Anti-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) sentiment among the South Korean people is rising.
More than 627,000 Koreans have signed a petition demanding the government cancel a “Chinatown” project in the resort city of Gangwon following last year’s “Han clothing vs. hanbok” and “kimchi” incidents.
On March 29, a petition was registered on the South Korean government’s website asking Gangwon province to cancel its “Chinatown” project.
“Why do we want to build a little China in Korea?” the petition asked. “The public doesn’t understand why we would want to offer Chinese cultural experience on our own land. We resolutely oppose.”
As of the early morning of April 21, the petition had received 627,000 signatures—the highest number of signatures ever received by the Blue House.
On April 16, the Blue House also received another petition calling for the impeachment of Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-soon over his pro-Beijing role in the “Chinatown” project.
Belt and Road Initiative Denounced as Cultural Invasion
The Gangwon “China Town” project is an agreement that was signed in 2019 between the Gangwon government and China, reported the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece the People’s Daily. Under the agreement, China and South Korea are to build a “Chinese complex cultural village” between Hongcheon and Chuncheon, the capital city of Gangwon province. Covering 296 acres, the project is 10 times the size of Incheon’s Chinatown.
In an interview with the People’s Daily in December 2019, Choi described the proposed “Chinese Cultural City” as a “cultural Belt and Road.” South Korean media reported that the project’s official name was “China-Korea Cultural City.”
The project is scheduled to be completed by 2022. However, the project has aroused strong resentment among Koreans, who believe the CCP is carrying out cultural imperialism in Korea to expand its political influence.
“We are opposed to the building of a hotel for Chinese tourists in Gangwon Province, which is the largest historical site in the world with a large number of excavations,” the petition said. “People are upset about losing their culture. We should stand up to China, which is trying to steal our unique culture like kimchi and hanbok.”
Kimchi, Hanbok Disputes
The “kimchi” dispute was sparked by the Global Times, the CCP’s overseas mouthpiece. The Global Times claimed that the CCP was in charge of setting international standards for the “pickled vegetable” industry, and that Korea’s status as the “suzerain state of kimchi” existed “in name only.”
The comments prompted an immediate outcry from South Koreans, who regard kimchi as a sacred food taken with almost every meal. The South Korean government replied that the Chinese standard for international certification is limited to Sichuan pickles, and has nothing to do with Korean kimchi.
In November 2020, Sichuan pickles of China were certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
The dispute followed heated debate on the relationship between Han clothing and hanbok among netizens of the two countries. Comic blogger “Old Xian” from mainland China created a series of cartoons about Han clothing. South Korean netizens questioned whether the dress in the picture copied elements of Korea’s hanbok. Chinese netizens, however, said the style had existed in China since the Ming Dynasty and that hanbok itself was “derived from Han clothing.”
In addition, a Korean drama, “Joseon Exorcist,” was accused of distorting Korean history. The inclusion of Chinese elements, such as dumplings, moon cakes, and a Chinese zither, sparked protests in South Korea. The screenwriters were criticized for being pro-CCP and the show was eventually taken off the air.
Moon Jae-in’s Popularity Rating Plummets Amid Rising Anti-CCP Sentiment
Koreans who have a negative view of China—thanks to Beijing’s politics—have risen from 37 percent in 2015 to 75 percent in 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating has also fallen to its lowest point since he took office.
According to data released by Korean pollsters on April 12, Moon’s latest approval rating was only 33.4 percent.
After the outbreak of CCP virus in Wuhan, China, in early 2020, more than 500,000 Koreans signed a petition demanding the Moon government deny entry to Chinese citizens for pandemic prevention. Meanwhile, 1.45 million people, dissatisfied with Moon’s pro-CCP policies, launched an impeachment petition against him.
“President Moon Jae-in’s policy toward the novel coronavirus shows that he is more like the president of China than the president of the Republic of Korea,” the impeachment document said.
The CCP Helped Elect Moon Jae-in
Since taking office in 2017, Moon has been openly pro-CCP. In 2019, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy anti-ELAB campaign won support from many democratic countries, but South Korea was not among them.
Even under the current of current global backlash against the anti-CCP, led by the United States’s fair trade policies, South Korea is still sitting on the fence, reflected by its unwillingness to participate in the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” with the United States, India, Japan, and Australia against the CCP’s growing aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
In February 2019, a former CCP cyber warrior and member of the Korean nonprofit organization “Turn Right” wrote an article saying that the CCP manipulated public opinion to help Moon Jae-in win the presidential election, aiming to make South Korea a CCP ally to compete with the United States.
According to internal documents obtained by The Epoch Times last October, after taking office, Moon set pro-CCP economic policies, elevating the “Saemangeum Seawall” to a project of national political importance, and integrating it into the “Northeast Asia Economic Hub” for cooperation with the CCP so as to strengthen economic and trade relations between South Korea and China. The CCP, on the other hand, uses the partnership to exert influence and control over the Moon administration.
Li Yanming, a U.S. based commentator, said, “At a time of tension in the Indo-Pacific region, the United States is working with its allies and partners to contain the CCP. South Korea used to be an ally of the United States, but Moon’s government is controlled by the CCP and does what Beijing says.
“Now, the anti-CCP sentiment among the Korean people is rising. They openly oppose the pro-CCP behavior of the Moon Jae-in government. The attempt by the CCP to infiltrate Korea has been met with a severe roadblock.”