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Vietnam requests Korea cancel their official observance of the 50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War

Originally posted on Segye and Newsis, but the Segye release translated into English on Korea Bang, apparently the Vietnamese government has asked the Republic of Korea to cancel official commemorative events marking the 50th anniversary of South Korean troops being deployed to [the now defunct state of] South Vietnam.

According to a “South Korean government official” (“정부 관계자는”):

“The year 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the Korean army deployment to the Vietnam War, and the preparations for a commemorative event are under way in collaboration of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). We recently received a request from the Vietnamese government to refrain from holding a commemoration, placing the government in a predicament.”

The requests sounds legit, although I’ve only been able to find two Korean language publications that have reported it and both seem to be citing the same source.

Anyways, the Korean comment chatter appears to be quite sympathetic to the stated request.  Korea Bang has been kind enough to translate many of the comments:

박감독: Don’t hold a ceremony. The deployment to kill people was anything but something to be proud of. I am sorry for the Vietnamese people. I hope that we will skip the ceremony, and express our condolences.

초록빛: I support the Vietnamese government’s stance. Consider how we slammed Japan’s Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. If South Korea keeps on upholding our past, it will impose obstacles to the future partnership between the two countries. I don’t think highlighting veterans’ participation in the Vietnam War will boost military morale and honor. I think it is right to completely embrace the Vietnamese government’s request.

I hear ya Vietnam, but good luck in getting the commemorative events cancelled while Korea is under the Park Geun-hye administration.  Her daddy did send over the troops, you know.

  • pawikirogii

    i’m starting to wonder if the story is true because if true, it would be easy to find stories on this and it ain’t.

  • redwhitedude

    Perhaps they can tone down the celebration but not cancel it outright. I think canceling it would be a disservice to those who served in vietnam.

  • charliemarlow

    Is it taken for granted that participating in the war was evil? Most of the justifications for US involvement were murky, but I know former S. Vietnamese who do not think it was immoral or shameful to fight against the North. The winners won and get the status of legitimate government, but would you equate recognizing soldiers who fought in the war with communist N. Vietnam with the Japanese attempt to control China and wipe out Korea?

  • Dan Strickland

    Ahem. pet peeve. Geunhye is not her father. And she had a mother.

  • seouldout

    Korean soldiers went ape shit bonkers to be deployed there. Major money. They went for the cash, which I think is fine,.and were paid. “Service” does not explain their presence there.

    I read the Korean comment chatter on koreabang a few days ago and it was overwhelmingly against commemoration.

  • wangkon936

    I like to think I’m at an “extreme” informal basis with everyone on this blog… ;)

    One word, not two. Point well taken.

  • Gubook

    S.Korean marines really made a name for themselves in Vietnam as fierce fighters. This of course is code for massacred civilians and burned villages. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phong_Nh%E1%BB%8B_and_Phong_Nh%E1%BA%A5t_massacre

  • pawikirogii

    yep, don’t compare to the us though; 10% of vietnam’s population decimated. don’t go there, sir, but nice try.

  • pawikirogii

    ‘..and were paid…’

    exactly why we don’t want sk to pay for us soldiers in korea. if korea paid the whole bill, there would be no need for appreciation since the us soldier would be a mercenary. thanks for making my point.

  • Gubook

    Never wanted to make a comparison to the States. Never even tried. My sole point was that S.Korean participation in the Vietnam War was problematic at best and celebrations should at least be second guessed.

  • pawikirogii

    it is being second guessed and that wouldn’t happen here in the states as for as ceremonies are concerned. i’m not sure how i feel about vietnam’s alleged request; on one hand, i agree with them but on the other, i don’t want to disrespect the 5000 korean soldiers who died there. it’s a tough call.

  • Dokdoforever

    South Korea sent troops to Vietnam for legitimate Korean security concerns – unrelated to the outcome of the war there, of course. South Korea needed to keep U.S. troops on the peninsula at a time when the US had a clear interest in deploying American soldiers in Vietnam. By sending Korean soldiers Park could maintain an alliance critical for defending South Korea. And you should remember that this was also when North Korean economic and military power was at its peak. To those critical of S Korean involvement in Vietnam – well the US probably had more of a choice about involvement in Vietnam than South Korea did. The Vietnam war indirectly put South Korean survival at risk to a much greater extent than any risk to the U.S.

  • It_is_true?

    This this truth. Korea has send soldiers to interfered in Vietnam civil war. Korean soldiers has Massacre thousand of Vietnamese women and children. The Korean people and their government never apologized but in stead they celebrate this events. It is a shame for the Korean people.

    Here some links about the massacre to the Vietnamese people:

  • redwhitedude

    Well considering that South Korea was poor back then and that Park needed money to do what he eventually did in South Korea I think it makes sense why Koreans were interested in serving there back then. Try to do the same thing by offering financial inducements to serve say in Afghanistan now, I’m pretty sure it will be less enthusiastic and it isn’t just because a lot of people disagree with whatever is going on there.

  • redwhitedude

    I commend your dedication to smear Korea. Such dedication!

  • pawikirogii


  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler


  • It_is_true?

    99% of the Koreans on most forum like this show no feeling of remorse. They are
    evils. It is funny with Koreans. They never apologize the Vietnamese in what they did to our people. But winning, crying and blaming other …..
    Why should Japanese people feel bad in what they did (if they did) to Koreans? Or apologize for it?

  • It_is_true?

    Either you are denial or liar.

  • It_is_true?

    Did the Japanese army did bad thing to Korean people? If yes, why did you (former) president fighting on the Japanese side? Weird?

  • wangkon936

    Okay, this It_is_true sideshow has gone on long enough…

    As post administrator, I am pulling the plug on comments I deem unworthy of protection.

  • pawikirogii

    here ya go:

  • It_is_true?

    Korean style to solve the truth?

  • redwhitedude

    How about the same words imposed on a caricature of the dictator by charlie chaplin giving a nazi salute?

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    A right-wing Japanese activist made a wild generalization accusing “99% of all Koreans”?

    I thought the Japanese were supposed to be good at math. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PISA_2012_Tests )

    Keep up the good work.

  • JinJoo



    I will talk about above articles in English later. I am at work.

  • ChuckRamone

    I love this argument. Deployment of South Korean troops to Vietnam to help America in the Vietnam War is tantamount to Imperial Japan’s state-sponsored militarization, annexation of Korea, colonization of several Asian territories, declaration of war against America, etc.

  • left nut

    You are such a moron if you think you can raise out of the users one this site…

    I seen your post on other sites and there is no way in hell you are Vietnamese!


  • wangkon936

    Apples & oranges.

  • left nut

    Incorrect you phoney Vietnamese! in 2001 President Kim made an official apology to the Vietnamese president and people.
    Huge difference between the Japanese you side with (because you are Japanese… LOL) is that Koreans do not deny it. Koreans express regret and private ROK citizens have made efforts to express their condolences…
    In 2009 both countries agreed to lift the bilateral relationship to the “comprehensive partnership”. Unlike you Japanese… LOL Abayo!!!

  • bumfromkorea

    “That’s like comparing apples to… Nazi Oranges!” -Cyril Figgis-

  • redwhitedude
  • redwhitedude

    Hey Pawi
    go over to Koreabang it is fun there with all these douchebags.

  • cactusmcharris

    Careful with the use of Emperor Jesus, please, Robert. We don’t want to see him brought out just for a little rain, right?

  • cactusmcharris

    Almost a spray moment, bum – attaboy!

  • wangkon936

    Some of the stories I’ve heard from U.S. Vietnam War vets sound pretty crazy, strange and even apocryphal. I don’t know if they are true. I would put more credence on the ones who have seen it with their own eyes vs. the people who have said they heard from a friend, etc.

    Some stories are:

    - My high school history teacher was an Air Force lieutenant attache said that the Aussies thought they were the toughest, but the Koreans were the toughest. The Aussies would routinely try to pick fights with the ROKs at the bar and the Koreans would beat them up every time.

    - A former LRRP (Long-range reconnaissance patrol) vet that I use to wait for the bus with when I was in high school said that once a sniper shot a Korean and the Koreans, knowing that they had to keep high body count ratios immediately unloaded a pair of mini-guns and fired in the general direction of the treeline where the shot came from. They hosed the entire area with several thousand rounds of 7.62mm ammo. They then pulled out no less that 20 Vietcong bodies.

    - Same guy said he heard of a story where some South Vietnamese special forces guys were bothering the same number of ROK special forces guys in a bar. The ARVN guys thought they were really bad ass and just kept bothering them. Then one of the ROK guys quickly poked two fingers into one of the ARVN guy’s neck and he fell like a heap. Not sure if he killed him, but the rest of the ARVN guys ran out of the bar in a panic.

    - Also same guy. He said he heard that the Americans and the ROKs occupied opposite ends of a fire base. The NVA were lobbing mortar shells into the ROK side of the camp. At night the ROKs sent out a seek and destroy patrol. The next evening the NVA only shelled the American side of the camp. This guy had a lot of crazy/funny/interesting Vietnam war stories, not just about Koreans.

    - Old Vietnam War vet told me he was gunner on a Huey that had five captured Vietcong and two ROKs on board. They were interrogating the Vietcong. If one didn’t talk they tossed him out of the chopper. They kept repeating this until one of them talked. They usually got them to talk. He ended the story saying, “I’m glad they were on our side.”

    Vietnam War vets do not tell me these stories because I ask them to. They surrender these stories as soon as they find out I’m Korean.

    Another interesting English language account of the ROKs in Vietnam was “Vietnam Above the Treetops” by John F. Flanagan, who was a forward air observer attached to the ROK “Tiger” Division. He had some interesting stories. Once a Vietnamese shop keeper was gathering intel for the VietCong on the ROKs. The ROKs found out and hung her outside the village as a warning. The attacks ceased.

    Anyways, Flanagan said that the the ROK Tiger Division’s “Area of Responsibility” could not be stabilized by the French or the 101st Airborne Division. However, the Koreans were able to “pacify” it where the others had failed because they had “fought this war before” (clear reference to the Korean War).

    “The strategy and tactics of the Korean Tiger Division were a marked contrast to the American Screaming Eagles. The Koreans were fighting a war of territorial occupation, a more classic war scheme… [their objectives] were more finite, more concrete. Wheras the Koreans took longer to prepare and launch an operation, their results were more permanent. They pushed out the VC by killing and capturing, then occupied the territory, fighting for it only once…. The VC were reluctant to return to, or challenge, the ROKs.


    The Koreans practiced detailed and systematic planning. Reflecting their Oriental cutlture, the were patient, foregoing the short-term opportunity to achieve longer-term results. They were masters of small-unit tactics…. they were tenacious fighters, schooled in discipline, and accustomed to hardship.”

    Yes, I’m sure there were massacres by ROKs on Vietnamese civilians, but I don’t think that’s the whole story. The accounts I’ve heard from veterans would also indicate they were effective allies to the Americans and South Vietnamese in that war.

  • platethief

    And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the whitewashing and glorification of the massacring of civilians by foreign troops in another country, and the evident pride and boyish glee that this can induce.

    Now all we need is a shrine for those ‘other soldiers not involved in the massacres’.

  • platethief

    Or black kettles to black pots.

  • hoju_saram

    I feel a bit for the vets. Mercenaries or not, they deserve recognition for serving their country in what was a hellish theatre. And they were amoung the most formidable soldiers in the war.

  • Sumo294

    A lot of the ROK vets applied and got visas and moved to Maryland and Virginia. They opened up shops in violent neighborhoods–Southeast DC for example. They carried rifles, knives and pistols–and the locals soon learned not to mess with Mr. Kim at the corner store. The next generation of shopkeepers were soft and benefited from the fierce reputation of those ROK vets.

  • tinyflowers

    It’s such a transparent argument. They know it’s an untenable position to deny their own war crimes, so they try to smear others with committing the same atrocities, even though it’s not remotely close in scale, or the sheer inhumanity of what Japan did in WW2. Sorry Japan, but the blood won’t wash from your hands that easily.

  • wangkon936

    There is another point I didn’t mention before. The area of operations (“AOR”) that the ROK Tiger and White Horse divisions assumed were formally taken over from American divisions (chiefly the 101st Airborne and the 4th Infantry). The ROKs have proven from a combat standpoint that they were at least equal with U.S. units of the same size.

    The ROKs suffered about 5,000 deaths and 11,000 wounded. If the ROKs hadn’t have been there in those AORs then it would have been American units that would have suffered those casualties. The Vietnam War Memorial in D.C. could have been longer by 5,000 names.

  • wangkon936

    That would be “the pot calling the kettle black.”


  • Railwaycharm

    Yellow dog propaganda

  • platethief

    Why would I be any less ‘cool’ with it if it had been American troops?

    No mention of the 5,000 massacred civilians, then?

  • dlbarch

    Sorry to dump this here, but I’m genuinely surprised the emerging Korea-India defense entente is not getting more attention:


    At a time when uShin2 seems intent on allowing SoKo be be Finlandized by China vis-a-vis its relationship with neighbor Japan, Seoul is expending energy on upping its relations with India…THOUSANDS of miles away.

    C’mon, madam president, focus, focus! Time to shore up your relations with Japan and present a unified East Asia triumvirate against Chinese encroachment.

    One of these days, Seoul is gonna wake up and realize that China’s hegemonic sphere of influence in the here-and-now has become a reality, all while Korea’s leadership was distracted by focusing on trivial Japanese revisionism of events seven decades ago.

    Bring back Kim Tae-hyo!!!


  • wangkon936

    “…5,000 massacred civilians”

    Where did you get that number from?

  • wangkon936
  • dlbarch

    Bruce Cumings — a man vilified by Korea’s extreme right but who has been more right than wrong and deserves more respect than he gets — has written eloquently on the real damage Korea’s Vietnam vets suffered during their service in that truly shitty and deplorable war.

    Many of these men returned home utterly broken, with none of the veterans’ recovery programs typically available in the West. An unusual number became monks, which — somewhat comically — resulted in pitched battles with police over occupation of temples by monks more than capable of taking on not-quite-battle-hardened riot cops.

    Some of these vets were brutes, but many more were simply caught in impossible circumstances. Nonetheless, Korea should stop celebrating a war that does not deserve any celebration at all.


  • redwhitedude

    Yeah where did you get the 5000 civilians?

  • redwhitedude

    Do have to you the uShin2 label? I mean what next? Dictator’s daughter? India is important because it is a rival to China.

  • dlbarch

    The first person to explain exactly how uShin2′s new “middle power” security strategy with India is supposed to actually work gets a bottle of Opus One.

    National security is about priorities, and Korea’s priorities should be on its left flank.If Seoul actually thinks New Delhi is a security counterweight to China, then it needs to explain how that would possibly work.

    India may be a good trade fit for Korea, but national security? Puhlease!


  • wangkon936


    What do you think about this MotherJones article about Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia?


  • dlbarch

    BTW, this is a bit of inside baseball type of crap, but that Bangkok Post piece was published first by CSIS Pacific Forum:


    But I suppose one can’t expect Yoon Sukjoon to write original op-eds for everyone who asks.


  • dlbarch

    Short version? I think it’s a good article, but gets too caught up in the Washington mindset that unless the pivot constitutes a “Rambo-like return to Asia” (great line, by the way), that it’s somehow incomplete.

    Nonsense. America’s comparative advantage is air-sea denial, and the shifting of Navy and Air Force resources to the Pacific is real, even if the author is more focused on “counting Marines.”

    More to the point, getting boots OFF the ground is sound policy at a time when local populations have grown tired of their presence. Security policy must be grounded in popular support. Keeping ground troops stationed in communities that don’t want them is not a strong foundation for lasting security cooperation.

    At least, not in democratic countries.


  • wangkon936

    I know, but I was too lazy to find the original CSIS version.

  • BSDetector

    These Koreans commenting on how they shouldn’t commemorate “the event” or how it doesn’t boost this or that come off as under-20′s who’ve probably never sacrificed more than 30 minutes time doing chores. You don’t celebrate past wars, you celebrate the people who honored the nation’s call and made the sacrifice. Countries really need to start commemorating the loss of civilian lives in these wars because almost always they’re the ones who get hit the hardest.

  • redwhitedude

    It also applies to their stance on NK and their support for people who try to suck up to NK. Don’t know jack.

  • platethief
  • bumfromkorea

    Why would he care about the American casualties in Vietnam War or the Vietnam War Memorial in DC?

    Different allegiance, Wangkon:


  • hoju_saram

    I’m not sure Korea ever really celebrated the war, but the vets certainly need to be remembered and their sacrifices honored.

    And Cummings got some stuff right, but he’s said some awfully stupid things as well. Comparing NK’s gulags to the American prison system for one, and alluding to a white conspiracy to drive a wedge between blacks and Koreans when referencing the LA riots was another howler I recall.

  • dlbarch

    Fair enough.

    There is an old joke that used to be said of Winston Churchill that went something like, “When Winnie was right, he was right, but when he was wrong, Oh My God!”

    That’s how I assess Cumings (one “n”). When he’s wrong, he can be REALLY wrong, but when he’s right, he provides so much original insight and profound scholarship that one has to step back and just take a moment to digest it all.


  • wangkon936

    Couple of things. First of all I went to some of those wiki articles you had linked, especially the ones with the highest numbers and the sources cited in those articles are a bit sketchy. Most links are dead. Some are Vietnamese Communist sources and some are oral sources. So, the sources are questionable in terms of accuracy. Having said that, I have no doubt in my mind that South Korean troops killed civilians. They were either intentional or collateral, but in my gut it’s probably a forgone conclusion that Vietnamese civilians were killed by South Korean soldiers, regardless of intent or in which massacre,so on and so forth.

    Having said that, context is everything. The estimated total number of civilians killed in that war are between 250k to 1 million. Let’s pick the middle ground and say 500k, okay? Let’s be fair and evenly distribute the number of civilians killed by total military contribution, okay (numbers from wiki for convenience’s sake)? Thus, I come up with the following table, with numbers in the thousands:

    Country Military Contribution Est. Civ. Killed

    North Vietnam 36.1% 180.2

    China 11.5% 57.7

    South Vietnam 30.6% 153.2

    USA 19.3% 96.6

    South Korea 1.8% 9.1

    Australia 0.3% 1.4

    Thailand/Philip. 0.4% 1.9

    New Zealand >0.1% 0.1

    Total 100% 500

    So, putting things in context, everybody likely had a hand in the median estimate of 500k Vietnamese civilian deaths. I would hazard to guess that the U.S.had much more civilian deaths attributed to their military contribution simply because of the fact that they had a lot more firepower than everyone else and did bomb a lot of civilian targets on purpose to root out the VietCong and to force the North Vietnamese to the peace accords in Paris. Sort of like when the U.S. fire bombed Japanese cities to [try and] force the Japanese to their knees. Anyways, I degress. In the little model above I attribute equal weights to everyone for simplicity reasons. To the South Koreans I attribute 9.1 thousand civilian deaths, so your estimate of 5 thousand may not be too far off.

    So, who were likely the worse perpetrators of civilian deaths during the Vietnam War? Most likely the Vietnamese themselves. It was a civil war after all. This simple fact puts things in greater context and disassembles the usefulness of using this war to “prove” that the Koreans were just as, if not, more brutal than the Japanese during WWII.

    The Japanese right-wing’s attempt to use the Vietnam War to “prove” something just doesn’t work and doesn’t fit the model. Everyone was guilty of killing civilians. As others have mentioned, the South Koreans came at the request and approval of the U.S. and the South Vietnamese.

  • wangkon936


    I couldn’t help but notice that you took a look at the numbers that platethief provided.

    Now, you do realize that the Americans killed far more Vietnamese civilians that the Koreans could possibily have, right? No one who fought that god awful war came away with their hands clean.

  • platethief

    Other countries killed more, so don’t mention these atrocities? What is the minimum number we should be using before the ruthless slaughter of 5,000 innocent women, men and children should be a point of consideration when considering ?

    ‘If the Vietnamese ask the Chinese and Americans for an apology I guarantee you that both will tell the Vietnamese to “fuck off.”

    I don’t see Chinese or American posters on here revelling in tales of people (presumably) civilians being thrown out of helicopters by an army that went on to slaughter civilians in the thousands.

    ‘ because, unlike many of the Japanese, more Koreans genuinely feel sorry for the conduct of their armed forces in Vietnam’

    With your anecdotes dripping in pubescent national pride about the ruthlessness of ROK troops’ brutality against unarmed civilians, you’ve certainly demonstrated genuine sorrow for the what happened to those people in Vietnam. And an unquestionable sorrow at that.

  • platethief

    Learn. To. Read.

    The question, apparent from the above posts, is, Why would I be less cool with the deaths of American soldiers than I would with the deaths of Korean soldiers?

    Sorry to disappoint you.

  • RElgin

    He is likely Chinese, based on his IP address.
    Who says 50-cents don’t do mischief?

  • RElgin

    . . . and likely Chinese in origin.

  • JinJoo

    Reading comments in this thread, I realised that world war 3 has already started, only there’s no gunfire.

    I fight with 50 cents party (Joseon-Jok and Chinese) every day in Korean forums, naver news comments section, daum portal and other big internet sites, and here at Marmot’s Hole, I recognize Chinese, Japanese far right-wing group, westerners who are anti-Korean for whatever reasons, 50 cents party disguised as westerners playing one against the another, and there are westerners who simply enjoy instigating fighting.

    Smart (badass) crow makes cats fight and enjoy watching.


    More re above articles on the way.

  • DC Musicfreak

    BR Meyers sets the record straight on Cummings, whose “opus” turned out to be dead wrong.

  • JinJoo

    주베트남 한국군 양민학살에 대한 채명신 장군의 반론


  • JinJoo

    Han Geo Reh is the one that published the article based on interview with Kim Ki Tae (one of the squadron leader). When interviewed, KKT explained the circumstances in Vietnam by saying that one couldn’t identify who was civilian and who was VC, and it was possible that some innocent civilians might have been

    HGR published the feature in Han Geo Reh magazine on the 27th April 2000 (한겨레 21) and newspaper (19th April 2000). “First Testimony from War Veteran” was the headline.

    Because the article was so distorted KKT requested, via the Press Artitration Commission, to publish a corrected version. HGR did. However, they did it in a way that didn’t stand out, so it had no effect whatsoever.

    Those expats who have been living in Korean for a while will know that it is HGR’s (a far left wing newspaper) life work to tarnish all the work PCH had done {they even sold their soul to the devil (CCP}. I will talk about it next time.)

    Solders who suffer long-term effects of exposure to defoliants even sued HGR for defaming the Korean solders.

    However, in 2000, HGR triumphantly published information that was kept in USA”s NARA (National
    Archives & Records Administration) for 30 years.


    According to the info, the USA harboured suspicion that the Korean army might have killed innocent civilians, but there weren’t enough evidences.

    Apart from further tarnishing the late Chae Myung Shin and the Korean troop, the only evidences they provided was that there were 3 incidents:

    1. Phong Nut village (Phong Nhi, Dien Ban, Quang Nam) – 12th Feb 1968
    => While being attacked by VC, 79 (or 69) people including women and children died

    2. Phoc My village, Di Xuyen – 15th April 1969

    During the removal of landmine, somehow the mine
    blew up and 4 civilians and 1 Korean sodier died, and 14 got injured

    3. Hoa Chau village (the village is now disappeared),
    Hoa Bang – 22nd October 1968

    While the army tried to build night camp, they were attacked by VC and by attacking back 20 civillians (including8 children died)

  • JinJoo

    I was strongly against General [William] Westmoreland’s search-and-destroy strategy. The Viet Cong [VC] were not in uniform, so how could we search for them? Even the South Vietnamese couldn’t do it. Instead, we used [small] bases to protect rice-growing areas and VC-controlled villages. We told the local people not to go out after sunset because at night we would kill anything that
    moved. So nobody came out. We sent in medical teams, and we dug wells. Then people began to like us. At night, we set up ambushes along the roads, just like we said we would. The next day we would repeat the pattern.

    In Vietnam, you couldn’t classify who was innocent and who was VC. There were kids and pregnant women with hand grenades in their pockets. Sometimes, entire
    villages would fight against us. When an American patrol arrived, villagers would say they were friendly. People brought out bananas and coconuts, and the soldiers would put down their weapons to eat. Then the VC would throw grenades to kill them.

    How can Vietnam prove that the [people we killed] were innocent? We lost 5,000 troops to their VC. The Vietnamese have built monuments with the names of our victims. So I ask: how many of those people were innocent, and how many were their war heroes? It is impossible to classify them. Once, when some of my troops were out on patrol, they searched a village but found no VC. Then someone threw a grenade and killed the platoon leader. My soldiers got very angry. Their
    commander was dead, so they started shooting. You could say that we killed innocent people. But they also killed us. For our survival, we had to shoot. It’s a very delicate matter, who is VC, who isn’t.

    Extracted from http://systemclub.net/bbs/zb4p

  • hoju_saram

    True. I quite liked his book Korea In The Sun, was refreshingly and atypically positive (for an outsider!)

  • JinJoo

    주진오 (left wing history scholar) is one of the professors involved in compiling recent high school history textbook.

    The history book states that Vietnamese civilians were massacred by the Korean armed forces.

    When questioned about evidences (where they are and if there are any, why they weren’t included….), he reacts by saying it is up to the teachers and students to research.

    http://flow2733.blog.me/20197612548?Redirect=Log&from=postView (there’s a video clip in the middle of the post)

  • DC Musicfreak

    That author is from the far left and would be screaming bloody murder if the so-called pivot did actually involve a major remilitarisation by the US. The US left on the whole have a hard time seeing China for what it is.

  • 8675309

    “Korean soldiers went ape shit bonkers to be deployed there. Major money. They went for the cash, which I think is fine, and were paid. “Service” does not explain their presence there.”

    You seem to be utterly confused between soldiers and humanitarian workers.

    FYI, soldiers are essentially mercenaries for their respective countries, so pointing out that ROK soldiers volunteered for Vietnam “for the cash” is a foregone conclusion bereft of any intelligence.

    Additionally, your statement that “Service does not explain their presence there…” shows you don’t understand what armies do, or perhaps have failed to understand that the Marine Corps. has very little in common with the Peace Corps and other humanitarian organizations.

    Contrary to what you may believe, soldiers don’t get deployed to a combat zone to do lil’ Habitat-for-Humanity™ and other feel-good projects for the locals.

    Rather, soldiers go into combat zones to serve their country and promote its interests, which are usually diametrically opposed to those of the host country or the country they’ve just invaded.

  • wangkon936

    Anyways, I do think that a posting about Korea as a middle power and how it can play a role in regional stability is warranted and I would like to take a stab at it, when time permits.

  • wangkon936

    You sound like a native speaker here (clap, clap). However, you sound like a non-native speaker in the comment where you got a basic English idiom wrong (“pot calling kettle black”). Do you happen to have your screen name shared by several confederates? There are other irregularities with your screen name that I am currently researching. Hey, don’t blame me. The inconsistent writing style attributed to your screen name has invited this attention.

    Anyways, addressing your comment above independent of your “irregularities” you are being rather selective no? Did any of my comments ever indicate my pride in “… ROK troops’ brutality against unarmed civilians…”? If I did, please kindly point it out.

    Did I ever “revel” in tales of civilians being thrown out of helicopters? The American veteran said they were Vietcong. That would not, technically, make them “civilians” now, would it?

    I advise that you would help your chances immeasurably if you don’t put words in my mouth. Thank you in advance.

  • Mike Morgan

    Doesn’t surprise me that communist Vietnam wants Korea to forget about fighting communists.

  • wangkon936

    Interesting thing about the term “banzai.” It’s actually the Korean pronunciation that the Japanese have adopted.

    According to the Nihon Shoki, Yamato Japanese recognized Silla envoys shouting “manse” when news of some victory over Paekje arrived. The way the Yamato Japanese pronounced “banzai” back then was “manzai,” which was how they pronounced “manse.” In modern Japanese the pronunciation changed to “banzai.”

    Both manse and banzai are based on the Chinese term “live ten thousand years” (“万岁”), which in Cantonese is pronounced “maanseui” (Cantonese, of course, being more similar to what ancient Chinese of the Imperial court were speaking).


  • bumfromkorea

    Huh. I always assumed it was the other way around (Korea getting the term from Japan during the early 20th century).

  • wangkon936

    It is not.

    Learn. Do not assume.

  • feaefw52aweaw

    die painfully thx

  • JinJoo

    I thought I deleted above comment.

  • JinJoo

    ‘베트남전쟁과 나’ 채명신 회고록


  • platethief

    Like yourself, after reading your tales/anecdotes, I took it upon myself to look at your comment history before deciding to comment. I found you’d written this on a blog about SK being requested to cancel the celebrations/commemorations of the ROK’s troops’ involvement in the Vietnam war:

    ‘No doubt about it. Charlie was scared of those ROKs.’

    Taken as a whole, I’d say it’s pretty reasonable for anyone reading that comment and the subsequent selected tales of bravado and brutality to conclude that you are indeed taking pride in those troops’ actions, and doing so on the basis purely of their nationality.

    ‘you got a basic English idiom wrong (“pot calling kettle black”)’

    You missed the my attempt to fit the idiom into the apples-oranges comparison that had been started and continued. My bad, perhaps.

    ‘I advise that you would help your chances immeasurably if you don’t put words in my mouth.’

    Help my chances?

  • JinJoo

    As I said above, left-wing Han Geo Reh was the one that started the allegation using the word “massacre (my god, how can a word massacre be used so easily?)’ without any proof. If the informations above are true, they triumphantly would’ve made a bigger fuss.

    The late lieutenant-general Cha Myung Shin, a well respected man – he also fought during the Korean War – who led the Korea troop in Vietnam doesn’t deny some innocent civillians got killed, but 40 – 50 years later, Vietnamese (or whoever wrote the wiki articles) are coming up with these exaggerated numbers.

    Koreans DO accept our faults, and for any wrongdoings we apologize.

    Please just believe whatever it is that you want to believe.

    One of the wise commenters on Marmot’s hole once said:

    ‘People see what they want to see, like the Socrates fable at the gates of Athens they find what they expect to find….’

  • silver surfer

    It’s good that so many Koreans recognize the wrong that was done by their soldiers. How many Americans these days do the same?

  • wangkon936

    If I were you… I would just stick to one screen name at a time and make it abundantly clear if you switch screen names and/or personas. Then again, you are not me.

  • Arghaeri

    What’s the phrase, to assume makes an ass of U & me

  • Nelson

    Er, no. The Japanese pronunciation “Banzai” was invented in 1889 for the day the Meiji Constitution was promulgated in Japan. There were multiple other candidates to read the term as “manzai” or “bansei” or “banzei” but “Banzai” was specifically chosen at the time because they thought this sound combination would allow for people to shout it out loud from their stomachs. They knew that it would be a weird combination of Han (or Changan) sounds and Wu (or Yangtze delta) sounds but chose this anyway.

    I would be wary of most Korean origin theories…

    PS Korea used “chonsei” (one thousand years) since it was a vassal state of China, not “mansei.” So how we would know the word’s pronunciation in 600 AD Silla before it was a vassal state and that Silla also combined 2 different pronunciations?

  • pawikirogii

    ‘I would be wary of most Korean origin theories…’

    yes, and i’d be wary of some white otaku giving history lessons on korea and japan.

  • wangkon936

    Not a “Korean origin[ated] theor[y].”

    The Nihon Shoki was translated by William G. Aston, way back in 1896. He was an early (but exceedingly high quality) scholar of Japanese and Korean history and languages. He was one of the first scholars to propose a common origin theory between the Korean and Japanese languages. Upon studying both languages extensively, he theorized that the languages were related “like some old European languages where.” This theory has continued to be rather persistent in academia among both Western and Japanese linguists, until rather recently (Vovin and Beckwidth).

    Anyways, in Aston’s footnotes for the Nihon Shoki, he clearly states that the Yamato Japanese probably got the pronunciation of “manzai” from the Silla envoys, because of its closeness to “manse.” It is not a Korean theory at all. It was Aston’s theory.

    Your introduction of the term “chonsei” is twisting the truth. Although it is true Korea was more of a vassal to both the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it was less of a vassal during Silla and Koryo times. “Manse” was clearly used by Koreans in the SIlla and Koryo Dynasties as the poetry and letters of that era would definitely attest, as the term was written phonetically with hyangchal or idu (Korean system of using Chinese characters to convey Korean sounds).

    When you mention that “the Japanese pronunciation “Banzai” was invented in 1889″ it betrays ignorance in East Asian language Romanization. It is irrelevant to my point whether or not the Meji Government “萬歲” chose to romanize it as “banzai” or “manzai” or whatever variation. I made it clear in my original comment that the pronunciation became more established to “banzai” later on. You clearly didn’t read my comment carefully.

  • wangkon936

    Here is another Korean/Japanese linguistics fact for you to digest. The Japanese word for “island,” which is “shima” is also an old Korean word. You see, the old Korean word for island is “seom.” It is believed that Paekje people pronounced “seom” as “seoma.” So, the Japanese adopted the Paekje pronunciation and wrapped it around their phonetics so “seoma” became “shima.”

    So the irony is that in the great Dokdo / Takeshima / Liancourt Rocks debate, it’s the Japanese word that literally has a Korean word in it, whereas the Korean word just has Chinese characters with the Korean pronunciations.

  • Nelson

    Hang on, let’s sort this out.

    I am saying that “Banzai” is a combination of Han sound “ban” and Wu sound “zai.” And that this combination was invented in 1889. You can read this in Mori Arinori’s biography it will attest to the adoption of this combination of sounds. So the pronunciation Banzai is a Japanese invention (no Korean origin there).

    Are you saying that the Wu sound “man” owes to Silla’s pronunciation of the character 萬 as “man”?

    If you are saying that, then I think you and Aston are getting things backwards. The Chinese living near the Yangtze River delta, pronounced the character 萬 as “man” and that came to Japan as a Wu sound.

    Now the Wu sound was also adopted by Silla Korea and that character 萬 was pronounced “man” according to Aston. So it’s possible that it spread to Silla first then came to Japan, I won’t dispute that.

    But on this issue of Chinese culture spreading, I don’t see the need to argue that everything took the China -> Korea -> Japan route. Clearly some things, like Buddhism took the China -> Paekche Korea -> Japan route.

    However, we also have things that took the China -> Japan -> Korea route like rice agriculture. In fact, considering that Silla is on the eastern side of the peninsula my guess is that the “man” sound probably took the China -> Japan -> Silla Korea route.

    [There are also things that took the China -> Japan, China -> Korea routes independently of each other, with little interaction between Japan and Korea. Most famous example is probably Zen Buddhism.]

    My comment, “I would be wary of most Korean origin theories…” was meant to be read: most things in East Asia have a Chinese origin.

    As for Aston’s study of Japanese and Korean languages, and a possible common origin, I’ll leave that one to linguists as they are still hashing that out. (Although I am partial to the Altaic linguistic family theory, I don’t necessarily think that “seoma” became “shima.” On this it’s probably better to think that there was a word that was “sXXma” that then split to become “seoma” and “shima.”)

    There was a lot of interaction between CJK but to think that things always flowed in the C -> K -> J direction is wrong. It’s better to think that things mostly flowed from China to both Korea and Japan, and that Korea and Japan interacted a lot between them. A few things even went from Japan to China (the most famous is the fan 扇子), and I guess today K Pop from Korea to China.

  • wangkon936


    Thank you for your cordial and thoughtful response. I like conversations of this tone much better than the converse.

    To address what you have said. The Japanese got Chinese characters, and likely pronunciations (which naturally follow), from Paekje through the scholars Wang In and Achiki:


    The Paekje and Silla languages were similar:


    It is natural to conclude that their pronunciation Chinese characters were similar as well.

    The early Japanese writing system was called man’yōgana, which became the basis of katakana.


    According to Korean and Japanese linguist John R. Bentley (Northern Illinois University) the Japanese got man’yōgana from earlier Korean models, probably Paekje:


    The chief author and compiler of the Nihon Shoki was Ō no Yasumaro. His tomb’s epitaph clearly has Korean grammatical markers on it:

    http://ishare.edu.sina.com.cn/download.php?fileid=36814517 (see page 80)

    It doesn’t mean he was Korean. However, it is clear evidence that he, and his scholarly team, may have spoken a Korean language (probably the Paekje variant).

    The old Korean word “seom” or “seoma” was the basis for the Japanese word “shima”:



    Now, of course, culture goes both ways. Many modern words in Korean were borrowed from Japanese, well at least the Japanese way of using Chinese characters to describe modern ideas and things.

    Again, as I’ve stated before, the Japanese pronunciation of the characters “萬歲” was probably pretty stable for close to two thousand years until it had to be romanized for Westerners who were interested in Japan and wanted to pronounce the words though characters they were familiar with.

  • Nelson

    Ah thanks for the interesting links. I too like these calm discussions.

    I think John Bentley’s work should be commended for digging out old words from exhaustive studies of these texts. So I take it this is the relevant section from that email exchange with regards to the word island:

    > One interesting tidbit is that the Japanese word for island,
    > “shima,” was originally from the old Korean world for enclosed and
    > isolated space, “sima.”

    So that’s actually pretty cool.

    As for Banzai I’m still not convinced. After some simple digging it turns out that people in Japan pronounced 萬歲 as “banzei” Han – Han pronunciation or as “manzai” Wu – Wu pronunciation. (“Banzei” was the older and more correct pronunciation until pretty recently.)

    Web dictionary for 萬歲

    After 1889 they pronounced 萬歲 as “Banzai” (Han – Wu). So the pronunciation inside Japan was purposefully changed for this 2 character set word. It’s not an issue of romanization so that Westerners can pronounce it correctly. The pronunciation of the word in Japanese changed, hence I called it an “invention.”

    Anyway, the main point that I wanted to get across is that these sounds are not Korean. These sounds are Chinese.

    Having said the above and noting the agreements on the heavy interactions among the three (CJK), here’s a bit more:

    The Wu sounds (Go-on) came from the lower Yangtze river delta region and the Han sounds (Kan-on) came from Changan.

    We know when and how the Han sounds came to Japan. They came to Japan after Prince Shotoku and others started sending envoys to Changan, in Sui and Tang China. So the Han sounds came to Japan systematically and directly from China.

    The Wu sounds are more obscure but they came to Japan before the Han sounds. Some people do argue that it came via Korea and with a Korean spin on the pronunciations. But that doesn’t change the fact that the sounds were originally Chinese.

    Finally on to Aston’s hypothesis. I think it is possible if we just take 萬’s Wu sound “man.” But if he is talking about “manse” then it sounds like a Wu-Han combination, a linguistic faux-pas.

    Wu (Go-on): man
    Han (Kan-on): ban

    Wu (Go-on): sai
    Han (Kan-on): sei

    Since we know that the words were pronounced as either man-sai -> manzai or ban-sei -> banzei
    I’m more inclined to think that Aston bumped into a coincidence and thought that this was the origin of the pronunciation. Considering the long and intertwined history of the languages, he could be right, but there’s no way to know at this point.

  • wangkon936

    Thank you for showing flexibility and intellectual curiosity. Regarding manzai/banzai, I think we will have to chalk that one up to personal belief considering the papacy of direct evidence on the matter. Aston’s personal beliefs on the matter isn’t conclusive evidence, although it is evidence nonetheless.

    The Japanese themselves will admit that they got two major things from Paekje- Buddhism and Chinese characters. Did they get all the Chinese characters from Paekje? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. However, it is clear the first time they heard “萬歲” in a nationalistic and celebratory context was from Silla envoys. The passage in the Nihon Shoki commented as to the odd spectacle the Silla envoys were making, so using “萬歲” in that context was not common to the Yamato Japanese at that time. I think this is extremely strong circumstantial evidence that they got the pronunciation of “manzai” from people from the Korean peninsula and so did one of the most seminal Western scholars on the Japanese, Mr. William George Aston.

  • wangkon936

    I would like to point out a chronological error you have in your last comment. The Han sounds entered into Japan in the 8th century A.D., correct? Prince Shotoku died in the mid 7th century. He could not have played a hand at bringing the Han sounds to Japan.

  • Nelson

    Ah ok, so I think we both agree then that these are Chinese sounds.

    And sure, some of the Wu sounds probably came via the Korean peninsula, I’ve never disputed that. The point I wanted to make was that these are not Korean sounds, these are Chinese sounds. To me Korean sounds would be the equivalent of the Kun-yomi (Yamato-kotoba) for the Chinese characters. [And after googling the Korean equivalent for this, I just learned that the Korean language has extremely few Kun-yomi today, so this might be part of the confusion.]

    Anyway, I think then the main dispute is here:

    “Anyways, then in the 19th century manzai became formally romanized to
    banzai due to the fact that “萬歲” was usually shouted out from the
    stomach and ended up sounding more like “banzai” to the Western ear?
    Isn’t this a credible theory?”

    I’m saying that that’s not a credible theory because we know how the pronunciation was newly crafted.

    First, the more common pronunciation of 萬歲 before 1889 was not “manzai” but rather “banzei.”

    “Banzei” was the cheer, “manzai” was used less commonly and when used it mostly referred to a particular show that comedians and ordinary people performed during the New Year celebrations.

    Second, the Japanese leaders of the Meiji period changed the pronunciation of 萬歲 for the celebration of the promulgation of the Constitution. The pronunciation did not spontaneously change from “banzei” because people were shouting it.

    They told people to change the pronunciation from “banzei” to “banzai.” That’s why the term’s an invention in the 19th century.

    So they told the Japanese people there to shout:
    バンザイ not バンセイ

    This was a deliberate change to “ザ” from “セ.”

    Once this new pronunciation became common, then Westerners and Japanese took it to romanize it as “banzai.”

    How to spell this word for Westerners was not the issue. Not sure why this point is getting lost…

    Mori Arinori is the man who created the modern ceremony where you raise the national flag, bow to the Emperor (or to the Emperor’s photograph), sing the Kimigayo anthem, and shout “banzai” three times. Previously people never shouted in the presence of the Emperor so this was a brand new ceremony for the Japanese (and it spooked the horses, so they couldn’t shout three times in 1889).

    You can also get the info just on “banzai” from the Japanese side of the wiki on “Banzai” for easy reference too. Apparently in that article there’s a mention of Wakatsuki Reijiro’s autobiography in which he recalls that the horses got spooked when they shouted the first time. So they had to quietly say “Banzai” twice afterwards.

    Now, something else is getting me curious on this topic. It’s about the lack of Korean version of Kun-yomi, something that I looked up earlier just now.

    Why did the Korean language lose the native pronunciations of words?

    For example the character 春 (meaning Spring, antonym is Autumn):

    This character has the Chinese sound (both Han and Wu): “shun.” But it’s not like people didn’t know about Spring in Japan before the Chinese characters came. There was a native Japanese word “haru” that meant spring.

    So today the character 春 is pronounced as both “haru” and “shun” in Japanese.

    春風 Harukaze, Spring breeze

    春秋 Shunjuu, Spring and autumn

    According to the wiktionary the character 春 has only one pronunciation “chun” 춘 in Korean. What happened to the native Korean word for Spring? I’m sure people on the Korean peninsula also knew about Spring before Chinese characters got there. Did the Korean language become too Sinicized over time? It seems weird that an important word like Spring would disappear.

  • takasar1

    what an idiot…

  • takasar1

    yes, of course. and japan also annexed korea for legitimate security reasons

  • wangkon936

    From my understanding it is true that modern Korean has more loan words from Chinese than Japanese. However, it would appear that the difference isn’t that major, maybe 5-10%. Both languages are categorized as using Sino-Xenic


  • pawikirogii

    the indigenous korean for ‘spring’ word did not disappear; indiginous korean words are never written with chinese characters. only words of chinese origin are written with them. there are a few exceptions to this rule but not many. the indigenous korean word for spring is ‘pohm’ 봄. the pronunciation of ‘春’ is ch’un. ‘pom’ is the word that is used. lastly, the core of the korean language is korean. listen to any k-pop song and you’ll be hearing pure korean with a chinese derived word here and there..

  • pawikirogii

    btw, all the words for the four seasons are made up of korean words. ‘pohm’ ‘yorum’ ‘ka-ul’ ‘kyo-ul’. spring, summer, fall winter. none are written with chinese characters.

  • wangkon936

    I just found this out, but do you know that ageyo is actually based on sino characters? Maybe even from the Japanese rendering?

    애교 = 愛嬌

    愛 = love, be fond of

    嬌 = sweet, tender, seductive

    Ae-Gyo = Oi-Giu (Cantonese)

    Don’t worry. Kawaii is also based on sino characters.

    Kawaii = Ka-Ai

    Ka-Ai = 可愛

    可 = Acceptable

    愛 = Love, be fond of

    Hummmm…. aegyo and kawaii share the character “愛,” love.

  • pawikirogii

    but ‘aegyo’ sounds like a chinese word to me. say listen, did you know you can write ‘sarang’ and ‘tangshin’ with chinese characters? 思量 and 當身 but don’t quote me on the characters, i’m just going off of my memory. i remember having an argument with this guy who told me ‘tangshin’ and ‘sarang’ were pure korean words while i kept asking why they could be written in chinese. later i learned some korean words were given chinese characters but i’m not too familiar with all that.

  • Pingback: Korean words starting to get loaned into Chinese

  • David Carruth

    Pawikirogi, the phenomenon you are talking about is called 취음 (取音), which literally means “taking the pronunciation.”

    There are a number of pure Korean words (순우리말) that are sometimes mistakenly assumed to be of Chinese origin. One good example of this is 생각 (thought), which you might see rendered as 生覺 (生 meaning “to be born,appear” and 覺 meaning “to become aware”). In fact, a book on 한자 (Chinese characters) that I was studying with blatantly stated that 생각 was written “生覺,” as I suppose it has been (by those who are unaware that it is not derived from Chinese).

    Those who want to pursue the subject of 취음 further may want to look at the following (Korean language) links:

    Naver 지식IN: http://bit.ly/1hukb2u

    Wiki: http://bit.ly/QB3XLt