Kim Jong Il is dead

OG_slinger wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

As I mentioned above, none of that excuses the actions of the Kim family, but it most certainly does explain the reason ordinary North Koreans aren't terribly enthused to simply open the doors to Americans.

In the history they're taught Americans started the Korean war...

IMAGE(http://calitreview.com/images/ess_north_korean_129.jpg)

That picture looks like it could be the perfect mission choice for SWTOR. Save the baby and get light side points and free kimchi buff, or throw him down the well for some juicy darkside points and credits from your pig dog capitalist overlords.

jdzappa wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

As I mentioned above, none of that excuses the actions of the Kim family, but it most certainly does explain the reason ordinary North Koreans aren't terribly enthused to simply open the doors to Americans.

In the history they're taught Americans started the Korean war...

IMAGE(http://calitreview.com/images/ess_north_korean_129.jpg)

That picture looks like it could be the perfect mission choice for SWTOR. Save the baby and get light side points and free kimchi buff, or throw him down the well for some juicy darkside points and credits from your pig dog capitalist overlords.

Though it is almost certainly true that the North Koreans shot first, a bit of historical context is probably very helpful here. As I've mentioned before, the government of the South mostly comprised of folks who collaborated with the Japanese during the occupation. These were folks who hunted down, tortured, and murdered just about anyone who fought for Korean independence. Our supporting them was as bad as it would have been to put Klaus Barbie in charge of liberated France after WW2.

We would not have tolerated a divided United States led by collaborators of murderous foreign invaders either. At least I hope we wouldn't.

The history of the Japanese and their atrocities in the 20th century makes me wonder whether, if the Nazis hadn't fought a war with Stalin or entered into armed conflict with the United States, we would, in the 21st century be looking upon a more moderate Nazi Germany more favorably than the history books treat them today. Could, for instance, Hitler murder 6 million Jews and still be considered a "great leader" had he not have died by his own hand in a Berlin bunker or would he still be the historical embodiment of evil?

Seeing as we have either entirely ignored the histories or completely rehabilitated the reputations of South Korean monsters like Park Chung Hee or Chun Doo Hwan, I suspect the answer is the former.

For a large chunk of the American population, the "you just hate America!" crowd, the US is always on the side of good.

If the US appears to be wrong, then they redefine 'good'.

Also note that the North Korean propaganda, while hyperbolic, is not entirely without basis either. During the war, American troops repeatedly slaughtered civilian refugees when ordered, and also covered up South Korean mass executions. There's also evidence trickling out that Soviet soldiers in North Korea committed atrocities on a regular basis, and of course many other atrocities committed during the war on both sides are known.

It's important to remember that the North Koreans believed they were fighting to free their country, friends, and families from murderous, vile Japanese collaborators who were supported by the U.N. and U.S. forces. Not only did the United States defend that regime, but the U.N. forces destroyed North Korea in response to the attacks, wiping out the majority of North Korean cities and towns in firebomb and napalm attacks. The Chinese entered the war because our troops were approaching the North Korean border with China, and there's evidence the border was crossed several times by aircraft and possibly clandestine units. Truman also publicly threatened the Chinese and North Koreans with nuclear weapons. In such an environment, this propaganda is perfectly believable, and has more than a solid basis in truth. Given the situation and the things we already know, it's quite likely that many other atrocities were casually committed in North Korea during the U.N. occupation, and likely after the Chinese pushed the U.N. troops back as well.

The propaganda is also easily maintained given our current actions in the world. It's fairly easy to show that the United States has not changed in the intervening years, without even much censorship, because of our hyperbolically aggressive foreign policy stance. For example, all that would be necessary to convince people that the United States hasn't changed would be to play the Republican foreign policy debates (with Paul's comments censored, of course).

Korea is another example of the American cultural inability to process situations where there aren't any good guys, like Israel/Palestine, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. We choose a side, and that side is the "good guys". Then we do whatever it takes to make that story stick and rationalize to ourselves that we're doing a good thing, usually in the face of the awful, horrible truth. It is one of the most repulsive aspects of our government and culture.

Yup. Supporting Shiro Ishii was doing "God's work".

If you really want to know how South Koreans feel about the war, watch Tae Guk Gi.

And this is why they hate and fear Wikileaks so much, why Manning is on trial for blabbing, instead of the actual criminals being on trial for their actual crimes.

I appreciate your information in this thread, Paleo. I've been frequently lumped in with the "hate America" crowd for believing in historical accuracy and blowback. But there is information here I flat out never knew. Thanks.

Paleocon wrote:

Seeing as we have either entirely ignored the histories or completely rehabilitated the reputations of South Korean monsters like Park Chung Hee or Chun Doo Hwan, I suspect the answer is the former.

I would wager a majority of Americans now don't even know that there was a Korean War.

Aetius wrote:

Also note that the North Korean propaganda, while hyperbolic, is not entirely without basis either. During the war, American troops repeatedly slaughtered civilian refugees when ordered, and also covered up South Korean mass executions. There's also evidence trickling out that Soviet soldiers in North Korea committed atrocities on a regular basis, and of course many other atrocities committed during the war on both sides are known.

It's important to remember that the North Koreans believed they were fighting to free their country, friends, and families from murderous, vile Japanese collaborators who were supported by the U.N. and U.S. forces. Not only did the United States defend that regime, but the U.N. forces destroyed North Korea in response to the attacks, wiping out the majority of North Korean cities and towns in firebomb and napalm attacks. The Chinese entered the war because our troops were approaching the North Korean border with China, and there's evidence the border was crossed several times by aircraft and possibly clandestine units. Truman also publicly threatened the Chinese and North Koreans with nuclear weapons. In such an environment, this propaganda is perfectly believable, and has more than a solid basis in truth. Given the situation and the things we already know, it's quite likely that many other atrocities were casually committed in North Korea during the U.N. occupation, and likely after the Chinese pushed the U.N. troops back as well.

The propaganda is also easily maintained given our current actions in the world. It's fairly easy to show that the United States has not changed in the intervening years, without even much censorship, because of our hyperbolically aggressive foreign policy stance. For example, all that would be necessary to convince people that the United States hasn't changed would be to play the Republican foreign policy debates (with Paul's comments censored, of course).

Korea is another example of the American cultural inability to process situations where there aren't any good guys, like Israel/Palestine, Vietnam, and Afghanistan. We choose a side, and that side is the "good guys". Then we do whatever it takes to make that story stick and rationalize to ourselves that we're doing a good thing, usually in the face of the awful, horrible truth. It is one of the most repulsive aspects of our government and culture.

I agree that the US was not lilly white at the beginning of the Korean War, but look at this from a historical perspective. Korea at the time was a backwater, non-European (read white) country. The US was stretched thin around the globe and was of course going to focus on bigger hotspots like Japan and Eastern Europe. America should have backed a more democratic and legitimate government, but that would be a pretty tall order given the situation. It's not unsuprising the Allies simply left the country to be run by whoever could run it, whether or not they were Japanese sympathizers or not.

Civilian deaths are always tragic, but that's war. The North Korean advance was moving so fast that from what I've read and heard from military historians, there was a real concern the North Koreans had infiltrated the refugees and were using them as human shields to break through the American line. I'd also like to add that the actions of Task Force Smith - the first American force to arrive after war broke out - are studied by the modern military as the perfect example of what NOT to do in a peacekeeping operation that has turned into full-blown conflict. The men were poorly trained, poorly equipped, and not ready for a full North Korean attack.

PS - Some of the "veterans" who were claiming the worst atrocities were later convicted in court of perjury and lying to collect disability benefits.

jdzappa wrote:

I agree that the US was not lilly white at the beginning of the Korean War, but look at this from a historical perspective. Korea at the time was a backwater, non-European (read white) country. The US was stretched thin around the globe and was of course going to focus on bigger hotspots like Japan and Eastern Europe. America should have backed a more democratic and legitimate government, but that would be a pretty tall order given the situation. It's not unsuprising the Allies simply left the country to be run by whoever could run it, whether or not they were Japanese sympathizers or not.

Yeaaah. The whole "more democratic" part is particularly touching. I think most Koreans would have been just been happy if the US didn't pick folks who actively participated in the abduction of 14 year old girls to send into mobile rape factories. This wasn't about "leaving it to be run by whoever could run it". It was about putting the folks they could rely on to oppose communism. And those were the folks who were most likely (and deserving) to be strung up by their necks by the nearest trees.

edit:

And as for the perspective you encourage us to use, try this one on. Consider the current level of public outrage we are leveling upon Cardinal Ratzinger and Joe Paterno over their protection of a nearly statistically insignificant number of child fondlers (who happen to have fondled white kids). Neither was responsible for the direct death of anybody. Both of them are rightly vilified for their role in enabling predators to remain in a position of responsibility that allowed them to continue their predation.

Now, take that and multiply that by 1000000 and you're still nowhere close. Not only did we correctly identify the 1945 South Korean government as folks who willingly participated in the torture, rape, slaughter, and cultural annihilation of the entire nation of Korea, we put them in power and participated in the slaughter of their political opponents ourselves.

Perhaps now you would like to rethink your "not lilly white" characterization. This isn't "mistakes were made". This is us participating in a 50 year long crime against humanity.

OG_slinger wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

As I mentioned above, none of that excuses the actions of the Kim family, but it most certainly does explain the reason ordinary North Koreans aren't terribly enthused to simply open the doors to Americans.

In the history they're taught Americans started the Korean war...

IMAGE(http://calitreview.com/images/ess_north_korean_129.jpg)

is that the promo poster for the N.Korean version of the Baby Jessica story?

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

LeapingGnome wrote:

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

It would be sinful to baptize that baby with his left hand.

iaintgotnopants wrote:
Paleocon wrote:

Seeing as we have either entirely ignored the histories or completely rehabilitated the reputations of South Korean monsters like Park Chung Hee or Chun Doo Hwan, I suspect the answer is the former.

I would wager a majority of Americans now don't even know that there was a Korean War.

Yeah, there's a reason it's called "The Forgotten War."

I cannot recommend David Halberstams' url=http://www.amazon.com/Coldest-Winter... Coldest Winter]highly enough[/url]; it's more of an early Cold War-era history as it bleeds into the Korean War, but a really incredibly well-written book. Provides all sorts of background to the Korean war. Honestly, it's pretty much all background, and doesn't at all get into the real details of the battles themselves with a few exceptions, so it's very much a great book for "big picture" history people as opposed to crunchy-detail history buffs. Great book.

In case no one realized, Kim Jong Il was also an avid GWJer. Perhaps we should choose him a tag in his memory...

Chairman_Mao wrote:

In case no one realized, Kim Jong Il was also an avid GWJer. Perhaps we should choose him a tag in his memory...

Looks like he was a complete lurker.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

He isn't. His left (presumable non-dominant) hand is holding the magazine well, while his right (presumable dominant firing) hand is clutching the baby above the well. Imagine soldier sans baby. His right hand would be on or near the grip of the weapon.

Michael Jackson found this artwork particularly inspiring and vowed to recreate the scene some decades later.

I don't see the negative in the picture. The woman was obviously walking by the well with the baby in her arms when she tripped. The baby flew out of her arms and was about to fall into the well when a quick thinking G.I. reached out and made a terrific one-handed grab of the tot in midair.

You're welcome, North Korea.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

I think the correct question is, why does that baby have the face of a middle-aged man?

iaintgotnopants wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

I think the correct question is, why does that baby have the face of a middle-aged man?

My god. It's Hank Hill's dad.

iaintgotnopants wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:

Why is he holding the gun by the wrong end?

I think the correct question is, why does that baby have the face of a middle-aged man?

Because it's Korean Jesus.

IMAGE(http://img806.imageshack.us/img806/3135/kor1.jpg)

Translator wrote:

Ha! Ha! I, G.I. Joe, decry your wisdom, and advise you thusly: Henceforth, do not bring a baby to a well-fight!

{begin.Srs}

I had no idea of the enormity of the Badness underpinning Western involvement until reading what Paleo had to say. I assumed, since it was a U.N. thing, that it was a world-acting-together thing (absent, y'know, the Other Guys) and therefore Good.

Was even the war museum and memorial in Seoul the result of the ruling, Japanese-collaborating hegemony? Because I got a strong sense of gratitude out of that. I'd hate to think that the average Kim on the street doesn't share that.

{end.Srs}

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

IMAGE(http://img806.imageshack.us/img806/3135/kor1.jpg)

Translator wrote:

Ha! Ha! I, G.I. Joe, decry your wisdom, and advise you thusly: Henceforth, do not bring a baby to a well-fight!

{begin.Srs}

I had no idea of the enormity of the Badness underpinning Western involvement until reading what Paleo had to say. I assumed, since it was a U.N. thing, that it was a world-acting-together thing (absent, y'know, the Other Guys) and therefore Good.

Was even the war museum and memorial in Seoul the result of the ruling, Japanese-collaborating hegemony? Because I got a strong sense of gratitude out of that. I'd hate to think that the average Kim on the street doesn't share that.

{end.Srs}

The feelings of the average South Korean are very complicated when it comes to the post war environment. For obvious reasons, he'd rather live in the South than the North, but most would rather still that the whole sordid and tragic history could have happened entirely differently. Many feel a sense of survivor's guilt regarding the material privilege they enjoy while relatives in the North suffer for what was, essentially, someone else's war. In particular, there is a fairly sizable portion of the population that feels that it was a war to ensure Japanese security on the backs (and bodies) of Koreans. Understandably, Koreans have a hard time imagining anyone less deserving of such security than the very folks that, 6 years earlier, had just concluded a cataclysmic war that killed millions and whose forces committed some of the worst atrocities in human history.

Netflix actually has a pretty good selection of contemporary Korean movies with subtitles. Rent a dozen of them across different film genres and it's pretty hard to avoid this sort of sociopolitical complexity.

I watched Phantom the Submarine a while back. The plot centers around the maiden voyage of a South Korean nuclear submarine purchased from the former Soviet Union and the reasons why the US and Japan won't tolerate them having one.

JSA or Joint Security Area is a thriller about the investigation of a violent incident that happens on the border.

Tae Guk Gi, as I've mentioned before, is a Korean War story about two brothers who get swept into the conflict. It is probably the most insightful look into how South Koreans view the war.

2009 Lost Memories is a science fiction film which starts off with an ethnically Korean police detective investigating a terrorist organization in an alternate history in which the Japanese won WW2.

May 18th is a drama about the Kwangju Massacre (South Korea's own version of Tienanmen Square and America's complicity in it).

Shiri is a action movie in which the protagonist is actually a North Korean sleeper agent.

The list goes on and on. And, like I said, the image that South Koreans have of North Koreans is a lot more nuanced than our own. They recognize the situation as precarious, but also view our own involvement in it (and our own unsophistication about the history and cultural dynamics in it) to be completely counterproductive.

That's the stuff that makes me really love Korea. Once you get past them acting so Korean sometimes, they can be absolutely heartbreaking.

Paleocon wrote:

Understandably, Koreans have a hard time imagining anyone less deserving of such security than the very folks that, 6 years earlier, had just concluded a cataclysmic war that killed millions and whose forces committed some of the worst atrocities in human history.

That's because South Koreans didn't go through the experience of the first world war, which led directly to the carnage in Europe and Russia through 1945 and beyond and taught western leaders about hazards of not wiping the slate clean after a few ceremonial executions. With the benefit of 60 years hindsight, I think it's fair to say that the European/American approach in 1945 is superior to maintaining historical grievances, however justified those grievances are.

Germany and Japan haven't attacked anyone in a long time, which given the two countries' history in the late 19th and early 20th century, is a pretty big deal.

wordsmythe wrote:

That's the stuff that makes me really love Korea. Once you get past them acting so Korean sometimes, they can be absolutely heartbreaking.

Very well said. I hope you're not insulted if I say it complements the whole "Irish of Asia" thing.

EDIT: Annnd... Funken, I think Paleo was referring to Japan.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

EDIT: Annnd... Funken, I think Paleo was referring to Japan.

Yeah, I know. That's my point. What he's complaining about was the U.S. approach in Korea that allowed Japanese war crimes to be pushed under the rug. Why do you think they did that? We learned an important lesson from the European experience of interstate warfare from 1900-1945, and our overall philosophy in Germany and Japan was informed by that lesson. Remove the militaristic leadership, execute a small slice of the ex-government, and then move on with economic development. Provide security under a wide U.S. defensive nuclear and conventional umbrella.

It's worth remembering that we could have left Germany and Japan as starving, mostly agrarian client state cesspools after the war. That might have been popular in many circles because of their behavior during the war, but it wouldn't have been the smart thing to do. Or maybe it would have been, because they compete with us economically these days...