Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunday, April 6, 2008

New Coreana Nazi video pretty much the same as the old Coreana Nazi video.

Just saw the revised, Jew-friendly Coreana ad on OnStyle, and they did change the "Hitler couldn't even hold east and west" (roughly) to "Nobody could hold east and west." After getting their name dragged through the mud by CNN, ABC, USA Today, the Associated Press, and every other paper and blog that picked up the story . . . THAT'S how Coreana responds? By changing one word? How on earth can that be considered even remotely appropriate? After writing me to take down the youtube videos, and issuing a mess of excuses to the Associate Press, it's quite clear that they JUST . . . DON'T . . . GET IT and, as expected, have no idea whatsoever what all the fuss is about. As if that weren't apparent from the decision to shoot those ads in the first place. Here's how Seo Sang-hee, a representative from the ad agency who did the commercial and a woman who messaged me earlier, responded to criticism of the initial ads:

A Korad official, Seo Sang-hee, confirmed the ad was meant to invoke a Nazi soldier and Hitler, which she said symbolize "revolution" in keeping with the lotion's "revolutionary" dual functions.

Seo said the commercial was not designed to promote Hitler, but rather the idea that the cosmetics will succeed in both East and West, which Hitler failed to do.

And here's what I don't get. From the same CNN article:
However, company spokesman Kim Yoon-oh said the slogan has already changed to: "No one has ever had the East and West." The phrase was meant to boast of the product's dual moisturizing and calming effects.

The company said it had not received the Wiesenthal Center complaint, but Kim said concerns of potential controversy prompted the slogan change before the ad began airing in February.

The commercial still features the same militaristic imagery, but Kim said Coreana was not aware of the Nazi-style logo on the model's cap. He said the costume was selected by a stylist affiliated with Korad, a Seoul-based firm that produced the commercial.

The ad was clearly not altered back in February, and the use of "Hitler" is only part of the problem. The uniform, the background noise, the German language, and the, um, bombing campaign are all in extremely poor taste, and make the setting almost instantly recognizable as Nazi Germany. As to whether the company received the Simon Weisenthal Center complaint, who knows. Somebody obviously tipped them off to the videos on youtube---though I wonder if Coreana has moved to take them off Naver and Daum---so somebody obviously must have been aware of the media hoopla, and somebody must have been saavy enough to navigate English-language websites. Coreana does have an English-language portion on its site, but I have to wonder if they were even capable of interpreting the Simon Weisenthal Center complaint letter. And if they did understand the words, would such a motion even translate culturally to compel them to drop an ad campaign? A single letter doesn't seem very persuasive, and as I said before, as a primarily domestic company, they are fairly insulated against a little bad press overseas. A letter from an unknown foreign entity probably carried as much weight to Korad and Coreana as their Korean-language letters did to me.

And here's another thing. If you watch the "making" video for another Coreana commercial featuring actress Park Jin-hee and the 녹두 line of cosmetics, you'll see a white woman in some position of authority, and you'd wonder who was behind the cameras for these latest ads.

Well, whatever, fuck 'em. Spread the word to whomever you were complaining to before, and let them know that nothing has really changed. Get the Simon Wiesenthal Center back on the phone. If anybody finds a new version of the commercial on Naver, please put it on youtube and pass it around.

You can tell that I'm still pretty much bed-ridden because I have time enough to stare at Park Jin-hee write so much these days.

Coreana wants the ads removed from Youtube.

Got back from work yesterday to find a couple of messages to my youtube account, regarding the two Nazi-themed cosmetic commercials. I wasn't sure what they were, although they did seem rather formal-sounding. A couple of posters on Dave's gave them a read through and told me that the gist of the messages were that in response to the Simon Wiesenthal Center protest and the media coverage, the ad will be changed from "Hitler couldn't hold east and west" to "Nobody could hold east and west." Thus, they would like the old advertisements taken down.

One of the messages was from Seo Sang-hee, a Korad representative who appeared in the article that ran on this topic. An excerpt:

A Korad official, Seo Sang-hee, confirmed the ad was meant to invoke a Nazi soldier and Hitler, which she said symbolize "revolution" in keeping with the lotion's "revolutionary" dual functions.

Seo said the commercial was not designed to promote Hitler, but rather the idea that the cosmetics will succeed in both East and West, which Hitler failed to do.

Are you kidding me? Why not just use Rain? *cough* Anyway, here are the two messages I received. They are in Korean, so they're off limits to a lot of us. They refer to "Solitary" or "SolitaryThrush," the name I used on youtube (from Whitman). I've taken out cell phone numbers, but that's it. Editorializing to follow.

From Seo Sang-hee:
Solitary님께서 올리신 동영상 <코리아나 화장품 -- 녹두 28앰플> 광고를 대행하고 있는 광고대행사 KORAD에서 본 동영상과 관련하여 Solitary님께 아래와 같이 협조를 의뢰 드리고자 합니다.

Solitary님께서 올리신 동영상 <코리아나 화장품 -- 녹두 28앰플> 광고 파일과 관련하여
해당 기업인 코리아나 화장품의 기업 이미지에 부정적인 영향을 미칠 수 있는 소지가 있음을 알려드립니다.
먼 저, Solitary님께서 올리신 광고는 현재 방영되고 있는 광고물 제작 이전에 만들어진 제작물입니다. 방송 광고로 온 에어 하기에는 부적합한 부분이 있어 사전에 이를 수정한 광고물로 현재 방송되고 있음에도 불구하고 현재 온라인 상에서 유포되어 있는 해당 동영상으로 인해 현재 광고주가 곤란한 상황이 발생하였습니다. 구체적으로, 이스라엘 대사관으로부터 '독일군의 유태인 학살'과 관련된 부정적 이미지의 역사적 인물을 광고에서 표현 대상물로 활용함으로써 유태계 국민들의 정서에 부정적 영향을 미치는 결과를 초래하였다는 항의를 받고 있습니다.
이는 광고의 본 제작 의도와는 전혀 다른 방향으로 광고를 해석하는데 따른 결과이며, 이로 인하여 특정 기업(코리아나 화장품)의 이미지에 매우 부정적으로 작용할 수 없음을 알려드리는 바입니다.
Solitary님의 의도와는 무관하여 올리신 동영상으로 인하여 발생되는 이와 같은 문제가 확대되지 않도록 혜량하여 주실 것을 부탁드립니다.
더불어 이와 관련하여 자세한 사항에 대해서는 아래 연락처로 문의하여 주시기 바랍니다.

문의) KORAD 서상희 부장

And from one of the folks in charge of the ad campaign:
저는 코리아나화장품의 '녹두28앰플'광고를 대행하고 있는
광고대행사 코래드의 원현정입니다.
죄송한 말씀입니다만
SolitaryThrush님께서 4월3일 올려주신 코리아나 화장품의
'녹두28앰플' TV CF와 관련하여 삭제를 요청드립니다.
카피 내용중 부적절한 문구가 있어
현재 수정된 카피로 CATV에서 방영중에 있습니다.

문제가 된 카피는 '히틀러도 동과서를 다 갖지는 못했다'로
현재는'그 누구도 동과서를 다 갖지는 못했다'로
이와 관련, 유태계 관련 단체로 부터 항의가 접수 된바
신속히 해당 동영상을 삭제하여 주실것을 부탁드리오니
협조하여 주시기 바랍니다.

코래드 캠10팀
[number deleted]

I've decided to post them because I find them timely and newsworthy, and because I find some disconnect between the uproar and the response. The "uproar" isn't happening in Korea among Koreans, or even in Asia, but rather among a small minority of foreigners here, a special interest group, and overseas media outlets. Haven't seen any mention yet in the media over here. I suspect that most Koreans would find nothing wrong with the ad at all, and simply rewording the text, which is splashed over a woman clearly made up to resemble a Nazi officer, is not a satisfactory response in the least. Moreover, has there been any response made in English---to reach a global audience---aside from the translation provided in the CNN article?

I don't recall much change happening after the protests of the Nazi bars and the bestselling comic book "Far Countries, Near Countries." Nazi bars are still around, and the comic books are still in circulation and as popular as ever. And those are bigger and more flagrant displays of National Socialism and anti-Semitism than these 30-second ads. All the while, Koreans criticize textbooks sympathetic to Japanese occupation, or become furious whenever a Japanese politician visits the Yazakuni Shrine, or get involved in massive campaigns to alter maps or "correct" history. Not to belittle those first two issues---I totally belittle the third---but how about a little perspective, and a little awareness that the man who failed in the cosmetics business is the same one who was allied to those cursed Japanese. But in all seriousness, the lack of perspective and the extreme lack of sensitivity to world history is staggering. I wish I could say this was an isolated bout of ignorance, but as we've seen, this is something that comes up again and again and again. Whether it is anti-Semetic and racist comic books (here and here), or likening the burning of a national treasure to the September 11th attacks, or running a humorous advertisement with bin Laden's likeness shortly after 9/11/01, or the use of blackface to emphasize the ugliness of a singing group, or the relentless scapegoating of foreign English teachers, or more "run of the mill" racist jabs found in the newspapers with regularity (like this or this or this), the negative views held by some Koreans toward foreigners and foreign cultures is something that needs to be examined in earnest.

But, I'd be very surprised if anything comes of this. Coreana serves domestic customers primarily, just like the Hitler bars and those comic books, so worldwide outrage will have little effect on the company itself, but would rather sully (perhaps) the image of the country that produces and condones such material. Moreover, nothing usually happens when foreigners---who "don't understand Korean culture" anyway---have anything negative to say about Korea. All the more bizarre an attitude considering how hypersensitive South Korea is to its image overseas. These types of headlines aren't good for anybody over here . . . I just wish Koreans didn't have to be guilted into being more historically or globally aware, or always had to be explicitly told that things like the Holocaust and slavery were terrible things and are kinda sensitive issues for a lot of people, or that things like nigger, black face, or the stereotype of the powerful, omnipotent Jew aren't things you really should be playing around with.

Anyway, the ads will stay up until somebody takes them down.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nazis and cosmetics go well together. *Videos embedded*

Scroll down for updates (latest April 5, 2:30 pm).

Found a couple of commercials for Coreana, a cosmetics company over here. According to some of the scholars on Dave's ESL Cafe, the text in the commercials says something about Hitler's inability to fight a war on both fronts, and relates that to the make-up's strength. Okay, there are no blood flags flying, but nevertheless I'm not sure why Nazi imagery and Hitler references are considered appropriate in 21st-century Korea. Anyway, I finally figured out how to capture and embed them:

Sitting on the desk.

With the Nazi hat.

Or, you can watch them where I found them, here and here. And if that doesn't work, you can find them by navering 코리아나히틀러, which is how they're labeled on the Naver blogs I found.

And, welcome visitors from Planet Dave's. You might also be interested in the Nazi mural I found in downtown Gyeongju.

* Update 1: One Free Korea has an excerpt of a letter from the Simon Wissenthal Center to Coreana. I don't recall previous campaigns against Hitler Bars or anti-Semetic comic books having any impact, so we'll see if anything comes of this. Hitler Bars or best-selling comic books were much more prominent targets, and have survived in spite of a little negative publicity in the English-language world, whereas I've never even seen these month-old commercials run on TV, and am not sure a company like Coreana will feel any pinch from Western protests. All about raising awareness, though, and collecting evidence on Korea's bizarre race ideology, which was the whole point of this post anyway.

I'm sure this will all be explained away with a half-hearted apology, and no action will come of it. If the ad executives even understand why what they did was wrong, I'd be very surprised. This is a part of the world very ignorant of world history, and a part of the world that likes Nazis for, among other reasons, their sense of style.

* Update 2: In the German news now, on An excerpt from an article on the protest by the Simon Wiesenthal Center:
Zudem habe man deutlich machen wollen, dass die Creme sowohl im Osten als auch im Westen Erfolg haben werde — was Hitler nicht geschafft habe.

There's also mention on the Simon Wiesenthal Center site here.

* Update 3 (April 4, 22:24): On the front page of

* Update 4 (April 5, 14:30): Coreana wants the ads taken down because they have decided to change the wording from "Hitler . . . " to "Nobody . . . "

* Update 5 (April 5, 19:15): In Belgium.

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