Saturday, February 10, 2007

A children's book with a different perspective

Since starting this blog I have been dismayed by some of the comments I've seen citing Monnara Iunnara as proof that 'Koreans are antisemitic'. So it was good luck today that I came into possession of a book called "Jurassic Park's Steven Spielberg" (쥬라기 공원의 스티븐 스필버그), a children's biography of the director. Of particular interest is the chapter called "Where are my roots?". Below is a summary of the chapter with some particularly interesting passages directly translated.

Where are my Roots?
The chapter starts with Spielberg's family sitting around telling stories. When he was a boy his mother once bought some live crabs, which are not kosher, and conspired with Steven to eat them, when their family rabbi happened to show up at their house. In an 'I Love Lucy'-like scene, Steven hides the crabs in a pot under his bed, and they scurry around making noise that makes the rabbi suspicious. After this story, Spielberg is introduced to a cousin's next-door neighbor named Maria who has no fingers. It turns out she had been a pianist, and had her fingers cut off by a Nazi when she played a song by a forbidden Jewish composer. After this Spielberg stopped laughing.
"He disliked calling himself a Jew. He resented the God that made him born a Jew" (사실 지금까지 스필버그 자신이 유태인이라는 것이 너무 싫었거든요. 자신을 유태인으로 태어나게 한 하나님을 원망하기도 했어요)
He winds up asking his gentile wife if she hates him for being a Jew. "If I didn't like you because you're a Jew why would I marry you?" Spielberg asks her why people hate the Jews and she says
"It must be because Jews are so smart and great." (그건 유태인니 똑똑하고 훌륭하기 때문일거에요)
Spielberg asks what he can do to help the Jews and his wife says that, as a movie director, he has an opportunity to make a movie for them. So he directed "Schindler's List" in order to find his roots. He came to learn more about the pains of the Jews while making the movie. The German soldiers killed Jews and made soap from their fat, but not all Germans were evil, and so "Schindler's List" is about a German who saved Jews.
"Spielberg won an Oscar for the movie, and he also established a fund called The Righteous Person's Foundation to inform the world about other terrible events.
But that foundation isn't just for Jews. It is for all the peoples in the world suffering troubles. They record the suffering of blacks or Asian peoples and show them to the world. He founded the organization to spread the message that we should live in peace and harmony without harming other peoples.
Haven't we been ruled by the Japanese? This is exactly the kind of thing that Spielberg wants never to happen again."

A couple of interesting things in here, including the sympathetic portrayal of Jews, the unbelievably terrible story of the piano player losing her fingers, and the final reference to Korea's occupation by the Japanese.

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