Extra! Korea

January 12, 2010

How about bibimbap for lunch today? If not, I kill you

Filed under: censorship, hard to categorize — extrakorea @ 2:07 pm

You might recall that Kuroda Katsuhiro, Seoul bureau chief of the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, wrote about the New York Times bimbimbap ad in a way that was not so flattering.

Kuroda used the Chinese saying “Sheep’s head, dog meat” which might be better translated as, “Crying out wine and selling vinegar” and wrote that the people who try the spicy dish will be shocked when they see it all become an unidentifiable mixture in front of their eyes. Kuroda said that the word bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” and described Koreans as people who “tend to mix everything they eat.”

He continued by sarcastically commenting that “Koreans violently mix everything from curry rice to a bowl of patbingsu, an adzuki-bean ice dessert.”

Actually, I can understand what he says about the way Koreans mix their food. Japanese food tends to be very compartmentalized, neatly separated and arranged, and sometimes too pretty to eat. This is one of the reasons that I think that the notion that the Japanese lack a sense of aesthetics is absurd. I wasn’t sure what to make of his statement about “Sheep’s head, dog meat” even though it was translated. I wasn’t the only one.

“I understand that the term is commonly used in Japan, but it is perceived as a very derogatory expression in Korea,” he said.

So how did people react?

Kuroda also said that he has been feeling unsafe in Korea since making the remark. “I received calls, threatening to kill me or asking the location of my residence. I may have to seek protection from the police,” he said.

Maybe they could work this into their tourism slogans:

“How about bibimbap for lunch today? If not, I kill you.”

Nothing could be worse than “Korea sparkling.” And they couldn’t embarrass themselves any worse after that Infinity Challenge episode. Tablo’s brother was not amused either.

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