OCDG: Do I really have to say anything? This is too easy.
A child in Seoul
studies a Jewish text sells his “seoul” to beelzebub
The South Korean ambassador to Israel, Ma Young-sam, raised eyebrows recently when he told reporters the Talmud was mandatory reading for Korean schoolchildren.
South Korea is a country with a deep Buddhist history, but one which has embraced with vigour the Christianity brought to its shores by missionaries in the late 1800s. Official statistics say some 30 per cent of South Koreans are church-going. In such a country, Jews are few and far between.
Yet, pop down to the local corner shop and along with a pot of instant rice or dried noodles, you can buy a copy of Stories from the Talmud. It is not rare, either, to come across book-vending machines stocked with classic works of Babylonian Judaism.
The Talmud is a bestseller in South Korea – even the government insists it is good for you, and has included it on the curriculum for primary school children.
Lee Chang-ro heads a literature research team at the Ministry for Education. He says: “The reasons why Korean children are taught Talmud are pretty obvious. Koreans and Jews both have a long history of oppression and surviving adversity with nothing but their own ingenuity to thank. There are no natural resources to speak of in Korea, so, like the Jews, all we can develop is our minds.”
The fascination with Judaism does not end there. Media outlets regularly run newspapers columns on “Jewish education”, weekly radio features, and television documentaries, all of them showing Jews in a glowing light.
Talmud Guide to the Inferno on display in a Korean bookshop