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General Honore Talks about the 2002 Accident in New Book

Retired General Honore’s new book Survival was released today. Americans know him from his leadership during Hurricane Katrina rescue and clean-up efforts. The Chosun Ilbo is more interested in his reflections on the 2002 armored vehicle accident that killed two school girls:

그는 여중생 사망사건은 좁은 도로에서 장갑차 운전병의 시야가 제한된 상황 등 ‘최악의 시기에 최악의 상황에서 발생한 사고’라고 지적하고 특히 한국이 월드컵 개최로 국제적 주목을 받고, 한국전때 생존했던 정치인들 대신 반미와 북한에 유화적인 젊은 정치인들로 교체되던 시기에 발생해 여중생들의 비극적 죽음은 반미세력의 주장을 확산시키는 발화점이 됐다고 분석했다.

이어 “사건 발생후 사단의 입장 발표를 관행대로 공보담당 소령에게 맡겼고, 이 장교는 사죄하는 태도가 아니라 해명하는 자세를 보였는데 이는 사고 발생시 깊이 사죄하는 자세를 보여야 하는 한국문화에 비춰볼때 큰 역풍을 초래하는 실수였다”면서 “결국 한국인들에게 잘못된 메시지를 주게 됐고, 전국적인 시위로 이어졌다”면서 “그때서야 내 실수를 깨달았지만 너무 늦었다”고 자책을 하기도 했다.

아너레이 장군은 당시 실수를 교훈으로 삼아 2005년 카트리나 구조작업을 지휘할 당시에는 참모들이 써준 ‘말씀자료’ 대신 직접 보고 파악한 바를 토대로 이재민들에게 솔직하게 얘기해 호응을 받았다면서 “2002년 한국사태나 2005년 루이지애나 사태에서 사람들이 원하는 것은 리더의 한마디”라고 강조했다.

그는 7월19일 시위대가 동두천 캠프 케이시 앞을 에워싼 가운데 연병장에서 열린 이임식과 관련, “시위대가 미군철수를 외치고, ‘아너레이는 살인자’라고 적힌 피켓을 보면서 한국을 떠나는 것은 정말 가슴아프고 실망스런 상황이었다”고 회고했다.

I’m too tired to translate line by line, so I’ll briefly convey some of his thoughts:

The 2002 accident on a narrow road happened at the worst possible time and under the worst circumstances with the world’s eyes focused on the opening of the World Cup in Korea and with young politicians using the accident to push their anti-American and North Korea appeasement agendas.

The major who was responsible for issuing public statements gave explanatory details rather than showing an apologetic attitude. This was a mistake, and by the time we realized it, it was too late. The demonstrations were in full force.

I was distressed and disappointed to depart Korea while demonstrators outside Camp Casey in Dongducheon were calling me a murderer and demanding that the US military leave Korea.

It would be interesting to read what General Honore actually wrote in English in the book.

GI Korea has a detailed post clarifying misinformation surrounding the 2002 accident and its aftermath.

  • seouldout

    The major who was responsible for issuing public statements gave explanatory details rather than showing an apologetic attitude.

    Don’t know whether the later course of action would have helped much. If they’re itching for a fight that itch is gonna get scratched.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Don’t know whether the later course of action would have helped much. If they’re itching for a fight that itch is gonna get scratched.

    That’s correct. Given the disposition of the usual suspects, an apologetic attitude of the sort that they would accept – i.e., one the “sincerity” of which would be determined solely by them on the basis of a constantly receding set of goalposts — also would only have served seemingly to the justify their unreasonable attitudes and demands and thus fueled an escalation in the intensity of their unfounded and misguided rage.

  • tinyflowers

    Translation: it doesn’t matter how badly the US military bungled the PR response, it’s all the Koreans’ fault.

  • yuna

    Hi Sonagi, I’m not tired so I will sum the very next paragraph.

    “The General went on to state that having learnt from the mistake at that time, for the 2005 Hurricane Katrina rescue operation conducted under his charge, he relied on his own eyes and ears rather than “public/press material” prepared by his men, and got great response from the victims by giving his honest opinion as it is.
    ****MOST IMPORTANT bit coming up********:
    He emphasized that both in 2002 in Korea or 2005 in Louisiana, the thing that people want is just a word (strong and decisive implied) from the leader.”

  • yuna

    I wish people would apply the same ruler to themselves as those they use it against.

  • yuna

    and with young politicians using the accident to push their anti-American and North Korea appeasement agendas.

    This is why I would say Korea suffers more from “institutional stupidity” than “racism”.
    I will give you an opposite example.
    As a primary school kid, I was made to draw anti-NK posters portraying NKoreans as devils come up with catchy slogans for “Call 113 – report a spy!” etc. (Strangely, I don’t remember drawing Dokdo posters).
    I still remember one multiple question in an exam:

    Q. How did South Korea fight defend itself in the Korean War?
    a. By the courage of kookun ajossis gave their lives
    b. With the help from the U.N Soldiers
    c. With the help from Chinese Army
    I was an all-A kid when I was young (not anymore it deteriorated fast enough) but these questions really threw me and pissed me off even as a 9 year old.
    So the Americans/Whites do not hold an elevated position in political propaganda games and institutional stupidity (yes that’s what I call it) which is prevalent at all levels in this rotten society.
    As for not getting the latest model handphone at some local tariff, shit, man, my heart goes out to you.

  • http://yeomso.blogspot.com/ The Goat

    No, it was not “all the Koreans’ fault”… It was specific interest groups pushing an agenda. Those pinko groups are extremely well organized, motivated, and efficient in demonizing the usual suspects.

    I wish people would apply the same ruler to themselves as those they use it against.

    Right back at ya.

  • yuna

    It was specific interest groups pushing an agenda. Those pinko groups are extremely well organized, motivated, and efficient in demonizing the usual suspects.

    Reeks of institutional behavior.
    Whereas, 13 year-old kids standing outside the local Seven Eleven, throwing stones shouting “Fuck off home Chinks!” …

    Right back at ya.

    I am a person. I am included in “People”. I thought you were a goat who could type.

  • Pingback: General Honore Releases New Book “Survival” | ROK Drop

  • http://yeomso.blogspot.com/ The Goat

    C’mon… You can do better than that I hope.

    There was no potential for confusion in that situation between racism and institutional stupidity. Nationalism based upon (limited) institutional stupidity perhaps… racism no. Won’t comment on your “example” as it has no place in this discussion. There could be some valid comparisons (I suppose) but you failed to make any.

    I am a person. I am included in “People”. I thought you were a goat who could type.

    Pathetic effort. Try again.

  • Zonath

    Reeks of institutional behavior.
    Whereas, 13 year-old kids standing outside the local Seven Eleven, throwing stones shouting “Fuck off home Chinks!” …

    I don’t get what you’re saying here with this institutional stupidity/racism dichotomy you’ve got going here… Are you saying it’s somehow better when the racists are the ones who are opinion-makers and in positions of power rather than the proverbial morons loitering around mini-marts? I must be misunderstanding here, since it seems a lot like that would be a whole load worse

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    The major who was responsible for issuing public statements gave explanatory details rather than showing an apologetic attitude.

    I think this made a huge difference. On the other hand, Koreans don’t need much of an excuse to hate on Americans.

  • yuna

    First, I was pointing out that we start with the Ansatz that Chosun Ilbo hasn’t done that typical “Korean” thing of “warping and only printing the pro-Korean statements from the book” (as we must start somewhere). Due to tiredness, Sonagi had missed out one paragraph crucially sandwiched in-between where the general had effectively said:
    “I applied the same tactic learned in Korea for his dealing in Katrina to a great success.”
    He was trying to (again, just based on that cut-and-paste paragraph, I’m not sure about the book) say people are generally *the same all around*.
    The usual commenters would jump on the bandwagon of “ONLY in Korea the apology wouldn’t work, the explanation wouldn’t work.”
    OK, say I even agree with what your projected outcome of the event with the Koreans acting shit, I just see this attitude of reading what you want to read in all the posts all the time. No variation. How can you read what the General’s written and then go on to warp it so? Are you not just doing what you accuse the Koreans of doing? and not just once or twice, but repeatedly.

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    The US needs to leave Korea. As the years pass and the older generations of Koreans who remember the war (and are therefore generally pro-US) start to disappear, more and more young people are growing up without any clear understanding of what happened from 1945-1953.

    Personally, I think it’s time the ROK looked after itself. Leave a handful of US soldiers somewhere they’re not going to cause too much trouble, build up the air bases, and strengthen Guam.

    As Hitchens wrote, the DPRK’s no longer a state to be feared, but rather to be pitied. The Norks are no longer a credible threat. There was a day when the ROK soldiers couldn’t stand up to a brisk wind, but times have changed.

  • NetizenKim

    I agree with Hoju-Gochu. These armed forces are sorely needed in other parts of the world, such as fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, that Godforsaken place where Empires go to die.

  • Benicio74

    Yuna, you need to know and repeat the rule:
    “Two wrongs do not make a right”.

    I’ve heard it so many times before of people saying that since there is racism in North America or wherever, it is perfectly okay for Koreans to be racist against non-Koreans. I’ve also heard Korean people cite personal experiences of racism in other countries as a good reason that Korean people should get a little “payback” on non-Koreans here.

    This is truly absurd!

    Just because a Korean got called a “chink” by some retarded idiots in my country doesn’t make it right for Koreans to do the same here.

    Intelligent, open-minded people are embarrassed by small-minded morons like this and many times we have enacted hate crime laws in an attempt to show everyone that we feel it is wrong.
    In the same way, intelligent Koreans should be embarrassed by these idiots who spew hatred against non-Koreans, spread vicious lies about foreigners & other countries, get involved in ridiculous protests and baseless “anti” movements, and work closely with North Korean espionage agents to try and bring down the government of South Korea.
    All of these behaviors/actions hurt the Korean people and damage your reputation around the world.

    Koreans should be embarrassed by this, not proud. Just like I am embarrased, not proud, that an idiot would verbally or physically assault someone in my country for being a foreigner.

    TWO WRONGS DO NOT MAKE A RIGHT!

    PS- one thing I do agree with the lefty Nork stooge groups on is that it’s past time for the US military to get out of South Korea!

  • colontos

    Sometimes people ask if Koreans should be grateful to the US for 1) help in the Korean War and 2) continuous protection by station significant numbers of troops near the border.

    Yeah, I think Koreans should be grateful. Is that a lot to ask? I’m not saying Korea always has to toe the US line or that Americans should be treated like gods or anything, but when America specifically gets dumped on (“Americans not welcome” signs, etc.), yeah, I’d call that ungrateful.

    Just like we Americans should be grateful to the French for their help during the Revolution. We still keep that picture of the Marquis de Lafayette up in the Capitol, do we not? So I think MacArthur deserves a statue, sure.

  • yuna

    Just because a Korean got called a “chink” by some retarded idiots in my country doesn’t make it right for Koreans to do the same here.

    Oh, no… I am completely misunderstood. I was trying to say how two wrongs don’t make it right myself — That’s why I was trying to show anti-N.Korean example as an example. Two wrongs on the same stick to show it’s not some special hate treatment (racism) you guys are getting. Arrrgh, misunderstood.

  • hoju_gochu

    It was inevitable, really. This is in honor of wjk, whom I shall continue to reach out to, with a head-nod to Marmot and NK.

    Farewell, hoju_saram.

  • yuna

    Colontos, despite having to answer (a) for my multiple question to get that 100 percent, when I came out of the class like Galileo muttering “the answer’s (b) as well.”, I am grateful and sad for the young kids who came and died in a foreign, hostile land, fighting for some ideal that their country and mine were protecting from some other ideal that is virtually defunct. Not one Korean person in their naive way has anything bad to say about their hero named MacArthur. However, I don’t feel particularly grateful to the kids who come into the shops drunk who need curfews imposed on them by their own army, who want to get some local action with the Korean Pussies..

  • gbnhj

    Sorry – I’ll usually let these things go, but this one’s in need of some clarification:

    ‘kids who…want to get some local action with the Korean Pussies’
    Def: Youths looking to fight Koreans who are weak and/or afraid of fighting.

    ‘kids who…want to get some local action with some Korean pussy’
    Def: That thing you meant to say.

  • Wedge

    I think a lot of us can agree that it’s long past time for the GIs to go home.

  • yuna

    gbnhj. Thanks :) Maybe I meant kids who wanted to go mousehunting with the long-haired Persians.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    However, I don’t feel particularly grateful to the kids who come into the shops drunk who need curfews imposed on them by their own army, who want to get some local action with the Korean Pussies..

    You know who is grateful to those kids who get drunk and chase the Korean Pussies? Korean men. Without those drunk Korean Pussies-chasing American kids, their mandatory military service would go from 24 months to about 60 months.

    I get your point about some of the behavioral issues of US military members in Korea, but it’s clearly a small price to pay, and Koreans are obviously willing to continue paying it, because the benefits far outweigh the costs from their perspective.

    From the American perspective, the calculation is no longer so clear.

  • yuna

    We agree. All of us. Let’s celebrate! woo hoo! Bring out the bottles!

  • http://hunjang.blogspot.com Antti

    Sonagi, instead of blockquoting the Korean-language text (which becomes uncomfortable to read when italized) and telling the readers that you’re too tired to translate, why not just give the link to the article and summarize the article or parts of it as you’ve done?

    Otherwise, very worthwhile entry!

  • Dirty0ldman

    I think conscription should be abandoned altogether, along with the US military presence in Korea.

    How silly will the North Koreans feel manning the DMZ on their own?

    Well, there are more specifics to be elaborated there, (such as a skeleton crew to man the border) but the principle is just the same. NK uses mind games and tension to get what it wants, so lets take away that tension.

    Let’s be frank, NK wouldn’t dare invade Korea and even if it did – it doesn’t have the resources to hold on.

    Lets use more of that tax money on the people, not on political gimmicks.

  • Sonagi

    @antti:

    I blockquoted the Korean text which I summarized to facilitate checking for accuracy. However, I suppose any proficient reader of Korean should be able to find the relevant text, so I’ll take your suggestion.

    @Yuna:

    Thanks for translating the missing paragraph. I realized I had skipped over it after I posted. I had spent a couple of hours doing work at home before perusing the news, so I didn’t have the energy to do a careful translation, but I wanted to get the post up to bring the article to the attention of Korean speakers and provide some English translation for non-Korean speakers.

  • http://www.wmga.net captbbq

    @16)

    Yeah, I think Koreans should be grateful.

    You can personify Nations all you want, but a the end of the day Koreans only need the grateful to those who actually fought for them like my grandfather, and he’s dead. In fact any debt Korea has to a foreigner for defending her in that war dies when the last member of the UN combined forces does. While I served here in the US Army, I consider that no debt, I didn’t risk my life.

    We still keep that picture of the Marquis de Lafayette up in the Capitol, do we not?

    I’ll give you points for consistency, but again, any homage we pay is to those like Lafayette. A modern frenchman need not be thanked for what he did not do (nor is he for that matter), even more for considering the fact that they generally disown the very Monarch that was responsible for helping us.

  • Mizar5

    I do not agree that the US made a “mistake” in dealing with the incident. The facts are that the case was properly investigated by military authorities per the SOFA agreement, there was a candlelight service, redress made to the families in line with Korean precedent, and apologies were offered regardless of was no criminal fault, a candlelight service. It was the hate groups and media that stoked the frenzy, not the US army.

    One of the ironies is that the hypocrite No Mu Hyeon who rode the wave of anti-Americanism to power placed both of his kids in US schools and provided them with thousands of dollars of his bribe money.

    There is nothing that could have been done on the US side to prevent the hatefest. And they could not under any circumstances have released the GIs to a Korean kangaroo court in direct violation of SOFA.

    It was politically inspired mob insanity with no redeeming merit.

  • bumfromkorea

    @ Mizar

    I think the general is speaking from the perspective of “PR control” rather than the general concept of “mistake”. The nuance of the translated Korean text is somewhat apologetic, but if you read the paragraph in English, it’s definitely stoically reflective (a la ‘perhaps course of action B would have worked out for the better’). So I think he’s saying it was a mistake to handle PR like that, in the manner that it was a ‘mistake’ for me to use the formula for the volume of cone when I was trying to find the volume of a sphere in 8th grade math.

  • bumfromkorea

    “한국전때 생존했던 정치인들 대신 반미와 북한에 유화적인 젊은 정치인들로 교체되던 시기에 발생해 여중생들의 비극적 죽음은 반미세력의 주장을 확산시키는 발화점이 됐다고 분석했다.”

    Hmm… this passage implies a more passive catalyzing role of the anti-American crowd for the incident than Sonagi’s translation. The general doesn’t say those politicians were using the incident to push their agendas.

  • NetizenKim

    As I have stated countless times in the past, telling an occupied people that they should be “grateful” for the occupation is patronizing and demeaning. It actually breeds more ingratitude, just like the American “War on Terror” and intervention in the Middle East actually breeds more terrorism. And you wonder why there’s so many pinko and anti-American orgs in SK. Everywhere you look around the world today, Americans are proving themselves to be terrible administrators of Empire and they have learned not a damn thing from the British experience.

    Furthermore, I always get a real kick out of the fact that while the Korean War is mostly a black hole in history classes (Korea? Where’s that at?) Stateside, it suddenly becomes real damn important for US expats in demanding gratitude from determined ingrates.

    Must I remind y’all (AGAIN) that TWENTY-THREE different nations participated in the Forgotten War. I don’t hear the Turks or the Ethiopians demanding gratitude from Koreans, do you? Lafayette? Most Americans don’t even know who the fuck Lafayette was.

    It can be argued to fairly high degree of reasonable plausibility that precisely because of the cease-fire sans a peace treaty between NK and the US, the tension of the Cold War aftermath, 50+ years of US enforced embargoes and sanctions on NK, and the prolonged presence of US boots on Korean soil, that NK is the Frankenstein that it is today. The US helped create this monster, divided the peninsula, and now they want Koreans to be “grateful”. If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day in 1950, there would be no tension along the DMZ, no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests, etc, etc. Sure…Korean development would have been delayed but there’s absolutely no reason why a unified Korea would not have followed suit in the wake of Deng Xiaoping and embarked on a rapid economic reform. Sure…Koreans might be a bit skinnier compared to the Western fast-food diet spoiled Koreans today but we’d have our self-determination as a sovereign nation intact. But enough of thought-experimental speculations.

    In 2012, war-time control of the Korean military will pass over to Korean command. They are currently in the midst of military reforms to upgrade defense capabilities and introduce a volunteer force. In due time, SK will be self-sufficient in defense (which the US has discouraged in the past to preserve its raison d’etre of presence in Korea) and the USFK will have to option to be reallocated to whatever Empire misadventure started by POTUS’s war hobby.

  • colontos

    @ captbbq and NK

    First I should clarify what I mean by grateful. I don’t mean that Koreans should walk up to any American they see and say thanks, even if that person wasn’t even born. Obviously I don’t mean that. I also don’t mean that Koreans have to do whatever America says.

    I mean a couple of other things:

    First, Koreans should be grateful for the continued troop presence. This means grateful to the US as a country, and to the soldiers generally speaking, especially the higher ranking ones. Does this mean that soldiers’ misbehavior should be tolerated or excused? Heck no. Bad guys are bad guys. But most soldiers are not bad guys, and are defending Korea whether you like it or not. And they are risking their lives, because if a war does start, however unlikely that may be, those guys will be in grave danger and many will die.

    When I talk about ingratitude, I mean things like Americans being specifically targeted, like after the 2002 thing, and the mad cow thing last year. I think the US as a country has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt from Korea.

    I mean things like the folks trying to get the MacArthur statue taken down. I don’t know how old yuna is, but if she claims that all Koreans like Mac then she is sorely mistaken. Many in the younger generation dislike him, America in general, and want the statue removed (has it already been?).

    And I especially mean things like this:

    If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day in 1950, there would be no tension along the DMZ, no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests, etc, etc. Sure…Korean development would have been delayed but there’s absolutely no reason why a unified Korea would not have followed suit in the wake of Deng Xiaoping and embarked on a rapid economic reform. Sure…Koreans might be a bit skinnier compared to the Western fast-food diet spoiled Koreans today but we’d have our self-determination as a sovereign nation intact.

    This kind of idiotic bullshit makes my blood boil. First, NK, what is all this “we” shit? I thought you were American. Pick one; you don’t get to be both. This is typical of folks on the Korean and American left, who apparently can’t comprehend how bad Communism really is. So NK takes a page here from Kang Jung-koo saying that the US prevented Korean unification. THIS is ingratitude. The fact that people can’t even realize that all of S. Korea’s prosperity, in contrast to the North’s extreme poverty, is, at base, due to the UN intervention. Yeah, you’re right, NK. Korea would have been unified. Under a murderous regime that dooms its people to starvation, gulags, forced abortions, and thought control. Maybe NK wouldn’t be as bad if the war hadn’t happened, sure. But is China a nice place to live now? Was the Soviet Union ever? Would you really rather live in one of those places than in S. Korea? You’re insane if you answer yes.

    This stuff:

    no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests

    we’d have our self-determination as a sovereign nation intact

    is pure, unadulterated bullshit. The first is not true at all, the second is meaningless. As for the rest of NK’s ejaculation:

    telling an occupied people that they should be “grateful” for the occupation is patronizing and demeaning

    You might be right, be Korea is not “occupied.” This is more of the brick-headed leftist bullshit spewed by folks like Prof. Kang. Does the US military exert any influence on the life of the average Korean? Does it have influence in the government? The police force? Then it ain’t an occupation. Are Germany and Japan occupied? It’s a fucking deployment; brush up on your vocabulary. And it’s a deployment that most Koreans, despite what they say, desperately want to maintain.

    it suddenly becomes real damn important for US expats

    I ain’t an expat.

    Must I remind y’all (AGAIN) that TWENTY-THREE different nations participated in the Forgotten War. I don’t hear the Turks or the Ethiopians demanding gratitude from Koreans, do you? Lafayette? Most Americans don’t even know who the fuck Lafayette was.

    Yeah, other nations participated. And Koreans should be grateful to them too, in proportion. But the US contributed well over half of the UN troops, more than all other countries combined. Ditto for UN casualties: more than all other nations combined. AND the US has maintained an almost sixty-year deployment for defense purposes. So while the Turks and Ethiopians did contribute, bringing them into this discussion is just obfuscation.

    And I know who Lafayette is. I don’t give a fuck who doesn’t know.

    I dunno, NK, when I think about the fact that your family would have rotted in gulags if not for what the UN (in other words, mostly US) did in Korea, and then I read stupid pinko shit like what you wrote above, that Korea would have been better off without, “ingratitude” is really the word that comes to mind. All the more so since you’re supposed to be an American of some kind, are you not?

  • Mizar5

    NK:”The US helped create this monster, divided the peninsula, and now they want Koreans to be “grateful”.”

    Yes and no. It is historically inaccurate to say that the US divided the peninsula, but accurate to say that they did contribute to it.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    Is it normal for the “occupied” to throw national temper tantrums and beg and plead their occupiers to stay every time there are even rumors of a departure?

    NK’s pining for a unified, Communist Korea despite a few “skinnier” citizens and a ridiculous optimism about a similar development track reminds me of something Christopher Hitchens said about fundamentalist Christians and their drive to outlaw abortion, manadate school prayer, ban porn, etc.

    “There are days when I almost wish the fundamentalists could get their own way, just so that they would find out what would happen to them.”

    You’re always free to move to North Korea and indulge yourself in that paradise of a sovereign nation. What’s stopping you?

    Clearly, your actions speak louder than your dreamy rhetoric, and that choice to continue to pay taxes to support the “terrible administrator of Empires” and live comfortably sucking off its tit says far more than the crap you post here.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    colontos,

    Yeah, I think Koreans should be grateful. Is that a lot to ask?

    If this makes you feel better — all a homeless man in America needs to do to get a fresh $20 bill from my mother is to say “I fought in the Korean War.” It does not matter if the man appears to be under 50 years old.

  • Won Joon Choe

    NetizenKim #32,

    “Must I remind y’all (AGAIN) that TWENTY-THREE different nations participated in the Forgotten War. I don’t hear the Turks or the Ethiopians demanding gratitude from Koreans, do you? Lafayette? Most Americans don’t even know who the fuck Lafayette was.”

    Since others have addressed other porous, and rather hackneyed, aspects of your case (and I too have tackled them elsewhere), let me just restrict myself to this paragraph.

    While the U.S. was not the only nation to send troops during the Korean War, it is rather disingenuous to imply that it was merely “one among many,” a primus inter pares of sorts, among those countries who sent troops.

    To begin with, without American diplomatic initiative inside and outside the U.N., no country would have likely sent any non-humanitarian aid to Seoul. There is simply no U.N. command in the peninsula but for American action.

    Second, perhaps more important, the vast majority of foreign front-line troops and heavy equipment was provided by the U.S., not the other “twenty-three” nations. Likewise, the vast majority of foreign combat casualties were suffered by Americans. To give an inkling of the disparity in the scale of aid and sacrifice, whereas Americans suffered some 35-40,000 dead, no country except the U.K. even had over 1,000 dead (and barely over it!).

  • Zonath

    As I have stated countless times in the past, telling an occupied people that they should be “grateful” for the occupation is patronizing and demeaning

    Occupation? Isn’t that a bit of a loaded term to describe the American military presence in South Korea? Now, I know you like being a bit of a shit-stirrer around these parts, but this is pretty low, even for you. Describing South Korea as an occupied country seems calculated to insult both South Koreans and Americans… sounds like plain old trolling to me.

    If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day

    Well sure. Your experiment in speculative fiction might have been the outcome had the UN forces not come to the defense of South Korea… But then again, we’ll never really know. Heck, had North Korea conquered South Korea, we could have ended up with a planet ruled by advanced apes, with Charlton Heston yelling in front of a dilapidated Statute of Liberty, “You bastards! You blew it all up!!!” Of course, any number of outcomes is possible, but picking one to use in order to slander the UN forces who were defending South Korea from a communist invasion is just plain wrongheaded.

    Korean development would have been delayed but there’s absolutely no reason why a unified Korea would not have followed suit in the wake of Deng Xiaoping and embarked on a rapid economic reform.

    Yeah, and in China’s case, all it took was the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural revolution to convince the ruling class that reforms were needed. Now, I didn’t study much Chinese history in school, so I can only imagine that such awesome-sounding periods of history must have been utterly fantastic times through which to live, and I’m sure it would have rained candy from the skies of South Korea the moment the Glorious Leader set foot in Seoul… just like the songs say.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Zonath at #37,

    “Now, I know you like being a bit of a shit-stirrer around these parts, but this is pretty low, even for you. Describing South Korea as an occupied country seems calculated to insult both South Koreans and Americans… sounds like plain old trolling to me.”

    I agree that NetizenKim’s post #32 was the example par excellence of “trolling.” He’s too intelligent to actually believe the majority of the things he wrote on that particular post, though I suppose intelligence is not always synonymous with prudence or judgment.

    It’s too bad that he has to alloy his frequently brilliant nuggets with trash like that post. But then, I suppose when you use an alias, you do not have the burden to present your “best face” forward.

  • NetizenKim

    #36

    Our parents and grandparents generation are very grateful to America’s 50s-era “Great Generation” for their sacrifices.

    It is now 2009, and the current generation faces the challenges of the present and the future.

    Just as the expats claim that Korea needs to get over the past and reconcile with Japan, I believe that the expat himself needs to get over the past and quit it with the gratitude business. At the expense of separated families, Korean unification, peninsular division, truncated national sovereignty, and a capital city held hostage by NK missiles and heavy artillery, Korea has proven to be the unwitting Cold War laboratory experiment rat proving the demonstrated superiority of democracy/capitalism over socialist dictatorship. No where in the world is that still more plainly and powerfully obvious than NK side-by-side with SK. For that reason alone, in a real sense, present-day America should be grateful to SK.

    Furthermore, it is an American ideal that one should not be held responsible for the sins of his forebearers. The flip side of that coin is that one is also not entitled to rest on the laurels of the great deeds of his forebearers either. An American expat in Korea who expects gratitude because his grandfather fought or died in the War is being hypocritical. That same American, if he is White and Stateside, would be telling Blacks that he is not responsible for slavery. Again, one is not held responsible for nor lauded for the sins nor achievements of his forebearers, but evaluated solely on his own merits.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    Re: Won Joon Choe and scale of Korean War contributions

    One of Wilt Chamberlain’s teammates from the night he scored 100 pts had a famous line:

    “We had a great night. Wilt and I combined for 102 pts.”

  • Gillian

    Personally speaking, I most certainly can expect, not gratitude necessarily, but at least a degree of respect. My brother was part of the USFK in 1966 and my son in 2004. My tax dollars go into supporting the USFK, as do the tax dollars of all of my working family members.

    If Korea is feeling “Occupied” then send the USFK home. If they want protection, then they need to accept the idea that a little respect is in order. It is the hypocrisy that bothers me.

    I have been “Reminded” on many occasions how, as an outsider, I have no right to complain or comment on anything Korean. Well, when it comes to the USFK, I most definitely DO have a right to complain and comment. Now we are talking about MY brother, MY son, and MY tax dollars.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    IHBB,

    The correct quote is from Stacey King, regarding Michael Jordan:

    “I’ll always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.”
    Said after Michael Jordan scored a career high 69 points and Stacey King scored 1 point against the Cavaliers.

    Link

  • Sonagi

    @bumfromKorea:

    Rather than stating what you think the passage implies, why didn’t you translate it for everyone’s benefit? As I stated clearly in the OP, I did not have the energy to do a precise translation. I posted the original passages in Korean for the benefit of Korean speakers in the hopes that someone like Yuna might clarify or add to my concise translation work. I’ll provide a more precise translation of the key sentence below:

    한국전때 생존했던 정치인들 대신 반미와 북한에 유화적인 젊은 정치인들로 교체되던 시기에 발생해 여중생들의 비극적 죽음은 반미세력의 주장을 확산시키는 발화점이 됐다고 분석했다.

    The tragic deaths of the school girls, happening at a time when, young politicians with anti-American and North Korean appeasment views had replaced politicians who had lived during the Korean War, was a flashpoint spreading the claims of anti-American activists.

    This complete translation does not differ significantly in meaning from my concise version. Some of the words used have a number of different meanings according to the context, so this is my interpretation. Others are welcome to share theirs. Keep in mind, too, that the Chosun Ilbo was translating Honore’s words, and like the whispering telephone game, even a precise Korean-back-to-English translation by a professional would probably differ a little from Honore’s actual words. GI Korea is reading the book, and I expect he will post the original passage.

  • colontos

    Don’t mind me; I’m just gonna repost this since my original comment got held up in moderation:

    @ captbbq and NK

    First I should clarify what I mean by grateful. I don’t mean that Koreans should walk up to any American they see and say thanks, even if that person wasn’t even born. Obviously I don’t mean that. I also don’t mean that Koreans have to do whatever America says.

    I mean a couple of other things:

    First, Koreans should be grateful for the continued troop presence. This means grateful to the US as a country, and to the soldiers generally speaking, especially the higher ranking ones. Does this mean that soldiers’ misbehavior should be tolerated or excused? Heck no. Bad guys are bad guys. But most soldiers are not bad guys, and are defending Korea whether you like it or not. And they are risking their lives, because if a war does start, however unlikely that may be, those guys will be in grave danger and many will die.

    When I talk about ingratitude, I mean things like Americans being specifically targeted, like after the 2002 thing, and the mad cow thing last year. I think the US as a country has done enough to earn the benefit of the doubt from Korea.

    I mean things like the folks trying to get the MacArthur statue taken down. I don’t know how old yuna is, but if she claims that all Koreans like Mac then she is sorely mistaken. Many in the younger generation dislike him, America in general, and want the statue removed (has it already been?).

    And I especially mean things like this:

    If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day in 1950, there would be no tension along the DMZ, no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests, etc, etc. Sure…Korean development would have been delayed but there’s absolutely no reason why a unified Korea would not have followed suit in the wake of Deng Xiaoping and embarked on a rapid economic reform. Sure…Koreans might be a bit skinnier compared to the Western fast-food diet spoiled Koreans today but we’d have our self-determination as a sovereign nation intact.

    This kind of idiotic bullshit makes my blood boil. First, NK, what is all this “we” shit? I thought you were American. Pick one; you don’t get to be both. This is typical of folks on the Korean and American left, who apparently can’t comprehend how bad Communism really is. So NK takes a page here from Kang Jung-koo saying that the US prevented Korean unification. THIS is ingratitude. The fact that people can’t even realize that all of S. Korea’s prosperity, in contrast to the North’s extreme poverty, is, at base, due to the UN intervention. Yeah, you’re right, NK. Korea would have been unified. Under a murderous regime that dooms its people to starvation, gulags, forced abortions, and thought control. Maybe NK wouldn’t be as bad if the war hadn’t happened, sure. But is China a nice place to live now? Was the Soviet Union ever? Would you really rather live in one of those places than in S. Korea? You’re insane if you answer yes.

    This stuff:

    no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests

    we’d have our self-determination as a sovereign nation intact

    is pure, unadulterated bullshit. The first is not true at all, the second is meaningless. As for the rest of NK’s ejaculation:

    telling an occupied people that they should be “grateful” for the occupation is patronizing and demeaning

    You might be right, be Korea is not “occupied.” This is more of the brick-headed leftist bullshit spewed by folks like Prof. Kang. Does the US military exert any influence on the life of the average Korean? Does it have influence in the government? The police force? Then it ain’t an occupation. Are Germany and Japan occupied? It’s a fucking deployment; brush up on your vocabulary. And it’s a deployment that most Koreans, despite what they say, desperately want to maintain.

    it suddenly becomes real damn important for US expats

    I ain’t an expat.

    Must I remind y’all (AGAIN) that TWENTY-THREE different nations participated in the Forgotten War. I don’t hear the Turks or the Ethiopians demanding gratitude from Koreans, do you? Lafayette? Most Americans don’t even know who the fuck Lafayette was.

    Yeah, other nations participated. And Koreans should be grateful to them too, in proportion. But the US contributed well over half of the UN troops, more than all other countries combined. Ditto for UN casualties: more than all other nations combined. AND the US has maintained an almost sixty-year deployment for defense purposes. So while the Turks and Ethiopians did contribute, bringing them into this discussion is just obfuscation.

    And I know who Lafayette is. I don’t give a fuck who doesn’t know.

    I dunno, NK, when I think about the fact that your family would have rotted in gulags if not for what the UN (in other words, mostly US) did in Korea, and then I read stupid pinko shit like what you wrote above, that Korea would have been better off without, “ingratitude” is really the word that comes to mind. All the more so since you’re supposed to be an American of some kind, are you not?

  • Sonagi

    If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day in 1950, there would be no tension along the DMZ, no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests, etc, etc. Sure…Korean development would have been delayed but there’s absolutely no reason why a unified Korea would not have followed suit in the wake of Deng Xiaoping and embarked on a rapid economic reform.

    Your what-if cause-effect chain breaks down here:

    no Kim Jong-il

    On what basis do you assume that? Just because the Chinese did not allow the establishment of a Mao dynasty? Even at the height of his power, Mao never ruled with the same absolute authority that Kim did. Mao and Zhou En-lai had their differences, yet Zhou enjoyed great respect and support within the Communist Party and among the people and thus couldn’t be ousted. It was Zhou who rehabilitated Deng and changed the course of China’s history. No Zhou or Deng in North Korea. Kim Il-sung made sure of that.

  • Charles Tilly

    Listen, all this talk about how South Korea would be suffering what the North is suffering were it not for US involvement in 1950 or that had Kim Il Sung been successful in his efforts to unify the peninsula that things would have turned out A-Okay are both a bunch of horse-shit malarkey.

    Both are totally un-falsifiable propositions. Both say more about the individual spouting off such things rather than elucidate anything perceptive or for that matter relevant. Unfortunately, both are the height of a small-bore mentality that only re-hashes and retrenches the sort of vapid ideological positions that has marred the study of modern Korean history.

  • yuna

    @ Colontos, and IHBB.
    While it is stretching it way too far into preposterous realm to say South Korea is/was occupied by the US, I also think it’s naive to expect that in any war, or even about the continued presence of US military, the US does not have its own agenda. We are grateful, but as I said, gratefulness extends to the *exact amount* the US deserves it, no more no less. So while I am grateful for Gilian’s tax dollars, I would rather she pressured Obama to spend it elsewhere.
    The main problem started from the unfortunate accident, which is about the situation HERE and NOW. Even with the political maneuvering, if you *again*, blame it on that ONLY as opposed to the accident itself and the handling of the incident, you are again guilty of committing what you accuse the Koreans of doing.

    Is it normal for the “occupied” to throw national temper tantrums and beg and plead their occupiers to stay every time there are even rumors of a departure?

    I must say I don’t know anyone in Korea who pleads the US to stay maybe apart from the fake crap peddlers of Itaewon, and possibly 2MB. Even the kids who are about to go to the army, and the men who’ve come back, the ones I know, nobody has told me what you say i.e. about the length of their conscription- I’ve seen a lot of students booths protesting that US troops leave, only to have a crazy old grandpa shaking his stick and saying “Did you live through the Korean War? You don’t know what the fuck you are saying!”
    I think Koreans do not actually have much say in either way – the US will pull out when the US decides it’s time to leave.
    I was going to ask the others to provide evidence that you are a racist or shut up, because I thought that you are someone who is spurred into writing from anger, but not a racist.
    But this is a typical posting, where reading what you’ve written, which is so very insightful, and goes straight to the point, but yet coloured by your general disdain, or anger, that I still wouldn’t like to call you a racist, but there is definitely some issue there.

  • yuna


    So while I am grateful for Gilian’s tax dollars, I would rather she pressured Obama to spend it elsewhere.

    Make that about 30 percent of Gillian’s and 70 percent of my parents’ tax dollars (and also Gillian’s again if she is working here in Korea)(or won)
    http://www.tongilnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=84209
    http://www.tongilnews.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=84117

  • Mizar5

    Yuna: “I still wouldn’t like to call you a racist, but there is definitely some issue there.”

    Gee, that’s big of you Yuna. How nice of you not to pull the race card for no reason whatsoever.
    Yes, there is definately some issue which has nothing whatsoever to do with race. The issue is simple: every Korean owes a debt of gratitude to the U.S. taxpayer for financing Korea’s development by providing trillions of U.S. dollars in defence money, not to mention grants, soft loans, export markets, and of course stability that encourages overseas investment.

    You write: “I must say I don’t know anyone in Korea who pleads the US to stay.”

    That’s because you are not a govt. official. They are the ones who have begged the troops to stay, understanding that Korea has benefitted disproportionatly from the alliance at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, while the U.S. has I daresay gained little to nothing. Of course, now that the child has grown to the point of being able to be self supporting, it is easy to criticize the benefactor.

    So when people point out that Korea should be grateful, and are upset at the groundless criticism, now you know why.

  • Mizar5

    Yuna: “I think Koreans do not actually have much say in either way – the US will pull out when the US decides it’s time to leave.”

    Correction. When the Korean govt. decides. They alone are the ones who have made the decision that the US army should stay. And of course, they are elected by the people. Therefore, the Korean people are the ones who have made that decision via a representative democracy.

    What your distorted propaganda article links ignore is that Korea is only recently being asked to shoulder their fair share of it’s own defence budget after years of free protection.

  • wookinponub

    I really can’t dredge up much sympathy for either side of this perpetual, ineffectual, masturbatory blogpile. Isn’t this peninsula a playground for the us military? We get to play with all sorts of toys and play all the related games. I do believe the kn war was a good thing, and that freedom forces won out, but in the intervening years, pseudo-capitalism evolved and the world is different, in a BAD way. War is business( a large part of why we are still here). Military leaders are graduating to corporate leader positions.Politics and stratobucks are intimate bedfellows, regardless of borders, and that ain’t good. All this SHIT we fuss about is keeping us from seeing that our middle class lives are headed down the shitter. Why do we polarize ourselves like this? How the fuck can anyone, supposedly educated, believe that only one side of ANY broad(load of shit) discussion could have a lock the PERFECT set of ideals?

  • Won Joon Choe

    How do you do block quotes? Since the numbering system is gone, I suppose it would make it easier for everyone if I block quote the relevant post excerpt to which I am responding.

    Someone please help this HTLM ignoramus!

  • Mizar5

    I agree in essence with wookinponub.

    As I wrote in another thread, “Does the nation owe him [Park Cheong Hee] gratitude? Like the Korean Conflict, and the continued presence of US troops, it all comes down to your personal values.

    As wookinponub pointed out, taking an idiological position acheives nothing. What is needed, rather than gratitude or second guessing, is for people to honestly come to terms with, and make peace with their history.”

  • JW

    Wonjoon, put and around the text

  • JW

    oops…just click below link and you’ll see

    http://www.w3schools.com/TAGS/tag_blockquote.asp

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’ll try to number the comments.

    In the meantime, I’ve reactivated threaded comments. Just for fun.

  • Won Joon Choe

    JW,

    Thanks.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Test

  • Won Joon Choe

    *I hope this works*

    Charles Tilly says:

    “[A]ll this talk about how South Korea would be suffering what the North is suffering were it not for US involvement in 1950 or that had Kim Il Sung been successful in his efforts to unify the peninsula that things would have turned out A-Okay are both a bunch of horse-shit malarkey.

    “Both are totally un-falsifiable propositions. Both say more about the individual spouting off such things rather than elucidate anything perceptive or for that matter relevant. Unfortunately, both are the height of a small-bore mentality that only re-hashes and retrenches the sort of vapid ideological positions that has marred the study of modern Korean history.”

    Mr. Tilly, I of course agree with you that certain “un-falsifiable” historical speculations can be completely un-tethered from common sense as to resemble science fiction. Or, they constitute, to quote your resplendently colorful prose, “horse-shit malarkey.” Moreover, such fantasies are neither “perceptive” nor “relevant,” to cite the dialogic objectives you seem to cherish.

    Alas, I wonder, however, if your polemic against such speculations is not in itself at lack perspicacity and relevance in some respects at least.

    To begin with, while the historical speculations engaged on this thread are indeed un-falsifiable, virtually all historical speculations are un-falsifiable as well. Does this mean we ought to cease thinking speculatively about the past altogether? That is, should we simply adhere to a standard of scientific precision in thinking about history? History is nothing but a rote recounting of dates and event–exclusively limited to “what happened” rather than “what could have happened”?

    Besides, why stop at history? As Aristotle so famously and emphatically argued, no human thing–contrary to the delirious, Enlightenment-buoyed pretensions of certain contemporary social scientist–yield knowledge that is mathematically precise and universally applicable. Instead, the aim of knowledge in the human things is to obtain what is “most likely” true in “most cases.”

    So if the capacity to survive a process of falsification is the criterion of genuine knowledge, then we ought to abandon speech altogether in many cases when it comes to the human things. Perhaps, like my old Zen Master Seung Sahn, you should simply throttle someone with a Zen stick in lieu of an answer (as you did metaphorically!), or simply wave a finger theatrically like the Zen Master of an even more legendary repute, Guji.

    And if your science-bred methodological extremism is not so, well, “extreme,” then what was so egregiously wrong about the type of historical speculation practiced by some on this thread?

    Let me then return to the issue of the thread. The nerve of the question was whether South Korea was better off due to American intervention during the Korean War. Now on the basis of what we know (for instance, the degeneration of all Communist tyrannies in general, the especially steep degeneration of the Kim tyranny in the North in particular, the culturally and historically specific factors that made ideological warfare especially deadly and all-or-nothing on the peninsula, and ad infinitum) is it really so malodorous to your good common sense to think that we can answer this question with some level of probability or assurance?

    Really, Mr. Tilly: We are not exactly speculating about what would have happened if I had led rag-tag Carthaginian mercenaries over the Alps instead of Hannibal, or what would have happened if the good Lady Sonagi was feuding with her brother over the throne of Ptolemaic Egypt, not Cleopatra.

  • yuna

    @Mizar
    I wrote:

    I must say I don’t know anyone in Korea who pleads the US to stay maybe apart from the fake crap peddlers of Itaewon, and possibly 2MB.

    Mizar wrote:

    You write: “I must say I don’t know anyone in Korea who pleads the US to stay.”
    That’s because you are not a govt. official.

    Now why would you go on and do a creative editing a la Korean media of other people’s comments? How does that put you above the likes of dda who use his administrator privilege to go back and stealthily change what he’d written.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    I think Koreans do not actually have much say in either way – the US will pull out when the US decides it’s time to leave.

    Yuna, before I get to replying to anything else, you need to clear this up posthaste:

    If Koreans “do not actually have much say in the presence of US troops,” that is by definition an occupation. Yet you stated in the first paragraph that to say SK was/is occupied is in the “preposterous realm.”

    Which is it? Because if you’re anywhere near the NKim occupation camp, or you’re one of those Koreans who think that Korea is a passive victim of the US military rather than a full partner in a two-way relationship of their own choosing, I’ll be forced to activate the yuna-script and send you to the land of the lost along with wjk, baduk, and the newly inducted tinyflowers.

  • Won Joon Choe

    I don’t want to say too much about the really hackneyed issue of “gratitude,” so here’s what I wrote at Kushibo’s Blog (which has a post about this debate today):

    “If someone saved my life and made me rich on top of that, you bet your life that I am going to be grateful to that guy, his children, his grandchildren, and even to his horses and dogs forever. Moreover, while gratitude may be a burden to Machiavelli or the Machiavellian, you bet I will also try to re-pay that kindness gladly whenever my benefactor calls for it, and I am able.”

  • yuna

    Read my reply to Mizar above your comment.
    2MB = the head of the state. & yes, (the stupid Koreans who now want him out) voted him in.
    not much is not naught. I think the relationship is evolving. I think Pre-Kimdaejung, it was pretty much no say, dictators like Jun Duwhan who controlled S.Korea with the fear of the imminent invasion from up North. Kim Daejung<time<2MB we saw it go the other way. Since 2MB, he is showing echos of the pre-Kim Daejung era but hopefully it’s under control. It’s an turbulent oscillation with damping, hopefully it will end up somewhere in the middle i.e. we need to find a coherent voice rather than the extreme factions showing up here and there.

  • yuna

    WTF was I talking about? I was answering IHBB’s question under pressure, leaving out the crucial details such as : I am talking about the nature of the relationship and the control that S.Koreans have over the presence of troops.

    @WonjunChoi

    I am going to be grateful to that guy, his children, his grandchildren,

    a.Does that extend to my son and grandsons having to be grateful to his children and grandchildren?b. Also how about in the case of what the Koreans get criticized for, i.e. in terms of harboring resentment and demanding apology?
    In an ideal world, where we forgive our enemies, I can answer my own questions and say a.yes. and b.no. I don’t think we live in an ideal world.

  • Charles Tilly

    @ Woon Joon Choe

    While impressed by the rhetorical elegance and erudite accents that filigree your response, I have to be honest and say that in the end you still leave me unconvinced. Frankly, the crux of what you’re essentially saying rests on a straw-man argument. Of course there’s nothing inherently, per se wrong with speculating about what could or could not have happened on the Korean peninsula had X or Y happened or not happened.

    I was never trying to impeach the enterprise of historical counterfactual wholesale. And no, just because I prefer to eschew such a practice doesn’t mean that I’m beholden to the belief that we should “abandon speech altogether (sic)”. This is, frankly and with respect, a silly logical leap. It merely makes the rest of your well structured, tightly written argument flaccid.

    What I was trying to get at with my comment was that the sort of counterfactuals that individuals engage in when it comes to the issue of the Korean War almost always come down to that individuals ideological preferences. History to be sure, as you perfunctorily put it, is not a mere rote recitation of dates, names, and events. Practitioners of history will always bring their personal foibles and schemas to the table where the evidence is presented. But that doesn’t mean that one then gets to take whatever interpretations they spin together and present it as ironclad, etched in stone, irrefutable truth. One can’t look upon a historical event through the lens that has been assiduously molded and polished in the milieu of the solipsistic present and say that this not the mere shadow projected on the cave. To go from point A and then argue for the inevitably of point K ignores all the moments and interludes of caprice, randomness, and pure circumstance that contributed to what we see today. The true scholar would take account of all this, “extremely scientific” or not. The ideological hack omits its and fills in the lacunae with his/her ideological dregs.

    But perhaps I’m not the one best equipped to say all this. Since you forced me to suffer through you shameless name dropping, I too will return the favor in kind. Consider Nietzsche’s explication on the difference between that of the “good historian” and that of the “good citizen”:

    “A historical phenomenon, known clearly and completely and resolved into a phenomenon of knowledge, is, for [the ‘good citizen’] who has perceived it, dead: for he has recognized in it the delusion, the injustice, the blind passion, and in general the whole earthly and darkening horizon of this phenomenon, and has thereby also understood its power in history. This power has now lost its hold over him insofar as he is a man of knowledge; but perhaps it has not done so insofar as he is a man involved in life.”

    *From “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life” in Untimely Meditations.

  • yuna

    WonJoonChoe, not WonJunChoi. Apologies.

  • NetizenKim

    Your what-if cause-effect chain breaks down here:

    no Kim Jong-il

    On what basis do you assume that? Just because the Chinese did not allow the establishment of a Mao dynasty? Even at the height of his power, Mao never ruled with the same absolute authority that Kim did. Mao and Zhou En-lai had their differences, yet Zhou enjoyed great respect and support within the Communist Party and among the people and thus couldn’t be ousted. It was Zhou who rehabilitated Deng and changed the course of China’s history. No Zhou or Deng in North Korea. Kim Il-sung made sure of that.

    I almost regret having plunged into this particular rabbit hole of pure speculation of “what if the Communists have prevailed”? But I found it useful for bringing into sharper relief the question of how much the current North Korea and KJI is a product of past and present US intervention in Korean affairs. When I stated “no KJI”, I meant the mafia-state KJI of super-note counterfeiting, narcotics trade, kidnappings, the Songun policy, and brinkmanship. It is not far-fetched to claim that much of KJI’s actions were a reaction to US policies.

    I just don’t hold the US accountable for Korea’s division but the former Soviet Union and China as well. All the major powers should have just have just kept their hands off Korea and let Koreans determine their own post-independence destiny entirely on their own. But, alas, in the years after WW2, that would have been like putting a hapless woman among rapists and expecting them to leave her alone. But today the Soviet Union is no more and China does not maintain a military presence on the Korean peninsula.

    Despite all the anti-American activity, USFK remains stuck in Korea for mainly two reasons: inertia and international image. If the US pulls out of Korea it puts a major dent in Pax Americana hegemony in East Asia. It sends a signal that America is willing to meddle in other people’s affairs at her own convenience but when the going gets rough (no one ever said running an Empire was easy, just ask the Brits) America easily backs out of alliances and commitments. It is quite a dilemma.

    Perhaps America should have heeded more the Founding Fathers stern admonitions about avoiding “entangling alliances with foreign powers” but it’s much too late for that.

    The Chinese tend to view the Korean War as a civil war of a Korea split by two opposing ideologies. I think America, buffered by two vast oceans on either side, was fortunate to have a Civil War without some major outside power interfering. But Koreans did not have the luxury of being able to settle their internal differences on their own terms.

    Because Korea was located in a part of the world where China and USSR were in close proximity and America far away, it was inevitable that the Reds would have the upper hand. If America did not get involved in June 1950, the Communists would have taken over. Korea would have been unified. Unified Koreans would not have starved because a unified Korea would necessarily be in possession of the agriculturally blessed South. Kim Il Sung was a dictator but so was Park Chung Hee. What’s the difference really in the larger scheme of things? A dictatorship, regardless of sponsor, would have been a necessary evil under any circumstances for establishing order in the chaotic, fractious period following independence. The South Korea of today is much better off in material terms compared to their Northern counterparts. But at what cost? The North has a much better grasp of their identity as Koreans compared to the South. The South has sold its soul for material wealth. The North may starve but witness all the social ills that abound in South Korean society today: rampant adultery, cosmetic surgeries, class inequalities, etc. A Unified Korea would have been much better positioned than North Korea to weather anti-Communist US-led sanction which would have been inevitable even in this alternative universe but would have had more elbow room to forge a stronger, healthier identity as a Korean nation-state compared to a South Korea which underwent a breakneck economic/industrial development at great social cost.

  • yuna

    IHBB, I order you to activate that script on me. I have such a skin-rash inducing disdain for this whole business of scripts that I would rather you did that now, than if you were to threaten me so occasionally.

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    Yuna, you need to clarify that you’re talking about Korean citizens and not the Korean government. When you say “Koreans” don’t have much say in the presence of US troops, the implication is that you’re talking about both. Your issue is with the relationship between the Korean people and their government, not with the KOR/US relationship. Trust me when I say you don’t want to get lumped in with the perpetual Korean victim crowd, so just clarify what you mean by “Koreans” in the future.

    Even the kids who are about to go to the army, and the men who’ve come back, the ones I know, nobody has told me what you say i.e. about the length of their conscription-

    If you use the hypothetical of a complete withdrawal of US troops, of course the burden on draftees will be increased. The 24 to 60 months number I used was simply a guess, nothing more. Given the massive amount of military infrastructure/technology/intelligence that the US maintains in Korea, it’s clear that Korea would have to shift trillions of billions of dollars in resources over the next several decades to make up that gap, as well as demand a further sacrifice from its citizens in the form of longer military service.

    But this is a typical posting, where reading what you’ve written, which is so very insightful, and goes straight to the point, but yet coloured by your general disdain, or anger, that I still wouldn’t like to call you a racist, but there is definitely some issue there.

    I have disdain for bullshit, and I treat it with the respect it deserves, which is nil. And unless you’re willing to be clear about your accusations, you’re better off not making them at all.

  • NetizenKim

    WonJoonChoe: “If someone saved my life and made me rich on top of that, you bet your life that I am going to be grateful to that guy, his children, his grandchildren, and even to his horses and dogs forever. Moreover, while gratitude may be a burden to Machiavelli or the Machiavellian, you bet I will also try to re-pay that kindness gladly whenever my benefactor calls for it, and I am able.”

    Not sure how Machiavelli factors into all this but there exists a neat, simple expression for the rest of that statement: vassal state tributary system. Does this sound at all familiar?

  • http://www.wm3.org/live/caseinfo/index.php iheartblueballs

    IHBB, I order you to activate that script on me.

    Unless you’ve got a dominatrix outfit on, that angle won’t work.

  • colontos

    Unified Koreans would not have starved because a unified Korea would necessarily be in possession of the agriculturally blessed South.

    The Soviet Union possessed Ukraine, some of the most fertile land in the world. They still starved. And China, which admittedly had never been prosperous, nevertheless reached new heights of starvation under Mao. But of course a unified Communist Korea would have figured all that out, and everything would have been fine.

  • NetizenKim

    Myself: The North may starve but witness all the social ills that abound in South Korean society today: rampant adultery, cosmetic surgeries, class inequalities, etc.

    In my list of South Korean social ills, I neglected to mention that perennial Marmot’s Hole favorite: wide spread prostitution. In my hypothetical Democratic People’s Republic of Unified Korea, in accordance with Marxist Social Utopian thought, women would be enlisted to work alongside men in the factories, farms, military, and the professions as doctors, teachers, scientists, and missile designers. Institutionalized prostitution, a legacy of Imperial Japan and US military occupation in South Korea, would have been eradicated.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Dear Mr. Tilly,
    I know the praise was in part ironic, but nonetheless, thank you for mentioning my name in the same sentence with “rhetorical elegance.” While Socrates says the truly wise are only gratified by deserved praise, my vanity and lack of shame (which you divine as an aspect of my nature) render me susceptible to even undeserved praise.
    At any rate, since much of your rather lengthy post is not quite substantively on point but ad hominem, I think I can be rather succinct in dealing with that substantive part.
    To begin with, my playful suggestion that we abandon all speech was simply a test to see how far you are willing to take your methodological extremism or “scientism” (one of my favorite epithets). I think this playful probing was necessary, given that I knew nothing of your views prior to that rather curt, dismissive post you wrote. One can only write contextually, no? So if I am guilty of a “silly leap of logic,” I plead that it is because I am responding to a post that did not exhibit much of logic either, as your original post was a rather intemperate, pox-on-all-of-you generalization.
    Next, I am glad that you clarified your perspective on the proper or permissible exercise of the historical imagination through your follow-up elaboration. Nonetheless, while it is not too controversial, it is still too general. Or perhaps it is uncontroversial because it is too general?
    More to the point: Instead of flinging general, unspecified claims that everyone in the thread is purveying drivel that is neither “relevant” nor “perceptive,” could you present a specific reason why each perspective presented was flawed, as well as perhaps what your alternative may be?
    Please, lead us from the cave toward the light!

    Now, I will have to say something about this “shameless name dropping” accusation, since I have had to live with it all my life, and it seems to recur on this site every other week as well.

    When I examine your “shameless name dropping” charge, I divine two separate charges.

    First and foremost, you seem to think that my “name dropping” is a hubristic device to aggrandize myself.

    Quite the contrary!

    Instead, I would think that my propensity to defer to other far more intelligent men of yore is a sign of my humility, perhaps even abject humility.

    Here is, I think, a persuasive account of how I arrived at the practice. I was an unusually precocious child, and adults would dismiss any argument of mine as a childish phantasm, if they thought it emanated solely from myself. So invoking more respectable figures to dress my argument was actually a device to efface myself! As theKorean (a true rhetor, unlike me) so cogently explained recently on this site, appealing to “ethos” is a fundamental device of good rhetoric; and I freely confess that my own credibility pales besides those of the great thinkers of the past.

    (Moreover, in addition to exhibiting the virtue of humility, I would think that my “shameless name dropping” also limns my other virtue of magnanimity. That is, painfully aware of my own inadequacy, I am referring you to those thinkers who can explain my thoughts in far more comprehensive and eloquent manner. Really, if you want to grasp an argument well, would you listen to some anonymous online pixel or the classics? So I referred you to Aristotle’s discussion on the all-important distinction between the methodology to be employed in the natural sciences and the human “sciences,” which is the best I have found yet on the topic.)

    Second, I also see that hidden (or perhaps not so hidden) in your “shameless name dropping” charge is the insinuation that I do not know these authors or books I cite well, but that I am merely, oh well, “name dropping.” I am aware of the force of this charge, but I know not how to answer it, given that I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t, as the American saying goes. But perhaps a refutation will be provided if we continue to interact on a friendly basis.

    Finally, I think it is a tad bit ironic that you have quoted Nietzsche—perhaps the most powerful opponent of objectivity in the Western canon and indeed a subjectivist who even considers physics an interpretation—to crown your paean to historical objectivity.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Yuna,

    Yes, that gratitude ought to extend to my progeny, albeit in necessarily and inevitably diluted form.

  • Won Joon Choe

    Holy. Sorry for the clumped paragraphs in the first half of my reply to Mr. Tilly. I don’t know what happened. Maybe my keyboard went on a vacation every time I pressed the space bar there.

  • Mizar5

    Tilly:”What I was trying to get at with my comment was that the sort of counterfactuals that individuals engage in when it comes to the issue of the Korean War almost always come down to that individuals ideological preferences. ”

    Total trash. Even a Communist Chinese acknowledges the difference between the regimes in SK and NK.

    Here are the facts. Clearly the circumstances concerning the Japanese occupation, the Russian invasion of the peninsula from the North, the US liberation, the Chinese push to the DMZ, and NK/ SK political divisions, with its own historical background all led to the division of the peninsula, which cannot be laid at the doorstep of any single nation.

    The US remains in Korea due to mutual agreement. Anyone who was in Korea at the time that Carter attempted to pull out the troops understands how vehemently Koreans supported the presence of US troops. Now that the child is growing up, he looks back with a revisionist eye and attempts to blame Uncle Sam for all of it. Why? Because Uncle Sam is the one with the broad shoulders and deep pockets. Hit Uncle Sam for all he’s worth. Even NK understands this. Anti Americanism is more self-serving than ideological.

  • Charles Tilly

    @ Won Joon Choe

    No WJC, quite the contrary. The argument I made was quite well on point. It’s just a point that you clearly don’t care for. Take it or leave it.

    As for my criticism about your logical leap and the “context” that you were trying to grope at, I have to be honest and say that I’m at a bit of a loss. Pray tell, what “context” are you referring to? If your idea of contextualizing argumentative points is by way of non sequitar then I’m afraid you’re only fooling yourself.

    In regards to my exposition on what is the proper form of “historical imagination”, it dawns on me that you either didn’t it understand it or understood it but disagreed with it therefore you decided to take part in a facile rhetorical pirouette (i.e. “Nonetheless, while it is not too controversial, it is still too general. Or perhaps it is uncontroversial because it is too general?”) I surmise the a latter but will leave for you to to clarify if you care to. I was anything but general. I specified what my exact opinion were in regards to the issue. Whether you think such a thing was “uncontroversial” or not isn’t really my concern.

    As for showing why the arguments made by others in this thread are wrong, I believe that I have. As said before, they look at everything from the vantage point of the present. Hobble to their conclusions through the aid of the ideological crutch. They take moments, groups, and events from disparate corners of time and space and inanely extrapolate. It’s the height of excessive procrusteanism. In terms of my alternative, that’s simple: Don’t do it. Stop using a barely substantiated counterfactuals as some cudgel.

    To your point about my Nietzsche quote: I’m well aware of the problems that he had with notions of objectivity. But that’s the thing you see, I was never arguing that one could be objective, totally assured about the “truth” of something. Just in case it passed by you, my argument is that there’s no way that anybody could be sure that if X,Y or Z did/didn’t happen that such and such would inevitably have happened. It’s one thing to say such a thing in regards to an event itself. But to do so via something that didn’t not happen is just balderdash. Moreover, my quoting of Nietzsche was to underscore for you how deeply problematic being a captive to past history can be.

    Finally, in regards to my critique of your name dropping: You say that your name dropping underscores you “humility” but also “limns” your “magnanimity”. This is strange. For a person professing humility you sure do belie it by tooting you own horn about how magnanimous you are. Two and two don’t seem to be adding to four here. Furthermore, In your particular case I don’t think that you name dropping did all that much to more deeply substantiate anything you were trying to argue. Given your inability to even remotely grasp my main argument, I’m afraid your references only put into relief your pedantic tendencies. This wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if you grasped what I was trying to argue. But since you didn’t, you only gave off the impression that you were trying to obfuscate this fact with an ersatz erudite smoke-and-mirrors trick. It was a good effort but only that.

  • redneck hickboy

    This dredges up some really bad memories. I don’t know if I can ever forgive Koreans for the racism, ignorance, hypocrisy, and brutality that they displayed during that time.

  • Sonagi

    But in the real Democratic People’s Republic of Unified Korea, Korean women refugees would be sold as wives and prostitutes to Chinese men.

  • dogbertt

    This has degenerated into a contest of who can use a thesaurus the quickest.

    Edge to Tilly.

  • NetizenKim

    Colontos, are you Ukrainian? When I was in high school, I knew a classmate who was Ukrainian. His last name ended in a ~ko. But I was ignorant and I thought he was just Russian, to which he took offense. He explained that he was Ukrainian, that he identified as such, and that there was a difference. Since then I have come to know that, unlike North Korea, the former USSR was a vast Empire composed of many different republics.

    I believe that you are referring to the 1932~33 famine during which millions starved, also called the Holodomor, which Wikipedia covers in detail. In short, there is a debate amongst scholars regarding the causes of the Holodomor. Some claim that the deaths resulted as a consequence of the failed Soviet policies. Others say that it was part of Stalin’s plan to quell Ukrainian nationalism through famine-genocide conducted under collectivist programs. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

    The North Korean famines of the 90′s were a result of natural causes, such as unprecedented floods, and the fall of the Soviet Union, which had provided fuel for tractors and chemical fertilizer. It was not caused by policy mismanagement, deliberate or otherwise, unlike the Holodomor. North Korea is 80% mountainous region. This fact, along with the abidance to the overall Juche state philosophy, policy mistakes were unacceptable. In recognition of this fact, the North implemented the Ch’ongsan-ni method during the 60′s to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies by introducing on-site inspections by high ranking functionaries, including Kim Il Sung. After faltering starts, farm ouput increased dramatically when peasants were organized into the Taean Work System and the use of material incentives to spur productivity was also introduced.

    You have to compare like with like; you cannot compare North Korea with the Soviet Union. A better comparison would be would Cuba. Cuba’s own famines were induced by natural causes like hurricanes, exacerbated by US embargo.

    In other words, the North Korean famine (and Cuba’s) was largely caused by external factors, namely, collapse of the Soviet Union, US embargo, and natural disasters.

    The Southern half of the Korean peninsula was always regarded as the rice bowl throughout Korea’s history. A Unified Korea under Communist rule, despite the likelihood of Juche, eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, and US sanction, even under this historical thought-experiment scenario, would necessarily have been much better off than the North Korea of actual reality in terms of the food situation.

    It is also possible that had not the US been involved in the Korean War, Unified Korea, despite being Communist, would have normalized relations with the US at some point, just as Nixon paved the way for normalization between China and the US. There would be less enmity between Communist Unified Koreans and the US, because 1. war was never fought between the two, 2. absence of a cease-fire without a peace treaty situation as we currently have with North Korea today.

    A normalized relations between the DPRUK and the US also necessarily means no imposed trade sanctions, which also currently exists with North Korea. Lack of sanction would also have greatly mitigated whatever famine-inducing natural disaster visited upon DPRUK. In fact, the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 would have catalyzed Chinese-style reform, if it hadn’t happened already, and we would have witnessed a transition to a market economy away from centrally controlled system.

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    It can be argued to fairly high degree of reasonable plausibility that precisely because of the cease-fire sans a peace treaty between NK and the US, the tension of the Cold War aftermath, 50+ years of US enforced embargoes and sanctions on NK, and the prolonged presence of US boots on Korean soil, that NK is the Frankenstein that it is today. The US helped create this monster, divided the peninsula, and now they want Koreans to be “grateful”. If the Korean peninsula had been unified under Communist rule on that fateful day in 1950, there would be no tension along the DMZ, no Kim Jong Il, no hand-wringing about nuclear proliferation or missile tests, etc, etc.

    I just don’t hold the US accountable for Korea’s division but the former Soviet Union and China as well. All the major powers should have just have just kept their hands off Korea and let Koreans determine their own post-independence destiny entirely on their own. But, alas, in the years after WW2, that would have been like putting a hapless woman among rapists and expecting them to leave her alone. But today the Soviet Union is no more and China does not maintain a military presence on the Korean peninsula…

    Institutionalized prostitution, a legacy of Imperial Japan and US military occupation in South Korea, would have been eradicated.

    Anyone else notice a pattern here? It’s never Korea’s fault.

    More victim-complex (1), buck-passing fantasy drivel. Thankfully Korean revisionists aren’t taken seriously anywhere except in Korean circles, and even then only in the 20-30 something age bracket. Ask a Korean in his 60s or 70s what he things of the US/UN intervention in Korea and 99% of the time he’ll tell you how lucky Korea was that the west stepped in. Fawning gratitude? No. A modicum of respect and thanks? Yes.

    Talk to a 20-30 something Korean with absolutely no clue about their own history (see NK and tinyflowers) and they’ll swear that Korea sans foreign influence would have magically ended up as a unified liberal-democratic paradise, and that an elaborate US imperialistic geo-strategic consipracy is holding them apart to this very day. Nor does the entitled younger generation of Koreans give a fuck about the 40,000 foreigners who died here. The only Korean I’ve met who even knew that Australians fought in Korea, for example, was my wife’s father, who told me how his family was shepherded by an IDF convoy south of Daejeon when the communists attacked, and probably owes his life to them.

    The North has a much better grasp of their identity as Koreans compared to the South. The South has sold its soul for material wealth. The North may starve but witness all the social ills that abound in South Korean society today: rampant adultery, cosmetic surgeries, class inequalities, etc.

    Have you ever been to North Korea Netizen? Until you go there you’ve really got no idea what you’re talking about. And blaming the US for what the Kim family has done to your Joseon cousins is laughable.

    (1.) victim complex

    The possessor of a victim complex needs some outside authority to blame for their own failures. They can never compensate for their personal challenges in order to do the basic competition necessary to be even minimally successful at life. Those with the most institutional of complexes have created not only an outside persecutor but feel an innate and deep endowment for entitlement, even privilege. In many cases those with a victim complex have foisted their delusions of persecution onto others.