Our hopes have been answered: The U.S. is out of the World Baseball Classic, leaving us with tonight's all-East-Asia final pitting Korea and Japan. That may not sound exciting, until you appreciate the shared history of the neighboring rivals. Think of Korea vs. Japan as sort of like the Red Sox vs. the Yankees, if New York brutally raped and pillaged Boston over a hundred times throughout history, terrorized generations of Bostonians over multiple decades and forced them to change their names, lose their cultural identity and speak only with a New York accent. Yeah, something like that.
To paraphrase J.M. Coetzee paraphrasing Rene Girard: The fewer the differences between two parties, the more bitter their mutual hatred. Korea and Japan are right next to each other and share similar bloodlines, cultures and economies, yet an extremely bitter tension still exists between the two countries. Why? Check out our breakdown of the Korea-Japan beef through history below...
1592-1598: Toyotomi Hideyoshi led one of the first recorded Japanese invasions of Korea as part of the Seven Year War. The Japanese decimated the peninsula and kidnapped thousands of Korean artisans and brought them home'along with the ears and noses of troublemakers. The Mimizuka monument, which translates to "Ear Mound," still stands today in Kyoto. That shit just don't sound right!
1910-1945: Japan's 35-year annexation of Korea included the familiar imperialist atrocities, but perhaps none worse than the "comfort women" forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military. Actual numbers vary, depending on where you're from (Korea says 200,000+; Japan says 20,000), but there's no disputing that the majority of comfort women were Korean. The debate continues today, with a recent uproar over Japanese historical textbooks denying the existence of comfort women, which is about as believable as Rawse's denials about being a C.O.
2001-2006: Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi created a stir with his annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors soldiers'and convicted war criminals'who died fighting for Imperial Japan. These public visits angered Japan's neighbors, adding to widespread anti-Japan sentiment. Imagine the Chancellor of Germany paying homage to old Nazi leaders and you might get a sense of the outrage in East Asia.
2005-Present: South Korea currently occupies Dokdo, a group of islets between Korea and Japan that Japan claims is part of its territory. The two countries have long bickered over the area, with tensions rising in recent years with multiple protests and diplomatic sneak disses by each country. Should the two nations rap battle for it?