One thing is for sure: #CancelKorea will not identify you as someone with an even better sense of nationalism.
To be aware of what started all the racial slurs and the online race wars, Tiktok user Bella Poarch did a usual dance number, exposing most of her tattoos. One particular tattoo caught the online community’s attention: the “rising sun” inspired by a certain Jhene Aiko.
As per various historical reviews, the “rising sun” is rendered as a symbol equally horrid and preposterous to that of a Nazi swastika symbol. Representing Japanese Imperialism which the Philippines also experienced harshly, Koreans share the inhumane, barbaric, and ultimately gross human rights violations during colonization period, shaking anyone’s morals down to the marrow.
Racial slurs aside, it is better for us to understand why the discourse emerged into such an offensive one because after all, the #CancelKorea is born out of hate towards race. Believing in such places us way off what the point needs to be.
Perhaps one thing we can learn from the trend is how we often limit our appreciation to the aesthetic of historical antics while ignoring the meanings that come with these cultural markings.
Let us take our indigenous culture as a relvant example. We often pay for anything that looks “ancient” for the sake of establishing ourselves as cultured fellows. We take pictures of how beatiful most of our mountains are. We are often fond of having our pictures taken while wearing indigenous clothing, similar as to how we wear Ifugao clothing in Baguio (while riding a horse, in some cases). We also find ourselves curating samples of these historical artifacts to add them as designs for our houses, making it seem like the owner of the household is sophisticated and cultured.
We can also use victims of historical tragedies as a means for us to “get a feel of the misfortune” and to “understand their feelings better.” We often take selfies whenever we encounter victims of human rights abuse during Martial Law. We also take selfies with comfort women during the Japanese occupation who survived and lived to tell the tale. We also take pictures whenever we are at a farm, saying that it feels so good being one with nature, while neglecting the fact that the Philippines belongs to the countries with the most underappreciated and underfunded agricultural sector, leaving farmers penniless most of the time.
We love taking selfies with victims of a storm, or any other calamity in general, including a status that screams out “unity.” We also love taking selfies with street children as we conduct a feeding program for them, hoping to be admired online as someone who lives his whole life as an advocate against poverty and ending world hunger.
And most importantly, we love getting tattoos from National Treasure Whang-Od only to have a tattoo that’s different from your other tattoos, not because you appreciate Whang-Od’s relevance to art.
We are the kind of race that venerates just about anything without any prior understanding about its foundations and principles. We tend to commodify culture as if it is like something we can consume for a limited time, then after our interest expires, we look for another cultural relic to satisfy ourselves with.
What is even more laughable is how we defend ourselves by saying that we, Filipinos have helped Koreans during the Korean War as they face invasion against Chinese communists, therefore inaugurating the Philippine-Korean Friendship Day on August 15, 1948. We act like it is something Koreans have to be grateful for while in fact, we do not even understand that Korea has an even better definition of gratitude towards ours.
For Korea, gratitude means paying respect for something done out of necessity. We Filipinos view gratitude as simple as receiving anything from anyone, and thus we view ourselves as forever indebted to the giver.
We do not even know how to properly express gratitude. How can we have the right as well as the audacity to ask Korea for gratitude?
We have no right to do that. We only have our responsibilities to claim what we have done so obviously wrong.
The least we can do, is learn from it.
About the Author
John Thimoty Romero is a licensed professional teacher, a graduate of Philippine Normal University – Manila last 2017 as Bachelor of Secondary Education – Major in English. Upon his graduation, he received the Gawad Graciano Lopez – Jaena Co-Curricular Award for Campus Journalism.
He is the founder of Essays Against Mediocrity, a website dedicated to support independent authors, poets, and other content creators.