What Is Jung And How Can We Kill It?, Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

So we’ve already established that, while all human beings are pretty much packing the same goods physically, there are huge and important qualitative differences in the ‘software’ that their brains are running.  The world would be a better place if people tended to shift more towards the use of the best software available.  What does it all have to do with jung?

Koreans claim that jung is an untranslatable Korean concept.  The reason that Koreans have a difficult time translating jung is that it is, in fact, an alien concept to them.  Korean culture draws that ten foot trench between those you care about and those for whom you feel nothing.  To feel some affinity for someone on the other side of that trench is jung.  And it’s totally outside of the basic bounds of the culture.  That’s why jung is such a hard thing for Koreans to explain to you.  Because you already feel it all the time.  It would be like you explaining buoyancy to a fish.  You’s be at such a loss to express the concept that fish would merely nod in wonder when you told them ‘I guess buoyancy is a human concept that you just wouldn’t get.’

I either just knocked your socks off or you’re shaking your head in total disagreement.

Let’s think of jung using this rather out of left field analogy.  Remember the movie Empire of the Sun, which was about a bunch of Westerners in a Japanese POW camp during World War II.  The Japanese commander of the camp obviously felt some affection for the main character, a plucky British boy.  He might remark to one of his colleagues ‘I feel the strangest feeling of affinity for that boy.  How very odd.’  But that odd feeling would just be the entirely normal feeling of affection that one usually feels for a plucky young kid, filtered through the lens of the War.

Jung is like that.  People are meant to feel nothing for strangers.  Instead they feel something.  They feel moved to give this amazing development a name, and settle on ‘jung’.  They would have felt the same warmth if they didn’t live in a society of amoral familism, but since they do, the feeling sweeps over their natural defenses and overpowers their inborn urge to ignore the humanity of strangers.

I hope that explains jung.

See you here tomorrow for Part 4.  Same bat-time, same bat-URL.

Part 4
Part 5

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~ by Joe on July 2, 2008.

5 Responses to “What Is Jung And How Can We Kill It?, Part 3”

  1. amoral familism…
    ha!
    thank you for the explanation. i have been puzzling over this word for months now and there it is. and it makes me sort of resent my principal for using it. not really my principal, but this darn culture.

  2. My only comment here is, “Sing it!”

    Oh, and that once in a while when someone tells me that 한 is a concept no non-Korean can ever grasp, I ask them if they’ve heard of the Holocaust, the genocides in Rwanda, of slavery in America… the list goes on and on. So-called untranslatables often seem to me handy ciphers that are used in securing unimpeachable victim status or unimpeachable authority. Not to dismiss the misfortunes Korea has suffered in history, but… I seriously doubt that Koreans have stumbled upon some totally unique brand of suffering and sorrow and will to go on and pained hope and powerlessness that nobody else on earth has any inkling of.

    But really, my comment is, “Sing it!”

  3. That was an excellent analogy.

    Anyway, don’t these words all derive from Chinese anyway? So . . . how does that work?

  4. Thank you

  5. […] though I think the conclusion to the post series is garbage, I still can’t help but think of what Joshing Gnome wrote about the subject years ago: Koreans claim that jung is an untranslatable Korean concept.  The reason that Koreans have a […]

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