Monday, March 12, 2007

Taiwan and Korea and Japan

Here's a difference I noticed between the Taiwanese and the Koreans. The other day I was in a big shopping area in Taipei and I noticed a Mr. Donut franchise. Mr. Donut is a Japanese franchise, unknown in Korea (where Dunkin' Donuts thoroughly dominates the market) but common here.

The sign for Mr. Donut proclaims, "Japan No. 1". If Mr. Donut were to try to enter the Korean market, I can pretty well guarantee that they would NOT mention that they were big in Japan - on the contrary, they would try to downplay the Japanese connection as much as possible.

To put it as bluntly as possible - The Taiwanese like Japan. Koreans don't.

It's kind of complicated to say why this is. Japan ruled Taiwan for longer - they took over Taiwan in 1895, Korea in 1905. But Japan invaded Korea back in the 1590s, and to hear the Korean side of things, they sacked about every city and ruined every Buddhist temple in the country. So perhaps the Koreans were prepped to hate the Japanese.

Also, Koreans have a lot more nationalistic feelings than the Taiwanese - many Koreans have a strong "KOREA #1!!" feeling that I haven't noticed yet in the Taiwanese mindset. (Korea's official English-language TV channel, Arirang, is thought by a LOT of people to be absurdly nationalistic in its outlook; I don't know if Taiwan has an equivalent.) Korea had been an independent country which was taken over and subsumed by Japan; Taiwan had been a province of Imperial China and was in many ways treated better by the Japanese than it had been by the authorities in Beijing. To generalize, Korea steadily opposed Japanese rule; Taiwan acclimated itself to Japanese rule and never resisted much.

Now, as Jenna puts it, the Taiwanese are the only people in East Asia who don't hate Japan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yay Mister Donut! I recommend the Honey Old-Fashioned. It's the only one worth eating. I'd leave the Mr. Donut jingle here for you if I could....