Sunday, June 6, 2010

What the ... apologist?!?!?!?

I was talking about Korea with a friend today and I mentioned apologists. so he asked me what exactly an apologist is.

Easy definition is that an apologist is someone who is always defending something. Be it a country, person. institution, etc. But it means a little more, at least when talking about Korean apologists. These are people that feel they have to defend against any slight, whether real or perceived, no matter how minor or major. They will pursue this defense even when it goes against the reality of the situation.

There is actually a way to pick out apologists. There is usually a pattern to how they comment. Some ways obvious and others more subtle.

The most obvious way is to try and deny the reality of what you said. This can take different forms. Some may try to just ramble on (In person we would say they try to shout you down like some of the Anti-Obama wing nuts during the election.) It doesn't matter what you said. All is well. Nothing to see. Move along. All is well.

Others try a more insulting tact and try to deny the validity of your experience. I once wrote on another site about some bad experiences I had in Korea. Some apologist had to chime in and say "Well that never happened to me and I haven't seen it happen so I don't believe it happens." Well, he is welcome to go through life with his head stuck up his ass. Eventually he will get run over.

Or they will try to diminish your experience. One person wrote about a number of idiots he ran into just getting to the bus at Incheon airport. An adjosshi staring and pointing. Someone hawking up a loogie nnear him. Comments that people made in Korean thinking he couldn't understand. In comes an apologist who starts go on that he was exaggerating. The OP must have lumped a few separate incidents together to try and get sympathy.

By denying or diminishing your experience they hope to make it seem unbelievable, or that you are just a whiner.

Then you have the more subtle way some apologists act.

Some will try to obfuscate the issue. If you complain about, lets say cartoons in the Korean media, they will find a way to poo poo it. Oh the cartoons you are talking about were written by a Frenchman in Thailand not Koreans. Of course this would assume that you were only talking about one cartoonist. Furthermore, even if you were ONLY talking about those cartoons the fact a Frenchman in Thailand drew them doesn't negate the fact they were approved by an editor of a Korean paper and appeared in them. By bringing up someone from another nationality drawing them, and doing it in another country, it is supposed to cloud the issue. Excuse things. At the same time it may ignore major factors that would hurt their argument, such as not talking about 1 cartoon or cartoonist or the fact the papers allowed the cartoons to be used. It is all about deflecting the focus of the blame away from Korea and Koreans.

And lest we forget that grand method of obfuscation ... comparing what you complain about in Korea with other countries. "This happens in America!" Completely forgetting that we are in KOREA and not the other country. Why pay attention to facts if it hurts your argument?

Mind you even when they use this they can be wrong. Case in point bad drivers. when complaining about it in Korea apologists whined "There are bad drivers in Canada too!" Never said they weren't but I wasn't in Canada being bothered by bad drivers. And if I use the illogic of the apologists there are NO bad drivers in Canada! I have been home for 3 weeks and change. I haven't seen a bad driver ergo there are no bad drivers in Canada. Great lack of logic isn't it?

Then you have the way some apologists will make comments implying you have ulterior motives for making a negative comment about Korea, whether real or perceived. For example saying something like:

"It was a left-versus-right issue, most certainly, and there are plenty of Koreans who share your anger. If that really is anger and not just some convenient issue with which to bash Koreans in general when it's convenient for you."

They subtlely impugn your reasons for making your comment while trying to make it seem as though they aren't attacking you. Are you really angry or just using it to bash Korea? Thereby calling your motives into question and trying to devalue your comments or experience. They don't have the balls to come out and make a direct accusation. They rely on innuendo instead.

The biggest failure of the apologists is that they just can't understand that someone can like something (a country, a brand, etc) and still complain about it. That just doesn't compute with them. So they do what they can to try and silence you or make insinuations about you. In their desire to fully support it they ignore the bad and feel the need to attack anyone they perceive as speaking ill of it. That is an apologist.


  1. It does piss me off when apologists come into an argument and try and derail it. I'm not the sort of person who needs to have the last word, so I usually walk away, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

    It's a pain in the ass when they do take that "I didn't see it so it didn't happen," line.

    But what annoys me much, much more is the denial of your testimony. When, for example, a Korean person stares at your and says "big nose" or "stupid foreigner" in Korean, and someone later points out that, 1) you don't understand Korean well enough, so you're probably mistaken, 2) cultural differences... 3) you're white so you deserve it because there are a ton of racist white people.

    Those are bitchy fucking problems. Firstly, you don't have to speak perfect Korean to know someone's being an asshole. Secondly, there are cultural differences and then there are assholes. Thirdly, it's great being white, but when you're in a place where they don't really like white people... it's different.

    Anyway, I like Korea these days. I'm having a good time here. But I'd never throw my stupid opinion into other blogs, belittling their experiences and whatnot. It's pathetic. Fuck the apologists.

  2. I forgot about that one. Shouldn't have because I heard it enough from them too.

    I heard of one apologist who created a second "persona" to use so he would look more moderate. He actually gave the "persona", a lesbian Korean-American Republican, a website. He would use "her" to attack people while he gave a more "balanced" response.

    Bloody head cases.

  3. This was a nice post. Back in the day I tried my best to see Korea through rose colored glasses, but reality soon caught up. Personally the thing that bothers me the most about this place is the daily child abuse that happens in schools and is supposedly illegal, but occurs nonetheless.

    Having said that, I think that the best tactics for dealing with people, especially Koreans is though tempered criticism. Koreans tend to believe that they are constantly under attack by somebody, so even the most gently worded critique can lead the Korean to believe that he and his race are inferior in the eyes of the critic. Therefore his or her usual choice of action would be to justify him or herself, and pick an argument. At this point it might just be wise to say that you understand their point of view, and that they should think about what you said. The goal shouldn't be to argue with people but to make sure that they heard what you said.

    Also, if someone has injured or insulted you in some way, and you are complaining to someone else, make it clear that you were hurt either emotionally or physically, so that the other person will be the jackass for trying to obfuscate the issue.

    A: I got punched in the face by a Korean guy when I was waiting for a signal to change.

    B: You should understand Korea's history and Dokdo.

    A: And you should understand that I had to go to the hospital, and that I had to get stitches.

    B: Yeah but...

    A: Look I am not trying to attack Korea. I am just saying that a random Korean guy attacked me, I know that Korea has had a rough time, but that doesn't excuse the actions of an individual. When that guy hit me, I felt completely humiliated and scared. Don't try to belittle my experience.

  4. Interesting approach 3gyupsal. :)

    The child abuse, and there really isn't a better term for it, that takes place daily is very hard to deal with.

    I have also been told it is illegal for teachers to beat kids but then I have heard about and seen some the results of beatings. Glad my director never went in for that.

  5. I know this is old but I thought I was the only one who felt this way. THANK YOU.

  6. There are probably more people who feel this way than there are apologists.