Sunday, July 16, 2006

OK, you've got me. What is it you're trying to say?

It was the thunk seen 'round the world...

Within the past week Zinedine Zidane's headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi has transmogrified from international shock to national controversy to cultural metaphor to cliché to...inevitably and irrevocably... farce (here 1 and here 2).

However, I will offer just one more take on the incident, in a version printed in the Tokyo Shimbun of July 15.

OK. Let's turn on the interpretation machine.

Kim Jong-il says some nasty things to Prime Minister Koizumi's back. Koizumi turns around, points his hirsute noggin at the surprised Kim's chest. At the very instant Koizumi delivers the most delicate of taps ("Pita!") to the now truly concerned Kim's chest, referee Hu Jintao blows his whistle, calling the foul on Koizumi.

OK, fine, cute. I can smile at the reference.

Here's the part I don't get.

Could we have a tight focus shot on the front of the uniforms? Thank you.

Koizumi is in a Japan blue uniform. No problems there.

Kim Il-song, however, is in the team colors of South Korea (the Red Devils, as they style themselves) with the logo "S. Korea" on the front of his shirt.

Is the artist trying to make a statement here...and if so what is it?

Is the artist acknowledging that South Korea was in the 2006 World Cup finals?

Is the artist confused about which country Kim leads?

Is it some kind of reference to the Blue House's obtuse criticism of the Japanese response to the North Korean missile firings--that Koreas North and South are now one team?

[Clap! Clap!] Mangakuninushi no Omikami, please enlighten me that I might understand! [Clap!]

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