Rhie Won-bok Condemned by US Government

March 16th, 2008 · Politics · 9 comments

The manhwa comic book “Far Countries, Near Countries”, which received international attention after its racist and anti-semitic content was translated by Joe Mondello and posted on his blog, is back in the news after being featured in a US State Department report on global anti-semitism.

Original Article.

The US Department of State has chosen Deokseong Women’s University professor Rhie Won-bok’s manhwa book “Far Countries, Near Countries” (먼나라 이웃나라) as a representative example of global anti-semitism.

In the Department’s recent report “Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism” (세계의 반(反)유대주의) two scenes from the book are presented as showing Jews engaged in global conspiracy plotting.

The book, created to make it easy to learn about world history and cultures, has sold over 10 million copies in Korea as a best-selling children’s educational book.

The report says of the book that, “it depicts Jews as engaged in various conspiracies including controlling the American media, profiting from wars, and causing the 9/11 terror attacks.”

For concrete examples the report uses a scene where newspapers, magazines, TVs and radios are emblazoned with the Star of David, which is a symbol of Judaism, and explains that, “in sum the American media belongs to the Jews, and their voice is supreme.”

Another scene in the report shows a man walking up a path on a hill with a Star of David above him and the word STOP written next to it on bricks blocking his path, with the caption, “in the end however far you go, you always are stopped by the Wall of the Jews.”

The report noted that sales of the book were halted last March and that the author, after recognizing his “error”, said, “I will write a letter taking responsibility.”


  • I had no idea there was Jew-hating going on in this country… I’ve had several Jewish friends over the years, and I’ve never really understood the hatred.

    Ian · March 16th, 2008 at 10:21 PM

  • It should be noted that this book has by no means been taken off shelves, nor has production stopped, nor have any changes been made to recent additions. Rhie and the publisher’s apology and pledge to change were just so many empty words.

    Joe Mondello · March 16th, 2008 at 11:09 PM

  • Ian, I don’t think there is much Jew-hating going on in Korea. But many people do sort of matter-of-factly believe that Jews run the media and so on and are not aware that this would be a controversial belief elsewhere and certainly don’t see any connection between that belief and violence in any form. I think it’s seen as not much different from believing that the west and particularly the US exert considerable influence gained not through entirely legitimate means.

    I’ll give you an example of why I think so. I was at a drink-up with a bunch of business English students to which my mother had brought several bottles of good Kentucky whiskey. While still sober, one of the students turned to my mother and asked, quite innocently, how my father feels about Jews controlling the world. Naturally she was pretty taken aback and chided him he shouldn’t ask that of westerners. But she also felt it was clear that he had asked the question purely out of curiousity and not out of anti-semitism.

    Korea Beat · March 16th, 2008 at 11:16 PM

  • Alas anti-beliefs of certain cultures and race’s of people shall never die.

    Mark Twain · March 17th, 2008 at 3:26 AM

  • I now understand why an anonymous Korean left a message at my blog this morning complaining about misrepresentation of Lee (Rhie) Won-bok on a blog entry that I posted a year ago.

    I was puzzled at the comment after nearly a year . . . until I read Sonagi’s post at the Marmot’s Hole linking to Korea Beat’s translation here of the Naver article.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

    Horace Jeffery Hodges · March 17th, 2008 at 7:18 AM

  • “But she also felt it was clear that he had asked the question purely out of curiousity and not out of anti-semitism.”

    I gotta say I don’t think that you can think they control the media and not dislike it, or them. No one would say “They control the media and that’s no problem.”

    Also, the canard that Jews control the media – or in the past, the banks, the diamond trade, etc – is and has always been anti-semitic, and a source of further hatred of Jews.

    And I’ve met plenty of Jew haters in Korea, and way more than I ever met back home (if I ever met any). My moms of students, people in bars, taxi drivers.

    I usually reply by saying John Yoo controls US foreign policy.

    alec · April 4th, 2008 at 11:56 PM

  • Considering that my mom is married to a Jewish man — my father — I think I’ll go with her interpretation of how he said it.

    Korea Beat · April 5th, 2008 at 4:31 PM

  • […] people still haven’t gotten the message, even after the controversies over Hitler bars and anti-semitic comic books.  I still haven’t seen anything in the Korean media about this recent […]

    ZenKimchi » Hitler Would Wear that Shade, Why Not You? · April 7th, 2008 at 10:11 AM

  • Most Koreans I know don’t know who Hitler is, have no idea what happened during WW II and similarly have never met a Jewish person, don’t know that they believe in the Judeo-Christian God, and seem to think they are ONLY in the US.

    Mike · July 10th, 2009 at 3:17 PM

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