Friday, March 16, 2007

More on the shelving

ABC News reports
Rhie said he would consider how to change the book and would undertake an "all-out revision."

"I'm sorry to see things like a frog in a well," Rhie said Thursday, referring to a traditional Korean saying that a frog in a well is unaware of the larger world outside. "In the future, I will write books in a more responsible way."

What is it with this guy and the stupid frog in the well? What is the obsession? He drew that same damn picture of the cowboy in the well so many times, and he's still harping on it. Find a new simile, Rhie!

Rhie describes his 2002 visit to Disney's California Adventure as "like five thousand frogs of every stripe secreted away in the depths of wells of every possible description, like a well made of frogs inhabited by yet another frog, all the while unaware of his own well's inferiority to other wells, like a frog-and-well based version of the Matrix."

Here's my translation of the article in the Hankook Ilbo.
Jew disparaging "Monnara..." pulled, contents to be revised by mutual agreement.
Jewish group visits Gimm-Young Publishing

On March 15th following protests by Jewish Americans saying parts of the comic "Monnara Iunnara: America" [sic] disparage Jews, representatives of the Jewish human rights group The Simon Wiesenthal Center visited Gimm-Young Publishing, which pubished the book. Vice president of the group Abraham Cooper and others metGimm-Young president Eunju Park and author, DeokSeong Women's University professor Rhie Won-bok at the comany's offices in Gahoe-dong, Seoul this morning and agreed to withdraw Monnara Iunnara: America from the market and to publish a Korean version of the book "Dismantling the Big Lie, which digs up the plots against Jews that are out there.
Professor Rhie said he "would take into consideration the Jewish group's explanation about the problem passages, remove or alter them and then put it out again."
Last month American Jews demanded the book be corrected, pointing out the passages that said "Jews are the great power moving America" (p242, 247) and "Koreans in America can succeed but run into the barrier called the Jew" (p220).

Here's MBN TV's brief report on the story, most notable I think for the most negative or at least questioning take on Monnara that I've yet seen in the Korean media by the anchorwoman introducing the story. Could the media's slant on the story be turning from the original "this is a waste of time" stance that the earlier stories took?

Anchor: There are likely few people who don't know of the
educational comic "Monnara Iunnara". The series sold over 10 million copies
domestically, but following the indication by a Jewish group that there are
problems with the content, The decision has been made to pull the book with the

Reporter: An Yeong-Ju reporting. Representatives from the
international Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center have visited
Korea. They are here to urge the revision of the 10-million selling educational
comic "Monnara Iunnara" that they say contains parts that disparage the Jews.
The problem part is in the volume on America that says "The Jews move America".
Simon Wiesenthal and the publisher's side have agreed to stop printing and pull
all the copies of the volume on America currently being sold and to revise the

Yonhap TV reports that the Wiesenthal Center invited a group representing Gimm-Young to Los Angeles to see Jews and Koreans living together first-hand. President Eunju Park was quoted as saying "We will examine the parts of the book to be revised and the invitation positively and will give a concrete answer soon". They also report that after the meeting at Gimm Young Wiesenthal reps met with U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow to discuss their opinions on the incident and had a meeting with international reporters at the Hyatt.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Volume 10 to be withdrawn from stores

Hang onto your copy of Monnara Iunnara Volume 10: The Americans, it's about to become a collector's item. The book is being taken out of print, according to Canada's CBC. Rabbi Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is quoted as saying
The net effect of what he's done here is a disaster and he just doesn't get it. I hope he will someday, but in the meantime this book's got to go.
Apparently Rhie defended himself to the very end, perhaps thinking, as many of the older Koreans I have spoken to do, that the attention that this has gotten confirms their suspicions about grand Jewish conspiracies.
Gimm Young Publishing has agreed to stop producing the book and fully review the series. They will also be publishing a book about the insidious spread of antisemitism.
Rabbi Cooper compared the comics to the Nazi-era magazine Der Stuermer.

Yonhap News has articles about the visit and the decision to discontinue the book. I'll translate them in due time unless someone beats be to the punch. They seem at first glance to be heavy on the demands from Cooper and light on reactions from the publisher and the author. The book that Gimm Young agreed to print is called Dismantling the Big Lie, apparently published by The Wiesenthal Center.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Era of Unlimited Service Competition (A Bank for Gays Opens)

Here's a black and white Rhie Won-bok comic which I believe comes from a newspaper. I found it here. It was placed on the website as some kind of proof of Rhie's racism, but it's highly incorrect to present it as such.

The Era of Unlimited Service Competition: A Bank for Gays Opens

1. This is a time when the marketing war among banks to attract new customers is heating up - we've already discussed in this cartoon series the bank in the Netherlands attracting young people in middle and high school.
2. In March 1999 in America the world's first bank for gays, G&L Bank opened its doors.
3. But it's not a real bank, just an online bank, and there are plans to open a real bank in 2002.
4. Steve Dunlop, who revealed himself to be a homo [sic] is the man from Pensacola, Florida, who came up with the idea for the bank.
5. Just as blacks seek black banks and Jews frequent banks managed by Jews, the gays are the same and the market is now ripe for it.
6. Just because G*Ls [gays and lesbians] are homosexual they experience difficulties borrowing money in banks.
7. Even when they handle their finances jointly like a married couple they face many hardships,
8. So this online bank was created so that G*Ls could freely and conveniently use a bank without such difficulties.
9. This idea came out of Dunlop's own difficulties in dealing with banks.

Wiesenthal Center Press Conference

I received this in my inbox today. Too late notice for me to go, I'm afraid, but if anyone is in the area check it out. Naturally I will be following the outcome of Rabbi Cooper's visit closely.

PRESS ADVISORY March 14, 2007


WHEN: Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 4:30 PM

WHERE: GRAND HYATT SEOUL, 747 7 Hannam Dong Yongsan Ku, Seoul 140-738

On Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 4:30 PM at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, will give a briefing about a volume of the popular Monnara Iunnara (Distant Countries and Neighboring Countries) series that recycles Jewish conspiracy theories that “echo classic Nazi canards” The briefing follows a meeting earlier with Eu-ju Park, the CEO OF Gimm-Young Publishers, who released the series. In a letter last month, Rabbi Cooper urged Ms. Park to “carefully review the slanders in this book that historically have led to antisemitic violence and genocide.” and instead “consider providing facts about the Jewish people, our religion and values to young Koreans.”

On a related note, Rabbi Cooper yesterday condemned a student group in Taiwan that promotes the ideals of Adolf Hitler. The group is seeking NGO status in the international community.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.
Rabbi Cooper can be reached via e-mail at or at the Grand Hyatt Seoul, 82-2-797-1234. For additional information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036 or

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Volume 11: American History, pages 248-251 (America must create enemies without end)

I thought the last pages of volume ten, about America's myopic ignorance, were anti-American enough, but volume eleven's final sentence is easily as bad. Rhie claims that America's great energy stems from America's refusal to lose ever, and that, seeing the exmple of the decadent Roman Empire, America must stay competitive by constantly creating 'competitors and enemies', i.e. China, Japan, and Terror! Read on if you dare.
In the end the Americans, who left their homelands and traveled 10,000 miles away to a strange land and fought through innumerable ordeals armed only with the pioneering spirit, brought down the Soviet Union and became the world's only superpower. But looking at the example of the Roman Empire, having no healthy competition leads to decline. America is keeping its eyes on a gradually rising China and getting ready. China, land of great culture and great population; in the future it is obvious that it will become an economic powerhouse and a frightening competitor for America. But America has battles to fight before it can tackle China. More than anything it must close the growing gap between rich and poor. One out of ten Americans live in persistent poverty. America must seriously solve the internal disputes among the races as well as its disputes with the rest of the world.
More than anything in order to do this, if America doesn't learn cultural humility America will never be the world's leading nation. When America understands the world's cultures and gains the cultural humility to recognize and respect them America will be able to truly become the world's watchman.
(Graphic shows a cowboy gawking at a turbaned man)
Cowboy: East Asian culture is 'mysterious'.
Turbaned man: That means 'irrational'. You need to
throw away that prejudice, we're all the same!
We're all the same. I am sure glad that we Americans could learn this beautiful lesson from the likes of you. We're all the same, with minor differences, like Japanese people's buck-teeth and black people's huge pink lips, right Professor Rhie?
But since young America has barely been in existence for 200 years, and even though it's a pluralistic nation that looks like a museum of the races, The problem is that Americans can't understand anything that's not American, and they don't even want to or try to understand. America is the birthplace of globalization, and yet America is the least globalized nation in the world. Unlike Europeans, Americans can't understand the notion of 'coexistence' properly, that coexistence is not merely living together, and that you must respect and understand your neighbors, having the friendship to not discriminate against them. But it is said that America is only comfortable with ruling and leading (dominance).
Because neighboring Canada's population doesn't even pass one ninth of America's, and since most of its population lives within 100 km of the American border it's as if it's dependent on the U.S.
(Graphic shows an American looking over the border at a Canadian, standing in a corridor defined as 100km from the U.S. border)
American (thinking): America's 51st state?
Canadian: [Beyond 100km from the U.S. border] it's too cold and there aren't any jobs.
Since in the south Mexico can barely come close to America economically and militarily America has always reigned over Mexico like a big brother. It's not just America; when you become a leading nation you can do no different.
(Graphic shows a cowboy and a samurai)
Samurai: The more the rice plant ripens the lower it bows its head [i.e. The greater the individual, the more humble they are]
Cowboy: When corn ripens it stands up straight as an arrow!
We could say that they are in the grips of an obsession with being the world's greatest and strongest in every challenge and test, and that they must never be surpassed as the world's strongest. That's why they endlessly make competitors and enemies. (Graphic shows a racer shouting "Who challenges me? Whether China or Japan, and if not Terror . . .") To fight and win they must never stop moving. This energy is America's biggest prime mover, and they must constantly move quickly and busily making problems and fighting wars in order to make sure they never
extinguish this great productive
engine. (이 에너지는 미국 발전의 가장 큰 원동력인 만큼 이를 생산하는 거대한 엔진을 꺼뜨리지 않기 위하여 미국은 끊임없이 문제를 만들고 전쟁을 하여 바쁘게, 빠르게 움직일 수밖에 없지.)
That's the American secret. Never stop fighting wars, or we'll lose our edge. The thing that I really love about this book is the level of projection that goes on in Rhie's mind. Everywhere he looks, he sees Korea. I mean, Korea's been at war for the last how many years, and it's certainly helped their economy, eh? He's like a rabbit who reads a book about the Hundred Years War and declares the underlying cause to obviously be carrots.
If there had been no great frontier in the West of America it's possible that America would have been forever consumed by internal strife and troubles.
(Graphic shows explosions of hostility coming out of a well)
I've discussed the well before. This is Rhie's favorite symbol for ignorant America, The frog in a well. The frog in the well doesn't realize there's a whole wide world outside his well, and instead brags proudly about its greatness. again, this is a term that some people tend to use in reference to Korea.

But America's energy went into spreading westward without problem, and it's now spreading limitlessly to the rest of the world. Other ethnic nations that were blocked on all four sides and whose energy had no place to spread out expended their energy in factional infighting and disputes and stand in contrast to America. John F. Kennedy said "The United States has to move very fast to even stand still." America will keep on moving just as he said. If that great body stands still, it will be torn down by fat and the diseases of old age. To produce its overflowing energy, America must create enemies without end.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Volume 11: American History, pages 245-247

Up until now I'd ignored the other volume of the series that I have, but tonight I flipped through it and again found that the last chapter expresses most of Rhie Won-bok's opinions. Here are some of the last few pages of Monnara Iunnara Volume 11: American History, Chapter 8: The Lonely World's Only Superpower: Today's America, from the New Frontier to the Iraq War. Fascinating stuff, for sure. The book has 251 pages, so I'll do the last four in my next post.

The presidential election of 2000, at the dawn of the 21st century, ended in victory for Bush. Al Gore, the candidate for the opposition Democratic Party outpaced Bush, but because of the 'indirect election' system Bush and the Republican party came back to victory.

Incidentally, I think that these pictures by GRAPHIC DESIGN PROFESSOR Rhie Won-bok may be the worst caricatures I have ever seen
As opposed to his father, President Bush is extreme and became outspoken about American hegemony through his stubbornly conservative policies. Bush's extreme rightism, super-stubborn diplomacy and American superiority [complex] wounded the pride of the many countries angry about their losses due to America's prime concern, globalization.
(Graphic shows an angry Italian, Mexican (likely due to NAFTA) and Arab)
Arab: Hamburger, cola, jeans, Hollywood. Is that all you think culture is?
Because of a lack of understanding of many cultures, America clashed with the Muslim world and had the effect of strengthening hostile powers with their high-pressure diplomacy. In particular, America, feeling the effects of the financial world and the media in control of the Jews took sides with Israel and made the Arab powers into enemies.

In particular, America, feeling the effects of the financial world and the media in control of the Jews took sides with Israel and made the Arab powers into enemies.

On September 11, 2001 America suffered an attack. Terrorists took over passenger planes and suicide attacked the World Trade Center in New York, the heart of America, and Headquarters of the Defense Department, the Pentagon. Thousands of innocent lives were lost in this first notice that America has many enemies and the beginning of a war unlike any America had seen before, the War on Terror. Bush immediately declared war on terror, and to catch the man behind the scenes of the terror, Osama Bin Laden.

And it's at this point that Rhie does something I don't get, which is placing an asterix next to the Korean spelling of 'Osama Bin Laden' and footnoting it with the English spelling 'Osama Bin Laden' . Why? I just don't know. [Update: He does this most of the time, and for some reason I didn't notice until now. I think the reason is that he often does it beneath an actual photo of the person, whereas in this case the asterix is below another completely unrecognizable caricature that is too chubby and fat nosed to bear even a passing resemblance to Bin Laden.]
The war in Afghanistan began on the pretext that Osama Bin Laden was hiding there. And the richest and greatest military power in the world wound up going to war with the world's poorest country.

"The war in Afghanistan began on the pretext that Osama Bin Laden was hiding there. And the richest and greatest military power in the world wound up going to war with the world's poorest country."

In this war they chased out the anti-U.S. government, but they didn't find Bin Laden and they turned their eyes and the barrels of their guns to Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein which they fingered as a terrorism-supporting state.

America started the Iraq War to eliminate Hussein. Naturally Iraq eventually submitted to the powerful U.S., and Hussein was captured, and Iraq was liberated from dictatorship. But the WMDs that were the reason America went to war in the first place were never found, and America asked many nations to contribute troops and make a "war of everyone", but domestic criticism and other factors placed the Bush administration in dire straits. So the transfer of power to the citizens was dropped and already a serious dispute between the Iraqi people has begun, and the Iraq war still hasn't ended, with endless suicide bombings and attacks on Americans and American soldiers. Quite the contrary, we don't know that the real war isn't just starting.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Chapter 7: Credit is Life part 3, pages 199-205

Update 3/5: Rabbi Cooper won't be able to give a talk when he comes to Seoul this month. It's a busy life when you're fighting the good fight. I recommend to all that you do your part to help by going to any book store, picking up a copy of the book, flipping through it and tsk-ing loudly with an angry look on your face. You know, get the word out.

The really funny thing about this book, for me, is that it reminds me of when I had been in Korea for a year and a half, like Rhie had been in America for a year and a half. Thats the point where you start to tell yourself that youve got everything in your host country all figured out. The funny thing about it is that you form your sense of the country from the most trivial garbage. You see significance in the way people do insignificant things and extrapolate them out into great theories. The folks over at Peer-See (who I believe are currently in that year to year-and-a-half sweet spot of half-knowing their host country of China) have dubbed this process extrapohating.

In Rhies case, he extrapohates American stores return policies, service in stores, and operating hours out into a theory of America in todays longer than usual installment.

In our country, about 4 million people have bad credit. Many people commit suicide or crime because of card debt. Card companies are being ruined because of their costumers
procrastination. In America this would be views as unimaginably disturbing. Customers economic power and ability to pay are absolute preconditions for credit card companies , and as we see card companies ignoring credit history and in a time when competing companies fight with each other, carelessly giving credit cards to people with no economic power in their 20s and 30s who rack up huge debt that they cant bear, and walk the path to ruin, some card companies going bankrupt, and as we see out national economy deeply dominated [by this trend], isnt it time that we took another look at the idea that credit is life?

This was, of course, written in the period in 2003 and 2004 in which the major credit card companies in
Korea were issuing credit cards indiscriminately to anyone with a pulse, giving many Koreans enough economic rope to hang themselves. Rhie is saying that perhaps Korean companies should take a better look at their prospective customers and stop issuing so many cards to young people without jobs who could never pay off their debt

If we consider the credit card in
America as ones economic life, the drivers license is like another life that protects your freedom of mobility. In Americans wallets you will always find two kinds of cards, and those cards are the drivers license and the credit card. America is a huge country and in that huge country the people live very spread out from each other, and so its difficult to even imagine life in America without a car.

Sad but true, and naturally one of the truly positive things that one can say about
Korea. Great mass transit.

Many people use mass transit such as subways and buses in large cities with densely packed populations, but in small cities or suburbs the only way to get around is by car. Buses are not economical so they are few and far between. People with no cars, the sick and the elderly ride buses, but its unspeakably annoying to do so.


The biggest difference between American residential areas and our countrys is that there are never any stores in them. In America there are huge malls where all the stores are concentrated together, so if you want to buy a roll of toilet paper or a pack of gum, you have to go several kilometers to a shopping mall or shopping center to buy them. Since you cant walk there and you have to drive even to buy a loaf of bread, the car is as necessary to the American as a pair of shoes. Cars were prerequisites for American development, so Americans and their cars have an intimate relationship. In a country like that a person without a drivers license must be prepared for as must discomfort and trouble as a person without a credit card.


Most Americans get their license by the time theyre 18, and the US doesnt recognize foreign cards. America doesnt have a personal identification card like our Citizens Registration Card, so in America the drivers license is their identification card. One can get a drivers license by the time theyre 16, but in practice one can start driving when they are 18, and 16 year olds are permitted to drive only with a guardian present. So the credit card and the drivers license are Americas two forms of necessary evidence of identification. Since people use credit cards or debit cards for almost every transaction, almost nobody carries much cash. Once a robber held up a New York City subway car. Because almost everyone was carrying credit cards he got almost no cash. The famous story goes that he robbed everyone on the whole subway car and he didnt even get $100.


I love this page, it's a Rhie Won-bok special, full of lame observations of the kind that tourists make. Want to understand a nation? Go buy a rollof toilet paper, some gum and a loaf of bread, then ask a shopkeeper a question and write a book about it. Why not, you're a professor, you must be saying something of actual value.

Dont they say that in a capitalist society the customer is king? Therefore the more developed capitalism is the more kind the service will be and the more kingly the customers reign will be. But the logic that developed capitalism means kinder service is not true. Japan is a friendliness surplus nation, where the customer gets extremely kind service, and all the service workers have a kind smile stuck on their faces, but the problem is that the prices are groundlessly expensive.
Rhie goes on to credit these high prices to a so-called "smile price". It doesn't seem to occur to him that in a country where everything is expensive, things like wages and overhead might drive up the cost of things in places like restaurants. Nope, all those high prices are just going to pay for all that obsequiously good service. Makes perfect sense.

In the most progressively capitalist Europe, the concept of service is totally switched. All the department stores and shops close early like all the other companies (e.g. Mon.-Fri. 9:30-6:30, Sat. 9:30-2:30). A few years ago customers raised their voices to the rafters complaining and the stores were forced to extend their working hours (e.g. Mon.-Fri. 9:30-8:30, Sat. 9:30-6:30). Of course on Sunday every business closes its doors like a knife [yeah, I dont really get that simile either - Joe]. The shop workers are never around so if you want to ask something you have to wait for a long time, and finally when you get to ask your question you wind up getting a brusque answer.


When closing time arrives, without fail you wont be able to buy what you want because the checkout counter will be crowded and theyll stop working. Thats why a lot of people in Europe are very worried about losing service competitiveness, but in America, on the other hand, its the exact opposite. In Europe naturally and also in our country banks are closed on Saturday, but like a symbol [that they are part of] the service industry, banks in America are open on Saturday until the evening and to top it all, a service competition has started in which some banks are open even on Sunday. Americans cant even imagine a store being closed on Sundays or holidays. They even place huge ads for holiday shopping to drag in the shoppers. It must be nice to shop everywhere whenever you want, but the problem is when the customer becomes a service worker they think quite the opposite way
(Graphic shows a woman talking to a man)
Woman: If I become a service worker I can
t rest on Sundays or holidays either?
Man: I
m sure theyll give you more money or something.

It's funny to count the number of times graphic design professor Rhie Won-bok's imagination fails him. They take off other days, genius!

refund is an amazing part of buying things in America.

Incidentally, I live in Korea and I get refunds for things all the time. I once got a refund for a bicycle I'd been using for six months.

Refunding means canceling a purchase. If you cancel any purchase and return the item for money, they dont even ask the reason and just give you the money. Naturally you cant return consumable items or things that you can copy like CDs, and sometimes they ask you why you want to return the item, but no matter what reason you give they will exchange the item. This system was legally mandated to protect customers from bad quality products, but in reality its because the service workers or store owners dont have to return any money and thus suffer no damage.
(Graphic shows men labeled
store original company, and manufacturer, and a box labeled original price of manufacture)
Store (thinking): If the original company refunds the money that
s the end of it.
Original company: If I pass off the refunding to the manufacturer that
ll be the end of it.
Manufacturer (angrily): People return things at the slightest provocation. Because of returns our profit is falling, so we must put the price of returns into our products.
(Graphic shows the author holding a layer-cake like box, with layers labeled
original price, tax and return price”)
Thats why in Japanese product prices there is a smile price and a friendliness price built in, and in American product prices there is a return price built in.

Just a thought here. If Im a kid and Im reading this book, how much is this going to make sense to me? Oh no, if I go to America I can get a refund whenever I want, but I have to pay a premium for the right to do so through added cost to the manufacturer. This reminds my of Rhies concept that America produces endless amounts of WMDs because of low population density. The concept just doesnt carry through to the conclusion. It just loses me in the middle, and I know for damn sure that it would lose any kid reading this book. This book reminds me at times like this of drunk adults talking to teenagers at parties about things theyd never understand. It also, come to think of it, brings to mind being a kid and buying MAD magazine, only to find reprints of The Lighter Side of . . . strips from the sixties. In the words of Milhouse They dont care whose toes they step on. Just like Rhie.