Saturday, May 19, 2012

Korean and Japanese Rivalry

Before I came to Korea I had no idea about the rivalry bewteen the Koreans and the Japanese.  This might come as quite a surprise to my readers at home, but the rivalry is as bitter as any country rivalry around the world, and makes some of the small disputes that go on in Europe rather trivial.  There is such a genuine bitterness and hatred going on over here in the Far East, that it regularly surfaces itself and usually in a rather pathetic and petty fashion.

There is the rather continually annoying subject of the argument between the Koreans and the Japanese over the ownership of a (very) small island named Dokdo, located between Korea and Japan, and the bickering about the naming of the East Sea/Sea of Japan.

Korean people get all riled up about these topics and I'm not just talking about politicians, but EVERYONE and the same is true in Japan.  Put a map of the world up in an Elementary school class and all the children will notice that it says Sea of Japan instead of the East sea, even if they can hardly speak a word of English.

They are somehow made to care about an issue that has no influence on their young lives whatsoever.

Foreign teachers and visitors are not even allowed to ignore these issues as upon arrival in Korea at our orientation, the back of our 'Introduction to Korea' books on teaching in Korea were plastered with an article about how Dokdo is rightfully Korea's property and not the Japanese and the historical reasons why.

I am not saying that these matters have no importance at all, but these matters are a political matter between Korean and Japanese governments, and of minor importance.  I say this because an invasion of Dokdo by either side might upset, perhaps two part-time residents of, what is essentially a rock in the sea.  No one lives there.  I have also read articles over the naming of the Sea of Japan/East sea, and this is a matter of name only and not ownership, the words 'Sea of Japan' do not mean that the Japanese own those waters.  So what we are left with is the pedantic argument over a name, plain and simple.

Let me first announce the reality of the fact that every person in the world that isn't Japanese or Korean or a politician does not care about any of this.  To give an idea of the ridiculousness of everyone in a country becoming upset about this issue, we can make a very valid comparison in my own country's affairs, and that's the Falkland Islands.

Does everyone in England really care that much about the current situation in the Falkland islands?

Maybe they care a bit, but not enough to protest in the street, to tell young school children, and to blanket visitors to the British Isles with propaganda about our rightful ownership.  And let's not forget that this is an unfair comparison seeing as some 6000 people live on the Falkland Islands and Dokdo has currently 2 people living on it, but surprise surprise the Korean government want to increase this number (I wonder why?).

In the case of the Sea of Japan/East Sea argument, a name is really of no importance, but in my opinion the Sea of Japan explains a lot more clearly where the sea actually is.  The East sea could be in any number of places, so I think the Sea of Japan should stay.

It sounds like I am being really harsh on the Koreans and with a Korean wife, who feels as strongly as any other Korean in this country about these issues, you might wonder why I am conciously designating myself a place in the doghouse.  I can, however, provide quite a valid explanation for the behaviour of Korea people.

There is quite a long history between Korea and Japan and it is not necessarily a happy one for Koreans.  Korea has been invaded twice by the Japanese, with the most recent still a painful memory that some of the older generation had to live through and suffer. 

I was reminded by my wife when I brought up the subject of Korean people being over-patriotic and insecure about many things to do with their country (especially when it has to do with Japan), that I come from a country that was a coloniser itself, much like the Japanese.  Of the many crimes committed by my fellow countrymen in colonial history, perhaps the one they did not commit was the forced adoption of their culture.  They merely ruled many nations and didn't interfere with their culture that much (some Scottish and Irish people, I know, might take issue with this). 

With some exceptions, maybe, the British were not nearly as dictatorial and destructive of another country's culture as the Japanese were in Korea (perhaps this is why Japan failed to colonise as great a number of countries and failed to hold on to them for as long as they wanted to). 

The Japanese wanted to completely change the Korean way of life, including their language, and were guilty of some horrendous crimes against the Korean people.  Many Japanese politicians have apologised since but much of their behaviour after their comments made Koreans feels their apologies were not sincere.  Many Japanese of high government standing have also stirred things up nicely with other insensitive comments, for example (source, wikipedia):

During the talks between Japan and Korea in 1953, Kubota Kanichiro (久保田貫一郞), one of the Japanese representatives, stated that "Japanese colonial rule was beneficial to Korea...Korea would have been colonized by other countries anyway, which would have led to harsher rules than Japanese rules." This remark is considered by Koreans as the first reckless statement by Japanese politicians on colonial rules on Korea.

In 1997, Abe Shinzo (安倍晋三), an ex-Prime Minister of Japan, stated that "Many so-called victims of comfort women system are liars...prostitution was ordinary behavior in Korea because the country had many brothels."

On May 31, 2003, Aso Taro (麻生太郎), another ex-Prime Minister of Japan, stated that "the change to Japanese name (創氏改名) during Japanese colonial rule was what Koreans wanted."

On October 28, 2003, Ishihara Shintaro (石原愼太郞), Governor of Tokyo stated that "The annexation of Korea and Japan was Koreans' choice...the ones to be blamed are the ancestors of Koreans".

In 2007, Shimomura Hakubun (下村博文), Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japanese government, stated that "The comfort women system existed, but I believe it was because Korean parents sold their daughters at that time."

On March 27, 2010, in the centennial of Japan-Korean annexation, Edano Yukio (枝野幸男), Japanese Minister of State for Government Revitalization, stated that "The invasion and colonization of China and Korea was historically inevitable...since China and Korea could not modernize themselves."

The second and penultimate comment refers to 'Comfort Women', these were Korean women, some of whom are still alive, that were repeatedly sexually abused by Japanese soldiers in the second World War.  Women from all over Asia as well as Korea were forced into sexual slavery for the amusement of the Japanese military. 

These were widely known and highly organised prostitution centres.  Most international media sources quote the number of women used in this way by the Japanese to be of the number of about 200,000.  Many in the Japanese government refuse to accept this number and also state that the Korean comfort women voluntarily participated (I find this slightly hard to believe). 

Koreans are still demanding an official apology from the Japanese government and sufficient compensation for those women who are still alive.  Korea currently have a statue in the image of one such women outside the Japanese embassy and faced towards it, in Seoul, much to the annoyance of the Japanese.  If the 'Comfort Women' system is indeed true, and it is believed by almost every nation except for Japan, then this behaviour during World War II should be apologised for and compensation given, of that there can be no doubt.

With my wife's perspective on the situation, and the history between the two countries, I could easily understand Korea's stubborness with any issues relating to having to cede ground to the Japanese.  The Japanese, not so long ago, tried to obliterate their national identity, and they don't appear to be that sorry about it.  At some point, however, someone is going to have to take the moral high ground and make relations between the two nations a bit more pleasant. 

Stubborness exists on both sides, perhaps more righteously on the Korean side, but Korea could still benefit at looking at situations a little more dispassionately and logically.  There is always constant bickering going on between the two countries, and to foreign eyes it all looks quite petty and pathetic. 

When it comes to Dokdo, Japan could just give it up to Korea to show some humility and acknowledge past mistakes, or even better surely they can just jointly own the island (although duel-ownership of land world-wide never appears to make people happy). 

In the case of the Sea of Japan/East Sea argument, Korea has a logically weak position and should just concede that in name only the sea is better named 'The Sea of Japan'.  It is easier for lay-people to recognise the location of the sea under this name and it is already the most widely used term across all nations.  Korea have to suck up their insecurity and deal with it.

On top of all of the feuding over territory, arguments over history, and names of places, there are other even sillier things that go on and regularly make the news over here in Korea.  Things like a Japanese boycott on flying with Korean Air, regular trade disagreements, the Japanese making Kimchi the wrong way and claiming that they created it, general micky-taking and racism on both sides, and some insensitive television making. 

An incident that brought quite a bit of attention was an exhibition kick boxing match between a Korean woman mixed martial arts champion Lim Soo Jung and three Japanese entertainers, who were all men.  The men were, however, all capable kick boxing practictioners and wore protective clothing while the Korean women didn't, the result can be viewed below (fast forward to about 2.45 and agian at 4.20 for some highlights and make up your own mind):

It is all quite puzzling that such bitterness does not seem to exist in Europe, as of course, at the same time Japan was occupying Korea, Germany was occupying many countries and killing its fair share of Jews.  Maybe I am unaware of it, but Germany appears to be less at odds with the people Nazism oppressed than the Japanese are with Korea.  Is this because the Germans were so much more apologetic or the people of Europe more forgiving?  It could be a combination of both and there should be a lesson to be learned by the Japanese and Koreans, it is possible to be friends again, and it requires both sides to do their bit.  One side has to be genuinely apologetic and make genuine gestures of friendship, and the other has to be willing to forgive and let the past stay in the past.  If only it were that easy.


  1. I am a South Korean and I greatly enjoyed your article.
    It was very interesting to hear observations and an opinion from a European. You do seem to have a fairly good understanding of the old rivalry between Korea & Japan. But what you failed to take into account was the geographical importance of that small island called Dokdo. (Or Dakeshima, as the Japanese would like to call it.)
    The problem with Dokdo is a lot more complicated than mere rivalry. (According to what I've learned at school) Owning Dokdo means having the right to fish in the nearby sea and have access to natural gas which is said to be plenty around Dokdo.
    And did you know that the EEZ(exclusive economic zone)s of Korea and Japan overlap in large areas? There's still much dispute going on, and the owner of Dokdo would have a stronger standing in settling the EEZ.
    So there are actual economic gains related with the ownership of Dokdo.

    And about the naming of the sea, yes, it doesn't affect me in the least bit if it's called the East Sea or Sea of Japan. But imagine, a bully comes over your house and beats you up badly, and while you are unconscious, he changes the name of your street after his name. Yeah, you never owned that street and probably didn't even have much affection for the street name, but would you simply take it? Damn, it's named after that bully! It would be extremely offensive.

    I am not a Japan hater. I love Japanese animations and cartoons. Some of my favourite musicians are Japanese. I also would love to see true friendship between Korea and Japan. But not until they truly regret their past. Unlike the Germans, the Japanese are trying to forge history. Japanese schools teach that the Japanese invasion of many Asian countries was inevitable, that it had to be done to keep peace in Asia. They seem to take pride in and miss their good old days when the Japanese Empire ruled over Asia. They are beautifying their past, while deleting the memories of their shameful, inhumane atrocities. This will never bring the two countries any closer. What worries us is that Japan might be trying to get back its old glory by militarizing once again. If they never learn to regret their past, it will happen (they are already working to revise the Peace Constitution so that they could have an official military force) and will pose a big threat to us.

    However, it saddens me that there are so many young thoughtless Koreans who passionately hate the Japanese people. They mock at the Japanese and call them 'monkeys' while we are of the same race. Some of them even rejoiced at the loss of thousands of lives by the Tsunami that struck last year. Shame on them. I understand the reason for their blind hatred but it is not beneficial nor healthy to hate anybody. I've had three Japanese friends so far and all of them are such good people. I believe Korea and Japan could at least learn to respect each other, if not become friends.

    Having said all these, I must agree with your last sentence. Ah, if only it were that easy...
    Anyway, thank you for your insightful posting.

  2. Greatly appreciate your comment. I still have a fairly superficial understanding of some of the arguments between Japanese. To an outsider it seems petty, but from what my wife tells me and your comments it does appear that the Japanese just can't admit and take true responsibility for their past mistakes. I would love to have the opportunity to have a frank discussion with a Japanese person about it all. The arguments I have heard from the Japanese side, not from Korea but from, English and American writing do seem quite weak.

    Many thanks once again. Despite the fact you have commented on some of my more negative articles on Korea you have commented very intelligently and understood my point of view.

    Some things I like about Korea some things I hate, and that goes the same for England. There are some positive articles too!

  3. Hello there
    I, too, enjoyed reading your article.
    By the way, you really do consider yourself an European? I see you come from The Great Britain and usually I hear the Britons speak of the rest of Europe as "the continent" and to me it seem they do not really feel to be a part of it. If you don't feel that way, then, wow, this is the first time I've heard this from an Englishman!

    Comparing the relations between S. Korea and Japan to Germany and invaded countries also tempted me many times. But I think there are differences that should be acknowledged.
    China ruled over the Korean peninsula for a long period of time whilst Japan was pretty much isolated and even though the history changed many times and the people mingled, this situation of isolation never happened in Europe.
    I come from the Czech Republic which is totally unsignificant middle of nowhere, so we were the first to be handed over to Germany even before the WWII even started. Historically though, german-speaking people were/are so much connected with us that half of the families here have german names and ancestors. This means love/hate relationship and a lot of inhumane things done on both sides. The last ugly thing though was commited by our government in late 1940s, most f the Germans from boundary areas were given 30 kg and 2 hours, plus even today are sometimes revealed mass graves of clearly innocent people, not all Germans were Nazis. This is still a taboo.
    Sure, we don't dispute over any land and we are not taught that the "transfer" was the right thing to do so the sadder it may seem that some people figured that out on their own without anyone forcing the over-patriotic thoughts on their minds. I just want to say that our relationship here is not as good I wish it would be, it is still not 100 % peaceful.
    Therefore, I'd be careful with drawing comparisons.
    Since I have never been to South Korea nor Japan, I don't have the neccessary knowledge to state any strong opinions but as you mentioned a part of history I feel related to, I had to add a comment :-)

    1. Thank you for writing. Sometimes I get all sorts of horrible comments from readers of my blogs and articles on other sites, so I really appreciate it when I have people comment on something I have written sensibly and thoughtfully, like yourself and the previous commenter from South Korea.

      Really interesting to hear your perspective from the Czech Republic. I have been to Prague, but other than that I have had little experience of the culture in that part of the world, so thank you for sharing about this issue, it has definitely opened my eyes a little more.

      On the European thing, of course I consider myself an Englishman, but when you live in the Far East for any length of time you realise that although we think we are all very different from each other in Europe, culturally we have a lot in common. I guess you could say that I consider myself culturally European, but I still have a warm feeling inside when i think of the green and pleasant lands of England. I certainly don't consider us separate, but at the same time I like that we are not a part of the single currency and value some independence from the rest of Europe.

  4. I'm an American living near Tokyo, and I found this article highly valuable! I am an ESL instructor, and I teach many adults as well as children. Lately, I've been hearing more and more negative commentary about Korea (I've always assumed they meant NORTH Korea). Only tonight after a lesson with one of my brightest students (she is an attorney in Tokyo, 34, highly intellectual and respectable) did I realize that all of these comments were about SOUTH Korea. I was shocked to hear a student who I respect so much say such, well, dismal things about Korea.

    This article has helped explain a lot to me, and while I actually find myself leaning toward the Korean side of things after a lot of tonight's research, I find I identify with you on pretty much everything you said. Of course, I am American, and I cannot begin to understand the hardships the people of Korea, China, and Europe have experienced through war. But I hope, by researching as I have done tonight, to foster a deeper understand within myself, and thus a deeper level of compassion.

    1. I had a conversation with a Japanese man on the boat from Osaka to Busan a month or two back and he said most Japanese just apologised to Koreans all the time but no one really disliked them. I suspected he was not really telling the truth.

      Would be really interesting to live in Japan for a while and have their side of the story a bit more, one day maybe. I lean to the Korean side too, but they don't help themselves sometimes. Thanks for posting and hope you are enjoying teaching in Japan.

  5. So as years pass by, how sincere are the japanese suppose to be when their told to apologize for something that generation didnt do? I think its going to be a problem in that sense.

    1. I partly agree with the point your making but I do think the Japanese have some issues with being a little insensitive about their past deeds towards Korea. I think, however, that you may be right and that the real power is with the Koreans to move on a little and stop dwelling so passionately about the past. The bitterness does no one any favours and least of all the Koreans. So many people in Korea (including young children) being so anti-Japanese is not healthy. But I think prejudice exists in both countries, with a little more hate present in Korea, but then again that is to be expected as they were on the receiving end of atrocities.

  6. Thank you for your article, it's always interesting to see what the Western opinion of all of this is.

    For me, it's never really been anyone Japanese who irritates me, since most of my friends have genuinely never been told anything about what Japan did to South Korea and I haven't personally met any Japanese people who talked bad about South Koreans. Maybe I'm just weird or I've been lucky, I don't know. But it seems a little harsh to force all that information down their throats all at once when they've been taught different things.

    The South Korean hatred of Japan isn't just something that's taught from parent to child. It's kind of, inherited.

    Like, let's see, the historical tension about African slavery. Even though that happened a while ago, European people still tread very carefully around racism towards African-Americans, and you see it a little when you see African-Americans share some racist banter with one another. The Arabs came to Europe a very, very long time ago, but Indians in the British community have smaller problems being received even now. The people of the Orients, on the other hand, are comparatively recent in Europe, and the British tend to be a little less careful about racism in this case than in the other two.

    I've never been told by my parents about Japanese colonisation. I just see the result, and I see it in my dad, and I see it in my grandmother, who lost her whole family to the gas chamber tests and the comfort women system. Everything I know, I know because I looked into it myself. But even before then, there was always something rising up inside me towards the Japanese, and I didn't understand where it came from when it first happened, because at the time there was no reason at all to feel like that, but it's very fast and very violent and so overwhelming that you don't know know what you're going to do or say until it passes. I'm sure that all South Koreans feel, or felt, the same way. The problem is that most South Koreans don't feel like trying to control it, I suppose.

    I'm sorry, I'm not very good at explaining things.

    I don't think Japan is going to change, or at least not any time soon, and South Korea can't expect it to change, so all it can do is try to change itself first. To Koreans, Japan and the Japanese is defined by what they did to Korea, and vice versa, and that's not how it should be, and it's sad that it's like that. When it comes to Japanese individuals though, it is actually more often my British friends who frustrate me about the issue. I've gotten a little tired of them trying to tell me that the Japanese colonisation never happened.

    But, that's another story, sorry, I'll stop talking now.

    1. Thank you for your reply, a very enlightening explanation of your point of view and I guess of many Koreans. I disagree with you on one thing though, I think you are rather good at explaining things. As you say, all Koreans can try and do is change their current bitterness but it is tricky because of the history and the comparisons you give are pretty good at showing this.

      And who are those silly British friends of yours who don't know their history?!

      Thanks for commenting, greatly appreciated.

  7. It is immediately obvious to anyone who has spent substantial time in South Korea that its people and its elites have an extraordinary, and negative, fixation with Japan.

    Korea's media talks about Japan incessantly, usually with little journalistic objectivity and in negative terms: as a competitor for export markets which must be overcome, as a rival for American attention, as an unrepentant colonialist, as a recipient of the 'Korean Wave' (watch Korean analysts triumphantly argue that Japanese housewives are learning Korean), as a lurking military imperialist just waiting to subdue Asia again, and so on.

    Korea's territorial dispute with Japan over the Liancourt Rocks is similarly illustrative. A major Korean newspaper actually suggested samurai might invade Dokdo (the Korean name for the Rocks). The Government has taken out advertisements in Western newspapers and Korean pop stars have sought to act as 'ambassadors' to the world to press Korea's claim. The Korean military holds war drills around Dokdo. Political stunts at athletic events have undermined Japan's willingness to participate in joint sports events with Korea. The Government has launched a global campaign to rename the Sea of Japan the 'East Sea' (in the belief that doing so reinforces its claim to the Rocks) and even considered pushing Psy to rework his hit song 'Gangnam Style' as 'Dokdo Style.'

    Foreign students in Korea get pulled into this campaign too, on the assumption that (gullible) foreigners add credibility. I have ridden on subway cars painted with the likeness of Dokdo, and I recall watching a documentary on Korean television on the 20th anniversary of Korea's accession to the UN where the political highlight of joining the world body was defined as the ability to press Japan on Dokdo and the war.

    On Korean independence day, Korean children use squirt guns to mock-kill dressed-up Japanese soldiers (yes, really), and I have attended sound-and-light shows on that day which portray the Imjin War of the 1590s as part of a millennial Japanese effort to dominate Korea, culminating in the 1910 annexation. It is a staple of Korean historiography that Japan has invaded the country dozens or even hundreds of times (most of these were actually pirate raids), and that Japan 'received' its culture via the Korean 'bridge.' Perhaps the most ridiculous example I can think of is a talk-show guest who was forced to apologise for wearing a red-and-white striped shirt that looked vaguely like the rising sun flag. This 'anti-Japanism,' as Victor Cha has termed it, has spread to the US, where ethnic Korean lobbying has brought comfort-women memorials and changes to US textbooks.

    I could continue, but the point is that, as a social science observation, this obsession cries out for explanation, and it is hard to imagine that all it is all just about the war seventy years ago (this is not to say Korea's historical concerns are not authentic; they are).

    1. One obvious explanation for the sheer intensity of feeling is that South Korea's disputes with Japan have graduated from politics to identity. As Cha notes, South Korea's nationalism is negative, defined very much against Japan and, importantly, not against North Korea. The reason, I hypothesize, is that North Korea so successfully manipulates Korean nationalist discourse that South Korea cannot define itself against North Korea in the same way West Germany did against East Germany. So South Korea uses a third party against which to prove its nationalist bona fides in its national legitimacy competition with the North.

      It is now widely accepted that North Korea's real ideology is not socialism but a race-based Korean nationalism in which the DRPK is defending the Korean race (the minjok) against foreign depredation. The 'Yankee Colony' South Korea ? with its internationalised economy, American military presence, cultural Westernisation, resident foreign population, and so on ? cannot compete with this racial purity narrative.

      This would not matter if South Korea's political identity were democratic and post-racial, but it isn't. The minjok myth is in fact deeply resonant. South Korean education teaches it (the resultant racism is a huge problem); government media campaigns and commercials stress it; my students write about it in glowing terms; until a few years ago the national pledge of allegiance was to the minjok, not to the democratic state. Nor does South Korea's democracy provide a strong legitimacy competitor to race-nationalism. Corruption, illiberalism, and an elitist political-opportunity structure have generated a robust street protest culture, a strong sign that elections are weak vessels of legitimacy.

      If South Korea can only weakly legitimate itself through democracy, and with race-nationalism so powerful, Seoul must go head-to-head with Pyongyang over who is the best custodian of the minjok and its glorious 5000 year history. This is a tussle South Korea cannot win, not only because of the North's mendacious willingness to falsify history, but South Korea's Westernised culture, massive US presence, rising multiculturalism leading to mixed race citizens, and so on.

      The North's purer minjok nationalism will always have resonance in the South, where for a generation former dictator Park Chung Hee invoked race for legitimacy, 10% of the public voted for an openly pro-North Korean party in the last parliamentary election, and the main left-wing party has consistently equivocated on whether the US represents a greater threat to South Korea than North Korea does.

      Enter Japan, then, as a useful 'other' to South Korea, in the place that really should be held by North Korea. All Koreans, north and south, right and left, agree that the colonial take-over was bad. The morality of criticising Japan is undisputed, whereas criticising North Korea quickly gets tangled up in the 'who-can-out-minjok-who' issues raised above. This should not be necessary. West Germany was able to define itself against the East and win that legitimacy competition. But the North has dumped Marxism for a legitimacy language that resonates in the South too, and democracy is not strong enough to combat it.

      So beating up on Japan is great solution. It bolsters South Korea as defender of the minjok, sidesteps a brutal head-to-head nationalist competition with the North which might provoke open Northern sympathies in the south, and avoids any debate over the long-term need to shift South Korean political legitimacy from race to democracy, which in turn would require a desperately needed clean-up of Korean politics at the expense of today's entrenched elites, most notably the chaebol.

      All in all, anti-Japanism is a pretty good strategy for managing South Korea's many tensions, and so long as the Americans are around, there are no geopolitical consequences to it either. What's not to like? If South Korea cannot be the anti-North Korea, then it can be th

  8. Why is anti-Japanese sentiment remaining from the World War II era almost non-existent in countries like Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia, unlike in China and South Korea?

    The question is misleading. Anti-Japan sentiment in China and South Korea is rooted in events dating all the way back to the start of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, not just from the World War II era. It's really very personal for many people in those two countries, for Japan effectively overturned a centuries-old hierarchy in NE Asia which had seen China on top and Korea occupying an honored place at the table as the most loyal of vassal states in the Sinocentric world order. Japan had always been aloof and apart from this order, and therefore seen as being ranked lower in the scheme of things. Was this a mistaken view on the part of Chinese and Korean elites? Absolutely, their disdainful view of Japan proved to be totally off the mark in the 19th century.

    But what made everything much worse, I suppose, is how Japan became the apple of the ignorant Western observer's eye in an era of dog-eat-dog Social Darwinism, as bigots like Theodore Roosevelt and others egged on the Japanese to treat Chinese and Koreans in the exact same way that Europeans and white Americans treated people in Southeast Asia. Too many Japanese at the time lapped up this pseudo-scientific garbage being fed to them by racial theorists from the West. The entire national histories and cultures of China and Korea were suddenly and retroactively classified as abject failures since immemorial relative to Japan. This was a gross exaggeration of the distance separating Japan from China and Korea, but many people still buy into such nonsense even today. Southeast Asians never had to contend with these types of issues relative to another Asian people. They were deemed failures relative to Europeans only.