Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Timeline of Korean art history

Dear Class!

I would like to introduce a website with reference to Korean art history to you.
It is part of the webpage of the metropolitan museum of art located in New York.
This offers a chronological table along with an overview of history, key events
and photos of representative artifacts from that specific period.
If you click the arrow on the top-left, you can move on to the next era.
Also, you can access in-depth info by clicking the hyperlinked photos of artifacts on the top of the page.
It is worth checking out for both those of you who are familiar with Korean history and those of you who are not.
I am assured that it is instructive enough to give you the broad picture of Korean history.

Hope you enjoy it!

The existence of the Enriched Uranium program is a critical issue to solve the nuclear problem

The existence of the Enriched Uranium program is a critical issue to solve the nuclear problem...


U.S. says N.K. yet to provide full declaration of nuclear programs

WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Yonhap)

North Korea has yet to provide a full declaration of its nuclear programs despite its reference to having done so in November, the White House said Friday.
"Unfortunately, we have not yet received a complete and correct declaration, and we urge North Korea to deliver one soon so that we can all get the benefits offered in the six-party process," spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters.
At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack also he U.S.
was "still waiting" for the declaration and expects it to include the controversial uranium weapons program.
The North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), quoting an unnamed foreign ministry official, said Pyongyang had drawn up the declaration in November and "notified" the United States of it.
The report said North Korea also had additional consultations with Washington.
South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan are members of the six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. Through a series of agreements, Pyongyang agreed to eventually give up its atomic weapons in return for political and economic benefits, such as diplomatic normalization with Washington and Tokyo.
Described as "action for action," the agreements lay out interim steps that required North Korea to disable its key nuclear facilities and submit a declaration detailing its nuclear stockpile and proliferation activities by the end of 2007.
Other parties would reciprocate by supplying energy aid, and the U.S. was to remove North Korea from the list of terrorism-sponsoring states, a measure that prohibits bilateral exchanges between them.
Christopher Hill, top U.S. nuclear envoy to the six-party talks, said there was discussion with Pyongyang about the contents of the declaration but that he does not regard it as the final disclosure.
"We've been notified about some of the contents," Kyodo quoted him as saying at the airport before leaving for Asia. "But when we receive a declaration, first of all, the declaration should be received by the chairman of the six-party talks -- the Chinese."
Hill was in Pyongyang last month and is said to have pressed North Korean officials to include all the required details in the declaration. U.S. officials said Pyongyang wanted to hand over the declaration to Washington, possibly to make the issue a bilateral one, but Hill made a point of ensuring that it is given to China.
Instead, Hill and the North Koreans discussed the contents as "reference material," they said.
The KCNA report said North Korea still hopes for "smooth implementation" of the six-party deals but blamed others for not meeting their obligations, such as a delay in fuel delivery and removal from the terrorism list.
"Looking back, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea stands foremost ahead in implementation among the six parties," it said.
"Regarding the nuclear declaration that some are wrongfully making an issue of, we have already done what is required."
The White House said it was "skeptical" after Pyongyang missed the year-end deadline on the declaration, but U.S. officials have reaffirmed the six-party process will continue, that they still expect the North to submit a "full and complete" disclosure of its nuclear programs.
McCormack said the complete declaration includes Pyongyang's suspected uranium enrichment, an alternative to plutonium in making atomic weapons.
There has to be "certainly an explanation of the (uranium) program, whatever state it happens to be in and happens to exist," he said.
He declined to go into details of talks with the North Koreans but said the message has been the same.
"I can say from our side the general message was that they need to provide a full and complete declaration."
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 (Yonhap)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ignorant Like Me?

This is my first post yay!

Ladies and gentlemen...lurkers, trolls and who ever else may be reading this, I have a confession to make. Prior to attending the University of Missouri--Columbia for my undergraduate degree, I (like a great deal of Americans) was ignorant of the world around me. Not really blissfully ignorant just ignorant. I didn't realize I was ignorant, in fact I considered myself to be quite cosmopolitan. I was up-to-date on most American political news and even new a little about European affairs as well. As for south America it was the place were cocaine lived, Africa was a place where we sent money to starving children and...uhm... tigers. Asia was Chinese food, Japanese animation, kung fu , the Korean war, the Vietnam war, oh, and Asia was also very very far away.

Once I began my studies at the University of Missouri, I started working with the international student services center and later the Asian affairs center. Through the Asian affairs center I had the opportunity to meet and work with many students and professors from South Korea. The University of Missouri as well as the State of Missouri (thanks to President Harry S. Truman, A proud Missouri resident and President during the start of the Korean War) Had many university exchange programs with South Korea.

Many of the students and visiting scholars came from the Jeolla-nam-do area of South Korea.
In fact the largest groups of students come from Chonnam National University in Kwangju .
Right away after meeting these students and faculty often they proudly tell you where they are from and quickly differentiate themselves from people from Seoul and most certainly people from Pusan. The few people I met (I have only meager experience in Korea) from Kwangju were always very outspoken about Politics and considering their history it is no wonder why.
The Kwangju uprisings and subsequent bloody response by the government (1980.5.18) left a deep scar in the consciousness of the people of Kwangju; and believe me, they will not hesitate to tell you about the Korean Government's involvement as well as (alleged) American military's Involvement (or lack of involvement).

By the way, what was the American Involvement? I mean you don't exactly hear about "THE KWANGJU MASSACRE" on the History channel do you? When was the last time CNN did a "look back" on the may 18 th uprising? Every year there is one on the Tienamin Square uprising on many news and documentary channels. I can't remember seeing one on Kwangju.

Maybe I should take a look...

*1 hour later*

(okay, I had lunch ...^o^)

Well, I cruised around the Internet in search of some unbiased stories on The Kwangju uprisings and I found a few that I would call "unbiased" like this one from CNN (of course the most trusted, unbiased news agency in the world..wink wink).

I also found this one from one of favorite (when i need a reality check about american foreign policy) websites
actually, this was a very interesting account of events I don't know how accurate it really is but it beats, in my opinion this famous response from the U.S. government refuting any involvement (or lack of) in the incident.

All in all I believe that incidents like these, which are largely unknown to many Americans, contribute to anti- American sentiment in South Korea Today. Of course I am still ignorant of many many things concerning Korea (both North and South) Therefore, I am in search of the truth. Unfortunately, many Americans don't have the chance or maybe the desire to sit in a university Korean History 101 class nor the chance to visit South Korea (in a non-military capacity). So engaging in conversation with real Koreans on subjects like this won't be possible.

So they will remain ignorant and wondering after they see the latest South Korean Protest on CNN ( the most trusted, unbiased news agency in the world..wink wink)

"Why do they hate us?"

Anyway enough of my ramblings.
Everyone have a great rest of the weekend and a great week!

The website about Hendrick Hamel

Dear class!

While surfing the net, I found one interesting website.

Have you heard about Hendrick Hamel?

He is known as the first westerner explorer to write about the Chosun Dynasty era in Korea in the 17th century.

Allegedly, he was an ordinary seaman – a bookkeeper later - who had belonged to the Dutch East India Company (VOC). In 1653, Hamel and his crewmates were survived the shipwreck near Jeju island and taken to the capital under custody. They stayed in Korea for about 13 years until they escaped to Holland in 1666. And H. Hamel wrote a report, vividly describing his experience in Korea (1668).

The website that I visited provides us a diversity of info ranging from historical circumstances to Hamel’s insightful observation to Korea back then.

As a Korean myself, I thought that it is very meaningful to learn about the Korea through the lens of western civilization. I am assured that it helps you understand Korean history as well.

Check out the material posted on that website.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

KORUS House - Opportunities and Resources

I'm sure many of you class are intimately familiar with the KORUS House on Embassy Row. But for those of you who aren't, KORUS House (a monniker derived from "Korea" and "US") was opened by the Embassy of the ROK to strengthen the Korea-US alliance.  It essentially serves as a venue for lectures, briefings, and other educational and cultural exchange opportunities. They will also host art exhibits occasionally.  Of particular interest, KORUS House offers low-cost Korean language courses throughout the year in 7-8 week sessions.  Last summer, I think I paid around $230 for beginning Korean.  So if you're looking for Korean language training that's affordable (when compared to similar courses taught throughout DC) and taught in an informal atmosphere, I highly recommend KORUS house.

As it relates to our class, the KORUS website should serve as an excellent information resource. Enjoy!

OBTW, Michael O'Hanlon from the Brooking Institute will be presenting "Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Coming Changes in the US-ROK Command Structure" at 11:00-1:00 Thurs 31 Jan at KORUS. I'll see if RSVP's are needed and get back to anyone interested in attending.

Friday, January 25, 2008

following up to my first posting

Dear class,

Here is another article about examining the past in South Korea. This is about the massacre in Jeju in 1948. Here is the article..

Conservatives Downgrade Jeju Uprising in 1948

By Bae Ji-sook
Staff Reporter

Some conservative civic groups have called for a ``reevaluation'' of the April 3 Jeju Resistance Movement as a communist uprising instead of massacre by the government, and are causing quite a stir among Jeju residents.

The New Right Union, the Korean Veteran Association and 16 other conservative groups agreed to hold campaigns from Jan. 29 calling for the incident that took place in 1948 on Jeju Island to be reevaluated.

The move comes after Lee Myung-bak's presidential transition team decided to abolish the National Committee for the Investigation of the Truth About the Jeju April 3 Incident, established under a special law to look into the event.

The committee members as well as Jeju residents said the team's decision was obnoxious, as some villages saw half of their inhabitants killed. They said the truth has yet to be revealed, and the plan was a step back from verification.

The Jeju Resistance Movement occurred during the post-liberation period when Korea was a single nation. Historians say there were conflicts between the leftist umbrella South Korea Labor Party and pro-U.S. politicians. The two sides clashed throughout 1947 on Jeju when the labor party planned protests against the national referendum to establish a separate Korean government in the southern half of the peninsula.

On April 3, 1948, the leftist party members allegedly attacked police stations to gain power, while the provisional government allegedly arrested everyone on the spot and killed them later.

The alleged death toll is said to have been 25,000-30,000, one-10th of the island's population. The resistance continued until 1954, even after the referendum and the South Korean government was established.

The Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations have acknowledged 2,778 deceased as official victims. Moreover, President Roh made a public apology to Jeju residents on behalf of the authorities in 2006.

However, some conservatives have said the resistance has much to be reviewed. ``Though many civilians died, the essence of the event was communists orchestrating an uprising to dominate Korea,'' a conservative group member said.

The conservatives want civic groups, not the government, to reinvestigate the case.

Survivors, victim's families and committee members are lobbying assemblymen maintaining the necessity of the committee's work. ``The incoming government should be working to accelerate verifying the remaining doubts. Instead, they are trying to go against the truth. We will unite with others and fight for it,'' a spokesman said.

``We are also surprised by the so-called conservative's moves. We will come up with our own plan to combat them soon,'' he added.

Source: Conservatives Downgrade Jeju Uprising in 1948(The Korea Times)
Address :
Date Visited: Fri Jan 25 2008 06:41:03 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Column related to North Korea

Slowly, but Surely, Pyongyang Is Moving

By David Albright and Jacqueline Shire

From WashingtonPost Thursday, January 24, 2008; Page A19

The optimism with which the October agreement with North Korea was welcomed has faded amid accusations that the North again is not keeping its commitments. First came word that "disablement" of nuclear facilities was slowing. Then there was the missed Dec. 31 deadline for North Korea to declare the full scope of its nuclear program, including its plutonium stockpile and uranium enrichment activities. And earlier in the fall, North Korea was accused of helping Syria construct a nuclear facility in its desert, reportedly a reactor.

The finger-wagging, told-you-so naysayers in and out of the Bush administration should take a deep breath. There is no indication that North Korea is backing away from its commitments to disable key nuclear facilities and every reason to expect this process to unfold slowly, with North Korea taking small, incremental steps in return for corresponding steps from the United States and others in the six-party discussions.

Disablement of the five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon slowed in part because the United States decided that unloading the irradiated fuel rods as fast as North Korea proposed could needlessly risk exposing the North Korean workers to excessive radiation. North Korea is unloading the rods and making steady progress on the other aspects of disablement at the Yongbyon site. Could it be happening faster? Probably, and North Korea would point out that promised shipments of heavy fuel oil are also slow in coming.

North Korea's nuclear declaration was to be received by Dec. 31. On Jan. 2, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the United States was still "waiting to hear" from the North. Pyongyang responded that the United States had its declaration. After some tail-chasing, it emerged that North Korea had quietly shared an initial declaration with the United States in November. According to media reports, this declaration stated that North Korea had a separated plutonium stockpile of 30 kilograms and denied that it had a uranium enrichment program.
Does this quantity of separated plutonium make sense? Yes. In short, 30 kilograms is at the lower end of the range of plutonium that we have assessed North Korea could have separated. This estimate is based on what we know about how long its reactor operated to build up plutonium in the fuel rods and how much plutonium was chemically extracted from this fuel at the nearby reprocessing plant.

What about any enriched uranium? There is no question that North Korea has committed to providing the other nations in the six-party discussions with information about its uranium enrichment efforts and should be held to that commitment. But we should not lose sight of an uncomfortable fact -- that U.S. policymakers misread (at best) or hyped information that North Korea had a large-scale uranium enrichment program. There is ample evidence that North Korea acquired components for a centrifuge-enrichment program, but few now believe the North produced highly enriched uranium or developed its enrichment capabilities in the manner once claimed by the United States.

The success or failure of this latest agreement with North Korea must not hinge on the uranium issue. This is an interesting and relevant part of its nuclear program, but it is still a footnote in the context of its plutonium production.

Reports that North Korea has cooperated with Syria on a hidden nuclear program are troubling but must also be kept in context and, until additional information is available, should not be allowed to undermine the agreement. It is possible that North Korea was selling sensitive or dual-use equipment to Syria's nuclear program. The best argument for holding the deal together is that it brings North Korea into the fold, bit by bit, making it harder for it to slip back into the arena of illicit deals and keeping a bright light on its activities. As for the "box in the desert" that Israel bombed in September, it is gone now and whatever has replaced it is almost certainly not a reactor.

Accusations in the Israeli media that North Korea transferred plutonium to Syria, where it was to be placed into bombs, are baseless. The transfer of such material for weapons would be a casus belli with dire consequences for both countries, and this surely is understood by both Kim Jong Il and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

North Korea is looking to the United States to keep its promises on delisting it as a terrorist state. Unfortunately, given the climate in Washington and the perception that North Korea is slow-rolling the declaration process, this is unlikely over the near term. Pyongyang should be realistic in its expectations.

For Washington, and the unfairly maligned advocates of the six-party process, the task is to maintain laser-like focus on taking the next step toward fulfillment of the October agreement, with the goal of moving to the disarmament phase, and not allowing these hard-won steps to be drowned out by the noise of detractors.

David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector, is president of the Institute for Science and International Security. Jacqueline Shire is a senior analyst at ISIS and a former State Department foreign affairs officer.

Article about truth commission in ROK

Dear class,

I found an article about truth commission in ROK. It is about the massacres during the Korean War. If any of you saw the movie "Brotherhood" or "Taegukgi," you would have seen the scene of massacres which killed innocent people who sign up to the leftist organization without knowing the purpose of the organization and simply for food.
President Roh's apology for massacre in 1950 is meaningful since it is the first apology from government to the government's villainy. Here is the article.

Roh Apologizes for Massacres of `Leftists' in 1950
By Han Sang-hee
Staff Reporter

President Roh Moo-hyun Thursday apologized for the massacres of hundreds of ``leftists'' in Ulsan during the 1950-53 Korean War.

``I deeply apologize on behalf of the country for the misconduct of the government in the past. I also express my consolation to the victims and families,'' he said in a video message at a memorial ceremony in Ulsan.

Fearing that the leftists might follow the North Korean regime, former President Syng-man Rhee ordered the first massacre ever to happen during the Korean War.

More than 870 members of the National Rehabilitation and Guidance League were killed in 1950 over a period of 21 days. Of them, the Presidential Truth and Reconciliation Commission have identified 407.

According to the commission, the Ulsan district police and military murdered them in nearby streams and hills. The victims included women and even teenagers.

The President said the incident was one of the biggest tragedies in Korean history and that families of the victims have spent all their lives in agony and sorrow.

After watching the President's message, family members also expressed their feelings and gratitude.

``It took 58 years for an apology. We accept President Roh's apology and hope that adequate measures for the victims will be worked out soon,'' a family member of a victim said.

Concerning the misconduct of previous governments, Roh said that it was important to clarify injustices that have not yet been taken care of and that proper follow-up measures to help the families were a must.

This is the first time for a President to apologize in public for previous governments' wrongdoings.

The National Rehabilitation and Guidance League was an organization made by the Rhee government in 1949 aimed at rooting out the leftist movement. There were branch organizations across the nation, Ulsan being one of them.

The members, who were branded as leftists, were mostly forced to join. But in some areas, civilians also became members to make up the numbers without knowing its true purpose, according to historical records.

The commission has urged the government to make an official apology to the victims' families and recover the victims' honor. Roh Apologizes for Massacres of `Leftists' in 1950(The Korea Times)
Address :
Date Visited: Thu Jan 24 2008 07:00:58 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


While in Taiwan, I noticed with great interest the way in which a prominent downtown Taibei landmark has been re-packaged and re-presented in order to reflect a different historical sensibility that is emerging in some circles in Taiwan.

The landmark in question is the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

Created to commemorate Chiang Kai-shek, the long-ruling head of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) and ruler of Taiwan (after 1949), the Hall was officially opened in 1980, five years after Chiang’s death.

The Hall was apparently modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

The not-so-subtle message is the elevation of Chiang to Emperor status and connecting him with a long line of Chinese Emperors stretching back to the mists of antiquity.

Surrounding the Hall is a huge plaza, all enclosed by beautiful tiled walls and gates and filled with trees and flowers. It makes for a very nice location for an early morning jog (or tai chi session).

Inside is an historical museum that highlights all of Chiang’s accomplishments with a health dose of hagiography. Chiang is deliberately and explicitly linked with Sun Yat-sen the founding father of China.

His anti-Japanese exploits are also lauded if also rather exaggerated.

In keeping with traditional ideals of decorum and solemnity (and enforced by an autocratic regime), disrespectful clothing was banned from the Hall.

At the top is a massive throne room in which a gargantuan statue of a benevolent Chiang looks down, somewhat Abraham Lincoln-like, upon his subjects.

All of this has been transformed of late. In 1987, martial law was lifted by Chiang’s son and successor Chiang Ching-Kuo . Subsequent elections saw the ousting of the long-ruling KMT in favor of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a group that included many pro-democracy activists. For obvious reasons, DPP leaders were less than fond of Chiang Kai-shek, his often-brutal authoritarianism, and his privileging of so-called mainlanders at the expense of so-called native Taiwanese.

In an effort to use the levers of power to push for the re-imagining of Chiang and his role and legacy in Taiwan, the DPP took on the Memorial Hall, seeking to re-name it the “National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.” Squabbling between KMT and DPP officials (as well as between central government and Taibei City government officials) caused the delay of this change for a number of years. And even after the official change was made, there was a back-and-forth with the sign declaring the new name of the Hall being replaced by the old Chiang Kai-shek sign in the middle of the night etc. But DPP persistence finally triumphed.

Here is the Hall with the new sign affixed:

Not content to rename the Hall, the DPP also redecorated the place. A large and impressive set of murals depicting the struggle against authoritarian rule and for democracy fills the floor of the Hall. Suspended from the ceiling are hundreds of huge kites that add a festive air to the place and not unintentionally obscure a full view of the statue of Chiang. The kites are symbolic of the winds of freedom that have blown through Taiwan of late. I also observe a healthy dose of aboriginal designs and motifs, a not-so-subtle slap at Chiang and the “Mainlanders” who came to Taiwan and usurped power in the late 1940s.

The result is a powerful re-packaging and re-presentation of Taiwan’s history and identity. Now that the KMT has won a huge majority of seats in the Jan 2008 Legislative Yuan election and has a good chance of winning the Presidency in March 2008, one wonders whether the kites are long for this world.