MoeKan

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MoeKan
MoeKan.jpg
Art for MoeKan, depicting Sena holding a super-deformed ("chibi") Yoshida.
萌韓
Genre Yonkoma, Comedy
Webmanga
Written by Hidekaz Himaruya
Published by Kitayume
Release date February 14, 2006

MoeKan (萌韓?) was a short comic that debuted on Kitayume in 2006. However, it was removed from the site during its revamps in late 2007 and early 2008. It is notable for the depiction of its lead character, a female Korean student studying abroad in New York City, who embodies many negative stereotypes about Koreans. The title derives from the word moe (lit: "bud", a slang term used to describe things that one has an affection for) as well as Kankoku, the Japanese word for South Korea.

A prologue page and seven strips were drawn for the comic, and it is unknown whether or not Himaruya planned to continue it. An early working title seen in a colored picture of Sena was Korea Mansae!.

Comic Summary

The story begins with a young girl named Sena being warned by her mother that if she doesn't behave herself, the Japanese (depicted by her mother as evil and with fangs) will come and eat her. Sena is upset by this, and says that Japan is "scary".

Strip #1 - Too scary, nida
Sena is unable to sleep due to nightmares of the violent Japanese, fearing that they'll come to eat her. She gets up to go to the bathroom but becomes scared by a strange shadow in the hallway, fearing that it's a Japanese person coming for her.
Strip #2 - Departure, nida
The comic flashes forward in time, where Sena is now 17 and preparing to depart for the United States to study abroad. Her parents wish her good luck, though her mother warns her to be careful of strangers, especially the Japanese. Sena answers that she'll simply beat them up with Taekwondo. Meanwhile in Japan, a boy named Yoshida struggles with filling out his Visa to study in America.
Strip #3 - Encounter with a Japanese, nida
Yoshida has arrived in New York, and expresses surprise at how different it is from Japan. However, he is instantly attacked by Sena and pushed to the ground, and she orders Yoshida to "apologize".
Strip #4 - Pechi pechi, nida
Sena continues to punch Yoshida and demand that he apologize. Yoshida asks why she's attacking him, which causes her to stop and realize how attractive he is (as she was told that Japanese men are incredibly ugly). Sena quickly regains her composure though, and answers that it's because he's Japanese and that he must make amends.
Strip #5 - Mashisseoyo, nida
Yoshida asks Sena what she'd like for him to do. She then spots a crepe truck and answers that she'd like a crepe. As Sena eats, Yoshida wonders if he should start to run.
Strip #6 - Choumupekkusumu, nida
The next day, Yoshida thinks about Sena and hopes that he won't run into her again. However, he discovers that Sena is attending the same school as he is, and furthermore, they are in the same class and seated next to each other. Yoshida wonders if this is a way of harassing freshmen, while Sena finds the seating situation "repulsive".
Strip #7 - Shiroyo!
Sena declares Japan to be the most detestable part of Asia. Yoshida sarcastically apologizes, then asks her what countries are on good terms with Korea. Sena becomes surprised, but then tries to think of a country, and can only come up with Japan.

Characters

Sena

Sena (ㄴ둠) is the female protagonist of the series. She is a Korean girl who was taught at a young age to fear the Japanese, and is shown getting scared of shadows as a child believing them to be Japanese who have come to eat her. However, by the time she turned seventeen, she holds a more belligerent attitude and declares that if she encounters any Japanese people (or strange people in general) while in New York she will beat them up using Taekwondo. She attacks Yoshida during their first encounter, and accosts him during the other instances where they interact. She appears to enjoy sweet things like crepes, and accepts as payment after she demands an apology from Yoshida. While frightened of the Japanese, her fear is presented as an irrational one as she never gives a reason for it when prompted. Additionally, she is caught off-guard when she discovers that she finds Yoshida attractive, as she had been taught that Japanese people were ugly, and is only able to name Japan when asked which countries were on good terms with Korea (though the Republic of Korea maintains diplomatic relations with 190 countries).

She is depicted with long, dark brown hair tied up in a ponytail with a large red bow. She has large brown eyes, and dresses in a white and navy blue hanbok (white and dark red in one illustration) underneath a long red skirt. In the Korea Mansae! illustration she is shown wearing red shoes and wielding two large beige fans. As a child, she is depicted in similar clothing except her hanbok has over-sized sleeves.

She has a verbal tic where she adds the word "nida" at the end of sentences, a suffix used in polite Korean speech derived from the Korean word "imnida" meaning "it is".

Yoshida

Yoshida (吉田?) is the male protagonist of the series. He is a Japanese boy who attends the same school in New York City as Sena. He first appears filling out paperwork for his Visa and declaring it troublesome, though he shows enthusiasm once he arrives in New York. He is attacked by Sena after she overhears that he's from Japan, and shows confusion as to why she's bothering him. Ultimately, he agrees to buy her a crepe in hopes that she'll leave him alone, and even contemplates running away from her. The next day, he is upset to learn that "that weird girl" is a classmate of his and they are seated next to one another, and even wonders if this is a way of harassing freshmen. However, by the final strip he is shown taking Sena's hostility in stride.

He is depicted with short, brown hair and brown eyes. He is most frequently shown wearing an open button-down shirt with a white shirt underneath, dark colored pants, and carrying around a dark-colored messenger bag. From Sena's point of view he is considered attractive, or at least more attractive than her perception of what Japanese people look like.

Others

  • Sena's Mother, referred to by Sena as Eomeoni (어머니, lit. "mother" - a formal way of addressing one's own mother), appears at the beginning of the story telling a young Sena that if she isn't a good girl, "the Japanese will come and eat you". She later appears when Sena is older and getting ready to leave for New York, and is shown crying and telling her daughter to be wary of strangers - especially Japanese people. She appears impressed when Sena reassures her that she'll beat them up. She has long, dark hair that she ties up, and is shown wearing a darker-colored hanbok.
  • Sena's Father, referred to by Sena as Abeoji (아버지, lit. "father" - a formal way of addressing one's own father), appears when Sena is getting ready to leave for New York, and is shown crying and telling her to do her best. He had short, dark hair and is shown wearing a light-colored button-down shirt.

Controversy

Due to the complicated relations between Korea and Japan, stemming from Japan's imperial rule and war crimes against the Korean people, as well as territorial disputes, the premise of the comic is controversial. In particular, the presentation of Sena's aggressiveness and paranoia in contrast to Yoshida's more innocent and level-headed demeanor, as each character essentially acts as a stand-in for their respective home country. Additionally, the depiction of Korean anger and mistrust of the Japanese as irrational is troubling when considering war crimes committed during the Japanese occupation of Korea, which Sena's grandparents likely would have been present during. Sena's verbal tic of "nida" and her confession that Japan is on "good terms" with Korea have also been cited as problematic.

It is unknown if any of these factors may have played a part in the removal of MoeKan from Kitayume, as it predates the later controversy over the depiction of the South Korean character in Hetalia: Axis Powers.

In other series

See also: Korea

In Himaruya's later and best-known comic, Hetalia: Axis Powers, he had planned to introduce a South Korea character that would be a young girl who idolized America for his pop music and stardom. Along with both series debuting in 2006, there are similarities and differences in the designs of Sena and this Korea.

One draft of this South Korea, shown in a booklet included in the special edition of Hetalia: Axis Powers Volume 2, shows her with a hairstyle similar to Sena's, while another draft depicts her a bit of a fringe. However, a sketch that appears on the Kitayume site depicts the female Korea as wearing her hair in a braid (as opposed to a straight ponytail) and with blunt-cut bangs. This Korea also appeared in a small doodle with France, appearing angry at him over tea. In the end, Himaruya wound up never using this concept and discarded it, instead introducing a male South Korea, a character that proved to be controversial on his own.

Gallery

Works by Hidekaz Himaruya
Published Manga Inaka no Nono (2003) · Hetalia: Axis Powers (2008 - 2013) · Chibisan Date (2009 - 2013) · Taishō-Era Romance - Quit It, Demon!! (2013 - 2014) · Hetalia: World☆Stars (2014 - present)
Web Manga Advance! Kitakou Broadcasting Club (2003 - 2009) · Live A Live fancomic (2004) · Advance! Kitakou Broadcasting Club Pure (2004 - 2006) · Barjona Bombers (2004 - 2011) · MoeKan (2005 - 2006) · Shimojiro fancomic (2005 - 2006) · Bubutan (2005 - 2008) · Hetalia: Axis Powers (2006 - present)
Games Barjona Bombers (2005 - 2010) · Notosama (2005 - 2009) · The Deserted House (2006) · Hetalia: Axis Powers (2007 - 2012)
Short Stories Okinawa Heart (2006 - 2008)
Anime Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009 - 2014)
Collaborations Scary Story That Happened at a Countryside High School (2014 - present) · Aldnoah.Zero (2014)