Saturday, March 13, 2010

Year 1 - Korea vs Japan


I realized that I was remiss in my last update. For some reason I forgot to tell you exactly what the holiday was on friday.

On March 1st Koreans celebrate Samil-jeol (Independence Movement Day). The Korea Independence Movement was born on March 1, 1919. Thirty-three Korean patriots gathered in Pagoda Park, in Seoul to protest the Japanese occupation of Korea. They read the charter of the movement. The protestors were beaten and put in jail. This sparked a nationwide uprising against the Japanese, and thus the Independence Movement was born.

The independence movement spread to other cities and towns in Korea. During the followoing year more than 1,500 demonstrations, attended by about 2 million people, were held throughout the country. Although the demonstrations were peaceful, the Japanese police and military reacted with harshly. Nearly 23,000 Koreans were killed or wounded. Of approximately 47,000 who were arrested, around 5,000 were sent to prison. Today March 1 is celebrated in both North and South Korea as a national holiday in honor of the demonstrators' patriotism.

There is a HUGE museum in Cheonan called Independence Hall. It is the largest museum in Korea, consisting of seven buildings, and presents Korea's history from ancient time to today. The Japanese feature prominently in the museum in light of their colonial occupation of Korea, and earlier attacks on Korea. According to one of my students the site of Chonan was chosen because it is close to the hometown of a 16 year old girl who was one of the first to rise up and complain about the Japanese occupation. She was brutalized and murdered for speaking up. In honour of her the Independence Hall was built in Chonan.

One of my friends here, a teacher from Scotland who works at another Hogwon, called it the "We Hate Japan" museum. He couldn't understand why the Koreans HATE the Japanese so much. Many westerners wonder why the Koreans dislike the Japanese so much. If you look at historical facts, it is easy to see. The Japanese shipped off tens of thousands of Korean men into forced labour for Japanese industry. Women didn't fare any better, as the Japanese forced them to become "comfort women" for Japanese troops. To this day there has been no real apology by the Japanese, and no compensation. Even Korean artwork and relics that were stolen by the Japanese remain in Japan. If a person wanted to do a proper study of Korean history they would have to go to Japan because that is where most of the old books (most of those that were not destroyed by the Japanese occupation forces) and artifacts are today. They were never returned.

The Japanese tried to systemically destroy the Korean culture. They did this through various means, such as outlawing the language and anything to do with the Korean culture. They destroyed hundreds of thousands of books on Korean history, culture, and geography. They closed schools and denied an education to most Koreans, unless it was a Japanese education. Anyone who dissented was jailed or killed. Tens of thousands were sent off into slavery. If that happened to your country would you EVER forgive those who did it? Especially if there was no apology, restoration of what was stolen, or even an attempt at compensation? I wouldn't.

Add to that the recent attempts by Japan to rewrite history and you not only have old wounds that are still bleeding, but some new ones. The Japanese have decided to rewrite history. They downplay or ignore most of the atrocities they committed. Take the "Rape of Nanking" in China as an example. According to the new Japanese history textbooks for their school it wasn't that serious. They ignore the fact that the Japanese pretty much executed every man, woman, and child in the city. The women being killed after being raped. Little things like that just keep the anger alive in Korea, and the rest of Asia. Japan has angered most Asian countries, including China, the Phillipines, and Vietnam. Attempting to rewrite history just pisses me off in general.

Hmmm, this turned into another rant didn't it? :)

Take care


This was from the start of my 5th month in South Korea.

I almost didn't post this because my defense of Korea seemed so ... rabid. However, it is what I said and thought at the time. Although some of the information it was based on was faulty a lot of my reasoning stands. (I was still drinking kool-aid. Cherry flavour.)

When I look at the issue of Japan and the rest of Asia, not JUST Korea, I can understand the anger. A couple of years ago Japanese film makers, endorsed by members of the government, released a movie saying the Rape of Nanking never happened. The Japanese do have a tendency to rewrite history and that is something I don't like. At least when the revision is so blatantly wrong.

Look at the Chinese reactions to the Japanese in recent years. Riots in the streets. Japanese cars being trashed. And knowing how strict the Chinese government is about controlling things the fact it was allowed to happen tells you a lot about what the government was thinking.

I also understand the anger from another viewpoint. Insert the words Nazi and German instead of Japan. IF a German Chancellor EVER went to a memorial honouring the SS in ANY way there would be HELL to pay. That is basically what Koizumi was doing. That puts the lie, in my view, to any apology the Japanese may have made.

My father fought in WW2. I know what he would think if he saw anyone let alone the leader of Germany basically honouring the Nazis or if someone said the Holocaust never happened. Dad got to see one of the death camps and those who survived. The images of horror were burned into his mind. He would be angry and disgusted. I can understand the anger of Korea and other Asian countries when Koizumi or any Japanese leader visits the Yakasuni shrine. Or when they try to rewrite history.

Yes, the rabid hatred needs to end. It just isn't healthy. But Japan needs to remember that it's actions can make people wonder if they have really changed. If they were really contrite. While people can forgive they should never forget.


  1. Isn't Korea the home of "you don't have the right to judge us because you don't understand our culture" so why should they get upset if this is their attitude.

  2. That is true. But if they didn't get upset they wouldn't be Korean. ;)

  3. as for the history ,I think you are cheeted by the korean propagandas ..

  4. truth about anexxtion

    Japan treated korea better than Taiwanese..
    Japan forced to chage their name?
    they demanded to have a Japanese name.
    im manchuria, korean was discriminated by them.
    if they pretend to be a Japanese, they wer not discriminated. that is why korean society demanded.

    in Taiwan..

    I think you dont know about real korean history.

  5. Sorry anonymous, I don't drink kool-aid anymore. You should be careful it looks like you are drinking a heavy dose of it.

  6. all right, I understood you.
    at least the Japanese never did like that to korean

  7. Dude, you really don't want to be trying to rewrite history. It REALLY pisses me off when people try to do that or try to diminish what happened.

    No country is perfect. Every country has it's fair share of screw ups and things they wish they could do over. That doesn't excuse the bad behaviour of others though.

    Japan did a LOT of nasty shit before and during World War II. A LOT. Which is why they are STILL despised in many Asian countries.

    It is fine to point to this or that thing that happened in a countries history, where they may have committed atrocities against their own. But you come off as being disingenuous. It doesn't diminish what others may have done to Korea or excuse it. Japan basically committed cultural genocide when they occupied Korea. Accept the fact. If you want apologize for it sincerely. Then move on. (The moving on is where Koreans run into problems.) Don't try defending it.

    If you REALLY want I can play your game of point out the atrocity but I warn you, you will lose. There is one FACT that Japan has been trying to white wash away that trumps a lot of what you say when it comes to Asia. Nanking.

    It is nice that you want to defend Japan but you are going about it the wrong way. Much like the way Korean protesters do it. you shoot yourself in the foot by trying to obfuscate what happened.

  8. And yet......Park Chung Hee (a former Imperial Army officer no less) accepted compensation from Japan which was invested into heavy industry and not given to victims. Some of the worst POW guards were Korean who were all categorised as victims by the Korean govt. last decade under Roh and the chaebols were effectively set up by the Japanese. On the subject of comfort women, a great deal of them were effectively sold (brokered) to Japan by Koreans. Many Koreans did very, very well out of the occupation and were and are more than capable of being despicable to each other and of abnegating responsibility

  9. My English sucks. So I hope you can understand what I am going to write.

    May I ask you why you believe in Korean propaganda ?
    I think you know how Korean lies every single day. I just can not understand why you believe in Korean propaganda.

    >The Japanese tried to systemically destroy the Korean culture. They did this through various means, such as outlawing the language and anything to do with the Korean culture. They destroyed hundreds of thousands of books on Korean history, culture, and geography. They closed schools and denied an education to most Koreans, unless it was a Japanese education.

    Did the Japan try to destroy the Korean culture ?
    My answer is yes. Japan destroyed Korean slave culture. Japan gave name to Korean women. Japan forced them to use toilet. Japan forced them to not use human shit as drugs and forced them to not drink liquor with human shit or eating shit. Japan forced them to use western drugs. As you said, Japan destroyed Korean culture. I am not against you. By the way you can drink traditional liquor with human shit now. It is called똥술
    I know you do not believe use google

    > They destroyed hundreds of thousands of books on Korean history, culture, and geography.
    My answer is no. Japan has kept Korean history books in library in Japan now. How could Japan burn hundreds of thousands of books which never exist ? You miss understand what Korea was like in 19th century. There are many books about Korea in 19th century written by white people.
    Korea was the most poor country in the Asia, they did not have papers to write. Most of Korean were very very poor. They could not use salt for foods because they just could not buy . like these poor people how could make papers to write books ?
    How could you believe there were lots of books in Korea, even most of Korean could not write in Korean ?

    > They closed schools and denied an education to most Koreans, unless it was a Japanese education.

    There were only a few schools (build by Americans ) in Korea for rich Korean before Japanese education system. Poor Korean could not learn and read Korean at all. 90 % of Korean could not read Korean ( Chinese 漢字、before Japan, Korean had used 漢字). What I write now , you could read in books written by white in 19th.
    Japan forced Korean kids to go to school even parents wanted kids to work at home. Japan build lots of schools for all Korean teach them how to write in Hangul, because 漢字 is too difficult for Korean. So Japan forced them to use Hangul and 漢字 like Japanese. In fact, Japan did make textbooks how to write Hangul for Korean.
    Also Japan did force them to learn how to write Japanese too. Because Korea was part of Japan. Japan wanted Korean to be able to speak and write in Japanese as same as another country like England.

  10. About geography.
    please watch this.
    Korean still do not understand measurement.

    How could Japan destroy Korean education system which never exist ? There was American education system in Korea. But there was no Korean education system.

    I am not trying to rewrite history as you said to someone before. I want you to know the truth of Korean history. You believe in Korean propaganda and you do not believe what Japanese said. This is not fare. As you know Korean historian were very insane. Some of them believe 漢字 was made by Korean. Some of them believe that Confucius孔子(Chinese ) was a Korean.
    I am not saying you must believe Japanese and not believe Korean. I want you to read books written by white in 19th. There is a book about Korea before Japanese occupation. There are many books about Korea under occupation written by whites.

    At last I want to tell you that Korean destroyed their culture by themselves. They stopped use 漢字 because they do not want to read old documents (I think). They stopped believe in Buddhism and destroyed temples by themselves.
    One more thing I want to tell you that Korean rewrite history lots. I am not saying about Japanese occupation. Korean rewrites most of their history, and Chinese get mad.

    Isabella Lucy Bird (October 15, 1831 – October 7, 1904) was a nineteenth-century English explorer, writer, and a natural historian.
    • Korea and her Neighbours (1898)
    By the way , I start reading you blogs since yesterday and I love it.

  11. I am glad you enjoy the site but I am sure that will change as you read more of it and realize that I believe people like you are part of what is wrong with the world.

    You are actually trying to rationalize and explan away the atrocities, documented even, that Japan committed against Korea and so many other countries. That is pretty fucked up.

    I am sure the slavers and nazi's used the same
    rationalizations as you. They were doing the "savages" a favour by bringing them to a "civilized" country. They were doing the "subhuman" people a favour by killing them so they didn't have to suffer by living. Like I said, pretty fucked up.

    Your own bias, hatred, and racism is pretty evident. It doesn't help make your diatribe any more palatable or true.

    Japan committed war crimes and atrocities. That is a fact of life that you just can't deny no matter how hard you try.

    What the Japanese need to do is what anyone should do when they screw up. Apologize, do what they can to make up for it, and do what they can to make sure they don't make the same
    mistakes again.

    It is very hard for people to forgive, and some will never forgive anyway, what happened when the head of the Japanese government goes to a shrine that honours war criminals. A little common sense would have them go to a different shrine. Changing text books to gloss over or leave out the atrocities doesn't help matters either. Especially atrocities like the Rape of Nanking. None of that helps people to forgive, It just helps the anger and hatred fester.

  12. Before we start talking about rape of Nanking, pleases talk about Korea.

    I believe America , England and other western countries committed war crimes too. America burned Tokyo where were no troops. England had lots of colonies and killed many of them. Have your home country ever apologized to counties and par war reparation ?

    Japan committed war crimes, jugged by western countries. If Japan won the world war ( I don’t believe Japan could, and I believe I am glad to Japan lose) America and England committed war crime. Do you understand what I am trying to say ? I mean every counties in world war 2 committed war crimes.

    Let’s talk about Korea. You always say to us that we are like natiz. Let’s compare about Germany ,Poland ,Japan and Korea. I think Korea is like Poland. Poland did not want to join the Germany but they fought together at the end. So ,after world war 2, Poland had to pay war reparation as you know. How about Korea ? Has Korea paid war reparation ? NO , they got money from Japan. Has Korea apologize to Asia ? Never.

    Korea got money from Japan.
    Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea
    Most of Korean does not know anything about it because South Korean government had covered until 2005. Most of Korean think Japan never apologize. Comfort women supposed to get money from Korean government because Japan had paid for them. What south Korean government did is lied to Korean to make them to hate Japan.
    Of course they hate Japan. Japan did terrible things to them. We had been apologized so many times and paid. Japan has been supporting Korean economy so many times and so many different ways. But Korean government never tell Korean what we did for Korean after world war 2.

  13. I know Korea got money from Japan. I have talked about it on this blog. Just like I have talked about how the hate is perpetuated in Korea. Korea also got an official apology. unfortunately, the country was being run by a dictator at the time and the money was squandered.

    As I mentioned, and you have ignored, actions speak louder than words and can make apologies look hollow and insincere. The actions of teh Japanese government when it comes to text books and visiting the Yakasuni shrine make their apology look like a lie. And it isn't just Koreans who fee l this way. Most countries in Asia still hold a grudge because of how Japan acted. Until Japan stops tearing the old wounds open by acting stupidly the bad feelings will continue. If Japan does move on and the hate continues then it isn't on their head.

    Please don't insult my intelligence by trying to suggest that because you think other countries committed atrocities that negates Japan's responsibility for what they did.

    Your knowledge of history is also ... lacking. Poland didn't have to pay reparations to anyone. They RECEIVED reparations from Germany, as did many other countries.

    If you want an example of how Japan should act in relation to what happened during WW2 look at Germany. They apologized, made reparations, and ACTED to prevent what they did from happening again. If ANY German Chancellor EVER went to a shrine that honoured the SS or other Nazis they would find themselves out of office.

    Anyway, as I mentioned elsewhere, I don't usually waste my time trying to argue with zealots.