Wednesday, May 21, 2008
However, if anyone's need to read what GW students are writing and thinking about Korea is still strong through the summer, please check out "GW North Korea," a blog for my undergrad North Korea summer course
Friday, May 16, 2008
You may view the results here.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
It was a great opportunity to reflect on Korean history.
I was happy to study with Professor Larsen and all of you.
Lastly, I post these class photos, thinking of happy moments.
Wish you the best of luck!
Professor Larsen's speech at the Philip Jaisohn Forum (5/12)
Once again, this is a situation that should be closely monitored by all...
The reason why this is important is because the EU trades a lot with China and South Korea, and hopes to reach agreements similar to those made by the US with these states. This would greatly help both sides, as more freedom in trade would make it easier for South Korean companies to gain a stronger foothold in Europe, the largest market available. Considering bilateral trade last year alone amounted to close to $90 billion, everyone would gain from this.
I selected the Tongnip Sinmun (독립신문) as my Wikipedia assignment topic.
Since there was nothing about this issue, I created a new page in regard to this historic newspaper. Although my work was not insufficient, I tried to cope with following several aspects of the Tongnip Sinmun.
- Development and Discontinuance
- Contribution to Korean society
Here is the Link to my work.
Everything on this page is of my doing save for the Name Morphology (I had attempted to type in the Hangul but was quickly corrected by someone) and also one sentence in the beginning which also was corrected by someone else.
Before it was
and now it is.
I added few paragraphs of the back ground of nuclear weapon of North Korea.
"According to newly declassified documents from the archives of former communist allies of North Korea, Pyongyang first began to pursue nuclear technology as early as 1956, though security concerns in the region and an apparent Soviet dismissal of these concerns in the early 1960s hastened the DPRK’s efforts to acquire the technology to produce nuclear weapons. In the wake of the student-led April 19 movement in 1960 that overthrew Rhee Syngman and the May 16, 1961 military coup d'état that brought General Park Jung-hee to power, North Korea sought an mutual defense treaty with the Soviet Union and China. Yet, Soviet leaders reportedly did not even consider such a pact necessary, despite the military posture of the anti-communist Park Jung-hee regime, as long as the Soviet’s improved relations with the United States.
Perhaps the two most important factors in North Korea’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and become militarily self-reliant were the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the prospect of a US-Japan-ROK alliance following the 1965 establishment of diplomatic relations between the ROK and Japan. Kim Il Sung reportedly did not trust that the Soviets would live up to the conditions of the mutual defense pact and guarantee North Korea’s security since they betrayed Castro by withdrawing nuclear missiles in an effort improve relations with the United States. Indeed, as a North Korean official explained to Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin in 1965, “the Korean leaders were distrustful of the CPSU and the Soviet government, they could not count on that the Soviet government would keep the obligations related to the defense of Korea it assumed in the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, Kim Il said, and therefore they were compelled to keep an army of 700,000 and a police force of 200,000.” In explaining the cause of such mistrust, the official claimed that “the Soviet Union had betrayed Cuba at the time of the Caribbean crisis.” The prospect of a US-Japan-ROK alliance in 1965 further compelled the North Korean leaders to obtain nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Yet, as recently declassified Russian, Hungarian, and East German materials confirm, no communist governments were willing to share the technology with the North Koreans, out of fear that they would share the technology with China.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korean leaders recognized the need for a new security relationship with a major power since Pyongyang could not afford to maintain its military posture. North Korean leaders therefore sought to forge a new relationship with the United States, the only power strong enough to step into the vacuum left by the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the early 1990s, throughout the first nuclear crisis, North Korea sought a non-aggression pact with the United States."These are the 3 paragraphs that I added to the background but the next day, I realized the 3rd sentence was gone. I tried to add again, and I found out all the 3 paragraphs were gone.
The reason I chose this topic is because I did an internship at North Korean Interntational Documentation Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars and had chance to read the declassified recent documents of North Korean intention of achiving nuclear power. Also, when I read articles for our class, I learned many new historical perspectives of North Korean intentions of persuing nuclear power other than the United States position on North Korea. Therefore, by adding North Korea's nuclear weapon background using the documents and books, I thought it could show people who want to know of the back ground of North Korean nuclear weapons why it first pursued nuclear weapon.
I added on May 14th and when I checked May 15th the last paragraph I added was gone. I did the screeshot on May 14th after adding so I have the page I edited, but I was suprised who people react so fast about this issue. When I went to the discussion board, it said this page is in dispute. I tried to discuss with people but I could not find the discussion board for the background. So, I could not discuss about my purpose.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Under the Gwangju Democratization Movement, I added some information about the drivers for democracy, which was a parade of taxis, buses, trucks and cars that drove in support of the movement. Many of the drivers were beaten as a response. Then they started using the vehicles as weapons to protect the citizens and/or block/hurt troops.. it was a vicious cycle. When you see pictures of the movement, you often see the taxis and trucks. They seemed like a major part of the movement, but when I was doing research, no one really mentioned them. So I added some info about them on Wikipedia.
"On the night of May 20, hundreds of taxis led a large parade of buses, large trucks and cars toward the Provincial Office to meet the protest. As the drivers drove in the demonstration, the troops used tear gas, pulled them out of the cars and beat them. These “drivers of democracy” showed up to support the citizens and the demonstration because of troop brutality witnessed earlier in the day, as well as out of anger after many taxi drivers were assaulted when trying to assist the injured and while taking people to the hospital. Some were even shot after the drivers attempted to use the vehicles to block soldiers or as weapons. "
I also added a small paragraph about the impact of the movement under Aftermath. I said it was assumed the US knew about the troop dispatch because I am trying to avoid being deleted. If I say they DID know, it will be deleted. If I say the Koreans insisted they knew though they did not, it would be deleted. I was trying to be more impartial. It WAS assumed right? Isn't that why there is an argument at all? If it was not assumed then no one would be talking about it. I will probably get deleted anyway. (I don't know why the font here is crazy. Sorry.)
"The Gwangju Democratization Movement had a profound impact on South Korean politics and history. Chun Doo-hwan suffered popularity problems because he took power through a military coup, but after authorizing the dispatch of Special Forces upon citizens, his legitimacy was significantly damaged. The United States was previously seen as a liberator and protector, but the Gwangju Democratization Movement changed the image of the U.S. because it was assumed the United States knew ahead of time about the dispatch of special troops and sat idly as civilians were killed. The American image was further damaged when the U.S. continued to support Chun Doo-hwan through the 1980s. However, the movement also paved the way for later movements in the 1980s that eventually brought democracy to South Korea. The Gwangju Democratization Movement has become a symbol of South Koreans' struggle against authoritarian regimes and their fight for democracy."
Then I ended up modifying the Park Chung-hee article because I wanted to talk about some of the democratization movements that came before Gwangju. I took the information from Contentious Kwangju, which was one of our assigned readings for the Gwangju discussion week. I added the section Unpopularity Stemming from Authoritarianism and the Yushin System.
"The growth of the South Korean economy secured a level of support for the Park Chung-hee presidency in the 1960s, but that support started to fade after economic growth started slowing and because of the authoritarian measures taken by Park. By the late 1970s, demonstrations against the Yushin system erupted throughout the country indicating Park’s rising level of unpopularity.
One example of a demonstration that hurt Park’s popularity was the “YH Incident” in August 1979. At the YH Trading Company a group of young female textile workers held a sit-in strike at the headquarters of the main opposition party in protest of massive layoffs. The government responded by sending riot police to suppress the demonstration, leaving one female worker dead and others injured. This example of excessive force against the people contributed to Park’s unpopularity.
Another demonstration that hurt Park’s popularity was the “Pu-Ma struggle.” On October 16, 1979, student demonstrations calling for the end of dictatorship and the Yushin system began at Busan National University and moved into the streets of the city. Students and the riot police fought all day, and by the evening, 50,000 people had gathered in front of the city hall. After several public offices were attacked and around 400 protesters were arrested, the government declared martial law in Busan on October 18. On October 18, the protests spread to Masan. Students from Kyungnam University in Masan also participated in protests, which spread and resulted in 10,000 mostly students and workers joining the struggle against the Yushin System. They began attacking the police station and city offices of the ruling party, and a city-wide curfew was put into place.
The rising unrest in the public contributed to the sense of urgency in the government, and hence, to Park Chung-hee’s assassination."
This statement shows that its direction will be to the right to certain degree. Korean history textbook issue is an epitome of ideologies differences. It was much more noticeable in the modern history than ancient ones. Perspectives about certain historic events including the Korean War, 4.19 movement, 5.16 coup and evaluation of each administration demonstrates such ideology discrepancy, in particular. Four history textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education in 2002, for example, describe Kim Young-sam administration negatively as corrupted, on the contrary, Kim Dae-jung administration positvely as progressive.
I felt compelled to expand on Lee Myung-bak’s wikipedia page for a multiplicity of reasons. First, Lee’s promise to strengthen US-ROK relations and implement a tougher approach with North Korea left me with great optimism. However, recent events regarding the reactions of his policy choices made me less sanguine about his future, and I wanted to gain a better understanding of what factors and how these factors are contributing to his plummeting approval ratings. Second, I felt that keeping track of Lee throughout our course would provide me with valuable insight into the inner workings of the South Korean political system. Third, I wanted to delve deeper into his North Korean policy. I asked myself, "What are the specifics of his plan? What are his assumptions? Is it really on the wrong track, as critics suggest?"(still figuring that one out). Fourth, his wiki page was relatively terse, and I felt significant changes needed to be made soon, considering his critical role in US-ROK and ROK-DPRK relations.
I chose to expand on the “Foreign Policy” and “Criticism” sections. Surprisingly, the additions that I made have not been deleted. Although, some of my sentences have changed, but the substance and meaning are still there at any rate.
Here are the links to my changes:
Lee Myung Bak Wiki (foreign policy)
Lee Myung Bak Wiki (criticism)
Just some final thoughts, the future does not look great for Lee. With a disastrous approval rating in the low 30's, he is also facing opposition from within his own party. He is certainly in a precarious position: Either he changes his policies and is considered a man with weak convictions. Or he becomes resolute or defiant but faces the prospect of being unable to push through any of his initiatives.
When I did research online, I found that someone had already created a page on the topic, originally in French but he had translated it into English later on. At first glance, it was pretty much a literal translation of his page from French to English, but the article was short.
What I first did was to restructure the way it was presented by adding bullets points (so it was easier to read and navigate, links, new history sections, and more references. It seemed the topic had many other related pages on Wikipedia, but many were not connected to it. Therefore, I just went around and looked for the possible links and added them when necessary. Afterwards, I looked for articles and reviews on the topic and just added several references to make the article page more academic.
I have been very lucky with this topic, because the person who contributed the most to it has decided to give up wikipedia for a while since he is also a graduate student (I checked his profile to message him). Also, this is not a controversial topic either, which means that the possibility that someone will change everything that I have done is fairly unlikely.
Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French-South_Korean_relations
The European Union has been strict on the "rules of origin" legislation which has been an issue in the talks. "South Korea has demanded the EU ease its rules of origin, under which a product is considered as manufactured by a trading partner only if at least 60 per cent of the finished item is made in that country."
After all, the EU is the largest foreign investor in South Korea, with investments that reached close to $45 billion last year alone. If tariffs are reduced, trading between the two entities would increase as well, which would benefit everyone. In the end, it is important to remember that trade with the EU is essential, as trade agreements not only ease commercial partnerships with a single state, but twenty-seven of them, including 4 of the G8 nations.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Due to the lack of diplomatic relations with the international community because outstanding issues (nuclear being the top) and the effects of the world-wide food shortage are clearly resulting in surges in the domestic prices of food in North Korea. The report details about how food shortages listed by the DPRK's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) may be merely politicizing the losses to obtain more aid or may actually have losses do to with inefficiencies of production, the August floods of 2007, or diversion of grain and such to other markets unofficially. Data is even questioned concerning if the correct amount of grain needed for the North Korean diet because the WFP and FAO have overestimate the population of North Korea and thus the need for grain.
The self-reliance theory and policy of juche can never fully develop to a working situation as the percentage of arable land to people is low and food supply is severely dependant on favorable weather conditions. The brief points out an interesting analysis concerning China's aid/ food export involvement with DPRK. Aggregate food exports certainly increase with the deepening bilateral relations between the two countries but oveall grain exports were flat during 2006 and 2007 due to the nuclear crisis. Because of the sharp increase of food prices over the past three months it is difficult to tell whether China is increasing its imports of food, remaining steady, or trailing from previous quarter intervals over the past years.
Prices and speculations especially in Asia with so many countries curbing exports in order to prevent shortages at home have had a severe effect on the domestic DPRK food price index. Any external disruption of food supply or price is severely felt inside North Korea at the basic level. Data in the policy brief demonstrates how at this time regional and geographical advantages which may assuaged famine in the past bear no advantage currently as even prices and supply in Pyongyang are desperate.
In 2002, the DPRK attempted to allow more economic reforms creating an environment for co-ops and farmers markets, but now the government is trying to regain a hold of grain distribution and trade. An example of recent policies in an effort to exert control on the market and thus keep power includes a ban on all women under 50 from trading in the markets. These new efforts by the government are only spurring the growth of unregulated "alley markets" and influencing the manner of trade along the border with China.
Recommendations from the authors include highlighting how the regime of the DPRK needs to accept aid when presented by the WFP and South Korea in the short term and that other regional countries need to review their rice export bans in favor of diverting some stocks to the WPF for regional stability by feeding North Koreans. As the nuclear talks roll on, the humanitarian assistance recently promised by the US looks favorable.
Be sure to check out the brief if merely to see some of the charts and data.
Please check this recent updated AP news article.
A preliminary review of nuclear documents turned over to the United States by North Korea shows they appear to be a complete accounting of their plutonium production, the Associated Press has learned.
"It looks like all the production records from the period," the official said. "The initial assessment is that it looks pretty good, that they have pretty much given us what they said they were going to give us."
Undoubtedly, it is a positive sign for all relevant countries.
Considering domestic situation, it is no surprising that both U.S. and DPRK try to reach the agreement within the George W. Bush term.
What really matters is trust between U.S. and North Korea, as President Reagan once succintly put the challenges against the USSR back in the Cold War period:
"Trust and verify."
They view each other as trustworthy partners? It still remains to be seen. Perhaps, the future verification is likely to become confidence-building process. However, a thorny and murky path awaits for them since this game has not yet finished.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Daily NK collected several photos of Kim Il Sung from youth to old age and released them with brief commentary last week. Have a look here:
The commentary is quite brief and there is nothing particularly insightful, but it is interesting to see these images since I have not seen many of them before. Kim Il Sung did in fact look like a nice man because his eyes smiled all the time. He seemed like a good leader to North Korean people and active leader that took care of North Korean people and domestic affairs by seeing these pictures.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I expanded and added some more information regarding "Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea" and especially in the section of "Final break down of the agreement"
You can also check the final page in the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreed_Framework_between_the_United_States_of_America_and_the_Democratic_People's_Republic_of_Korea#Final_break_down_of_the_agreement
Bold contents in the following text are what I added three days ago, and it is still untouched.
==Final break down of the agreement==
In October 2002, a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly visited North Korea to confront the North Koreans with the U.S. assessment that they had a uranium enrichment program . Both parties' reports of the meeting differ. The U.S. delegation believed the North Koreans had admitted the existence of a highly enriched uranium program . The North Koreans stated Kelly made his assertions in an arrogant manner, but failed to produce any evidence such as satellite photos, and they responded denying North Korea planned to produce nuclear weapons using enriched uranium. They went on to state that as an independent sovereign state North Korea was entitled to possess nuclear weapons for defense, although they did not possess such a weapon at that point in time   . Relations between the two countries, which had seemed hopeful two years earlier, quickly deteriorated into open hostility.
The HEU intelligence that James Kelly’s accusation is based on is still controversial: According to the CIA fact sheet to Congress on November 19, 2002, there was “clear evidence indicating the North has begun constructing a centrifuge facility” and this plant could produce annually enough HEU for two or more nuclear weapons per year when it is finished. However, some experts assessed that the equipment North Korea imported might have been enough for an experimental program or a laboratory, but not enough to be a weapons-grade program. 
KEDO members considered in November 2002 whether to halt the fuel oil shipments in response to the previous month's developments. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly warned Japanese officials that the U.S. Congress would not fund such shipments in the face of continued violations. The shipments were halted in December.
In December 2003, KEDO suspended work on the pressurized water reactor project. Subsequently KEDO shifted the focus of its efforts to ensuring that the LWR project assets at the construction site in North Korea and at manufacturers’ facilities around the world ($1.5 billion invested to date) are preserved and maintained.
On January 10, 2003, North Korea again announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  On February 10, 2005, North Korea finally declared that it had manufactured nuclear weapons as a "nuclear deterrent for self-defence" . On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test. US intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has manufactured a handful of simple nuclear weapons.
Each side blamed the other for ending the Agreed Framework. The United States pointed out that a North Korean uranium enrichment facility would violate the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula , which states "The South and the North shall not possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities." North Korea accused the United States of a "hostile policy" including deliberately delaying fuel supplies and progress on the KEDO project that "effectively nullified" the agreement, listing North Korea as part of the "Axis of evil" and a target of the U.S. preemptive nuclear strikes.   
Although the agreement has largely broken down, as of 2005 North Korea has not restarted work on the two production size nuclear power plants that were frozen under the agreement. These plants could potentially produce enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce several nuclear weapons per year. The Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years From 1994 to December, 2002. 
Discussions are taking place through the Six-party talks about a replacement agreement, reaching a preliminary accord on September 19, 2005. The accord makes no mention of the U.S. contention that North Korea has a secret, underground enriched uranium program. However the new accord would require North Korea to dismantle all nuclear facilities, not just specific plants as in the Agreed Framework. . This has been followed up by the February 13, 2007 agreement which has largely adopted this Sep 19 statement. Its implementation has been successful so far, with only a slight delay being recorded due to an issue of funds being unfrozen by the US actually reaching North Korea.
<1> HEU intelligence
"The HEU intelligence that James Kelly’s accusation is based on is still controversial: According to the CIA fact sheet to Congress on November 19, 2002, there was “clear evidence indicating the North has begun constructing a centrifuge facility” and this plant could produce annually enough HEU for two or more nuclear weapons per year when it is finished. However, some experts assessed that the equipment North Korea imported might have been enough for an experimental program or a laboratory, but not enough to be a weapons-grade program."
=> I would like to mention the controversy over the HEU issue which was a key to the dismantlement of the Agreed Framework.
David Albright’s report that I added was very important source for assessing the degree of the HEU program in the North.
<2> North Korea’s blame against the U.S. for the dismantlement of the Agreed Framework
"North Korea accused the United States of a "hostile policy" including deliberately delaying fuel supplies and progress on the KEDO project that "effectively nullified" the agreement, listing North Korea as part of the "Axis of evil" and a target of the U.S. preemptive nuclear strikes."
=> North Korea’s blame against the U.S. was not just the delay of the light water reactor construction. I think the top priority of North Korea is the security concern and regime survival. Therefore they are extremely sensitive about the remarks such as the Axis of Evil and NPR report which mentioned North Korea as a possible nuclear target. The statement of the Foreign Ministry of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea “Conclusion of non-aggression treaty between DPRK and U.S. called for.” On Oct 25, 2002 <http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2002/200210/news10/25.htm#4> clearly stated this problem.
I also added the source of W Bush’s state of the Union address and NPR report:
U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, January 8, 2002.
<3> Effectiveness of the Agreed Framework
"The Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years From 1994 to December, 2002."
=> I would like to empathize that the Agreed Framework was successful in freezing North Korean plutonium production in Yeongbyeon plutonium complex for eight years at least from 1994 to December, 2002, from the establishment of the Agreed Framework to the Second Nuclear Crisis.
We can find same argument in Selig Harrison’s speech in the Korean Ambassy.
I wanted to question if the decision to stop heavy oil shipment was realistic and effective decision.
Friday, May 09, 2008
The following is from the CNN website:
“In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. CNN's Christiane Amanpour gives a rare glimpse of the secret society in the "Notes from Korea" airing Saturday and Sunday, 8 and 11 p.m. ET.”
Christiane Amanpour was granted rare access by the North Korean government to cover the historic performance of the NY Philharmonic in Pyongyang. I found the primer on the website very interesting, and I’m definitely compelled to watch the show. Even on the plane ride to Pyongyang, passengers are given a small dose of the North Korean ideology
“We are informed over the speaker about our glass of water, ‘This drink is associated with the kind heart of the Great Leader Kim Jong Il.’”
Amanpour’s first interactions with North Koreans immediately brought up our discussions on nationalism. From their view, the US is the source of all North Korean problems. This led me to think of Prof Larsen’s concept of Constructed, State-led nationalism. Essentially, the North Korean regime has been spreading this image of the US in order to draw nationalistic sentiments.
I do wonder how Amanpour will address the effects of the NYP’s performance. I remember from class that we agreed that it would have little effect, and I’m inclined to think that we were right.
At any rate, I’m sure it’ll be an informative show.
South Korea bans US pedophiles from entering country
This story covers the recent ban on some convicted pedophiles from entering South Korea.
As a former English teacher in South Korea, I am well aware of:
1) English teachers from all over the world hired with, dubious backgrounds and suspect motives for wanting to work in Asia.
2)Teachers working with fraudulent documents like working with tourist visas and fake teaching certificates and university degrees.
I believe that as long as there is a need for english education and as long as there are people willing to sell such a service then there will be the potential for unsavory individuals attempting to come to Korea. The biggest scoundrels are the Hakwon (Korean Academy) owners who are willing to for go the safety of their students just to say that they have a high number of native speaking instructors.Unfortunately, the Korean government and media seems to prefer to launch blame towards all foreign teachers (especially those from North America) when bad things happen rather than to reform (or maybe create) some uniformed standards for hiring teachers and then actively enforcing those standards. Finding that pedophiles are actively trying to enter Korean, Japanese, Thai and Taiwan school should not come as a surprise to Korean Government officials since teaching (or finding a job in any capacity in elementary schools) is the method of choice for child predators of any nationality.
I'm sure that this story will be used to further strengthen South Korean national disgust toward North American foreigners looking for work or currently working in South Korea.
North Korea has turned over to the United States a significant amount of documentation on its nuclear program. The information is said to contain a large amount of information on the DPRK's Yongbyon reactor from all its major nuclear campaigns (1990's, 2003 and 2005). The question at hand is how complete will this information be? Personally, I think that it is part of North Korea's own "stick and carrot" (or maybe a I'll put away my stick,maybe, if you give me lots of carrots) approach. The Bush administration is pleased as punch with anything remotely resembling progress with North Korea. Phrases like: "an important step" are being used to describe this particular event. I think if "W" gets anything positive from Kim Jong Il it will be a victory for his so called legacy.
Of course its hard for me to get excited about this stuff because whenever there is an "important step" made in the right direction one of the parties usually mucks it up and we end up worse off then before.
As the documents make their way back stateside for scrutiny, I would keep the champagne bottles on ice.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
To be honest, I don’t know the political leanings of this news site. But it seems fairly balanced to me.
The author essentially says the recent netizen campaign over “Beefgate” (that’s my term, unless someone else has coined it first) is preposterous and part of an unfair and malicious strategy to uproot the government. To be sure, however, the Lee administration is certainly not without fault. In fact, it has a lot of them. His inability to legitimize the conservative government after years of being in the shadows coupled with his questionable appointments have served to significantly erode his approval ratings.
I've been trying to tie "Beefgate" into our discussions on nationalism but finding it difficult. My tentative analysis leads me to view this issue through the lens of South Korea's shifting demographics and anti-Americanism. While I'm sure many of these netizen activists truly oppose Lee and the GNP, my inclination is to think these problems are equally exacerbated by young Koreans' anxieties over the strengthening of the US-ROK alliance.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
This is an article that talks about the rumors being spread online about Lee Myung Bak, including the rumor that he ceded Dokdo to Japan. Why would people even believe these things?! I think kids have a lot to do with it.
Toji is regarded as a landmark in Korean literature and it covers turbulent phases of modern Korean history, from the Donghak peasant movement in 1894, which led to an anti-government uprising, leading to the country’s liberation from Japan’s colonial rule in 1945. The story travels from Hadong, South Gyeongsang, the home of the novel’s heroine, Seo-hee through the mountains, fields and seas of Busan, Japan, Russia and Seoul. Over 700 characters star in this epic family drama, a story beautifully interwoven with vivid tales of lust and love across the generations.
The novel centers on Seo-hee, a property heiress in Pyeongsari, where the fictional heroine lives, and her quest to win back family land that a relative has stolen. She eventually reclaims her family land, but she learns that the land can never be the possession of man; man is possessed by the land. The first volume of the novel was published in 1969. The novel took 25 years, 16 volumes and five serials to complete.
(a short reading reaction posting by Inyeop in Seoul)
Much of the Korean national identity and sense of Korean nationalism was constructed during modernization by the state. Experience of the Japanese colonial rule and Korean resistance, the Korean War and the rebuilding of state, the military dictatorship and the economic development created fundamental elements of the Korean identity. And considering exchanges and wars in Korean history, Monolithic ethnicity can be seriously challenged, and it is now being more undermined by globalization.
However it is also true that the Korean identity cannot be reduced as a purely modern creature. Traditionally, factors like Culture, heritage, lineage, bloodline, genealogy, history has been much more important in Korean society than western states. For example, Koryo wanted to found their heritage from Koguryo, and Choson wanted to follow the Old-Choson by naming after these countries. And the ethnicity in the Korean society has been relatively monolithic in comparison with western societies. For example, the U.S. has been multiethnic society from its early history, and we cannot simply say that the degree of ethnic composition of both countries are same.
Therefore, I think the identity of Korea is a product of both a long-term and a short-term construction and it is still being constructed. State was a main player during the modernization period but the Korean civil society was developed with the democratization, and dynamically operating with diversity.
One of the problem in the Korean nationalism is it’s linkage with painful history of modern period. Korean national identity was developed during the resistance against Japanese colonial rule and there is strong feeling of being victimized in the Korean nationalism. And this tendency was maintained or amplified by explosive issues of historical and territorial conflicts with neighboring countries. As we saw in the Chinese reaction to the Tibetan incident and western criticism, the country or people obsessed with victimization complex tend to have difficulty in self-reflection while easily blaming others. It could strengthen the myth of monolithic ethnic and drive the country into a closed and exclusive nationalism.
Therefore the civil society of Korea should make effort to resolve historical problem by reconciliation and common understanding of history with the neighboring civil societies, and try to reflect and overcome negative elements of nationalism within our society. It is essential for the peace and prosperity of East Asia to build open national identities of coexistence and common identities among East Asian countries.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Please check this intriguing article above linked.
Understandably, it must have been signficant, considering the contemporary confrontation over legitimacy of Korea. Since the reconciliation germinated through pro-North Korea policies enforced by South Korea, these childish attempts gradually vanished from our vision and memory. However, it is still dubious to me about whether its underying objective was utterly abrogated toward South Korea.
Thursday, May 01, 2008
On Tuesday in Korea, a private panel of historians released a list of 4,776 pro-Japanese collaborators.
As expected, heated debates are going on about how to deal with these people. The protesters such as bereaved family members are saying that there were many collaborators who had no choice but collaborate to Japanese. They have two months to appeal to the committee to solve the technical matters such as correctness of the details.
By this released list, dealing with the past is also an important debate. For the future relationships with Japan, Chairman of the governing Grand National Party says "picking at the past" will "confused our footsteps into the future." And also the president Lee will have the similar opinion as he is focusing on the better relationship with Japan.
This is a hard domestic issue that has to be solved for the memory of the past colonization and for the future relationship with Japan. Digging into the past might not be a meaningful task. However, to fully forget about the regretful past, the memories have to be reconciled. I think this is another history issue that Korea has to solve with other history issues with Japan such as comfort women and history textbook.
The videoclip that I posted this time is about South Korean abductees and its diverse perspectives in South Korea. As you are already well aware of it, the South Korea has adhered the Sunshine policy as an official approach toward North Korea for the past decade. The basic concept is understandably logical. However, South Korea's policy toward the North Korea perplexes me, raising a question: Is it way of helping destitute North Korean commoners or is it a deed of supporting for Kim Jung-il's regime?
It starkly demonstrates the current dilemma between a national reconciliation and a rational inter-Korean relationship. I surmise that this has been distinctively exposed through the chasm between two extremes: hawkish U.S. government and liberal ROK government, conservatives and liberals in South Korea.
In that sense, this abductee issue in the center of this dillema as an acute matter. Indeed, it is a very difficult to decide which is better than the other. Even assuming that we ought to maintain the frame of dialogue and avoid one-sided sentimentalism, such sensitive issues must be cautiously handled between two Koreas. Admittedly, it may bring about a cooling-off period of inter-Korean relations for the time being. Yet it is even worse to spoil North Korea, letting them think this is like their bestowing benevolence to South Koreans. Despite the criticism, I tend to view that Lee Myung-bak administration's dual stance, signaling between dialogues and priciples, may be a strategic choice for the South Korea to seek another momentum in this deadlock.