Japanese Netizens: Anti-Hallyu or Not?

I came across an article on a Korean news site that talked about how anti-Hallyu sentiments in Japan are affecting Korean stars like Kim Tae Hee and Girls’ Generation. The writer started out by writing about how Kim Tae Hee was the victim of anti-Hallyu Japanese Internet users. These users protested her recent appearance in a Japanese cosmetics commercial and their complaints cancelled the press conference for the commercial. The anti-Hallyu Japanese netizens also sprang up when Kim Tae Hee was set to star in her Fuji TV drama, “Boku to Star no 99nichi.” The reason behind the protests was a statement Kim Tae Hee made in 2005, proclaiming Dokdo as a part of Korea.

If you are not familiar with it, the islands known as “Dokdo” in Korea, “Takeshima” in Japan and “Liancourt Rocks” in the English world, are the source of a long, on-going territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. Both countries are claiming that the islands belong to them. Kim Tae Hee’s assertion that the islands belong to Korea got her labeled as “Anti-Japan Actress” by some Japanese netizens.

The writer continued to back up his claims of “anti-Korean” Japanese netizens by pointing to protests against Girls’ Generation being chosen to represent e-ma throat candies. The writer noted that while some netizens praised Girls’ Generation for being chosen, others wrote, “Why couldn’t they choose a Japanese actor for this role?” Finally, the writer took to the recent Jang Geun Suk issue, where it was claimed that he made inappropriate remarks about a Japanese AV actress. Something that he never said. The writer seemed to paint these sentiments as “typical” in Japan.

However, I would argue that they are “typical” for certain Internet forums, but probably don’t represent the vast majority of people. I will admit that I’ve been quite busy this month and haven’t watched as much Japanese news as I normally do, but I haven’t seen or heard anything in the Japanese mainstream media regarding the previous issues. I’ve heard nothing about Kim Tae Hee, I’ve heard nothing about protests against Girls’ Generation and I certainly haven’t heard anything about Jang Geun Suk.

While this doesn’t mean that people aren’t talking about these things, I would suspect that most people really don’t care that much. The problem that a lot of Korean media outlets are faced with is that Japanese people don’t use the internet in the same way as Korean people. Most people in Japan don’t post online. In fact, a lot of people don’t know how to post online. Many people will only write something if they are assured that their comments will be anonymous, and even then they will leave non-controversial comments.

Unfortunately, there are only a few large online communities that are open to viewers. This means that Korean news outlets are limited to the same community that happens to attract a number of anti-Hallyu people. So, please keep that in mind when you guys read reports of anti-Hallyu sentiment from “Japanese netizens.” Because in most cases, it’s probably the same group of people.