Monday, December 17, 2007

Dong-A Ilbo: "America: 2% Jewish, but Manipulated by Jews"

"JEW: 유대인 파워"
("JEW: Jewish Power")
(Image from Dong-A Ilbo)

After church yesterday, my family and I went out to lunch at a local Korean restaurant near Bonghwasan Subway Station, and as we sat down to our table, I happened to glimpse on a neighboring table the flag image that you see above taking up fully one-quarter of page A19 in the International (국제) section of the Dong-A Ilbo (동아일보) for Saturday, December 15, 2007. Concluding that the paper, already a day old, had been left behind by a customer, I took it and brought it home for closer inspection.

I've provided my best translation effort for the Dong-A Ilbo headline in my blog heading above, but someone better in Korean than I will probably need to retranslate it:
"2% 유대인, 미국을 쥐락펴락"
I've asked the Big Hominid, of Hairy Chasms fame, who suggests "2% Jew(ish), Puppeteering America," which he considers a bit awkward, but he adds that the headline alone strikes him as antisemitic. I had considered something like "puppeteering" for "쥐락펴락," but my wife and my daughter both said "manipulating" or "molding." I await a more exact translation.

Much the same goes for the article from which this headline and the unpleasant photo above have been borrowed, i.e., someone more proficient than I will need to take a crack at the whole article.

However, the Korean expression "유대인 파워" superimposed on the flag itself just beneath the equally superimposed majuscule "JEW" is simple to translate. It means "Jewish Power" and apparently implies that Jews are the controlling power in America.

The author of this article, Kong Jong Sik (공종식), who serves as the Dong-A Ilbo's foreign correspondent based in New York might not be the one who chose the headline and the photo, since that's usually an editorial decision, but even if the article itself is merely a report on Jewish influence, the title and photo will nudge the reader toward reading the article as saying that Jews manipulate American policy on Israel.

If the article minus the photos simply notes that Jews have influence greater than would be expected from their tiny percentage of the American population (2% or whatever) because of their remarkably high percentages in various professional fields, then the article might be unobjectionable, but combined with the prominent headline and photo, it seems to go beyond this to suggest manipulation, possibly even control, of America by Jews, and this is where we're led into the realm of conspiracy theory.

Never underestimate the power of visual cues.

But I'll leave the more exact analysis to fellow bloggers here in Korea who have the requisite Korean skills (though experimentalists can copy here and paste here for a rough translation).

I was, however, truly hoping that we'd gotten beyond Lee Won-bok's Far Countries and Close Countries (이원복, 먼나라 이웃나라)...

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At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

쥐락펴락 is a combination of the words for "to grasp" and "to let loose," bringing to mind how the strings of a marionette are manipulated. I think your translation is fine. Another possibility would be "America: 2% Jewish, but Dominated by Jews."

If you want to keep the marionette aspect, how about: "Only 2% are Jews, but they pull the strings of America." A little wordy for a headline, but it's the best I could come up with.

(Sorry, but I don't really have the time or the patience for the article right now.)

At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Or: "Only 2% of Americans are Jews, but they pull the strings" might sound a little better.)

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Charles. Your suggestions sound better than mine.

I've since used GLT (Google Language Tools) to translate the article, which doesn't sound quite so bad as the title and image (assuming that I can trust GLT), so I'm guessing that the latter two were editorial decisions rather than the writer's choice.

We'll surely hear more on this, so we may find out.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:08 PM, Blogger John B said...

according to my dictionary (based on the YBM-SISA lexicon), the first definition is to clasp and unclasp your hand, as in to make a fist.

When the object is a person, it lists "lead ((a person)) by the nose; have ((a person)) at one's beck and call; make a puppet of ((a person)), twist[turn] ((a person round one's (little) finger. . ." and so forth.

It also lists the example 남편을 쥐락펴락하다: "dominate one's husband; keep one's husband under one's thumb" (a useful expression for anyone married/engaged to a korean ^_^)

I tried googling for usage examples, but they were a little beyond my language skills. The meaning "manipulate" seems to fit pretty closely, though. No puppet examples, unfortunately. The puppeteer metaphor lends itself to English, but my 5 minute, poor Korean survey couldn't find a close example.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

John B. thanks for visiting again, and for doing some heavy lifting. You say:

"No puppet examples, unfortunately. The puppeteer metaphor lends itself to English, but my 5 minute, poor Korean survey couldn't find a close example."

But you did find something related:

"make a puppet of ((a person))"

Couldn't this be reworked (in Korean) into the sense of pupeteering?

At any rate, thanks for the assistance.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Make that "puppeteering."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:17 PM, Blogger John B said...

Actually, after skimming the article, the big graph titled "US Ivy League Undergraduate Ratios of Jewish Students" set off the most alarm bells in my mind.

At 1:33 PM, Blogger John B said...

I found "puppet" in the English-Korean lexicon, but I suspect they are denoting the English expression of manipulation as puppetry rather than a Korean expression.

I did a quick google search for pairings of 쥐락펴락 with 인형 (doll) and 꼭두각시 (marionette) and from my brief scan of the results, they didn't seem to be matched together. 인형을 만들다 (make a doll) seemed to come up in the same discussions as 쥐락펴락, although the two were not closely linked.

Overall, I think "puppetmaster" is an English metaphor more than a Korean metaphor. I'm afraid to use it as a translation because it has such a strongly negative, Cardinal Richelieu-like sense of villainy. It may emphasize the negative more than the original Korean term implies.

This is where I back out and let the Korean linguists prove me wrong. I'm only an English graduate, for crissakes. ^_^

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...

I think that:

"US the Puppet of Jew Minority"

would capture the tone of the article quite well.

And apropos John B's observation about the emphasis on the disproportionate percentage of Jewish Ive Leaguers, maybe the real message to the tribe is, "see if only we can achieve the same percentages, we can pull the strings of Uncle Sucker.
Or maybe, they're upset because they already have the percentages, but haven't succeeded yet in turning Uncle Sam into their own Howdy Doody.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

John B., thanks again. You may be "only an English graduate, for crissakes," but you've outdone an old English professor like me.

I'll have to ask my wife and daughter about the puppeteer possibility.

As for the ratios of Jewish students, would those even happen to be accurate? They seem a bit high to me for undergraduates. Graduate studies, maybe...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sperwer, good to see you here again.

Did you sense any difference in tone between the article on the one hand and the title plus photo on the other?

Or did I imagine that?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:50 PM, Blogger John B said...

Let me rephrase that. There doesn't seem to be a literal "puppetmaster" meaning to the Korean term. It can, apparently, have a very similar meaning in some contexts. In other contexts it apparently has a more neutral form, as in the example of the wife controlling her husband.

As manipulaton goes, on one hand you have your wife wheedling you, and on the other hand you have The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The "puppetmaster" image is definitely associated with the latter.

It's probably a better idea to choose the more neutral term and give them the benefit of the doubt. If they're going to get hardcore crazy, just feed them enough rope to hang themselves. I'm sure if I spent the past hour translating the article instead of looking up relational definitions I could have answered that question by now. ^_^

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks again, J.B.

I suspect that we'll soon see the other Korea-Bloggers all over this. When The Marmot, The Big Ho, The Metropolitican, et al. get finished fisking the article, we'll know exactly what to think.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:00 PM, Blogger John B said...

Oh, and I did a quick search for Harvard demographics. I couldn't find anything authoritative (universities tend not to advertise those reports during these anti-Affirmative Action days) but 25-30% was a commonly cited figure.

I was actually looking for information on Korean admissions when I found the numbers for Jewish admissions.

Interestingly, it seems to be a hot-button issue in the Asian-American community. Several Asian-American sites claimed that there is a quota on Asian admissions, but not on Jewish admissions, so Jewish students are disproportionately represented in the student body, while Asians are underrepresented.

There might be an influence on the writer from rivalries in the US minority communities. I would demand further support from the text before I would give this credence though. It's probably a coincidence.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

J.B., thanks yet again. You're resourceful with the sources and will surely do well in graduate school (and good luck on those applications, by the way).

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:13 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...

"Several Asian-American sites claimed that there is a quota on Asian admissions, but not on Jewish admissions"

Mmm, wasn't that alleged "quota" called affirmative action a few years ago?

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sperwer, I recall at Berkeley that the Asian-Americans complained about quotas that kept their numbers down.

They must have been partly right about that -- albeit not because of quotas intentionally against them -- for when minimum quotas for other minorities were done away with, the percentage of Asian-Americans shot up. If I recall, Asian-Americans now make up more that 50 percent of the Berkeley undergraduate student body.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:46 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...


I guess it depended on whether you were on the East Coast or the Left Coast. In the East, Asians generally were among the direct beneficiaries of AA.

At 9:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

We may also be talking about different decades.

Anedotal tidbit: When I taught in Korea the first time (1995), I expected to encounter super-students -- based on my experience teaching Asian students at Berkeley -- and was profoundly disillusioned by the entire higher education system in Korea. It has improved a bit over the years but still has far to go to reach the 'global' (i.e., Western) level.

But this is way off topic...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:02 PM, Blogger Fencerider said...

I don't get the Korean exactly either with my rudimentary Korean skills but something did come to mind when I heard the word "Puppets" in this context: These words were often used in the English press releases from North Korea usually in reference to the ROK government's relationship to the US. Perhaps a cross reference to the Korean translation from some of those articles may be in order to find out if the aforementioned Korean comes close to the usage in that context. Basically, would it be something that Kim Jong Il might say?

At 3:20 AM, Blogger John B said...

During my time at the University of Washington (7 years undergraduate -_-;;;) the asian student body first began to outnumber the caucasian student body.

It was approximately the same time as I-200, the bill banning affirmative action in Washington State. I didn't make a connection at the time, although in the aftermath African-American admissions dropped so low almost every black guy on campus was on a sports team.

I did try to dig up those stats before, but couldn't find it online at the UW website. It should be located in the SEATTLE TIMES archives, but I don't have the time to search right now. I distinctly remember seeing the article, though, either in the SEATTLE TIMES or UW DAILY.

But, on the left coast there is still a good deal of controversy about the overrepresentation of Asians.

Although, here's and article by Anne Kim, which I'll include because she was my classmate in "Imperialism in American Literature" seminar. Apparently she's now on the TIMES staff, although I was disappointed that she didn't carry what she learned about identity politics and postcolonial theory into her commentaries.

At 4:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Fencerider, you may be onto something.

The crude Marxist Left has a tendency to see conspiracies -- as though the Hegelian cunning of reason were a hidden group of people manipulating things. Crude Marxist rhetoric typically descends into name-calling and talk of "the running dogs of capitalism," "capitalist lackeys," "Uncle Sam's puppet," and so on.

Perhaps this tendency partly explains why some Leftist groups have fallen for antisemitic readings of world events.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:21 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

JB, seven years an undergraduate! You have my nearly five years beat (though I did spend a lot of time in graduate school).

As for Ms. Kim's article, I'd say that a lot of what one picks up in academics doesn't easily fit into newspaper reports. A longer article in a magazine can deal with such things perhaps.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading teachers show our students how to look for the author's purpose and use that knowledge to interpret the underlying message of the text. As for the author's purpose of this news article, I think Sperwer is on the money. I recall that in Rhie Won-bok's infamous book on US society, there was a cartoon image of the wall of the Jews holding back the Korean from reaching the top. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi. Perhaps "envy" would be the more precise term.

That emotion may indeed be at work, but more seems to be going on than just envy (or jealousy). One envies another's position, for example, because one wants have it instead of the other having it. But one could envy the position of one whom one also respects. The article implicitly compares Jews to spiders, which suggests that some distaste as well as envy.

See the following post on this point.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The article implicitly compares Jews to spiders, which suggests that some distaste as well as envy.

See the following post on this point."

I did and left a comment, which you responded to. Your wife, as a native speaker, can offer a more informed opinion than I, but the "spider web" simile did not liken the Jews to spiders. It likened the network of powerful Jews to a spiderweb. As I explained, the simile is commonly used in a variety of contexts and appears to be neutral. In plain English, it's just an expression. Imagine an Arab reading about someone "working like a dog" and misinterpreting it as a grievous insult because of the Arab cultural perception of dogs as filthy animals.

I'll take your suggestion and subsitute "envy" for "jealousy."

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Sonagi. I noticed that comment right after my remarks here.

Jeffery Hodges

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