South Korean Manhwa Accused of Anti-Semitism
posted on by Christopher Macdonald
"Monnara Iunnara" (Distant Countries and Neighboring Countries), a South-Korean educational manhwa by university Professor Lee Won-bok, is causing international outrage over sections of the comic that are being called anti-semitic.
The series is intended to teach children about other countries and has sold over 12 million copies since the first issue was published in 1987.
In one case, the comic shows a man climbing a hill, only to be blocked by a wall with a Star of David and the word "stop" on it. The text states, "The final obstacle to success is always a fortress called Jews." Another section states, "In a word, American public debate belongs to the Jews, and it's no exaggeration to say that U.S. media are the voice of the Jews."
An issue published 3-years ago states, "Arab terrorists despise the United States and destroyed the World Trade Center with suicide attacks because Jews use money and the news media as weapons to control the United States."
The Korean American Patriotic Action Movement has protested against the comic and met with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish advocacy group to discuss the comic strips.
Yohngsohk Choe, co-chairman of the Korean American Patriotic Action Movement in the USA, told the New York Times, “They [the images] have the potential to harm good relationships we have established with our Jewish-American neighbors in Los Angeles.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, will travel to Seoul in 2 weeks to address concerns over the comics. In a statement on the Simon Wiesenthal Center, website, Cooper wrote, “The images in question in Monnara Iunnara echo classic Nazi canards like those found in Der Sturmer and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion by recycling various Jewish conspiracies like Jewish control of the media and money, Jews profiting from war, and even the reason for the 9/11 attacks was that, ‘Jews use money and the media as weapons in America to do as they want’,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, adding, “the author also even alleges that the ‘final obstacle to success’ in the U.S. for Korean-Americans is a so-called 'Wall of the Jews'”
Cooper acknowledges that the issue was brought to his attention by Korean Americans.
Through his publisher, Lee has apologized for the matter and said that he would change portions of the book that are seen as anti-semitic. However, he has also stated that he is not anti-Semitic and that the statements about the Jews are “commonly knowledge.”
The issue of racism have also plagued Japanese manga publishers, most recently most of the racism has been directed towards Korea, although anti-semitism is not unheard of in Japanese manga. In 2005, Japanese manga Kenkanryu (Hate the Korean Wave) and Introduction to China caused international outrage when they were published.