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Korean celebrities denied entry to Japan

Posted November. 12, 2014 03:49,   


Actor Song Il-gook, whose grandfather is General Kim Jwa-jin who fought for the nation`s independence, had a puzzling experience after he participated in an event crossing the sea from the Dokdo islets by swimming to celebrate the anniversary of Korea’s Liberation Day on Aug. 15, 2012. Soon after the event, Japan’s deputy foreign minister said, “I’m sorry but Song Il-gook won’t be able to come to Japan going forward. That’s the Japanese national sentiment.” The airing of the Korean drama “A Man Called God” was also cancelled in Japan. Song wrote on Twitter, “I have nothing to say to what the Japanese deputy foreign minister said. I’m just calling my sons’ names. Daehan, Minguk, and Manse! (the names mean `Hurrah, the Republic of Korea`).”

Lee Seung-chul, a singer, who was trying to visit a friend in Japan with his wife, was forced to return to Korea after he was held at Japan`s Haneda airport for four hours. Lee held a small concert on the Dokdo islets with a choir of North Korean defectors in August this year. Tokyo does not specify the reason why it disallowed his entry but it is apparently retaliation against his concert on the Dokdo islets. Blocking even his wife’s entry to Japan is nonsense to a developed country.

It is an open secret that Japan puts pressure on Korean celebrities who make comments or do performance on Dokdo islets. Even Korean stars who are very popular in Japan should give up their activities in Japan once they are stigmatized by the Japanese government or right-wing extremists. Some say that both the Japanese government and private sector have a blacklist of Korean celebrities who made comment on the Dokdo islets.

I can never accept Japan’s claim of its sovereignty over the Dokdo islets, but as a former Japan correspondent, I am also well aware that many Japanese believe the islets belong to the Japanese territory and it is such a sensitive issue like lines that should go parallel. Nevertheless, it is so childish to refuse the entry of Korean celebrities to put a gag on them. The Korea-Japan relationship needs improvement but its claim that there was no forceful recruitment of comfort women or the rejection of the entry of Lee Seung-chul and Song Il-gook remind us again of how conservative and nationalistic the island country is.