My memories of conversations are flawed. However, recently a friend of mine, stunned by my admission I had never, ever been to the R.O.K.*, suggested to me:
"In a sense, it's good to visit Korea. It's a good corrective for those who see solely what is going on here."
Seoul is a "corrective"? Under the current president "laxative" sounds like the operative word, as in, "I need a... because I am full of (expletive deleted)."
S. Korea's Roh vows islets defenseSo what are you going to do, sink a Japanese coast guard cutter as it tries to conduct a sonar survey? What? What?
SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea's president vowed Tuesday to strongly defend a string of disputed islets against Japanese claims, saying that Tokyo's actions were tantamount to a rejection of Korea's independence from its previous colonial ruler.
"We will react strongly and sternly against any physical provocation," President Roh Moo-hyun said in a nationally televised address. "This is a problem that can never be given up or negotiated, no matter at what cost or sacrifice."
The islets -- known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese -- are currently under South Korean control. The long-running dispute over the territory flared anew this month when Japan said it would conduct a maritime survey in waters surrounding the islets.
After negotiations in Seoul, Japan agreed to cancel the survey as long South Korea delays its move to officially register the Korean names in the area.
Roh, appearing solemn, reiterated Tuesday that it was South Korea's "given right" to register the Korean names.
"To our people, Dokdo is a symbol of complete restoration of sovereignty," the president said, calling Tokyo's territorial claim "an act that denies Korea's complete liberation and independence."
"We will never tolerate this," Roh said.
The South Korean side suffered a humiliating whipping in the emergency talks over the weekend. In a more just world, where the Universal Law of Averages would apply, the Koizumi government, after tricking its South Korean counterpart into hypernationalist overreaction, would turn around and tell its own nationalist wing to go bug off and recognize the reality and legitimacy of the South Korean hold on Tokdo.
However, real life--i.e., real, adult, experienced life--is unfair. Deus does not descend in his machina to put everything to rights--and Junichiro Koizumi does not feel it is his duty to give suckers an even break.
* Full disclosure--I have never been to Taiwan, either. The last time I was in the PRC was in--take a deep breath, now hold it, hold it--1985. My last trip to anywhere on the Asian continent was to Vietnam in 1995.
Now you know that I am full of (expletive deleted).