Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Viktor Ahn, Korea's Hero

(Because the blog was quiet during the Winter Olympics, the Korean thought it may be appropriate to have a reflective piece about the Games. Enjoy.)

It would not take a Korea-centric blog to note that Viktor Ahn, formerly known in Korea as Ahn Hyeon-su [안현수], was one of the best story lines from the 2014 Winter Olympics. Ahn's story, covered everywhere from the New York Times to Deadspin, is now familiar. Ahn was once the ace for Korea's world-beating short track skating team, and was a dominant force in the 2006 Torino Olympics. After a knee injury and factionalism within the skating administration within Korea, Ahn did not make Team Korea's roster for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Frustrated, Ahn became a free agent, renouncing Korean citizenship and taking the flag of the highest bidder, Russia. In the Sochi Olympics, Ahn became one of the Games' greatest winners, taking three gold and one bronze medals. In the process, he solidified his place as the greatest short track skater ever, with six career Olympic gold medals and two bronze.

(source)

How did Koreans feel about Ahn? Initially in 2011, when Ahn announced his decision to leave Korea, there was some grousing in the corners of Korea's Internet by those who thought Ahn was betraying his country. But what little grudge Koreans had held against Ahn mostly evaporated by the beginning of the Olympics, even before Ahn stepped on the Sochi ice. Overwhelming majority of Koreans cheered for Ahn when he was skating, and they were genuinely happy when Ahn won his first medal, a bronze. By the time Ahn was done setting the record, Koreans showered their love on Ahn just as much as they did with any member of Team Korea. 

(Well, any member except Kim Yuna. But Kim Yuna is Kim Yuna--there won't be another one quite like her. That's for another post.)

Why did Koreans cheer for Ahn? A shallow analysis may point to Korea's strong ethno-nationalism, and claim that Koreans simply love any Korean who succeeds. Such an analysis may have had a point in certain previous instances. (Hines Ward, for example.) But this time, it badly misreads the pulse of Koreans' positive emotion for Ahn. Koreans were not cheering for Ahn simply because Ahn is Korean; Koreans were cheering for Ahn because Ahn represents the triumph of the individual, victorious over injustice.

(More after the jump)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


"Individualism" is not a word that is commonly associated with Koreans. The prevailing stereotype about Koreans (which is consistent with the prevailing stereotype about Asians generally) is that Koreans are conformist and deferential, ever wary of what other people think and never stepping up to challenge authority. 

The problem with stereotypes is not that they are completely wrong; it is that they are used in a manner that is far beyond their usefulness. Rare is a case in which a stereotype is utterly without basis in reality. But very common is a case in which the stereotype is applied without rigorous examination of the context, individual differences, and actual events on the ground. By being applied that way, stereotype flattens reality. It turns innumerable vibrant colors into grayscale, and claims that the world is only made up of a sliding measure of black and white.

Same is true about the stereotype about Koreans being conformist and deferential to authority. It is not necessarily wrong. But simply pointing to the stereotype misses the fact that, in modern Korean culture, there has been a consistent counter-streak of rugged individualism and vigorous challenges to those in power. Behind the prevailing picture of Koreans who defer to authority and hierarchy, there is a fierce and deep-seated distrust of the government and the powerful that is nearly Ayn Randian.

And why wouldn't Koreans distrust government and authority? Seen from a certain angle, modern Korean history is a history of Korea's authority figures letting down its people. The last Korean kings were too weak to protect their people, and signed away their land to Imperial Japan. When Korean War broke out, President Syngman Rhee was already on a southbound train when South Korean government was announcing to Seoul citizens that there was nothing to fear, because the ROK Army was repelling the North Koreans. Indeed, some Koreans would point as far back as the Imjin War of the late 15th century, when King Seonjo abandoned Seoul to run from the onslaught of the advancing Japanese army while the Righteous Army--a volunteer army made up of peasants, led by local noblemen--fought the enemy to death, as an instance in which Korea's leaders let people down, and the people had to find their own salvation.

One must also remember that Imperial Japan's brutal rule, followed immediately by the devastating Korean War, nearly reduced Korea to the Hobbesian state of nature, the war of all against all. For all the emphasis that Korean culture supposedly places on manners and propriety, the spectre of death--the actual one as well as the fear thereof--was more than enough to loosen or destroy the traditional bonds. It is not a stretch to say that such loosening of bonds at least partially contributed to the rise of modern Korea as an advanced industrialized nation. In the English Industrial Revolution, peasants had to be displaced from their land to become the mobile labor force that modern capitalism required. In Korea, two wars that literally destroyed Korea's tradition did the same. The new, modern Koreans emerged as a result: tough, independent and individual, taking nothing lying down.

Again, in certain contexts, the observation that Koreans are conformist and deferential to authority is not necessarily wrong. But it misses the long history of Koreans fighting back at what they perceive as unjust authority. Korea's Independence Movement did not relent until World War II was over. When the dictator Syngman Rhee sought to become a lifetime president, Koreans overthrew him. Second, third dictators came along, and Koreans overthrew them too. Labor activist Jeon Tae-il immolated himself, protesting the deplorable labor conditions of the 1970s in Korea. Attorney Kim Yong-cheol blew the whistle on Samsung's slush funds in 2010. In the waning days of Korea's last presidential election of 2012, police investigator Gwon Eun-hee tried to halt, and later exposed, Korea's spy agency's meddling with the election. Even at a smaller scale, it is not difficult to find ordinary Koreans fighting the injustices they encounter in their lives. 

As is always the case for underdogs, those who fight back fail more often than they succeed. But when they do succeed, Koreans heartily cheer them on. So Koreans cheer for Viktor Ahn, for Ahn most certainly suffered injustice at the hands of the authority. The pettiness of factional politics that Korea Skating Union inflicted on Ahn is galling. The entire KSU, including the administration, coaches and the athletes, was split into two factions: those who attended Korea National Sport University, and those who did not. Ahn, a KNSU graduate, initially was a beneficiary of the factional politics when the KNSU "line" was more dominant in the early 2000s. When the political tide turned, the players and coaches of the non-KNSU line did everything it could to push out Ahn. Even in international games, the non-KNSU players would impede Ahn. In an infamous episode, a non-KSNU skater beat Ahn into pulp because Ahn refused to let him win. It became so bad that Ahn ended up practicing with the women's team, in which the KNSU faction was stronger. Ahn's knee injury made it that much easier to freeze him out of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Staring down the demise of his athletic career, Ahn fought back by adopting a new homeland, taking on a new name and skating with the Russian flag on his chest. And boy, did he stick it to the man! Ahn's three gold medals matched the number of gold medals won by the entire Team Korea which, as fate would have it, did not win a single medal in men's short track skating. Ahn could not possibly have had a sweeter revenge, standing victorious over the KSU bureaucracy that wronged him.

(source)

Seeing this, it is difficult for any Korean not to identify with Viktor Ahn--for Korea has no shortage of small injustices committed by those who hold the authority and power. Who wouldn't want to project themselves onto Ahn on the podium, a brilliant individual shining over the boss's yelling, the older relatives' nagging, the petty corruption, and all the other social ills that Koreans see as being the results of too much deference to authority? Viktor Ahn may have become an Olympic hero for Russia, but for a different reason, he is just as much of a hero for Koreans as well.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

45 comments:

  1. The story of Ahn showed Koreans that their talents leaving to rivaling countries for a better prospect is a very real possibility. I hope the realization can bring positive changes to Korea.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Men's speed skating won a silver

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. I was using an old draft and should have updated before posting. It is corrected now.

      Delete
  3. I never quite understood the emphasis on individualism from Korea/Asian-bashing crowd: despite their grandstanding, they don't have much to show for their supposed individualism.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So ti is about a system that he changed citizenship?Can it be about people? Just asking. Cause i saw some interwiews with him.. and he points that atmosphere in russian team differ from korean one in a good way...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Even though I am happy about Anh Hyun-Soo victory, it leaves a bitter taste. Why?

    1. First of all, his victory says A LOT about the abuse of power, nepotism and corruption that go on not only in Korean sports, but in every single aspect of Korean society. If you are famous, rich, or a chaebol, a chaebol's heir or even a chaebol's mistress you get to do anything. Just like Dae Sung from Big Bang, who actually killed a person and ... got away with murder by paying blood money to some... uncle, not even the mother of the person he killed. All my hopes that drama actresses no longer have to cater to the sexual needs of their producers and directors are gone. When in the world will Korea become less corrupted?

    2. He became a Russian citizen. If he got an American citizenship, I would understand. Or Dutch. Or French. Or even German, I would understand. But Russian? The only analogy that seems plausable is Hans Woellke for Hitler or Dennis Rodman for Kim Jong Un.

    It is funny seeing his portraits all over Moscow. Yes, he is a hero. Yes, he won the gold. Thrice. But he is also a traitor, because he represented Putin's Russia, a place where democracy is stifled, human rights are violated, and the level of corruption is sky high.

    Yes, he is just a pawn in Putin's power play. But a willing one. Shame on you, "Victor" Ahn. Shame on you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What's wrong with choosing mother Russia ?
      I live in the US, but I don't see any reason to hate Russia. If Koreans are against today's Russia, I would like to know why. Russians gave Yi So-yeon a ride on their Soyuz into space while NASA has done what for Korea might I ask ? Russia has helped Koreans launch rockets into space while the US has hindered the effort.

      Also, Russians are trying to help Korea by building out the natural gas pipeline from mother Russia all the way down to South Korea, why do you want to hate Russia, and for what reason. If you hate Russia because of past Soviet Union and whatever, then please wake up and realize this is 2014, not 1989.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Wow, the case of Daesung (Big Bang) is completely removed from this situation. I'm not sure if you're aware of all the details of that situation, but you colored the incident very wrong. He did not pay "blood money". He did not just "get away with it" as a celebrity. His payment to the family was standard procedure under the Civil Law system in Korea. Actually TK wrote an informative and extensive post about this before. http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-is-all-this-about-blood-money.html It was a tragic vehicular manslaughter case. It wasn't a drunken hit-and-run or a case of a celebrity bribing the family to shut up.

      Delete
    4. Just remember that the US is hindering South Korean efforts in their Space program.

      Also, VB needs to smell the coffee and realize that the current post-Sovient Russia is only about 25 years old. Russia is evolving and in time they too will be a more improved society. The US on the other hand, had no human rights for 200 years after establishing its own republic as we know it. George Washington was a slave owner. FDR had mistresses coming in and out of the WH, Jack Kennedy had whores coming in and out of WH, and Bill Clinton enjoyed getting his BJ from WH intern while he did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. So, please spare me the details on how Putin cheated on his wife.

      You wanna talk about skinheads beheading Asian in Russia, you mean KKK did not skin blacks and hang them ???

      As for pensioneers getting 200 dollars a month in Russia, this is crap. I pay $20K into Social Security every year and I know I will get zero from uncle sam when I retire. Go Fuck Yourself if you want to talk about pension.





      Delete
    5. @Mlle S

      A big fan of Daesung, eh? Well, he killed the guy. He did not go to jail. He paid some money (after his manager came and negotiated the price down). Just because what he did is legal in Korea, it does not make it right. In any other normal democratic country he would have gone to court and was sentenced to some kind of punishment. But in Korea you don't have to if you pay. Convenient? Oh yeah. Fair? What would you say if it happened to any of your closest relatives?

      @Jackson

      Russia will be a more improved society in another 200 years or so.
      The difference between KKK and Russian nazi is that KKK skinned and hanged blacks, but Russian nazi skin and kill ethnic minorities every day. See any difference?
      Putin not only cheated on his wife, he (according to various sources) had two illegitimate kids with his mistress. Again, this is 2014. What would happen to Obama if Fox News or Donald Trump would discover his illegitimate kids with another woman. See the difference?
      You are not retired yet. Those pensioners worked all their lives and now they have nothing because the state, full of oil and gas, iron ore and aluminum, oligarchs and billionaires, have abandoned them. At least you can count on Medicare. They don't even have that. See the difference?

      Go Fuck Yourself since you don't know squat about Russia.

      Delete
    6. Ehh i thought that Viktor An applied to different coutries, but only russia accepted him or believed in him despite his serous injuries and procceed with him in olimpics.
      I mean who said that he didnt try with america or germany? Thats why i think its cool that russia believed in him and gave him a chance despite serious injuries

      Delete
    7. @VB, I don't see the difference in your argument because you are naive and self righteous (aka, having head up the ass). You complain of Russian nazi killing ethnic minorities everyday as if that crap didn't happen here in the US. Unless you've slept through American history class, the US cavalry sought out and exterminated the poor American Indians tribe after tribe. Who do you thinks has killed more people, the US cavalry lead by Andrew Jackson or the skinheads in mother Russia, make sure you roll that R when you pronounce Russia.

      Delete
    8. Gosh, you are such an idiot.

      If you want to talk about Native American genocide, that happened before the 21 century. Russians, on the other hand, killed off in Stalin purges more than 30 million of their own people. They have relocated and killed millions of ethnic minorities.

      No matter how bad racial injustice right now in America, it is not even half as bad as racism in Putin's Russia right now.

      Delete
    9. What Stalin did was under USSR, that country does not exist anymore. Russia is not USSR.

      I am not saying there is no crime in Russia. There is hate crime in the US, there is ethnic violence is Russia. Some are more advertised than others. But who the Fuck cares, the most important fact here is that Ahn got beat up by the thugs in Korea from which you VB call a developed country, but he did not get physically harmed by the Russians mind you. Koreans dismissed Ahn, but the Russians honored him. Only crime statistics that matters to Ahn is that he got is ass whooped in Korea for being a good athlete, nobody gave a shit about his skating abilities in Korea, they wanted him to go away, which he did.

      I'd say to Ahn, good job, collect your money and your car... and bring them to Korea or any other country of your choosing and enjoy your money you earned.

      Delete
  6. Congratulations on viktor ahns triumph and ESP for doing it for Russia . Russia unlike Germany France or even holland is a fee and independent state, one which under the enlightened leadership of president Putin has been revitalised , which is what the Sochi games symbolised . Ahn and russia go well together : both have been attacked viciously by various factions : ahn be Korean skating officialdom , russia and ESP Putin by the us and European propaganda press : both have emerged triumphant . So VB with his Cold War politics ; put a sock in it. Russia is the free state . Your EU and US are the machieveism dictatorships , as we see in
    Ukraine support for the neonazis sacking Ukraine : Georgia 2008 anyone?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And how much are they paying you to post pro-Kremlin bullshit, "Brian"? LOL.

      Delete
    2. Ahn Hyeon-Su did not skate for mother Russia to solve world hunger, nor did he skate to solve any social/political issues in Russia. What I don't understand is why VB wants to make connections on these none existing irrelevant things. Ahn Hyeon-Su skated for mother Russia because South Korea did not afford him a better environment for him to win gold in Sochi. In the minds of Ahn family, allegiance to mother Russia afforded him the best possible opportunity for his skating career and he made that choice, a wise one that got him three gold. If your belly is aching because South Korea or any other country did not give him that opportunity, then go lick your own wounds, no body cares.

      Delete
  7. I disagree with both of VB and brian when it comes to "the good and the bad" a.k.a. "the free state and the dictatorship". USA and EU are free only for the rich, but Russia seems no better either. I might sound like a hate-it-all pessimist or nihilist right now, but actually I simply believe making a true difference is possible and that won't happen by standing on either side of the systems of power we've got today.

    Now back to Ahn. I'm not much into sports, so neither the olympics, but it seems like he did work hard and passionately to get where he is now - at the top. Congratulations to him. He did deserve it.

    On the other hand, if we have to pick on his Russian citizenship, then I would connect this with the female figure skating injustice conspiracy. Kim Yuna was obviously a lot better, no one would deny it, but it was the Russian girl to take the gold and many believe it was the lobbists or whoever behind the publicity of the event to make it up. On the other hand Ahn is a Korean who chose his Russian citizenship, so one may discuss he somehow bought his gold this way, others might say he had no choice. His victory might also serve to silence down the forementioned Kim Yuna's case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim Yuna lost because the scoring was rigged. She fell victim of an arranged scheme. That's how both Russians and Americans "won" the gold. The new scoring system has so many flaws, it is easier to cheat now.

      USA and EU are free not only for the rich. You don't have to be a crook or Obama's friend to make money. All the Olympic profits somehow ended up benefiting Putin's buddies. I wonder why...

      Delete
    2. "USA and EU are free not only for the rich. You don't have to be a crook or Obama's friend to make money."

      Maybe, but you must become the banks' slave if you want to lead a normal life as a middle class citizen. Go to school, heal your physical wounds and illnesses, find a job, find a home, bear children, educate them... And your children inherit your debts too. I don't call that freedom.

      Delete
  8. Individualism is certainly becoming more prominent in Korea as time goes by but you cannot deny that many many Korean athletes are celebrated just because they are Korean. The number of Reds jerseys spiked when 추신수 played there and now all of a sudden they are all Texas Rangers fans. Also the Dodgers went after 류현진 because they knew he would sell thousands of tickets to Koreans who live in LA. I totally understand this - If a player from my university goes pro - I will root for that team just because they represent my school - I don't think there is anything wrong with that. The extreme fervor and nationalism that many Koreans show in international sport is a related yet different issue - I don't think we should get the two mixed up.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If Ahn had not decided to skate under a different flag, we would not have been able to witness one of the great standout performances in the history of sport. There is also that great pleasure of seeing someone like Ahn "stick it to the man". Vic Wild did the same, on a lesser scale, as an American snowboarding for Russia.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Did you all read that, Russia gives all its gold medalists $120,000, and a new Mercedes !!!
    I feel happy for Ahn, way to go Ahn. If Ahn skated for Korea in Sochi, he would've gotten what again ???
    Now he will be collecting ongoing pension from Korea, plus $120,000 from mother Russia and a new Mercedes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's $120K per gold medal, plus $56K for the bronze, as I recall. The total cash pay out comes up to $416K :)
      Ahn and his wife Na Ri will also be gifted an apartment in Moscow region and yes,he already got a new Mercedes. All Russian Olympic medalists got nice new cars, but the grade of the car differed according to the highest medal earned!!! There is also a federal stipend lasts for a year only for each medalist, not sure how much it is in $$$.
      In Russia, the medalists usually get their Regional Olympic prizes as well. Victor Ahn might have additional prize money coming in from Moscow Region, the richest region in the country.
      A Russian building company has expressed their intent to present Victor Ahn with a condo unit in their new project in Moscow Region. The streets in their new development project are named after famous Russian athletes, and they would like to name one after Victor Ahn... :)
      When asked about his reward after Turin, Ahn said (in Russian!) that his success there "was no big deal, there were plenty of other medalists". Hmm.......
      If Ahn skated for Korea in Sochi, he would be lucky to escape the repeat of the beating incident mentioned by The Korean above...
      I didn't know about this horrible story, is that a well known thing in Korea? If that's true, Victor is better off with Mother Russia... the Russians honor him.

      Delete
    2. New Vancouverite? Right. Who do you think you're kidding? You little piece of Russian shit!
      Your president just burned more than $50,000,000,000 in the Olympic flame. But that's not enough, he is moving into Crimea.

      Victor Anh, I am sure is already regretting his decision. If he is a decent human being, that is. He will be living in a country where he can say no bad words about the president and his junta. He will be living in one of the most corrupted countries in the word. The country where people prefer to deal with criminals through private investigators rather than police because the government agencies are so corrupted.

      Present him with a condo? Knowing how Russian construction companies operate using slave Tajik and Uzbek workers, he will be living with holes in the walls (and this is the least dreadful scenario. We don't want to even think about something like the Gyeongju auditorium collapse, although it is completely feasible).

      No money in the world will be good enough for Ahn when he realizes that he lives under totalitarian regime similar to the one in North Korea. He will be on the first plane to... any country to save his ass.

      By the way, his Russian is pathetic and incomprehensible.

      Ahn chose Russia because he wanted to win in the Olympics. Now, when he no longer needs that, he will definitely find another place to live, as soon as Russian economy takes a huge nosedive because of the current situation with the Ukraine.

      Delete
    3. Awesome dude, I'm Ukrainian. Thanks for understanding.

      Delete
    4. In the latest news from Russian media:
      -- Victor Ahn did not accept the condo unit I mentioned in my post above
      -- the invasion of Ukraine continues -- Russian nationalists promise to "save the population of Ukraine from the wiles of Ukrainian nationalists"... no really, that's a correct translation
      -- Putin promises not to annex the Crimea, but no one believes him

      In other news:
      -- my cousins in Kiev are no longer being shot at by the old Regime's snipers
      -- it's almost impossible to sponsor them to come to Canada as Family Class, as they are not my immediate family
      -- one of them is about to be drafted (there is a 2-year mandatory military service for men in Ukraine)
      -- he is half-Russian, born and raised in Ukraine, and a Ukrainian citizen...
      -- Ukrainian national militia is forming, the new government has called for mobilization
      -- Putin just put all the goodwill from Sochi down the the garburator? why?
      -- Russian newcomers I work with apologized to me for Putin's actions today
      -- maybe I should change my profile name to The Ukrainian...

      Bloody hell, didn't the invasion of Georgia in 2008 overlapped with the Summer Olympics, too?

      Delete
  11. Not too many people become Olympian champions after the age of forty. He is still young, although he went through many different insures, and I doubt he will be participating in the next Olympic games.

    When he gets older and "mother Russia" is no longer interested in him, he will be sorry he gave up his citizenship. Russia is not a developed country like Korea or even Estonia.

    I wonder how many people would change their citizenship status for $120,000 and a new Mercedes? Of course, there are always some money-hungry people with no loyalty. But not too many.

    He can win the gold, but he cannot change his parents or the place where he was born. He is Korean, heart and soul. And you cannot sell your soul for any amount of money or even for a car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @VB, you are sure Mr Ahn cannot have dual citizenship?

      Delete
    2. Ahn did not "sell his soul" for money and car. Did you even read Korean's post? This guy earned over 20 gold medals at the Olympics and Worlds for Korea, and how did they (his coaches, teammates, and the skating federation) return the favor? They ostracized him, beat him up, impeded him in races, and kept him off the team. They were the ones who sold their souls for corruption and cronyism. Ahn went to Russia to continue pursuing his lifelong passion for speed skating, which he could not do in Korea.

      And Russia is not a "developed country"? Last time I checked, Russia (together with the US) built the freaking International Space Station. And now that the US has retired its shuttle program, the Russian Soyuz is basically the only way for astronauts to get up there now.

      Delete
    3. @"Sean"

      Either you don't know how to check or you have your head in your ass.
      Russia might have a space program, but it is still a developing country. You don't have to fly into space in order to be a developed country. My gosh, did you even go to high school, boy?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Developing_country

      If Koreans mistreated Ahn, the blame is on them. Joining the Russian team is almost as bad as joining North Korean team.

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. LMAO. I don't get my information from Wikipedia. What's next, are you gonna cite Yahoo Answers?

      And take your head out of your ass. Your nonsensical rants against another country are making you look as narrow minded as the you're claiming Russians to be.

      Delete
    6. I have to agree with Sean on this one. @VB, Korea might have higher GDP than Russia but that should not be the only yard stick to measure how developed a nation is. Don't forget what Kim Koo has taught in his Baekbeomilji...

      "I want our nation to be the most beautiful in the world. By this I do not mean the most powerful nation. Because I have felt the pain of being invaded by another nation, I do not want my nation to invade others. It is sufficient that our wealth makes our lives abundant; it is sufficient that our strength is able to prevent foreign invasions. The only thing that I desire in infinite quantity is the power of a noble culture. This is because the power of culture both makes ourselves happy and gives happiness to others."

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  12. Good post. Koreans love Viktor Ahn because he challenged and defied the corrupt and irrational bureaucracy that tried to oppress him and he came out victorious. Bullshit bureaucratic authority exists in most Korean offices, but it's usually impossible to challenge without getting fired. Viktor Ahn is a hero to those who dream of one day not taking constant shit from the man.

    Though I wouldn't use the Samsung slush fund scandal as an example of Koreans fighting injustice. Lee Kun-hee was given a suspended sentence and then immediately pardoned. In less than two years he was right back where he was before, doing the same shit he had always done. The biggest criminal in Korea was convicted and still got off scot-free. LMB should have been impeached. Samsung should have been boycotted by the masses. The press should have stirred up a riot. But what did everyone do? Grumble a little bit and then go buy the new Galaxy smartphone.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Korea needs Samsung and all those chaebul conglomerates.
    Anyone that thinks Korea will be better off getting rid of all those conglomerates are not understanding Economics 101.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course the Korean economy depends on the chaebols, but the management should not be allowed to bribe judges and prosecutors and commit tax evasion without consequences. The chaebols have an enormous amount of influence in government, the justice system, media, real estate, etc. There is no support for entrepreneurship and mid-sized businesses. Chaebol subsidiaries are even crushing small-sized family businesses. Korea needs a diversified economy with a large and flexible middle-class, not a middle class that all works for a small handful of corporations.

      Delete
    2. It's a vicious cycle... politicians need money to run their campaign and the corporates suffer political backlash if they don't bribe the politicians during the election cycle.

      If Korea was as "developed" like the America, they would change the law so that they could legally donate money to the politicians. I am not saying American form of political campaigning is right, but the Americans have figured out how to legally side step what might appear to be corruption in other countries are legal in America.

      Delete
  14. God you Koreans are such losers! He left his native country and wins all the medals for Russia, and Koreans still consider him Korea's hero? Korea clearly doesn't have enough successful people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's because Ahn wasn't renouncing Korea, just the Korean Skating Union. Obviously, most Koreans don't have any loyalty, or even maybe respect, for the KSU.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Ahn is a Korean athlete. Just because he was on a Russian team, does not make him Russian.

      Delete
  15. Certainly the Korean is biased here: by far the greatest factor in South Koreans' celebrating 안's success is his ethnic 'Koreanness". There are tons and tons of stories in which someone 'sticks it to the man' throughout the world. However, it's normally only when one of these people is ethnically Korean that he or she is championed by the hugely conformist South Korean masses. Certainly there are anomalies, but the vast majority of native Korean speakers living in South Korea are hugely conformist. Out of all the above comments the one by 'Chris Curington' most accurately reflects this. And is such 'racial-ethno-nationalism' a bad thing? Not in this instance, perhaps, but the insane racism that coincideds with and is caused by South Korea's 단일민족국가 is hugely problematic, prejudiced, and disempoweringly and homogeneously racist against non-East-Asian Koreans in South Korea.

    ReplyDelete

To prevent spam comments, comments left on posts older than 60 days is subject to moderation and will not appear immediately.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...