Writers at the South Korean edition of Maxim are blushing today, and not because of the racy photos of attractive ladies that usually grace the pages of the magazine. You have to wonder what they were thinking as the February issue went to press. It features this doozy of a headline on the cover: “How to date Japanese women who haven’t been exposed to radiation.” Unsurprisingly, people in Japan took offense and Maxim’s editor swiftly issued an apology, which only made things worse.After a few sentences along the lines of “we went too far”, the editor proceeded to put all the blame for the disagreement on Japan:
The recent brash remarks coming from Japan concerning Dokdo/Takeshima and the island dispute (the International Court of Justice case), Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, and the issue of comfort women, have unintentionally caused us to make a mistake.
South Korea and Japan are disputing the ownership of the Dokdo Islands (called Takeshima in Japan). They are are currently administered by South Korea. The islands—basically just rocks poking above the water—lie about halfway between the Korean peninsula and Japan. South Korea maintains a lighthouse, helicopter pad, a small police barracks, and a staircase on the east islet.Maxim is not the only publication to enflame nationalist passions around east Asia. Books and magazines that disparage South Korea and China have been selling like hotcakes in Tokyo, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Some of the blurbs on books recently displayed in a special section of a prominent bookstore devoted to anti-China and anti-South Korea books are pretty unfriendly: “Do you still want to get along with such a nation?” “There is not a single thing we can learn from that nation!” “Why is that race so self-centered?”One manga series called “Manga Ken Kan Ryu”—which translates as “Hating the Korean wave” or “Hate Korea: A Comic”—features characters who join the fictional “Far East Asia Investigation Committee” which discusses historical disagreements and sensitive issues, like whether Japan should compensate its neighbors for wrongdoings during World War II, Korean plagiarism of Japanese culture, Korean match-fixing during the 2002 World Cup, the “unattractiveness” of the Korean alphabet, and the Dokdo Islands dispute, among others. The Committee debates Korean groups over these issues and humiliates them. In one passage the book states, “there is nothing at all in Korean culture to be proud of.” The series has sold over a million copies since it emerged in 2005, and a new book will be released this month.