Focus should be on support for self not 'national hatred'
By Alan Fong,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The streets were particularly empty in downtown Taipei Tuesday night. The few crowds that could be found were those huddling in front TV screens watching the live broadcast of the final World Baseball Classic first-round match between the Taiwanese and Korean teams.
March 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The game became the most-watched television show in Taiwan's history, breaking the record held by the final episode of the drama “Taiwan Tornado” (台灣霹靂火) in June 2005.
While the match, which would decide whether the national team can advance to the second round (they did despite losing to the Korean team 2:3), is important in its own terms, its extraordinary popularity stems more from who Taiwan was playing.
In a telltale sign, the climax of the game in terms of viewership came down to the moment when broadcaster Hsu Zhan-yun (徐展元) said with tears in his eyes: “I really want (our team) to beat the Koreans!”
Hsu's sentiment was shared by a multitude of local sports fans. Posters sporting strong anti-Korea language such as “National Enmity and Family Hatred”(國仇家恨), portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with the speech bubble “Kick their butt for me” or double entendre on the similar pronunciation of the word “Korea” and “swallow” in Mandarin were seen in the stadium. Sales of kimchi went up 50 percent in some restaurants yesterday as fans believe eating the Korean staple food is the same as beating the Korean team.
The “hatred” the Taiwanese people, especially among sports fans, harbored against South Korea in the past decade was phenomenal and should one day go down in history books as a case of an unnecessary national grudge. It all began in the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea when the Korean team advanced all the way to the semifinal through several controversial surprise wins against traditionally strong teams. Since then alleged unsportsmanlike tactics by Korea sports teams or sports officials became a fixture in Taiwanese media and “anti-Koreanism” became a national subculture.
National hatreds are never beneficial to anyone. Most of the time they are the result of difficult-to-resolve historical grudges. But in this case, Taiwan's apparent dislike of Korea due to the conduct of its sports teams is uncalled for and irrational. Even if all the accusations of unsportsmanlike behavior against the Korean teams are found to be true, the worst behaviors of a nation's athletes do not reflect an entire nation's character. Or else by the same token the U.S. is a nation of steroid-takers and Taiwan a nation of match-fixing cheats.
Hatred is by nature irrational and hard to change. But instead spending their innovation on insulting posters and their money on Korean food, sports fans should channel their common dislike of Taiwan's competitor to actual support of their team.