ljlee: (peach_pissed)
(picture and text via Kukmin Ilbo, reposted from my Tumblr)
(English portion of banner held up by protestors: Why OBAMA incide Homosex in KOREA? / Stop interfering! Go out!
Korean portion of banner: Obama and Ambassador Lippert of the U.S. spread homosexuality and AIDS / Stop interfering in internal affairs and leave!)

On May 10, three evangelical Christian groups--Only Jesus Love, G&F Ministry, and VOCD International--protested the U.S. Embassy in Korea for being one of the sponsors of a forum for parents of LGBT people. They claimed the U.S. was interfering in Korea’s internal affairs and morality. They also argued that homosexuality is contributing to an epidemic of HIV in Korea and the U.S. should not be promoting the practice in South Korea.

Here is a letter OJL sent to U.S. Ambassador to Korea Mark William Lippert. I have reproduced the English version as is, with my fact checks and responses in bold.

Rampant homophobia below the cut )
ljlee: (peach_pissed)
I learned yesterday that evidently a bunch of jingoistic pseudo-historians (let's call them JiPHs for short) who claim to be "patriots" helped put a halt to the Early Korea Project, a joint publication project by Harvard University and (actual) historians of ancient Korea. The JiPHs' complaint? That the project put the site of one of the major Chinese colonies, Nakrang, in the Korean peninsula, as opposed to the Chinese continent where the JiPHs insist Nakrang was located.

Theories on the location of Nakrang
Different theories on the location of Nakrang: Most South Korean scholars (green), North Korean scholars (blue), so-called "irregular" scholars, i.e. JiPHs (red)

The JiPHs' argument, as always, is total baloney. The historical and most crucially the archeological evidence points to Nakrang being on the peninsula, around what is now Pyeongyang, North Korea. (Green area of map above) The JiPHs, however, insist that Nakrang was in modern China to the west of the Liao River (Red area of map) because Reasons because Korea wasn't centered on the Korean peninsula we were a continental power dammit and the Chinese could never have had a presence on the Korean peninsula and it's colonialist to say otherwise and wahhhhh why are their dicks so small.

That's their entire thing, that ancient Korea has to have been a continental power, no, a continent-spanning empire in order for our history to have any worth, the evidence must only be interpreted to support this conclusion, and any scholarship that says otherwise is imperialist treason to the Korean people and ughhhh I feel slimy just typing this wanky nonsense.

Like mainstream historical scholars tend to, I've regarded the JiPHs with amused tolerance because I assumed they were harmless though annoying cranks. But now, realizing they can get valuable, serious research shut down with their pseudoacademic crap and get members of the national legislature on their side, I realize they are a serious threat and need a stompdown.

This gives me more incentive than ever to finish and publish my novel which places Nakrang, obviously, squarely in the Korean peninsula where it belongs. I want with all my heart for this novel to gain enough influence that the idea of Nakrang in Pyeongyang becomes popularized and the JiPHs can only scream and cry while their "theory" goes down the toilet where it belongs. That's not the only JiPH sacred cow I'm slaughtering, so may their cryfest be bitter and long.

And sure, if that happens they'll start their usual campaigns of smears and harassment, tactics that people with actual proof and logic on their side don't have to resort to. And you know what? Bring it. I am so ready for these liars and cowards. They have gone too far and this means war.
ljlee: Lee Yo-weon during a break in the filming (deokman)
I just watched a KBS History Special episode that talked about the old Korean tradition of men wearing earrings--and we're talking OLD tradition, like a thousand proven years old. Earrings for men and women were found all over Korea, from the riverside trash heaps of the Stone Age to sixth-century graves of high-ranking men to graves of officials in the 15th or 16th century.

Below are earrings from the grave of King Muryeong, who ruled Baekje (in southwest Korea) from the late fifth century to the early sixth:

baekje earrings

The custom of men wearing earrings was not one that either the Chinese or Japanese shared. In fact, during the Korea-Japan war of the late 16th century, the hole in the earlobe was one way to distinguish between Korean and Japanese men. So if a Japanese soldier brought in a bunch of trophy ears claiming to have killed this many Koreans and a lot of the ears had unmarked lobes, he would be suspect for cutting off the ears of his Japanese comrades to exaggerate his achievements. Similarly, Koreans were on the lookout for Japanese spies, whose distinguishing marks included unpierced ears.

Here's a related story from a seventeenth century book, Eo-u-ya-dam (於于野譚). A Korean translator was in China with his diplomatic mission when he heard about a courtesan who was so proud she wouldn't accept foreign men as clients. Since this translator spoke Chinese like a native, he was pretty sure he could pass as one. He went to her dressed like a Han Chinese man, and she almost fell for it--until she saw the pierced holes in his earlobes and recognized him as a Korean man. Oh well, can't win 'em all, tiger.

earrings in the Choson period
Silver earrings of a design discovered in a 15th or 16th century official's grave

Earrings on men were officially banned in the the sixteenth century, when the king gave an edict to punish men who wore them. Why? Earlier, a Chinese envoy at court had called earrings on men a barbaric custom. You have to look at the context; China was being harried by the Xianbei, a federation of nomadic tribes whose warriors wore--you guessed it--earrings. Ming China was also under pressure from the Qing, a kingdom founded by Manchurians who also wore earrings.

Yup, Korean men's ear-adorning ways were from our roots as nomads in North Asia. And it probably didn't sit well with the Chinese that their polite "little brother" country, the one who had taken so eagerly to Chinese ways, still carried reminders of a fiercer past right on the ears.

The measure against earrings worked about as well as fashion bans tend to, meaning not very well. But whether from the ban or other factors, the custom faded out over time. It's still pretty cool though, that for all we think Choson men were so straight-laced and boring, they actually had that fashionable flair--and that it wasn't sissy at all, but a blast from the past that could make even China uncomfortable. Or made Chinese prostitutes shun them. There's a downside to everything.

But on the upsiiiide... (from the TV show Iljimae)


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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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