half the country will see the electoral system as a failure.  This makes the 2024 election potentially more of a nightmare.  2020 might be the last time we see an even halfway peaceful transfer of executive power.

What does this mean for the future? Despite this drop in respect, Korea will still continue its alliance with the U.S. to keep neighboring countries like China, Russia and North Korea in check. And familiarity will also keep the two countries close, says Kim, since Koreans still spend an exorbitant amount of money on American brands: There are 3.3 million Netflix subscribers in Korea, and the country annually spends over 1 trillion won on Starbucks. But the U.S. might continue to become a less popular destination for Korean emigrants and students—to the detriment of the American talent pool. Discouraged by Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and complicated visa policies, the number of Korean international students in the U.S. has already been declining with no sign of return: 23,488 Korean students signed up for a visa in 2018, a 23 percent drop from the 30,565 students in 2015.

I agree with the prediction that the ROK and the USA will continue their alliance, although I'd submit that the nature of that alliance will likely change.  I also agree that the US might continue to drop in popularity among Korean emigrants and students, but whether this dropoff will be "to the detriment of the American talent pool" is very debatable.  Why?  Because for years now, Koreans have gone to school in the States only to return to Korea with their advanced degrees and American-made clout.  For many of these Koreans, the US is merely a place to be used and cast aside.  Koreans add little to the "American talent pool."

The paragraph casually mentions "Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric," which is a typical leftist line.  For some reason, leftists acquire selective deafness when it comes to the topic of illegal immigration.  They don't seem to understand that most conservatives—and Trump, who isn't really a true conservative—are against illegal immigration, not against immigration per se.  To some extent, many conservatives agree with left-liberals that immigration is a net positive for a country:  a diversity of talents and perspectives can only benefit the larger populace by providing new insights, traditions, and culturally mediated expressions like food, art, music, language, etc.  Where conservatives and liberals differ is on the question of whether to let people in indiscriminately or to set certain standards, e.g., to ask whether a given legal immigrant will be a productive, beneficial, law-abiding member of society.  As for "complicated visa policies," well... I've lived in Korea long enough to have heard all sorts of Korean complaints, for years, regarding US visa policies.  This problem didn't originate with Trump, so the above gibe can effectively be ignored.

It’s possible President-elect Joe Biden might be able to slow or reverse the U.S.’s dropping reputation in Korea and help mend relations between the two countries. Lee says many here were relieved to see him beat Trump. All eyes will be on the new president to see if he can curb the “America First” mentality that has wrecked its alliances with multiple countries, adds Kim.

Some of the damage, however, may be irreversible. It won’t be so easy for Koreans to forget TV clips of full U.S. hospitals and maskless crowds. “To be clear,” Lee says. “Koreans won’t be sending their unconditional support to the U.S. as they did before.”

First:  Joe Biden is NOT the president-elect yet.  This is a lie that the media continue to disseminate, and shame on Catherine Kim for mindlessly repeating the lie.  As for whether Biden might be capable of "repairing" US/ROK relations, I seriously doubt it.  I seem to recall that Barack Obama often had harsh words for South Korea's trade policies, and if Biden—the nostalgia candidate—represents a continuation of Obama's presidency, then the senile old fart might not be the savior that poor, deluded Catherine Kim thinks he'll be.  If many Koreans were "relieved" to see Biden "beat" Trump (still to be decided, folks), that is, once again, because of the lies and distortions they've been fed by the biased and Trump-deranged media.  As for "full US hospitals and maskless crowds," as I said earlier, the US—especially the blue states—could learn a thing or two from Korea in terms of having a lighter touch when handling the pandemic.  At the same time, South Korea has lately been tightening its grip on the citizenry, e.g., by imposing stiff fines on people caught not wearing masks out in public.  This is an unfortunate turn of events, and it lends credence to the idea that, inside every leftist, there's a totalitarian waiting to burst out.  For months, I'd been pleasantly surprised by Seoul's light-touch handling of the pandemic, but lately, that pleasant feeling has been fading as Seoul's leaders have discovered the heady ambrosia of power.

Overall, I found Catherine Kim's article to be wrongheaded on multiple levels.  She comes off as yet another young gyopo*** seduced by the stupidity of leftist thinking, and I can't say that I'll be in a hurry to read anything more that she writes.

*I mention "Trumpian" and "racist" in the same sentence, which may be a mistake.  I think Trump is definitely guilty of sexism, but I see no evidence of racism or other forms of bigotry.

**If you're not getting the connection I'm making, let me be clearer:  if foreign products enter the marketplace, that's because of trade deals made at the level of the national government, so when normal citizens reject foreign products, there's an element of anti-authoritarianism there... along with the requisite, typically Korean, frog-in-the-well xenophobia.

***There's no universally accepted definition of the term gyopo (교포).  Lexical resources will unhelpfully define the term as "international Korean" or "overseas Korean."  In my own experience, I've tended to think of gyopos as either (1) ethnic Koreans born to Korean parents who live overseas, or (2) Koreans—usually young—who are born in Korea but then move to another country and live there for many years, becoming fluent in that country's language and natively conversant with its culture while maintaining cultural and linguistic ties to their Korean heritage.  The fact that some commenter is likely to tell me how wrong my definition is is part of the ongoing mystique of gyopo-dom.  As I said, there is no universally agreed-upon definition of the term.  By some standards, I'm a gyopo, but I doubt many Koreans (or non-Koreans who fancy themselves experts on Korea) would agree.  For what it's worth, my F-4 visa attests that I am, at the very least, a dongpo (동포), which is, notionally, a close cousin to being a gyopo in that I have Korean heritage and was born in the States.


John Mac said...

Wow! Well done, Kevin. You should send that to Politico as a letter to the editor. Not that it would ever see the light of day but you could at least make some liberal heads explode.

motorrad said...