US Secretary of State John Kerry wishes Korea a happy Mid-Autumn Festival instead of China

'What about our Mid-Autumn Festival?' ask Chinese internet users

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 6:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 8:07pm

US Secretary of State John Kerry gave South Korea his blessings for the country’s Mid-Autumn Festival, drawing a few exasperated sighs from members of the Chinese online community who wondered why their version of the holiday had not been acknowledged. 

On a press statement released on Wednesday, Kerry said he was “delighted” to wish all Koreans a happy Chuseok, or Mid-Autumn Festival, and made comparisons with Thanksgiving in the United States.

“Though called different names, Chuseok and the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States each celebrate our rich histories and traditions,” Kerry said. “Both holidays are spent with families and friends treasuring our many blessings.”

Kerry added that the “shared history and values of [the US and South Korea] provide a foundation for the deep ties between Koreans and Americans.” The secretary of state also highlighted the importance of the two countries’ long-standing alliance.

“During the 60th anniversary of the [US and South Korea] alliance, we remember that the strength of our enduring partnership stems from the close friendship that binds the people of our two nations,” Kerry said.

This is the second recent congratulations message that Kerry has released to the Korean people. On August 19, Kerry sent a video message to South Korea celebrating the nation’s Liberation Day.

Kerry’s attention towards Korea raised eyebrows among microbloggers on China’s Sina Weibo social network.

“The US secretary of state issues a statement to wish the Korean people a happy Chuseok, saying it’s like Thanksgiving in the US and all about family reunions and happiness,” a New York correspondent for Sina’s finance department wrote on her Weibo microblog. “I feel like this is a national humiliation. What about our Mid-Autumn Festival?”

Other commentators agreed with these statements, and said that Kerry should “know better”, especially as his older sister, Peggy Kerry, had adopted a daughter from China several years ago.

“Who needs the blessing of American imperialism anyway?” one disgruntled netizen asked.

Others argued that Mid-Autumn Festival was a holiday celebrated by many Asian nations, and Kerry was entitled to send his best wishes to whatever country he preferred.

“We need not feel this way,” said Xue Haipei, a commentator for China’s Phoenix TV. “In the old days, China’s Mid-Autumn Festival was successfully introduced to many other East Asian and Southeast Asian countries as a result of proud Confucian thought. Afterwards, people [in these countries] used social customs to develop and improve this holiday, and in Korea it quickly became a part of Korean culture. We can’t be proud of our Chinese culture and at the same time be narrow-minded when we see others embrace development.”

The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated throughout Asia and known by various names, such as Tsukimi in Japan. It is unclear whether traditions for the holiday really originated in China, but all versions of the festival commemorate the harvest moon and normally fall in September and October of the solar calendar.