Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Carousel of Colors

(photo via)

Kaleidoscope strikes again! This time the Korea Herald columnist Professor Kim Seong-kon meditates on the direct-to-video cinema classic Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil. He admits that it’s not up to the high standards of its “critically acclaimed” predecessor (which got 37% on Rotten Tomatoes and was panned by Roger Ebert, for godsake; even Movies For Guys was lukewarm about it), but he still finds Part Deux a chilling account of how the US almost came to war with North Korea in 1994.

What about South Korea? I hear you ask. Actually, I don’t hear you ask. Who cares if millions of South Koreans are killed when Bill Clinton goes mano a mano with Kim Jong Il? Not the war geeks who love movies like this, that’s for sure. American dick size is at stake, or as the Axis of Evil narration quoted by Professor Kim has it, in order to “prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power, President Bill Clinton orders Defense Secretary William Perry to draw up military OPLAN 5027, a U.S. surgical strike on the nuclear reactor at Yongbyon ... Few people realized that in 1994 America was days, if not hours, away from war with North Korea.” This is about as garbled as John McCain’s version of the history, but hey, it’s a movie.

Professor Kim, reasonably enough, does care about what happens to South Koreans. (As do I. American willingness to sacrifice millions of foreigners for our imperial ends always pisses me off in general, and the people who live south of the 38th Parallel in particular are real people for me, not just pawns in a war game.) “Few South Koreans realized in 1994 that they were about to be brutally massacred by the North Korean artillery hidden underground and aimed at the heart of Seoul. Those who were killed would later have been nonchalantly labeled ‘casualties of war.’” He even goes so far as to lament “that South Korea's destiny does not lie solely in our own hands but also in the hands of other countries.” Careful, Professor Kim, you’re drifting precariously close to anti-Americanism there. And please, please, please, since your field is American Studies, check your facts a little better.

Speaking of “anti-Americanism,” America’s Only President was in South Korea today, and according to the accounts I read, there were actually more pro-Bush demonstrators than anti-Bush demonstrators. Which means either that he’s more popular than President Lee Myeong-bak or that the Korean government worked harder to get the numbers out for Bush than it would for Lee, because pro-Lee demonstrations have been quite tiny compared to the huge candlelight vigils that oppose his policy. But, of course, those anti-Bush demonstrators have been described in Korean corporate media as “anti-American,” “leftist,” and “anti-U.S.” I mean, yes, he is our President, right or wrong, drunk or sober, but with his approval ratings almost as low as President Lee’s, I think one can distinguish the Executive from the People.

CBS News did a better job, to my surprise, not only referring to the protests as “anti-Bush,” but including this interesting bit: “‘I don't have anti-U.S. sentiment. I'm just anti-Bush and anti-Lee Myung-bak,’ said Uhm Ki-woong, 36, a businessman who was wearing a mask and hat like other demonstrators in an apparent attempt to conceal his identity from authorities.” The police got out the water cannons again, this time shooting colored water, for the likes of him! (That's not blood in the streets in the photo above, just reddish water from the cannons. Photos from the wonderful OhMyNews.)

Meanwhile, Lee is quietly pushing ahead the ongoing privatization of Korean public firms, though he still faces opposition. And it looks like they're arresting journalists at the protests.

P.S. At Stop Me Before I Vote Again, Michael J. Smith has posted an imaginary Open Letter from Barack Obama, mocking and rebutting the unfortunately non-imaginary open letter to Obama, signed by scolding progressives, that surfaced last week. Smith's parody is damn good, and reminds me why I started reading that blog two years ago. He even manages to do it without saying that Obama is a eunuch, which must have required tremendous restraint on his part. Me 'at's off to Fovver Smiff.