Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ask a Korean! News: "Charity Angel" and the Insanity of Anti-Communism

Recently, the Korean had a spirited debate on the Marmot’s Hole, on the topic of whether Sunshine Policy was a failure. The Korean’s position was that it was not. Although Sunshine Policy may not have been the most smashing success, in the very least it enabled engagement between the two Koreas. And the Korean believed that this achievement was underrated because the detractors of Sunshine Policy often underestimate the insane level of antagonism between the two Koreas. And recently, the perfect piece of news came up to show the amazing insanity in the inter-Korean relation.

Dear readers, meet the beautiful Moon Geun-Yeong.

Moon, 21, debuted as a child actress in 2000 at the age of 13. Because of her sheer adorability, she became a huge hit since, appearing in various movies, dramas, and advertisements. Recently, Roboseyo did a tribute the series of advertisements featuring Moon. (Perv.) Here is one example.

As it turns out, Moon doesn’t just look like the sweetest sweetheart in the world – she is in fact the sweetest sweetheart in the world. She has been the biggest individual donor for Community Chest Korea, a charity organization, donating around $800,000 over six years anonymously. Since she is now 21, she has been donating since she was 15 – anonymously! She has also been known to donate generously for various other charities.

Adorable, yes? Praise-worthy, yes? Positively angelic, yes? Korean media agreed, and spent many pages and airtime praising Moon’s good deed. Dubbing her the “charity angel”, they praised Moon’s kindness, her fine upbringing, and being a pioneer in establishing a charity culture in Korea.

Enter this guy. Man in the picture is Ji Man-Won, a professor known for his raging conservative politics, the concept which includes fervent anti-Communism and pro-military dictatorship (because it helped the Korean economy grow) in Korea.

As it turns out, Moon’s maternal grandfather was a communist guerilla who fought in South Korea during the Korean War. Also, Moon’s family is from Gwangju, a known stronghold for democratization movement and the home of Gwangju movement, a citizen uprising which was brutally suppressed by the military dictatorship, killing dozens. Moon’s maternal grandfather’s brother fought and died in that movement as well.

That did not sit well with Ji, who posted three articles about Moon after the media attention for her charity work grew. Below are some of the excerpts, translated by the Korean.

First Article – “Is Producing Charity Angel a Leftist Strategy?”
On Nov. 13, 2008, Community Chest Korea revealed that Moon Geun-Yeong was the actress in her 20s who donated $850,000 over the past 6 years. Since then, the leftist locusts have been obsessing to make Moon a heroine. …

But it does not sit well that the charity angel Moon is a granddaughter of a communist guerilla, and that she grew up with the love from that guerilla until her grandfather passed away in 2005. Although being a granddaughter of a communist guerilla cannot be faulted because guilt-by-association was abolished during Jeon Du-Hawn administration [read: early 1980s], it does not feel good that until three years ago, she must have received a lot of communist guerilla’s teaching while being loved by the communist guerilla grandfather. …

Recently, the fact that people from the Environmental Movement League and Environment Foundation and those from Kim Dae-Jung/Roh Moo-hyeon [read: non-conservatives] were handcuffed for corruption must have acted as a huge burden on the leftists. Leftists must have felt the need to change this milieu. It was already well known that the cute actress Moon was a granddaughter of a communist guerilla. It appears that Moon’s holding the firm position as an angel by raising her profile in TV dramas, and in addition praising her as an anonymous charity angel who donated $850,000, is a psychological warfare to create an image that communist guerillas are not people with horns, but they are people who are like angels. ...

Second Article – “Moon Geun-yeong is for Communist Guerilla’s Propaganda”
Searching for “Ryu Nak-Jin” [Moon’s grandfather] on a search engine shows a video file. The content was just as I expected. It was an advertisement that Moon was pretty, a good actress, has a kind heart, and has a great family. She was everyone’s adorable little sister, her maternal grandfather was a member of the unification movement, her great uncle was a fighter for democracy, and her uncle and aunts were patriots enough to be investigated by the police.

That is, communist guerillas are members of the unification movement, the communist guerilla family is a family with good heritage, the family that raised the daughter that did the goodliest thing in the world.

In short, it says communist guerilla family is a great family. This is a psychological warfare by the guerillas – as much as Moon’s good deeds are advertised, the message that communist guerilla family is good spreads as well. Also, I think they are engaging in a multi-purpose psychological warfare of diluting the disgust against communist guerillas and of eliciting a positive sentiment against Honam [region in which Gwangju sits] by turning Moon into an ideal woman. …

Third article – “North Korea’s Plan and the Case of Moon Geun-Yeong”
Moon vs. other good people

There are many people who do good deeds that are unimaginable to ordinary people. … These are the people who give their body, more precious than money, although they cannot produce a spectacularly large sum of money that would be decorated by the media. …

Next in order are those who contribute money. The charity from those who earn much, for example Bill Gates, is a good deed that not anyone can do. …

I have searched a few articles from the past. … It is up to the readers where Moon’s donation of $850,000 over six years to Community Chest Korea ranks among these righteous good deeds. But unlike these other good deeds, Moon’s good deed has a much larger impact. Even conservative media is praising Moon, creating video files with strong communicative power spreading strange messages. …

This writer does not find fault with the good deed and praising the good deed. The fault is found in the manner of praising and the hidden message latent in such praising.
The full drivel can be found here.

Remember folks, this is 2008. All this was only written within this week. Imagine how insane things must have been during the military dictatorship, which ended in 1993. For example, in the 1970s, the government investigated Gim Chu-ja, then a popular singer, because apparently her dance moves were codes for communist spies.

At least the Korean is comforted by the fact that even the most conservative Korean medias roundly criticized Ji. However, even more sickening is that there are at least some people who agree with Ji. This guy compiled the comments attached to the article on Chosun Ilbo, the most conservative newspaper among all. The Korean presents a selected few translated below. The Korean would laugh, except he knows they are serious when they wrote these:
“The charity angel’s deed itself should be praised, but if there is such a circumstance behind it, of course we should be wary. It would have been unimaginable without Mr. Ji Manwon’s insight. If you are not going to express respect to his patriotism, at least do not criticize him.”

“It totally makes sense. Moon donated under leftist governments, not under rightist government.” [Note: the last year of Korean conservative government was 1998, when Moon was 11, before her debut.]

“Those who slander Ji are mostly naïve people, leftists, stupid people, and those who know nothing; those who slander him most vigorously are the leftist flag-bearers who are carrying out their mission, and some but not all members of regional associations. People must know.”

“All the celebrities who were unknown or unpopular but raised their profile during Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-Hyeon administration must be investigated. It smells suspicious.”

“You cannot deny that Dr. Ji’s point is correct and keen. Moon Geun-Yeong, granddaughter of Ryu Nak-Jin who denied the legitimacy of the Republic of Korea and lived and died as an enemy, must clearly reveal her view and position on her grandfather.”

The same type of people can be found criticizing Chosun’s editorial that condemned Ji. If you would like to venture in, the link is here. Try organizing by “thumbs up”, and the most despicable comments rise to the top.

This is utterly insane. But this episode is a perfect glimpse into how Korea was before it was democratized. Ji Manwon's views were exactly the mainstream view during the military governments of Korea, which only ended in 1993. Needless to say, politics of that era was just crazy. There was no reason, only madness. Although severely marginalized, the insanity is still surviving to this day.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. The American cannot help but conclude that Koreans need to work less, get high more often, and chill the hell out.

  2. ^^^And get off the internet!

  3. Ji Man-Won’s argument is laughable, and I sure hope there are more logical and sensible arguments advancing anti-Communism in Korea. I have seen both overt and concealed communists at protests in Korea, reminding me that there are more than a few softheads who would love to see the North Korean system brought to the South.

    The debate against communist totalitarianism is hardly complete, but something tells me attacking a cute movie actress for donating money to charity is hardly a blow to Kim’s regime. It may be a blow to civility however.

  4. These people are pretty much the equivalent of that fringe of Americans who circulated claims that Barack Obama was actually the love child of Malcolm X, no?

  5. Korean celebrities have long attracted attention from dictators on both sides of the DMZ. There's even more of a politico-entertainment complex than in the US, if that's possible.

    This kind of trash talk is nothing compared to the government censorship of the 50's and 60's, and 70's, and, well, everything except the last 20 years or so.

  6. You went to Cal?? Awesome... when did you graduate? I'm applying to transfer there next fall. Wish me luck! :)

    By the way, your blog is great!

  7. I had heard people were calling Moon Geun Young a communist, but it confused me, cos I was reading paraphrases of the articles, not the articles themselves. What? My Korean sucks, reading articles in Korean directly gives me a headache and requires excessive use of a dictionary. NOW it makes sense.

    I actually always joke that my parents are 남남북녀, cos my dad's from 경상도 and my maternal grandfather did some meandering up north to Manchuria until he got back down south to Seoul.

    Funny how when you post something political and not couched in some cute question, it's considered lame. Will check out the post more fully, cos skimming it already has piqued my interest, even though I find Marmot's Hole irritating.

    It is trash talking, but trash talking in Korea resonates differently than it does in the US. Korea doesn't have the same historical respect for free speech and the First Amendment.

  8. Nathan,

    Probably more like the Americans who sincerely believe that Obama is a closet muslim -- ultimately irrelevant, but scary nonetheless.


    Agreed 100%. The point of the post is -- imagine the world in which people like Ji are the majority.


    yes, the Korean did attend Cal. In fact, he attended the Big Game this past weekend.

    Jae Young,

    Thank you for the kind words.

  9. I left Korea in the early 90's to come to the U.S.A, and I am from Gwanju. So, I vividly remember the Gwangju Democratic movement because my father, neighbors, and some of my elementary teachers took a part in the movement.

    As far as the article, clearly Ji Man Won is an idiot who has no merits for his attacks against Moon. How can anyone argue against her philanthropic ambitions; especially when it deals in the interest of unification of Korea's.

    Although she is not an eye-candy for me;nevertheless, she is a fine actress. Like many of the celebrities in the U.S, she is sacrificing her hard earned money for a greater cause, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for her.

    I've said this many time that life has to be more than JUST YOU. And clearly Moon is doing things that have greater and deeper impact in Korea than just the movies.

  10. You only called me a perv because I called you a perv when you clicked on the link for more Amanda Beard pictures, on my Michael Phelps post this summer. (Perv)

    I didn't think my way of presenting those videos was pervy... unless the words "cute" and "annoying" have different meanings for you than they do for me.

    Anyway, whatever. Thanks for the link, and for the insight you added to the topic.


  11. Aw come on Robo, you know the Korean was joking. The Korean does not think the presentation was pervy in any way.

  12. Yep. I know. I just wanted to remind you that I called you a perv first (and again, if you followed the links in that comment). ㅋㅋㅋ

    (ps: one of the Korea/America quirks that amuses me the most is the way ㅋㅋㅋ means laughter to Koreans, but to North Americans, the translated, "KKK" has a very, very, very different meaning.)

  13. Why is Moon suddenly no longer "anonymous?" Did she out herself? Did the charity do it? Seems odd to me that you'd suddenly announce it after 6 years of keeping quiet.

  14. Well... I guess Rush Limbaugh would feel less alone in the world, if only he could read hangeul.

  15. kesumo I don't think she did it herself--according to some people in our music forum, the charity wanted her to get the credit for her donations, because others were giving it to people who hadn't made them.

    Article on moon geung young's hancinema homepage~

    By Park Si-soo
    Staff Reporter

    Just a few days after top actress Moon Geun-yeong wowed fans with the surprise revelation of her secret donations to the poor, she has fallen victim to malicious comments on the Internet.

    The Community Chest, a leading charity group here, last week announced a list of its top individual donors revealing the No. 1 giver's name as an "anonymous actress in her 20s" who has donated more than 850 million won ($597,000) over the past five years.

    Despite the actress's requests to keep her name secret, the charity group, after being harassed by the press, finally confirmed the 21-year-old donor was Moon.

    Following the revelation, however, she was subject to cyber attacks by people who called her donations politically motivated. Her private blog and articles praising her behavior were bombarded with numerous nasty comments belittling the donations as a way to enhance her reputation and her career.

    Also, a conservative columnist claimed Moon's donations promoted communism in Korea, citing her late grandfather's pro-North activities. Her late grandfather Ryu Nak-jin was a pro-communism guerrilla in the South during and after the Korean War (1950-1953) and refused to convert right up to his death in 2005.

    In an article, Ji Man-won, said, "This is part of communist-led psychological warfare aimed to beautify a descendant of the communist. Articles speaking highly of her donations help make people respect communists as activists striving to reunite the two Koreas".

    In reaction to the cyber bullying, the opposition Democratic Labor Party made a rare statement calling for it to end. "Her grandfather was a victim of our heart-wrenching history. We should not take it as a means to criticize those with different ideology", it said.

    Her agency vowed to take a wait-and-see approach.

    Legal experts said those producing such malicious comments can be punished.
    "If an article was written apparently to insult a specific individual, the writer can be punished even if the article doesn't include any type of abusive language", said Prof. Park Kyung-sin at Korea University's college of law.

    Meanwhile, Gangnam Police Station is gathering information on the malicious writers for an investigation at Moon's request.

    (hope it's okay that I posted this here: you can always delete if it's too much.)

    some people should really mind their own business and stop making trouble for others. <_<


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