Thursday, November 17, 2011

What does the Korean government really think of the KORUS FTA?

Although a majority of Koreans support the KORUS FTA, the minority in opposition is very fierce in its opposition. Going by what I see on Twitter, I was actually surprised to learn that a clear majority is in favour of it, as I'd imagined it to be precisely the opposite. Nevertheless, to help bolster its image and to help reduce the opposition, the government has gone on an online charm offensive using Twitter and comics like the one below to make its case.

I was disgusted by this comic, which is crude and demagogic. It's the card that the government, which is being accused of selling out the country to foreign interests, has to play, however. Accused of being traitors, the government is assuring opponents of the FTA that rather than selling out Korea to American corporations, it is paving the way for a victory over America.

It's titled "Stop the FTA?". For some reason, when I save it and upload it to Blogger, it comes out in a lower resolution, so I had to link to the image from the government's website, which might eventually disappear. For posterity's sake, the illegible but stand-alone version is here.

The comic, set in the future after the ratification of the FTA, starts at the secret headquarters of a anti-Korean organization that not only hates Korea, but also Hallyu.

One villain asks the other how his spy mission went. He gushes that "Korea is like heaven!" He says that "the people were happy and full of life", before lamely launching into the government's talking points.

"These days, Korea's large and small businesses are selling more and cooperating well. Through the elimination of tariffs, exports have surpassed $140 million. Businesses are doing well and there are plenty of jobs. About 350,000 jobs have been created."

As the boss' face grows angrier and angrier, the henchman continues:

"The economy is growing at a rate of 5.66% and the people can't stop smiling. Foreign investment is up and the economic system is more advanced."

"Social spending is up to $32 billion and the standard of social welfare has improved."

The boss pounds his fists on the desk and shouts, "the KORUS FTA was that big of an opportunity for development?" The henchman stammers, "I guess so."

The boss grabs him and shouts, "were there any side-effects?"

"Farmers and fishermen were hit hard, but the government was prepared for it with subsidies, so there were almost no problems."

"My stomach hurts!" the boss groans. "I can't take it that Korea is doing so well. Let's go to Plan B."

The two get in the "Anti-Korean Time Machine" to go back in time and disrupt the KORUS FTA negotiations.

However, they end up back in the Joseon dynasty, where soldiers stare at the befuddled villains.

In the meantime, the comic concludes that "Koreans continued to live happily amidst abundance."

The villains, meanwhile, end up in some sort of space-time warp. "I'm jealous," sniffs the boss. "Can't we just move to Korea?" asks the henchman.

On the government website, there's only one comment on this comic. It says, "looks like the work of an elementary school student."

The comic is shockingly childish in its adversarial point-of-view and its claim that some vast anti-Korean conspiracy of foreign devils wants to see this country fail, starting first with the FTA.

I can't imagine the White House releasing anything near this slimy and it not being front-page news here. For comparison, when the New York Times wrote about plastic surgery in Korea a couple of weeks ago, it was front-page news on Daum.


Anonymous said...

Really want to hear your twitter rant on this!

Adeel said...

I like Hangul, but that sort of nationalism is, of course, nothing more than what some Koreans would like to hear. I don't think anyone takes it seriously outside of the feel-good domain of establishment media and shallow thinkers.