February 27, 2010 07:45
The issue of Japanese claims to Korea's Dokdo Islets is especially sensitive to Koreans, and Rie Akiba, a Japanese panelist on KBS' "Global Talk Show: Talk with Beauties," has found herself in hot water when she claimed that while Koreans "discovered" the islets, it was the Japanese who named it. "I can't really say which country Dokdo belongs to," she told the Donga Weekly earlier this month.
As a result, last month was the most difficult time of her three years in Korea, and she has naturally learned to watch her mouth. "I was asked about the Dokdo issue, and I just said what I'd been told in Japan," she says now. "Because I'm not an expert, I said I didn't really know much about it. I certainly didn't mean any offense, so I was really puzzled after the interview. In fact, there aren't that many young Japanese people who are interested in the issue."
Akiba got a flood of complaints on her blog, including some history lessons "from which I learned a lot." "I'm sorry for causing all this trouble," she adds.
Appearing on the popular multinational chat show has changed her life. "I don't think the difficulties are just because I'm Japanese," she says. "I think it's something that anybody can feel when they live in a foreign country. Getting to know a country means you get to see both the good and the bad things. Even though you observe bad things about the people in that country, you don't necessarily leave."
Akiba was first attracted to Korea when she coincidentally appeared in a music video for 1990s boy band g.o.d. as a high school student. Before then, she was an ordinary schoolgirl who didn't have much interest in Korea. But soon she began to travel to Korea frequently and ended up moving here. "After I came to Korea, I studied Korean so hard. Then I got to appear on the program by chance," she recalls.
"Initially, I promised my parents that I would come back to Japan after a year. They still want me back, but I want to stay here. There isn't a one reason for this, though." She dreams of marrying a Korean man. "I don't know, but I have a feeling that I will marry a Korean in Korea. I don't have a particular type, but I like somebody who is committed to what he does. If he can be committed to his job, then I believe he will be committed to a woman, too."
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