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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Korean Tiger Fights the Japanese Samurai

The year is 1592. A Japanese armada of 150,000 troops land on the Korean port city of Busan. They are under the command of Toyotomi Hideoyshi, a warlord who has unified the chaotic and warring states of Japan into a single state for the first time in more than a century. Not satisfied, Hideyoshi wants to conquer the whole known world - including China's Ming Empire and Joseon of Korea. His warriors invade Korea that year and sweep through the peninsula, capturing the capital city of Hanyang (Seoul) within 3 weeks. The barbaric invaders massacre civilians, desecrate temples, shrines, and national treasures, and hunt down the powerful and mythical creatures known as tigers that live on the peninsula, for their organs to be used as medicine for their sick leader, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The Siberian tiger represents the Koreans who must defend their homeland and civilization against a barbaric invader. The struggle is one between good and evil. It is a struggle for justice and truth. This little known war that began in 1592 was a major regional world war involving 500,000 troops, and it is very important to the Japanese psyche, as it shaped the national identity of Japan (which previously had little to no national identity during the warring states era). After their withdrawal, the Japanese committed to a peaceful existence by banning all weapons, including guns introduced by the Portuguese, so that by the time Commodore Perry arrived from America in 1852, it is claimed that the Japanese had no idea what the guns were. The Japanese, after westernizing and getting a head start at industrialization in the 19th century, annexed Korea in 1910 after fighting two majors wars with China and Russia. It's widely claimed in historical texts, however, that the two wars were fought over Manchuria, a territory north of Korea, rather than Korea itself. This is either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation, as Korea was more important to the Japanese psyche, which they try to conceal. After the Japanese colonize Korea in 1910, they kidnap Koreans to be used as laborers in war zones and in their Japanese homeland, and their descendants still live in Japan, mistreated and facing severe discrimination. During the occupation, the Japanese ban the Korean language and drive Korean tigers into extinction for one purpose - to extinguish the spirit of the Korean people and exterminate and assimilate the Korean race. Japanese today who are ultra-nationalists still claim that, as a former colony of Japan, Koreans are an inferior people. The Japanese have a tendency to distort and re-write history. For example, they deny any wrongdoing with Unit 731 which experimented with human subjects with chemical and biological weapons. They argue that the colonization of Korea was good for the people as its Nazi-like oppressive rule laid the modern foundation of railroad and factories. For this reason the Korean Tiger represents Truth, and the Samurai, the distortion of truth.

Acrylic on canvas, 49 x 60 inches