Most South Koreans feel unfriendly toward Japan with 62 percent, far outnumbering those who do, a poll finds. But 50 percent of Japanese feel friendly toward Koreans, as against 41 percent who do not.
The figures are down from a poll conducted in the wake of the 2002 World Cup in the two countries, the proportion of Koreans who felt friendly toward Japan was 42 percent, and that of Japanese who felt friendly toward Koreans was 77 percent. That can probably be traced to recurring disagreements over Korea's Dokdo islets, which Japan is trying to claim.
The dislike, and often hatred, of the Japanese is something that runs far deeper than a survey or a blog post, and will be around for a while I suspect. Koreans tend to have unfavorable opinions of many nationalities, their feelings toward individuals within those nationalities notwithstanding, so these numbers are reflective of not only cultivated anti-Japanese sentiment but of xenophobia in general.
I spend more time hanging around Japanese people these days, and just got back from a few days in Busan with my girlfriend and her friend from Takamatsu. Now, you can't apply what happens in Busan to the rest of the country, because given the proximity to Japan and the number of Japanese tourists it's only natural to find shops and clerks catering to that demographic. But I noticed salespeople going out of their way to help my Japanese companions, moreso than people do to me or to other presumptive English-speakers. Walking around Nampo-dong just about every store and stall had salespeople who could converse in Japanese, and The Face Shop---which uses "Yonsama" as its spokesperson---had a fluent Japanese speaker on the floor. On the other hand when I walk around I usually get ignored or I get somebody barking one or two English words at me. Pretty much the same thing happened in Insa-dong as well.
These different attitudes could be for a number of reasons, but chief among them I believe is that the Japanese have money. More and more Japanese are travelling to Korea to take advantage of the exchange rate, and are looking to spend money, whereas youngish-looking Caucasians are presumably English teachers just wandering around to kill time.