Friday, February 29, 2008
Another article talks about how the descendants of the Queen's murders were tracked down by The Society that Thinks of Empress Myeongseong and journalists. Two of the assassins' grandchildren, well one grandson and another grandson's wife, traveled to Korea to apologize. They say this is helpful for reconciliation. It seems like Japanese citizens want to mend relations with the Koreans and make the effort, but it doesn't do anything because the Koreans want the government to make the effort and take responsibility. It is the same in the case of the comfort women. They reject the donations of Japanese people and say they will not be happy until the government issues a real apology and takes responsibility. Until the Japanese government takes responsibility, the efforts of the Japanese citizens won't have very impressive results.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Let me clarify this issue by adding some more facts.
-South Korea agreed not to use National flag in Soccer match between two Koreas in 1990, Basketball match in 2003. However, it was not a national competition but friendly match.
-South and North Korea agreed to use the "unification" flag and Arirang when they are marching ‘together’ in the entrance parade in Olympic games (Sydney, Athen), Asian games (Pusan, Dohar) and so on. However, it is only for the entrance parade. When South or North Korea acquired some medal, they played National anthem and displayed national flag.
-South Korean government allowed North Korea to use North Korean national flag in 2002 Pusan Asian game, 2003 Taegue Summer Universiade, 2005 Eastasia Soccer in Taegue and so on. That means South Korea accepted North as an independent states. Why can’t North Korea do the same thing?
-If North Korea can’t allow South Korea’s national flag and anthem because they are still at war to each other, how could North Korea allow US national flag and national anthem on Feb 26 in New York Philharmonic’s performance?
-What I’m trying to say is that it’s not South Korea’s problem, but North Korea’s. And it is not South Korea but North Korea who is trying to make exception against FIFA rules. Two Korea’s are going to have game to each other, and not parading together. It is natural to use their national anthem and flag.
-I know that North Korea have some difficulties to acknowledging South Korea as an independent state, because South Korea had the same problem during the military government. At that time, South Koreans regarded North Korea as not a state but an illegal political entity that occupying ‘our territory’ temporarily. I think North Korea still maintaining this perspective.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Alright, I admit that I have a natural bias toward most South Korean in South Korean/North Korean Disputes. Maybe it's because South Korea is an ally to the US or maybe it's because I lived there OR maybe it's because South Korea is usually, well... "right". I don't know.
But a recent decision by south Korean officials to petition FIFA (International Federation of Association Football which is the world's Football, errr... soccer governing body) in order to mandate that they (South Korea) be allowed to play their national anthem or raise their flag in a world cup qualifier game held in Pyongyang. South Korea's point is that it is a FIFA rule that all countries must play their national anthem prior to the start of each match. But how many countries play matches in other countries that they are currently at war with (Hot or cold war)? I can assure you that during the first Gulf War the US national soccer team would not have gone into Saddam Hussein National Stadium and demanded that the stars and stripes be hoisted with the star spangled banner playing in the background. If for the past few years the two countries have agreed to play under the "unification" flag and Arirang replaced partisan national anthems then why not continue this practice rather than risk a potentially inflammatory situation by pressing the issue with FIFA.
I just don't get it. I think this is an unnecessary headache.
I have to admit that because I have very little knowledge of Korean history and culture everything seems fresh and new. And while maybe many of you know or grew up singing “Arirang”, I couldn’t help but marvel (and maybe become a tad envious) at the song’s ability to withstand the test of time and spark Korean nationalism among all ages and Koreans everywhere.
Of course, you’ll all probably make fun of me tomorrow because this is nothing new for most of you. But hey, I’m learning by the day!
At any rate, I hope this video sparks fond memories of your home or time spent living there.
Monday, February 25, 2008
To be specific, its Pyung-yang concert is slated for 26th Feb, 2008.
Cleveland Orchestra (1965)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The era of president Lee has launched finally.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Hot off of the press,
Professor Hosaka Yuji a professor of Japanese language and literature at Sejong University located in Seoul, has located a map that unequivocally proves that the (hotly contested) Dok-do/Takashima Islands located in the (equally hot but not quite as contested) East/Japan sea is in fact Korean (ie South Korean) territory. Apparently, Prof Hosaka came across this antiquated map, made by a Japanese "Cardiologist" (hehe, I can't help but snicker, you have to read the article, it must to be a misuse of terms) earlier this month but kindly waited until yesterday, Friday Feb. 22, or "Takashima Day" and a day after the Korea-Japan cultural exchange started its two day festival in Seoul,to release this finding. I think Prof. Hosaka has focused his study on Japanese/Korean cartography for some time now and it looks as if his hard work has finally paid off.
Or has it?
At the time that I am writing this there is little to no additional information provided by non government sponsored news agencies, maybe this will change with time. Therefore, it is hard to call this story unbiased. Gaping holes that are within this story need to be closed and all information verified so that this story doesn't just look like nationalist propaganda. For that to happen simple questions like these:
- Where did he find this map?
- Who was the cartographer (or cardiologist as the article's author calls him)?
- How can we be guaranteed of the map's authenticity?
Curiously enough, a Japanese response has not been published.........YET.
I'd like to see what they have to say about this story.
Friday, February 22, 2008
They select certain issues and seek to uncover the truth behind it within the designated deadline.
It is composed of several bureaus directly under the supervision of the president.
It is comprised of 15 commissioners - usually professors or experts in relevant fields. -
According to the outline of the commission, the aim of this commission is as follows:
Under the「Framework Act on Clearing up Past Incidents for Truth and Reconciliation, the Commission’s purpose is to foster national legitimacy and reconcile the past for the sake of national unity, honoring those who participated in anti-Japanese movements and exposing the truth by investigating incidents regarding human rights abuses, violence, and massacres occurring since Japanese rule to the present time, specifically during the nation’s authoritarian regimes.
It is often said that such effort is one of the great feats that Roh's participatory government did in the realm of human rights. Indeed, I value highly its contribution to justice by overthrowing injustices and falsehoods to some extent.
However, I am slightly skeptical about the idea that history can be perfectly evaluated by some renowned scholar's investigation. In my view, it might be dangerous in that it can be politically- manipulated or ideologically-biased, depending on ideological-leanings of people involved in the project. In this case, its reliability is questionable.
New president, Lee Myung-Bak is expected to abolish such kind of agencies or committees in light of promoting government efficiency.
I am not very assured that these questions are relevant,
but, I want to think over such controversial points while reviewing this special commission.
a. Why do Koreans show such a great obsession over historical issues?
b. Have the truth-finding activities done during the previous administrations made a constructive contribution to Korean history? If so, in what respect, and how?
c. Should this commission be maintained for future reconciliatory efforts? Should the structure and/or composition of the commission be altered?
If you want to learn more about this commission, please check this out for your info.
Here is its address of the commission.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I have another interesting article about the North Korean people's TOEFL score.
It is not surprising that North Korean has relatively high(higher than Japanese) TOEFL score since I know if North Koreans do something they do perfectly (Think about the performance they do. They are just perfect. I think because they do for their dear father Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and mistakes are not forgiven in North Korea).
But I am a bit surprised that English is taught in North Korean middle school and high school. Isn't it hard to explain to the students why they have to learn English if it is a language of evil country, and they have no chance to go to English speaking country in their life?
Here is the link,
I found an article on Asia Times Online which is related to today's reading "China's Northeast Project Defensive or Offensive Strategy?"
The author Andrei Lankov, who is an associate professor in Kookmin(국민)University in Seoul, talks about what China can do if North Korean regime collapses.
When I was reading the article by Yoon Hwy-tak yesterday, I was really scared of the fact that China might intervene to the affair on North Korea after unification, and after reading the article by Lankov, I knew scholars are already discussing about what will China do after unification.
Because of my lack of knowledge, I have never thought about what China can do after unification. I was just thinking about why China is insisting that Koguryo's history is China's history. However, if the Chinese offensive strategy is possible and positive, the China's position on Koguryo' s history is more serious then I thought.
I met a editor in chief of Japanese major newspaper last week, and he said if North Korea regime collapses and be absorbed by South Korea, we have to worry about the security issue between China and U.S. more than the economy issue. Japanese Foreign Ministry has a plan for long time of helping Korea's economy after unification. The editor said China will not prefer the United States staying in the Korean Peninsula after the unificaiton when it comes to the border with China, and the article by Lankov also says U.S. is not prepared of going in to the chaos where they are thought as evil.
I do not know what will happen after the unification but I want to think positively that we will be fine after unification even if it is a wishful thinking. If the editor is right, Japan and other countries will help Korea with the economy issue, and I hope China does not do anything further more than helping North Korea's chaos.
p.s. I am concerned about the fact that Lancov misspelled Koguryo as Koryo.
Here is the link,
I could feel the urgency and despair of King Kojong in this letter. Chosun’s power was already declined and when he tried to take advantage of great powers, it created more dependency toward foreign countries and undermined independent political powers in domestic politics. King Kojong sought protection from Russian Tzars, German Kaisers, Japanese Emperors, and American Presidents but no treaty could save him or his country from Japan’s colonization.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
All of this, of course, is just silliness if not pathetic in my opinion.
But for all of us interested in all things Korea, ANOTHER new president is coming to DC in 2009. And the implications of his role in the East Asian security landscape couldn’t be any more serious. Care to take a guess?
You guessed right (like I knew you would)! The inauguration of ROK President-elect Lee Myung-bak of the GNP is just around the corner on Feb 25th!
In anticipation of this event, I found this article from the Brookings Institute.
Like the next US president, Lee Myung-bak faces the challenge of reaching across party lines to mend the domestic political divide while implementing his strategy for a secure homeland.
I took immediate note of Lee Myung-bak’s commitment to strengthen a maligned US-ROK alliance. And it should be interesting, to say the least, to watch the new ROK president navigate through the murky waters of the secondary security alliance dilemma. Meaning, I wonder to what extent can Lee Myung-bak improve relations with the US and Japan w/out alarming China and the DPRK. Should the US place limits on cooperation with the ROK to mitigate/prevent any provocation of the Chinese? And how significant is the Koguryo controversy in guiding the ROK’s direction in foreign policy? Will this controversy unite a fractured populace and compel the ROK further towards the US and away from China?
I’m sure we all have many more questions.
And I hope OUR next president does too.
I was so glad to know that Mrs. Shim was a grand daughter of the famous Korean novelist and poet, Hoon Shim (1901∼1936). He participated in March 1st movement and wrote novels and poems in Korea during Japanese colonial period. His works expressed Korean people's resistance against Japanese colonial rule.
I would like to introduce his most famous poem 'When that Day Comes (그날이 오면).' It was originally written in Korean but I also found an English translation. You could feel how strong Korean people's aspiration for liberation was. Apparently, that Day means the day Korea would become independent and liberated from brutal Japanese rule.
그 날이 오면
그 날이 오면, 그 날이 오면은
삼각산이 일어나 더덩실 춤이라도 추고
한강물이 뒤집혀 용솟음칠 그 날이
이 목숨이 끊어지기 전에 와 주기만 하량이면
나는 밤하늘에 나는 까마귀와 같이
종로의 인경을 머리로 들이받아 울리오리다.
두개골은 깨어져 산산조각이 나도
기뻐서 죽사오매 오히려 무슨 한이 남으오리까.
그 날이 와서, 오오 그 날이 와서
육조(六曹) 앞 넓은 길을 울며 뛰며 뒹굴어도
그래도 넘치는 기쁨에 가슴이 미어질 듯하거든
드는 칼로 이 몸의 가죽이라도 벗겨서
커다란 북을 만들어 들쳐 메고는
여러분의 행렬에 앞장을 서오리다.
우렁찬 그 소리를 한 번이라도 듣기만 하면
그 자리에 거꾸러져도 눈을 감겠소이다.
When that Day Comes
When that day comes
Mt.Samgak will rise and dance, the waters of Han will rise up.
If that day comes before I perish,
I will soar like a crow at night
and pound the Chongno bell with my head.
The bones my skull will scatter, but I shall die in joy.
When that day comes at last
I'll roll and leap and shout on the boulevard
and if you still stifles within my breast
I will take a knife
and skin my body and make
a magical drum march with it
in the vanguard.
Let me once hear that thundering shout,
my eyes can close then.
* When that Day Comes, translated by Peter H. Lee. Dorothy Balair Shimer 편, The Mentor Book of Modern Asian Literature(1969)
Monday, February 18, 2008
To go in more detail and get some contemporary academic insight on the event please reference pages 114-116 of the article "South Korea in 1983: Crisis Management and Political Legitimacy” by Chae-Jin Lee in the Journal Asian Survey Vol. 24, No. 1. The article even discusses the UN activities (and lack thereof) as a result of KAL 007 and the five demands the South Korean government was promoting to present to the USSR.
I thought long and hard about a response to this story on twenty-two North Korean citizens who were executed after being turned away by South Korean Authorities. Their small fishing vessels had drifted into South Korean waters on February 8th, were picked up by South Korean authorities and returned to North Korea, mainly because "they (North Korean fisherman) wanted to go home." After returning home all 22 (including three teenagers) were arrested, charged with attempted defection and subsequently executed.
Choson Ilbo actually broke the story after a sneaking suspicion that the South Korean government may have been trying to keep this under wraps. It was then that the Government actually released the information on the 22 fishermen (mostly women) who were "in distress."
Whatever the story, it is a nasty public relations nightmare for the South Korean Government. If this is all true then there is blood on everyone's hands that were involved.
I thought long and hard about what I could say to condemn the actions of both parties involved (North and South).
Words like "unfair","unjust", "ruthless","cruel" and "hellish" all came to mind.
Words, sometimes, don't seem to carry enough weight.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Kim Jung-il's 66th birthday is on 16th Feb. which was yesterday on the local time. The DPRK commemorate this day annually as one of the most important national hoilidays along with that of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jung-il's father and the founder of nation.It is a day for showy worship events and robot-like perades.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
• Victor D. Cha, “South Korea: Anchored or Adrift?” in Richard Ellings & AaronFriedberg (eds.), Strategic Asia 2003-04: Fragility and Crisis, pp. 109-129.
• Seung-Hwan Kim, “Anti-Americanism in Korea,” The Washington Quarterly vol.26, no. 1 (Winter 2002-03), pp. 109-122.
• Hahm Chaibong, “The Two South Koreas: A House Divided,” The WashingtonQuarterly Vol. 28, No.3 (Summer 2005), pp. 57-72.
Victor Cha argued that the alliance is deteriorated and South Korea is “seeking neutrality from the US and pursuing China as a new patron while unconditionally engaging North Korea.” He also claimed that “South Korea drifted away from the US by the issue of unification and such unification jitters have adversely impacted Seoul’s ability to form a common front toward North Korea with the US.” Seung-Hwan Kim asserted that “Anti-American sentiments have now spread into almost all strata of Korean society.” Hahm Chaibong even insisted that radical leftists who oppose capitalism and US-ROK alliance came to power with President Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
It is true that there was significant ideational change after the Sunshine policy and the summit between President Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jung-Il in 2000. And following activities such as reunion of separated family, cultural exchanges, Kumgang mountain tour, economic cooperation brought substantial ideational change that both Koreas have many things in common and they should finish the 50 years of confrontation and achieve peaceful reunification. South Korean people also found that North Korea had some intention to reform their economy and end its isolation by the support of South Korea.
However, ideational change after the Sunshine policy did not lead to the Anti-Americanism or alliance adjustment. The US and South Korean government were very much in cooperation until the end of Clinton administration. President Clinton even said to Kim Dae-Jung that they would have resolved North Korean nuclear crisis, if he had one more year in the office. It was Bush administration and Neoconservatives who changed course of action and brought the discrepancies. In the summit between President Kim Dae-Jung and President Bush in April 2001, President Bush expressed his strong skepticism on the Sunshine policy, and he provoked Korean people with the rhetoric such as ‘the axis of evil’ and ‘the preemptive strike.’ Most of foreign people would be surprised that Koreans are not so much sensitive about North Korean nuclear plan and still maintain the sunshine policy, but, again, the worst scenario of all for the Korean people is not a nuclear North Korea (even though it is a very serous problem) but another war between two Koreas. And Bush administration’s approach toward North Korea was posing serious threat and enhancing the possibility of war in Korean peninsular. And after the death of two middle school girls by the US vehicle, and the acquittal of the US soldiers, the so called ‘Anti-Americanism’ began to rise. However it was not an ‘Anti-American sentiment’ but more ‘Anti-Bushism’ and the request for the revision of the SOFA which was revised in 60s and still has many unequal provisions.
So called ‘Anti-Americanism’ is exaggerated by the ‘alliance jitters’. It never leads to the serious consideration to adjust US-ROK Alliance. Ham Chaibong even depicted Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-hyun as dangerous leftist but it is far from the reality. Kim adopted very conservative economic policy as the treatment of the financial Crisis and Roh became more realistic and even conservative after he became a president. He dispatched Korean soldiers (the third largest dispatch after the US and the UK) to Iraq in spite of strong domestic opposition and also pushed US-Korean Free Trade Agreement which is very controversial. Therefore progressive group even criticized that he betrayed his own constituency to strengthen the US-ROK alliance. And both Kim and Roh argued that the US forces should stay in Korean peninsular as a stabilizer even after the reunification. Also, there was strong counterattack from conservative groups after the second nuclear crisis in 2003. There was division between the ‘progressive and pro-unification group’ and the ‘conservative and anti-communist group’ and heated debate within society. It is more natural to go through such process if we consider the power shift and changes around the Korean peninsular. It was a swing of pendulum but the South Korean society soon found some equilibrium: continuation of the Sunshine policy and strong US-ROK alliance.
I think substantial portion of Anti-Americanism in Korea was created by Korean people’s disappointment on the U.S. and it means Korean people had really expected something from the U.S. For example, King Kojong expected the U.S. would help and protect declining Chosun from other great powers, but the president of the U.S. thought that Chosun is not deserve to be independent. Korean people were exhilarated by Woodrow Wilson’s declaration on ‘Self-determination’ but the 3.1 movement in 1919 was brutally oppressed by Japanese soldiers and the U.S. did not pay attention to Korea. Some people who were really disappointed with the U.S. such as Kim San (a Korean Revolutionary from the book ‘Arirang’) became a Communist after this incident. During the Kwangju democratic movement, leaders of movement hoped the U.S. do something to save them from General Chun, ‘the butcher of Kwangju’ and were really glad when they heard an U.S. Naval fleet was approaching toward Busan. However, the U.S. was more interested in the stability of the Korean peninsula from the Cold War perspective rather than the democratic movement. And the Butcher of Kwangju was welcomed by President Reagan. Apparently, these are the history which is not familiar to most of American people.
The U.S. is a nation state seeking its national interest. However, it also expressed too much rhetoric creating hope from week countries or oppressed people. Some rhetoric was true but not all of it. How should Korean people understand the U.S.?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Monday, February 11, 2008
I am going through Albanian archives at my internship and I found an interesting paragraph that discusses the name of Korea if Korea reunifies that we already talked about during the class.
It is a letter from Kim Il Sung(The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party) to the First Secretary of the Albanian Labor Party Central Committee Comrade Enver Hoxha on July 7th 1973. They were exchanging letter and discussing about the reunification issue. In the reply by Kim Il Sung, he says,
"Fourthly, we proposed once again the establishment of a confederation of the South and the North under the name of a single state – The Confederative Republic of Koryŏ.
The gathering of the great National Assembly and the achievement of the great national consolidation, and the establishment on this basis of a confederative system, all the while keeping for a determined time the two different systems that exist in the North and in the South, is considered by us as the most rational course for the achievement of the reunification of the country.
We have proposed that should a confederative system comprised of the South and the North be established, this confederative state be called the Confederative Republic of Koryŏ, bringing back the name of Koryŏ, which is widely known to the world as the only state that has existed in the territory of our nation. "
So, the option maybe clear that we are using the name Koryo again:)
When I want to get away from the biased, controlled, worthless propaganda rags of the west,I turn to fair and balanced "Korean Central News Agency" which often has stories, like this one:According to this article the children "made a study tour of revolutionary sites and battle sites in the area of Mt. Paektu between Feb. 3 and 9 on the occasion of the birthday of Kim Jong Il."
Note the interesting attempt in this article to make this simple school road trip to Paekdusan a connection between the socialist "revolution" (a la Lenin or Trotsky) and to an obvious, at least obvious to me, fascist dictator like Kim Jong Il.
I really got a chuckle from the last paragraph on the actual activities the children participated in.
I can imagine the conversation with the children and parents once they returned home:
North Korean Mother: "What did you do my dear communist child?"
Little North Korean child: "On Mount Paek du we conducted diverse political and cultural activities including a question-and-answer contest on the revolutionary traditions of the Workers' Party of Korea!"
North Korean Mother: "Wow, I am so proud of you comrade child!"
Well, if you ARE interested in visiting North Korea for "our dear leaders birthday" you'd better reserve your space with Koryo Tours today. (I know, dangerously close to being off topic but i couldn't resist.)
I also came across this article (2008/2/9) on the KCNA website about the joint South Korean/US military exercises in March. Like I said before, the Korean Central News Agency is very fair and balanced so as you read pay no attention to terms like: "The United States and the south Korean bellicose forces" or "unreasonable sophism designed to cover up their aggressive nature" or better yet "south Korean war-like forces." as these are just temporary slips of the tongue from a normally unbiased, uncensored, news organization. As I read this article a second time, it got me thinking. Do the North Koreans really feel threatened by these annual war-time strategy "games" held to the south? Or is it more North Korean Propaganda speak? Truth is I have no idea. Whats worse I think the US government also has no idea. Every year we (South Korea/US) hold these massive joint military exercises ;every year The DPRK comes out with condemnations. Every year the response from the US is:"this is not meant to be provocative (to North Korea) in any way." We in the US and South Korea can say: "of course we mean no harm."
But how does North Korea know?
The past two US Administrations have threatened the North militarily. In 1993 Clinton administration threatened an air strike on the Yongbyon Nuclear plant. The Bush administration has a history of cowboy diplomacy (2006.7.20) all over the world and threaten the North Koreans with military action before. So If you were Kim Jung Il and you saw a massive military force massing to the south what would you think?
It almost begs to question if the US military presence in South Korea is more of a determent slowing down the process of peace on the peninsula. I wont even go there this time.
What do neighboring news agencies have to about this?
Waste Dumping in the East Sea
It looks as thought South Korea has been dumping waste into the uhmmmm...Sea of Japan...or is it the East Sea...I can never decide. Although this was done unknowingly, The Japanese government has filed a complaint with the Korean Ministry of Maritime affairs. South Korea is taking this matter very seriously and is currently deciding how to take corrective measures. Since this matter is taking place in the East Sea/Sea of Japan other controversies such as what to call this body of water between the two nations and the Dok do/Takeshima islands must be boiling just under the surface. Probably, should keep an eye on this story.
This article reccomends that the US pay more attention to the root causes of why Anti-Americanism exists and persists in Korea in order to make better policy concerning Korea and the whole of East Asia. Getting into such a habit will help the US to improve its image and fundamental way it conducts itself in the world which has needed a make-over for some time.
It is so sad tonight that I have to share really really sad news for Korea with you. I have informed from my friend few minutes ago that there is a very shocking news in Korea right now. The No.1 national treasure of Korea has burn and disappeared. It was Korea's oldest wooden structure which is more than 600 years old. I am really really sad since I cannot believe the Namdaemoom is not there any more. I visit there sometimes since I was young.
The police does not know the reason yet but it is a sad news for Korean and the first major incident in new year(lunar new year).
Here is the article,
National Treasure No. 1 and Seoul’s historic landmark,
Of course, there were challenging moment for Namdaemun.
Friday, February 08, 2008
This is a hopeful start I must admit. You have to hold your breath, though, because every time north Korean cheerleaders are sent forth abroad there is usually some controversy that follows. Here is a story of the poor cheerleaders who went to the south and dared to come home and talk about what they saw.
I wonder if the north and south will be able to agree on the attire of said cheerleaders.
Will the fashion be more like the North Korean Cheer squad of past:
or more like what sports fans in South Korea are more accustomed to seeing:
I hope they can reach a happy medium between the two contrast.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
We covered some of the information very briefly in class, but this article has a lot of details about the Korean independence movement in America and China/Manchuria. I thought I would share this article about the Korean independence movement abroad because of the importance the movement had on the formation of the modern Korean states, and also because I think early Korean American history is a part of modern Korean history (which is also clear in the first half of this Korean American timeline). Koreans in America raised much of the funds necessary to develop the provincial government in Shanghai, which was led by Syngman Rhee, and Korean organizations overseas even did military training in preparation for Korean independence. They created the groups, direction and principles that are apparent in the states on the Korean peninsula today. Though there were strong leaders and solid organization, the Koreans abroad were split in four directions on how the political system should look after independence. It is very unfortunate that they could not come to an agreement though they all had a common cause and this problem remains today.
If you ever visit USC in Los Angeles, you can visit the Ahn Chang Ho House. It is in the middle of campus and is home to the Korean studies department.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
What is so special about him, then?
King Jeongjo is considered one of the most visionary monachs of Chosun and who led the Renaissance of Korea. He tried to reform the nation throughout his reign. First of all, he tried to break the existing system to get rid of all the hurdles for national development. Establishing Kyujanggak, an imperial library, in order to improve the cultural and political stance of Chosun and to recruit talented officers to run the nation. Simultaneously, it was an effort to weaken the power of various wealthy aristocrats and relatives of the queen.
Jeongjo employed as many Silhak scholars as possible, who pursued pragmatism within confucianism. Jeong Yak-yong must be a representative figure. Besides, he is known as a king who enhanced the level of popular culture by encouraging art and writing.
One of the conspicuous feats I would like to point out is the relocation of the court to the city of Suwon to be closer to his father's grave. He built Hwaseong Fortress to guard the tomb. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These three websites that I discovered enlighten us about King Jeongjo and Hwaseong.
(1). King Jeongjo and Hwaseng Fortress.
(2). The Renaissance of Chosun, King Jeongjohttp://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/art_view.asp?newsIdx=13619&categoryCode=201
(3). The official website of Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon
In the article, the "Northeast Project" professor Larsen breifly mentioned last week is traced back from its roots when promanent Chinese historians in the late 1980's began to suggest that Koguryo was an entity separate from Korea's Three Kingdoms. The main argument from the China camp is that Koguryo was ethically made up of minorities from China baring no connect to the development of Korea. Is China simply trying to identify themselves or is it simply an agressive move by the Chinese to establish unquestionable sovergenty at the China/ Korea border? This is where the history can be extrapolated and manipulated for political and national gain at the expense of the truth or neutral academia. The "Northeast Project" is a subject where North and South Korea can band together to make progress due to united interests. The marketing campaign of Koguryo mechandise displays this drive. But can an area of land retain and expose its Chineseness or Koreaness enough to be seen as the contemporary truth?
Asserting ownership of history based on ethnicity and ethnic influence is dangerous because it negates the collaborative effort of academia which at the core should be in pursuit of knowledge and not political foder. The mere fact that the Koguryo Tombs are co-registered as UNESCO World Heritage site for both China and North Korea exposes that in East Asia soverignty and identity are perceived in total proximity to ancient past. Next thing you know, Japan's Buddhist Temple at Nara will be taken as more Korean herritage than Japanese due to the heavy influence of Buddhism originating from Korea to Japan and the stylistic structure being so connected to Korean temples.
Was there any possible solution to maintain Chosen’s independence? If Korea had great compromise and alliance between traditionalists and reformers which happened in Japan, it could be possible. However, political powers in Korea were so divided: Reformers like Kim Ok-gyun, traditional political power represented by Daewonkun, and grassroots movement such as Tonghak movement could never compromise or formulate combined political force to save declining country. Inside struggle among Korea’s political powers weaken Korea’s independent political power and outside competitions among great powers made Korea more dependent.
The Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM) is a privately funded small museum in Tokyo, Japan, which is dedicated to the women forced into sexual slavery. According to the news article, the rightists stormed the WAM and shouted that "Comfort Women are prostitutes!" They identified themselves as members of 'the organization for withdrawal of Kono statement'. Their brochure also mentioned organizations such as the Association not approving special right to Korean residents in Japan, the Association against crimes by foreigners and so on. They terrorized people, especially staffs of the WAM, blocked the entrance and stayed until police came and asked them to leave.
I had chance to meet Ms. Nishino Rumiko, a founder of the WAM and other Japanese scholars and activists who are very conscientious in March 2007 in the US Institute of Peace symposium. She is very courageous but she felt some insecurity because the extreme rights has been threatened her and the museum. I worried about her and staffs of the WAM and I also worry about rising voice of extreme rights within Japanese society.
Maybe we will have chance to discuss about historical disputes about Japanese colonialism and atrocities. I also want to introduce an article about the WAM and other museums in Japan including Yushukan.
Revising the Past, Complicating the Future: The Yushukan War Museum in Modern Japanese History by Takashi YOSHIDA
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
And I buy that.
I believe that the North is heavily dependent on outside supplies coming from South Korea, the US and its only remaining ally China. However, events like The Annual Birthday Celebration give vindication to Conservatives in South Korea, The US and Japan who believe that the policy of shipping supplies to North Korea is a mistake and should be replaced with a hard line approach which includes squeezing the North until its government implodes regardless of the cost of human life that may result.
Anywho, its a good article I urge those who don't know about the annual "party" to check it out. The final quote in the article represents frustration from those trying to help the people of North Korea.
Song Dae Sung (from a South Korean think tank):
Yeah yeah yeah....Food shortage my foot, Let's Party!!!
Bring on the Joy Brigade!!!
There should be problems and conflicts too. That is because they perceive some people more important than others. For example, as we learned in the class, North Korean people value the warriors more whereas South Korean people value scholarly figures more. (These are shown in the stamps of North Korea and bills of South Korea).
1919 is a good point to end on since it ends before disputed figures such as Kim Il Sung really start to take active roles in Korean history.
Going back even further, Tangun is another problem since North says they found his bones. Can "myth" go into a "historical" dictionary? Is Kija counted or not? This would not really work well if you are trying to give the impression that Korean culture is ancient and unique...
Here is the link of the article:)
Source: Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea
Address : http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200802/200802040007.html
Date Visited: Mon Feb 04 2008 07:09:59 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)
Monday, February 04, 2008
Okay, so what does American college sporting rivalries have to do with two regions in South Korea?
Simple. Imagine your favorite college rivalry, like say the KU/MU rivalry, multiply it by 50, stick it in the freezer, take it out put it in a pan of Hot oil and maybe you can begin to imagine a particularly hot (and sometimes not) regional rivalry.
As, I mentioned in my last post some of the first visiting Korean students and scholars that I met were from Kwangju in Jeolla province. As I mentioned before they were quick to differentiate themselves from their counterparts from other regions. I also noticed that they would get really worked up when speaking about Pusan people. One of my friends once told me that during his military service he was given a hard time by one of his drill instructors from Gyeongsang province. He said that the only reason that he was hard on him was because my friend was from Jeolla. Another friend stated that she had heard that most of the troops that fired on the protesters during the Kwangju democratic movement were from Gyeongsan (remember not my words).
Of course, when I lived in South Korea I lived in Pusan (to the chagrin of ) of my Kwangju friends. In Pusan I heard the exact opposite of the Kwangju perspective, right?
Actually, not really.
When I spoke of a rivalry between the two provinces most Pusan people would say: "yes there was some problems at one time but not anymore." And that is true...kind of. The two provinces have been trying to close the partisan gap. This article (found here on the Kyeongsang nam do government website) speaks of the joint new year convention held last month:
But every now and again I would witness some semblance of rivalry. For example when trying to schedule a KTX train ride from Pusan to Kwangju I found that no such train ride existed.
For that matter, I can go from Pusan to almost anywhere in Korea EXCEPT Kwangju.
When I ask some people who I worked with (all from Kyeongsang) about this they replied jokingly: "Well, there is NO reason to go THERE."
This could all just be a coincidence and no real proof that the rivalry still exists but when I would ask people from both Jeolla and Kyeongsang about the absence of a direct KTX train between the two Major cities they would roughly have the same explanation:
Perhaps it is because of the bad History.
That history that carries back centuries to the three Korean "Three Kingdoms Period" where the Silla Dynasty (roughly in modern-day Kyeongsang Province) and the Pahkje Dynasty (roughly, in the modern-day Jeolla Province were in a life or death struggle until it's defeat (by unified Silla and Chinese T'ang dynasties) and subsequent fall of Paekje in 660 AD.
Ahhh, dates and names boo!!! hiss!!!!
What is this a History class or something?
Well, during the 2004 elections, Roh Moo-Hyun (who was actually born in south Kyeongsang)and the "URI-party" or "Our Party" won the presidential election; It was easy to see the political divisions were parallel with the historical regional ones.
So is there some kind of connection historically?
Here is a map of The Three (or four) Kingdoms during their height in the 5 century AD.
and Now a map of the 2004 elections
and finally the KTX Gyeonbu line
What do you think?
Friday, February 01, 2008
I found this article from July 2007 about Korean shamanism. When I took Korean Civilization during my undergraduate studies, we talked a lot about this subject, especially about the importance of women in the rituals. Then when I went to Korea last year, I saw the role it still plays in Korean culture today. My roommate, a Korean middle school math teacher, was always very tired. Her mom said it was because she was being haunted by a spirit that was draining her energy. My friend's mom made her send three pairs of her underwear to her. Then her mom took them from Mokpo to Busan so her and her friend could beat them with magic sticks to scare the spirit away from my friend. When my friend was explaining why we had to go to the post office to mail her used underwear, she looked at me with a confused look and said, "My mother says she is Catholic, but she still believes in spirits and beating underwear. I don't know. My mom is Korean. This is what Korean moms do." I asked her if she thought it would really work, and she said she didn’t know.
To end the story.. my roommate was still tired all the time, but I think it was because the students were draining her energy rather than an evil spirit.
Now at GW, I look forward with great excitement and a LITTLE anxiety about what the future holds for me. But I have to say that our brief discussion last week on US Naval campaigns in Korea during the end of the 19th Century provoked my curiosity and took me back to my days at sea. It made me wonder what those sailors on the USS Colorado were thinking when they ventured into the Han River on June 1, 1871. Were they truly surprised by the Koreans' reaction? Who really shot first? These questions and others compelled me to look a little further into this campaign.
Capt. Tilton’s letters provide us with a vivid and, at times, horrific description of US combat engagement with the “Coreans” in early June 1871. His writings are a strange juxtaposition of demonization and appreciation. On one hand, Capt Tilton was worried about the prospect of facing “10,000,000 savages”. (Ok, Capt Tilton. Maybe that was a little hyperbole there, but I get the point.) On the other, he’s calls Korea “beautiful” and “everything is pretty and green”. I also think it’s interesting that Capt Tilton noted the Koreans had no desire to communicate and in fact retreated when US forces initially approached the western shores. That should’ve been interpreted as cautionary indicators of a Korean defensive posture. I mean, it seems to me the writing was on the wall. How else should the Koreans respond to US forces entering the river? And I’m still not sure why the USS Colorado commander decided to go back into the river and attack the Korean forts in response to shots fired at the US detachment. Sure, US forces gained approval to take surveys from lower-level diplomats, but the letters acknowledged the importance of getting this consent from top-level officials. In my mind, the US commander assumed the risks when he accepted the approval from less than superior authorities. Really, why would the Koreans apologize? And besides, was Korea not a sovereign nation-state able to take defensive measures against an intruding force if necessary? Hmmm…I guess imperialist powers weren’t really into that whole sovereignty thing. It made me think what would’ve happened if the roles were reversed.
Overall, I enjoyed reading these letters. Whatever you may think of the cause of the war, Capt Tilton's letters capture the essence of being at sea for months on end, the violence of armed conflict, the love and longing for family, and the need to tell someone all about it.