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!


Inyeop Lee said...

Hey, Justin, it is very nice posting. As you mentioned, the simple reaction of many American people toward Anti-Americanism in the world asking "why do the hate us" mostly came from historical ignorance. That's why history education is important and I think better education and awareness in the U.S. would prevent policy failures such as Vietnam War or Iraqi War.

And I want to add that Korean people use the term "Kwangju democratic uprising" or "Kwangju democratic movement (광주 민주화 운동)" more officially, instead of Kwangju uprising. It was called as the "5•18incident (광주사태)" during the military government and redefined as a "democratic movement" when we have a democratic government.

One last thing, a movie about the Kwangju democratic movement was produced in 2007. It was very well-made move and so popular in Korea. You can watch some movie clip in the following site:

Justin-B형 said...

In yeop!

Thank you for reading my post. I was wondering if anyone other than Mr. Larsen would read this.
Thank you for the source information about the movie. I have heard of it and seen many movie clips of it. I think it looks very interesting however I think it will be hard for me to see it in the US.
When I say the "kwangju Massacre" or "Uprising" That is what those who I spoke to from Kwangju called it. Thank you for giving me the official title. I think Many in the US government are not so much ignorant of history as they are willfully ignorant of things that are not western (i.e. england, France, Germany, the US and Canada). A shameful example of this was President Bush's Ignorance of the muslim religious factions (Sunni and Shia) in Iraq before this, so called, second gulf war.

I also think the American people have a misconception of History education as just memorizing dates and people. This is a weakness in the education system and should be (perhaps is) being rectified.

If you couple these two factors together you will have a situation like we, in the US, have today.