Friday, October 8, 2010

Outrage Follows Korean Translation of Philip K. Dick Novel

“The Man in the High Castle” may be considered to be a Western science fiction classic, but its recent translation into the Korean language has caused increasing consternation on many Internet forums.

The novel depicts an ‘alternate history’ where America lost the Second World War and is now partly occupied by the Japanese. While some posters have said that America “got what it deserved” in the book, most agree that the real omission is any reference to Korea within it. Kim, a 28-year-old company employee, is typical of the complaints: “The book is set in the 1960s and clearly by this time – even if America had been defeated - the strong resistance of the Korean people would have assured that Japan would have retreated from Korea many years before, yet there is no mention of this heroic act from the Korean people. I think that makes the story unrealistic.”

Some have even questioned whether there was a translation error and the constant references to “Japan” within the Korean text were actually meant to say “Korea”. Another anonymous poster, Kim, a 23-year-old politics and history postgraduate at Seoul International University, said that it was more likely that after Korea defeated Japan they would have sought to liberate repressed Asian people in the Western United States, and as such, Dick either made a mistake in attributing this action to the Japanese because of a lack of understanding about Korea, or deliberately used Japan instead of Korea “because Japanese book sales were likely to be higher”.

Members of VANK, a self-styled and secretly government-supported group which harasses foreign media organizations and conducts cyber-attacks against foreigners, have inundated Dick’s publisher in New York demanding that Dick make changes to the book, which is “highly insulting to the Korean people”. Although Dick died in 1982, VANK members say they they will not be put off by “pathetic excuses” from the author.