The ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung has written an open letter to Georges St. Pierre advising him that the gi he wore on the way to the cage for his UFC 158 was decorated with a pattern which many Koreans feel to be “a symbol of war crimes”.
Jung was referring to the ‘Rising Sun’ image used on St. Pierre’s gi jacket, made by Canadian company Hayabusa. The ‘Rising Sun’ flag - or Kyokujitsu-ki - was the military flag of Japan until the end of World War II. A modified version continues to be used by the Japan Self-Defense Forces.
However, as the flag was used by the Japanese in the conquest and occupation of East Asia and during the war in the Pacific, it is seen as offensive in countries where it is considered to be associated with Japanese militarism and imperialism. This is particular the case in South Korea, which suffered badly under Japanese occupation.
Jung wrote the following to St. Pierre;
“Hi, My name is Chan Sung Jung from South Korea. As one of many Koreans who like you as an incredible athlete, I feel like I should tell you that many Korean fans, including myself, were shocked to see you in your gi designed after the Japanese ‘Rising Sun Flag’.
“For Asians, this flag is a symbol of war crimes, much like the German Hakenkreuzflagge. Did you know that? I hope not.
“Just like Nazis, the Japanese also committed atrocities under the name of ‘Militarism’. You can easily learn what they’ve done by googling (please do), although it’s only the tiny tip of an enormous iceberg.
“Furthermore, the Japanese Government never gave a sincere apology, and still to this day, so many victims are dying in pain, heartbroken, without being compensated. But many westerners like to wear clothes designed after the symbol under which so many war crimes and so much tragedy happened, which is ridiculous.
“I know most of them are not militarists. I know most of them do not approve unjustified invasion, torture, massacre, etc. They’re just ignorant. It’s such a shame that many westerners are not aware of this tragic fact. Wearing Rising Sun outfits is as bad as wearing clothes with the Nazi mark on it, if not worse.
“Since you’re influenced by Japanese Martial Arts, your wearing a headband designed after Japanese flag is understandable. But again, that huge ‘Rising Sun’ on your Gi means something else.
“Many people say GSP is the best Welterweight fighter throughout history, to which I totally agree. This means you have a great influence on every single fan of yours all around the world. And I do believe your wearing ‘the symbol of War Crime’ is a very bad example for them, not to mention for yourself.
“So, what do you reckon? Do you want to wear the same Gi next time as well?”
There has been response as yet from St. Pierre or his sponsor Hayabusa.