Korean issues in Japan

Critics of ethnonationalism and "Zainichi" victimhood

By William Wetherall

First posted 15 February 2006
Last updated 10 February 2010

Ethnonationalism and victimhood   Seeking the truth between the extremes of biased and distorted history
Ken Kanryu   Books expressing dislike of Korea style
Ken Nichiryu   Book expressing dislike of Japan style

Korean ethnonationalism and victimhood

Korean racioethnic nationalism, and sympathies with Korea and Koreans as victims of Japan and Japanese, have flavored much of the writing on Korea-Japan relations and on Koreans in Japan. The mass media of Japan and the Republic of Korea, never mind for now the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, are prone to amplify nationalistic statements made by public figures about Japan-Korea relations in the past. Banner headlines and evening news reports catch the eyes and ears of people who ordinarily pay little attention to history but are likely to embrace the common local understandings and respond with dismay and disgust.

Most such responses are by Koreans to remarks made by Japanese politicians, usually of the conservative kind, whose tongues slip in ungarded moments and utter opinions that are widely held in Japan but are also considered insensitive, undiplomatic, politically incorrect, provocative. Koreans, however, may attack other Koreans for viewing anything Japan did in Korea in the past in a positive light.

In Japan, some Japanese feel RESUME who anti-Japanese sentiments are uncomfortable with Koreaphilia in Japan that goes beyond interest in food, music, and television dramas, and embraces also the view that Japanese Koreaphiles who adopt the view that Korea

Here I introduce books representing the "Ken Kanryū" (嫌韓流) or "dislike Korea style" backlash to the so-called "Korea style" (韓流) craze that began to sweep Japan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the "Ken Nihonryū" (嫌日流) or "dislike Japan style" blowback to this craze, and pleas for the two factions to unlock their horns.


Here I introduce the works of a few authors who have attempted to describe, analyize, and even counter such currents of nationalism and victimhood. I focus, first, of the many books written by Tei Taikin, a friend who I consider the most vital critic of myths concerning "Koreans in Japan" and a proponent of becoming Japanese through naturalization as the proper way to gain rights of local and national suffrage and otherwise share the rights and duties of Japan's sovereign nation.

See Tei Taikin on nationalism and Koreans in Japan for an overview of Tei's writing.

ASAKAWA For an overview of the writing on nationalism

I also introduce some books by Asakawa Akihiro, another staunch critic of the manner in which "Zainichi" continues to be a sanctuary of victimhood despite the fact that migrants from Korea when it was part of Japan, who remained in the prefectures after World War II, and their descendants, are rapidly decreasing through naturalization and through marriage with Japanese.

See Asakawa 2003 in the Nationality section of the Bibliographies feature, and Asakawa 2006 in the Minorities section of the Bibliographies feature, for comments on these two works by Asakawa.

NOTE -- CREATE "Asakawa 2006" in


Dislike of Korea style

The Korea boom, wave, or fever -- literally Korea current, figuratively Korea style (韓流 Kanryū) -- refers to the spread of popularity of television dramas, movies, and pop music from the Republic of Korea, and Korean food and fashion, and even the language, in Asia but also the rest of the world.

The craze for "things Korean" -- the explosion of magazines, including fanzines, and langauge and cooking courses, and tours to the Republic of Korea, and of course publicity visits to Japan by ROK actors and singers -- provoked a critical reaction called Ken Kanryū "Disliking Korea-style" -- if one parses the title of the manga series according to the coloration of its kanji.

Critics of the manga series, however, read it as a promotion of Ken-Kan ryū or "Disliking-Korea style" (see "Ken Ken Kanryū" below).

Yamano Sharin

There are four books in the "Manga Kan Kanryū" series. All four bear the hangul title "Hyom Han Ryu" (혐한류) and the romanized title "Ken Kan Ryu".

Yamano Sharin
Manga Ken Kanryū
[Comic / Disliking Korea style]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 2005
289 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

Yamano Sharin
Manga Ken Kanryū 2
[Comic / Disliking Korea style 2]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 2006
269 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

マンガ嫌韓流 3
(혐한류 3)
260ページ (晋遊舎ムック)

Yamano Sharin
Manga Ken Kanryū 3
(Hyom Han Ryu 3)
[Comic / Disliking Korea style 3]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 1 October 2007
260 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

Yamano Sharin
Manga Ken Kanryū 4
[Comic / Disliking Korea style 4]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 2006
269 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

The follow "Manga Ken Kanryū" tie-ins are by various authors, beginning with Yamano Sharin.

Bessatsu Takarajima (editor)
Manga Ken Kanryū no shinjitsu!: "Kankoku / Hantō tabuu" chō nyūmon
[Comic / Truths about disliking Korean style!: Super primer of "ROK / Peninsula taboos"
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, 2005
124 pages, softcover (mook)

Yamano Sharin
Ken Kanryū koshiki gaido bukku: "Manga Ken Kanryū" dokusha no koe
[Disliking Korea style official guide book: Voices of readers of Comic / Disliking Korea Style]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 2006
129 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

Sakurai Makoto (Doronpa)
Kenkanryū jissen handobukku: Hannichi mōshin gekitai manyuaru
[Disliking Korea style / practical handbook: A manual for repelling anti-Japan blindfaith]
<Handbook Kenkanryu>
Tokyo: Shinyusha [Shin'yūsha], February 2006
239 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

Sakurai Makoto (Doronpa)
Ken kanryū: Hannichi mōshin hantō enjō hen
[Disliking Korea style: Anti-Japan blind faith peninsula burning]
Kenkanryyū jissen handobukku 2
[Ken Kan Ryu Execution Handbook 2]
Tokyo: Shinyusha [Shin'yūsha], September 2006
227 pages, softcover (Shinyusha mook)

Bessatsu Takarajima (editor)
Ken kanryū no shinjitsu!: Za Zainichi tokken
[Truths about disliking Korea style!: The "Zainichi" interests]
Tokyo: Takarajimasha, June 2006
144 pages, softcover (mook)

Ota Isamu, Pak Il, et al. 2006

太田修・朴一 ほか

Ūta Osamu, Pak Il, and [eight] others
"Manga Ken Kanrū" no koko ga detarame
[These places in "Comic / Disliking Korea style" are nonsense]
Tokyo: Komonzu [Commons], 10 Mar 2006
260 pages, softcover

The front cover makes this statement and plea.



Serious rebuttal
[Put] a stop mark on hairless [barren, fruitless] "Disliking Korea" and "Opposing Japan"!
[Nurture] peace through dialog and cooperation!!

The book contains the following ten stories by as many authors and an epilogue by one of the represented authors.

第1話 姜誠 (カン ソン)
Story 1 -- Kan Son
The Japan-ROK tournament which added a new page to the history of World Cup soccer
Examination: "Behind the Japan-ROK joint-sponsored World Cup

第2話 太田修 (おおた おさむ)
Story 2 -- ūta Osamu
Is the "compensation problem" solved?
Examination: "Postwar compensation problem"

第3話 朴一 (パク イル)
Story 3 -- Paku Iru
Cut down [Slay] the amplification of misunderstanding and bias toward Koreans in Japan
Examination: "The origins of [ROK] Koreans and Chosenese in Japan"

第4話 鄭夏美 (チョン ハ ミ)
Story 4 -- Chon Ha Mi
The lack of understanding and unfriendliess that hinders culture exchanges
Examination: "Republic of Korea which steals Japan culture"

第5話 鄭雅英 (チョン ア ヨン)
Story 5 -- Chon A Yon
"Comic Disliking Korea style", which fans the flames of discrimination [and] anti-foreign-ism [chauvinism], and the true problem of mass media
Examination: "Menance of Opposing-Japan [Anti-Japan] mass communications"

第6話 呉文淑 (オ ムン スク)
Story 6 -- O Mun Suku
Error-strewn hangul "lecturing" and colony beautification
Examination: "Hangul and [ROK] Koreans"

第7話 綛谷智雄 (かせたに ともお)
Story 7 -- Kasetani Tomo
Exclusion and pressure of assimilation of and toward foreign country register [foreign nationality] residents
Examination: "The problem of alien suffrage rights"

第8話 藤永壯 (ふじなが たけし)
Story 8 -- Fujinaga Takeshi
The truth that "Colony rule is absolute evil"
Examination: "The facts of Japan-Korea union [annexation]"

第9話 半月城 (はん げつ じょう)
Story 9 -- Han Getsu Jō
The unknown history of Takeshima = Dokdo
Examination: "The Japan territory invasion -- Takeshima issue"

特別編 高吉美 (コウ キル ミ)

Special compilization -- Kō Kiru Mi
The things "Fuyu no sonata" gave [us]

エピローグ 朴一 (パク イル)
Epilogue -- Pak Iru
From "Disliking Korea" and "Opposing Japan" to "Liking Korea" and "Knowing Japan"

Kim Sungmo 2007 (2006)

金城模 (著者)
新藤祐樹 (訳者)
292ページ (晋遊舎ムック)

Kim Sungmo (author)
Shintō Yūki (translator)
Manga / Ken Nichi ryū
(Hyom Il Ryu)
[Comic / Disliking Japanese style ]
Tokyo: Shin'yūsha, 1 May 2007
292 pages, softcover (Shinyusha Mook)

The cover, spine, and title page show furigana reading "Kimu Son Mo" (キム ソン モ). The author profile shows "Kimu Sonmo" (キム・ソンモ) in parenthesis (page 290). The colophon states "©Kim Sungmo 2007" regarding the Japanese edition, but "©2006 Kim Sung Mo" in the discloser which states "Japanese version published by SHINYUSHA CO. LTD. / Through TAEWA C&M. Co., Ltd. Seoul" (page 292). The Korean reading of the name would be Kim Sŏ Mo (김 성 모).

The cover and titles pages carring the following statements above and below or beside the title.



To Japan the paranoid state of Asia!

Screaming in a big voice toward Japan
the painful cry of an ROK comic writer

The following statements and balloons appear on the obi.

Front of obi



Balloon (man)


Spine of obi


And so for us [And so we]
Japan is disliked [dislike Japan]

Back of obi

Balloon (woman)



The comic is divided into five stories, some with several parts.

第1話 まえがき

第2話 北朝鮮のミサイル発射で始まる日本軍国主義の着火

① ついにチャンスを掴んだ日本
② 北朝鮮のミサイル発射に対する韓国・北朝鮮・日本の立場
③ 米国から離脱し、東北アジアの主導権獲得を目論む日本

第3話 靖国神社に対する日本の自家撞着

① 戦争は仕方なかったのか?
② 天皇が参拝できない靖国神社
③ 無理な植民地経営による目に見えない負債
④ 米国という創造主
⑤ 高貴な犠牲か、それとも犬死か?
⑥ 戦え、日本人!

第4話 狂った国家の狂った詭弁! 独島の真実!

① 韓国の主張の歴史的正当性
② 日本の持つ独島占領の陰謀とシナリオ
③ 独島に対する日本の立場と韓国の立場
④ 世界の類似紛争判例と日本の強引な主張
⑤ 漁師安龍福に守られた国土の末っ子
⑥ 日本の右翼が主張する独島日本領土説の貧弱性
F 独島義勇守備隊の活躍
G 国際司法裁判に持ち込めない日本の境遇
H 暴走する現在の日本
I 竹島の日を制定した島根県の下心

第5話 韓流ブームに対する日本の嫉妬

なぜ韓流は強いのか? 〜作者の心情と主観的な見解〜

第6話 あとがき

第7話 日本版特別あとがき

Yang Pyongsol 2006

ヤン・ビョンソル (作・画)
(株) トラッシュ (翻訳)

Yan Byonsoru (story, drawings)
Torasshu [Trash] (Inc) (translation)
Ken Nichi ryū
(Hyom Il Ryu)
[Disliking Japanese style ]
Tokyo: Yūgaku Shorin, 26 July 2006
197 pages, softcover

The author's name is represented on ROK websites as 양 병설 (Yang Pyŏsŏl). His real name (本名) is given in the book as ハン・ギョンス (Han Gyonsu) and on ROK websites as 방 경수 (Han Kyŏsu).

The comic story is divided into four chapters, each with several parts (my structural translations).

第1章 Chapter 1
妄言大国 Thoughtless-remarks great-country [superpower]
独島 Dokdo
整形大国 Orthopedics [cosmetic surgery] great-country

第2章 Chapter 2
狂気の国 Country of madness
ドイツの十分の一でも見習いなさい! Learn even ten-percent of Germany!
天も人も怒っている Heaven and the people are angry
日本よ!日本よ! Japan! Japan!

第3章 Chapter 3
日本病棟 Japan [sick] ward
嫌日本人 Disliking Japanese
血の文化 Culture of blood
セックスアニマル Sex animals
とんでもない服の利用法 Rediculous use of clothes
赤信号を無視する日本 Japan that ignores red lights
日本は既に崩壊している Japan is already collapsing
泡と消える日本 Japan that is vanishing with the bubbles

第4章 Chapter 4
韓国万歳 Long live ROK
日本の運命 Fate [Destiny] of Japan


The obi echoes the placement of the Dokdo island controversy at the start of the story. The front of the obi declares:


Try saying Hawaii is also yours!
Then [we'll] return Dokdo.

Odd usage -- not just "we'll give to you" (あげよう ageyō) but "we'll return to you" (返してあげよう kaeshite ageyō).

The back of the obi continues in this vein.


Do you know why Japan persintely wants Dokdo?
Because in Japan there's a proverb that goes if you insist a million times even a lie becomes the truth.

The contents are preceded by the following three items.

Two-page preface dated "1st day of 2006, morning".

Two-page chronology titled "History of Japan's aggression toward Korea (Kankoku)" and subtitled "From Kanghwa island treaty to Korea-Japan joining [annexation]". The chronology goes on to list 22 events or incidents occurring between 1876 and 1910.

Two-page "Collection of thoughtless remarks by Japanese". List contains nine remarks by as many Japanese politicians and other officials between 1948 and 2000.

Topping off the book, after the four chapters of the comic story, and before the colophon, are two pages listing the following thirteen qualities for which the author feels ROK nationals can be proud of their country.

A country of patriots of whom 90 percent have national flags

The country (国 kuni) with the highest IQ in the world

Scholastic ability of middle-school students and high-school students highest in the world
A bright [brainy-lucid, clear-headed] country that gives birth to students who enter at the the top of the world's famous universities

The only state (国家 kokka) in the world with an illiteracy rate less than one percent

The only state in the world in which all nationals study their national language from or before age five

The script that the United Nations offers countries without a script is hangul
(Several African countries use hangul)

The country with the world's highest rate of university advancement

A country that in public transportation facilities has priority seating for older people and weak people

The country with the most beautiful women in the world

A single-race state (単一民族国家 tan'itsu minzoku kokka) that is a rare example in the world [A rare example in the world of a single-race state]

The world's most diligent country, with the world's highest hours of work, and the world's lowest hours of play

A country of a race (民族 minzoku) with a spirit above that of [with more spirit than] the three great races (三大民族 san dai-minzoku) Germans, Jews, and Japanese combined, which are are said to have the most spirit [be the most spirited] in the world

The only country in the world which can say its opinions to Japan that America cannot ignore

Feeding frenzies

Some Koreans like to dislike Japan, and some Japanese like to dislike Korea. Such mutual sentiments feed on each other and chase one another in books and magazines in both countries, and on websites and blogs around the world.

Some Japanese fall in love with a few Korean actors and singers. They keep vats of kimchi in their kitchens at home, learn to write their names in hangul, and make pilgrimages to Korea. They read popular accounts of Japan-Korea relations and feel guilty about what Japan is supposed have done in Korea during several waves of nationalism over the past two millennia.

A lot of Koreans, and some Japanese and others, strongly criticize visits by Japan's prime ministers and other state officials to Yasukuni shrine. Most Koreans loathe Japanese who say that Japan's annexation of Korea in 1910 was both legal and beneficiary, and they regard as a traitor to the Korean race or nation any Korean who feels that Japan positively contributed to Korea's development. They chastise Japan for claiming that Korea's Tokto islands in the East Sea are Japan's Takeshima islands in the Japan Sea. They criticize Japanese textbooks that fail to mention the sins they feel Japan committed during its 35-year "occupation" or "colonization" of Korea, from making Koreans learn Japanese and adopt Japanese names, to forcing them to work in Japan or sexually comfort Japanese soldiers in war theaters throughout Asia.

The first decade of the 21st century witnessed a wave of "dislike" in Japan for the Korean dislike of Japan, in the form of a series comics and related books "Ken Kanryū" or "Hating Korean style" in their titles. Their authors generally feel that some Koreans exaggerate or misconstrue what Japan is supposed to have done to Korea. They feel their misgivings are shared by an increasing number of Japanese who are annoyed at the way some Koreans continually play the "historical victim" fiddle in their appeals for international support against Japan.

The "Ken Kanryu" boom in Japan has of course been critically reviwed in, and rebuked by, Korean media. Two Korean authors responded with manga of their own called "Ken Nichiryū" or "Hating Japanese style". It has also become an object of minor attention outside Japan, in an article in The New York Times in 2005, and in a report by a UN human rights official in 2006.

UN Special Rapporteur

On 24 January 2006, Doudou Diene, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, filed a "Mission to Japan" report in which he summarized the circumstances he found in Japan when visiting the country from 3 to 11 July 2005. In Paragraph 72 he makes the following statement.

The Special Rapporteur also noticed a strong presence of the discriminatory mentality towards Koreans and Chinese in the media and other communications targeting the young generations. He learned that new comic books that became best-sellers recently, such as "Hating the Korean wave" and "Introduction to China", deny and revise the most relevant episodes of the Japanese colonial history, and have as an objective the denigration of the Korean and Chinese culture and civilization. They mention that "there is nothing at all in Korean culture to be proud of" and portray Chinese as obsessed with cannibalism and prostitution.

Diene is citing from an article called "Ugly Images of Asian Rivals Become Best Sellers in Japan", written by Norimitsu Onishi and published in The New York Times on 19 November 2005, after he had left Japan.

"Hating the Korean wave" is Onishi's translation of "Ken Kanryū" -- a phrase that appears in the titles of two comics and several related and other books. Did Diene ever see, much less read, such books? Not likely.

Such books exist in Japan because the country generally tolerates freedom of expression. Their existence also reflects the surfacing of a lively debate between people who regard history as a closed book, and those who feel that history should always be amenable to revision in the light of new information and insights.

Such books, though flawed, challenge the contention that Korea and Koreans have been mainly historical victims of Japan and Japanese. They also cast doubt on the view that Koreans in Japan are the rightful heirs of this alleged victimhood.

Sakurai Makoto

Sakurai Makoto goes by the handle "doronpa". He styles himself as the representative of "Higashi Ajia Mondai Kenkyū Kai" [East Asia issues research association]. This is the new name, since 1 February 2006, of what Sakurai had called "Nikkan Rekishi Mondai Kenkyūkai" [Japan-ROK historical issues research association] when writing his best-selling Kenryūkai handbook. This happens to be the official publishing date of the book, though the preface is dated 28 November 2005, and the book hit the stands

Sakurai means business. His website, which has been up since September 2003, is fairly large and includes blogs and links to dozens of hours of bandwidth-hungry net radio broadcasts featuring him expounding on a favorate topic, mostly something related to Japan-Korea relations past and present, including Koreans in Japan.

Sakurai welcomes commentary. He invites any "foreign students from ROK, Koreans in Japan, and the left-wound people" [Kankoku ryugakusei, Zainichi, hidarimaki no katagata] who see his site to submit their contrary views for posting.

Common denominators

Sakurai has something in common with the Japan Communist Party. Both are opposed to the "Jinken yōgo hōan" (人権擁護法案) [Human rights protection bill] now being tossed around the Diet -- as are many media organizations. They feel the proposed law would open the door for the government and others it empowers to curtail critical opinion and otherwise infringe upon freedoms of speech. On this point I'm inclined to agree.

Sakurai's "East Asia issues research association" website features an animated graphic on which the following message unfolds.

Majo da!! Witch!
to sabetsu o ukeru Before receiving
sono mae ni discrimination,
jinken yogo ho an ni let's oppose the
hantai shiyo!! human rights protection law bill!


Dislike of Japan style

The "dislike of Korea style" backlash to the "Korea style" mania triggered, in Japan, what I would call a "dislike of the dislike of Korea style" blowback, while in the Republic of Korea it provoked some "dislike of Japan style" works that were then translated for the Japan market. A few critics, alarmed at and weary of this vicious circle of charge and countercharge regarding the history and present state of Japan and Korea relations, pled for a truce between the two sides, which seemed to feed on each other's claims.