Let’s turn our gaze to racism in Korea. A suburb of Seoul ordered the mandatory testing of all foreigners for Covid-19. Now, the city of Seoul says all foreign workers in Seoul must be tested for covid-19 in the next two weeks. Expats say they “feel singled out” by a racist and xenophobic policy.
Why this controversial policy?
Apparently there was an uptick in cases at factories where foreign workers were crammed into dormitories. So the solution?
Test people who live in dormitories right? Nope.
Test all foreigners.
I’ll let the second-hand embarrassment from the stupidity of the logic sink in.
The justification and pre-emptive strike by government officials for the measure? Well – we’re trying to protect the public and we did the same thing for an outbreak at churches last year. However — did the government say they needed to test all Christians? No, they only tested the people who went to the particular church where the outbreak occurred.
Now, they’re saying a person who works nowhere near a factory or a dormitory has to be tested. Meanwhile, Koreans who work at the same factory or live in the same dormitories don’t.
But don’t try to convince Koreans who are in favor of this measure to back down. It’s as pointless as asking an American racist to ‘be better’.
By the way, many prayers for victims of anti-Asian American hate crimes in the United States. Plus, more power to the activists who are doing more than asking people to ‘be better’. After all, when was the last time somebody asked a burglar breaking into their house to ‘be better’. Nobody should ask a racist the same. Instead of ‘better’, how about just not killing other people for the sake of your inferiority complex?
How to Talk to Racists
Okay. Back to Korea. It’s a case where you can’t stick to the argument at hand and try to get the racist to see your side logically. The racist must feel your pain, but they must feel it as if they are the victim.
You have to switch the current picture with a new metaphor where the racist is the star. Here’s an example:
An outbreak occurs at cramped hakwons (afterschool tutoring centers) among Korean high school juniors studying for the College SATs. The government then decides they must test all Korean high school juniors since they ‘interact with each other’. The test is mandatory for Korean high school juniors who don’t even attend hakwons. The Korean students must comply within 2 weeks or be fined 2 million won.
Other classmates of the Korean high school juniors in other grade levels of the same school don’t need to be tested, nor their family or friends. That’s logical right? Uh, no. But that would be the equivalent to what the government is imposing upon foreign workers.
If the logical policy were implemented in the above hypothetical scenario, they would be testing any student of any age who are in cramped hakwons. Their identity as Korean high school junior would be irrelevant.
Liberals or Conservatives?
So going back to the question of who’s more racist in Korea?
Liberals or conservatives? It’s a bit of a trick question – because of course both sides have people who are racist and non-racist. The emphasis here is which side surprisingly uses racism and xenophobia as a political weapon more often than expected? Liberals. Wait, what?
The conservative right in South Korea has been traditionally aligned with the United States and engagement with foreign policy to ensure security and business growth. More specifically, conservatives who are usually the bearers of capital investment in foreign markets need to protect their capital just like any other global capitalist. So these are the families who send their kids abroad for education, maintain alliances with global partners and emphasize English education in order to survive in a global world.
Often, these same globalists treat their fellow Koreans at home as peons and an abused workforce. The liberals usually represent this workforce. In this view, they’re more concerned about the domestic struggle and injustice right in front of them. Moreover, the liberal camp emerged out of the nationalistic independence movement to free Korea from Japanese imperialism. It evolved into the anti-dictatorship democracy movement. That itself is excellent, but along the way, xenophobia and racism also attached itself to part of the liberal Korean political ideology.
It’s Really About Fighting Korean Elites
In the 21st century, liberals see their main enemies as other Koreans who lord themselves over their fellow countrymen. They see these elite Koreans gain more power through their international alliances and English-based education that is getting more expensive and out of reach for ordinary Koreans.
As a release valve from this pressure cooker, from time to time, there’s shockingly xenophobic and retaliatory public policy from Koreans (including liberals) against foreigners in Korea. Since the liberals often lack the power to go after the real power elite in Korea, they start punching down at targets who are ordinary foreigners not much different than them. It makes the frustrated populace feel better temporarily.
Inferiority Complex Leads to 250,000 Damaged Lives
Of course not all liberals are this way. Yet, a surprisingly large enough contingent rise to positions of power to affect national policies. In this case, it affects over 250,000 lives in Korea.
At least a quarter of a million people have to suffer from kkondaes with inferiority complexes. “Kkondae is an expression used in South Korea to describe a condescending person. The slang noun kkondae was originally used by students and teenagers to refer to older people such as fathers and teachers.”
It’s childish. It’s inhumane. And they’re going to get major backlash for it.
The ‘Kkondae’ Crisis in South Korea
If they want to preserve their self-interest and political power, the kkondaes in the liberal camp currently in power will be more careful with their reckless policy prescriptions. This is what kkondae policy of the left looks like. We can talk about kkondae policies of the right another time.
It’s foolish to get vengeance through policies targeted at a few political enemies because the side effects ruin the lives of the majority. New enemies will be created and they’ll want their pound of flesh too. And there we go again, the cycle of revenge tearing apart Korea will keep going and stifle growth and happiness of future generations.
Kkondae insecurity is toxic. And it’s a national crisis. The equivalent of kkondaes in America are the white supremacists who will stop at nothing – even destroying their own capitol because of their fear of losing their unjustified power.
Racist American ‘proud boys’ share much in common with so-called racist liberal (and conservative) kkondaes in Korea.