Semiotics of Atrocity – Korean Zombie and the Rising Sun
To date, ZombieLaw has yet mentioned the MMA Fighter named Jung Chan-Sung, the Korean Zombie. I am somewhat surprised that I never commented on the obvious racial undertone and that his name in the headline pairs with neocon rhetoric involving North Korea and also similar to the racial slur of Chinese Zombies at Yale — and Japan is a frequent reference in comparative zombie economics. This blog does try to shy away from mere entertainment news without a clear political connection. He is featured today for statements made this week raising some important issues for symbols and conceptual blending.
This week the Korean Zombie made a formal objection to the symbols on the costume of another MMA fighter. See Yahoo: “‘The Korean Zombie’ asks Georges St-Pierre to stop wearing ‘Rising Sun’ symbol at fights” By Maggie Hendricks at Cagewriter
To some extent this statement should be considered fight promotion trash talk between entertainers. The Korean Zombie’s letter is politely worded and respectful but tries to explain that the other fighter’s outfit is culturally offense. It seems the outfit of the fighter named Georges St-Pierre is based on the Japanese Rising Sun Flag and so for many Koreans (and Chinese) that flag is as offensive as a Swastika.
George St-Pierre is Canadian. For his part Georges St-Pierre has apologized and the clothing manufacturer will make changes. See ESPN: “ St-Pierre apologises for Rising Sun symbol “. And this whole thing will be good publicity for him – since I never heard his name before the controversy and he is on his way to Hollywood – USAToday: “UFC champion Georges St-Pierre cast as villain in next ‘Captain America’ movie“.
Note the irony, because surely there are many Koreans offended by the Korean Zombies name. Note also that the swastika is an ancient Chinese symbol and so for another audience, the equating of these two as equally offensive mean that neither are. There are many ancient Chinese relics with the swastika mark and Westerners might find it disturbing but it’s the same shape but a different symbol; it means something different. Similarly for many, the Rising Sun style does not associate to the atrocities Japanese war crimes. These differences of meaning are always challenging for cross-cultural communication but especially with new blends of old symbols.
Finally, note incidentally, that the only Supreme Court opinion (so far) that included “zombie” is a quote regarding PTSD from the horrors the Korean War.
And wonder: what of the American flag (post- Abu Gharib and Collateral Damage – do we need a new flag?!?) Drago’s USSR is gone, wearing that would offend many – is it time for Old Glory to evolve (we could add a few more stars and redesign??)