As President Bush travels from Tokyo to Seoul, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that “Japan’s greying society—36 per cent are over 50—is becoming green with envy at what it perceives as South Korea’s less hectic and more caring lifestyle.” Japanese retirees, marginalized by a work-focused society and worried that Japan’s economic woes will force cuts in social programs, are increasingly drawn to Korea, where the cost of living is lower. The SCMP noted this is “all the more remarkable considering the prejudice in Japan—especially among the elderly—towards the country that Japan colonised from 1910-1945.” According to Asahi Shimbun, in October 2001, 17,613 Japanese were living long-term in South Korea, up from 12,788 in 1996.
The Financial Times reported Friday that conservatives in the Bush administration “profess astonishment that European nations have established embassies in Pyongyang and consider such dialogue little short of appeasement.” Thirteen European nations currently maintain embassies in the North; British chargé d’affaires Jim Hoare told the FT the European diplomats act as a buffer between North Korea and the United States: “We’ve been telling [North Korea] that they must distinguish between rhetoric and reality and that they must not overreact.” Hoare’s impressions of the hermit kingdom? “The number of people I’ve met [in Pyongyang] who’ve seen the Sound of Music is amazing.”
The sound of Japanese music will be heard in Seoul this summer: The government announced that broadcasting networks will be allowed to air Japanese songs when South Korea and Japan co-host the soccer World Cup in June. According to the Korea Herald, “South Korea strictly controls the inflow of Japanese pop culture into the country, reflecting the unresolved past between the two countries. … The temporary lift on the ban is unrelated to future plans to open up to Japanese pop culture.”