Friday, July 26, 2013

Armistice, Amnesia, Apostasy

60 years ago, the Korean Armistice Agreement enabled a ceasefire in a Korean War that has yet to be formally ended. The document was signed in Kaesong, a city that still today remains in the headlines (for different reasons? go figure).

If both Koreas are closer than ever, that's only because the DMZ has dramatically shrunk since the Armisitice: from 992 to 570 sqkm, the supposedly 4 km-wide stretch on each side of the line measuring less than 2 km in various spots*.

@theseoulvillage tweet 20130725
Both Koreas closer than ever! The incredible shrinking lost 43% since
Hell, a truce has yet to be found between the two South Koreas, still very much politically divided, and not only because of another "mobile" frontier (see the NLL saga, and the elusive transcripts of the 2007 ROH Moo-hyun - KIM Jong-il meeting).

On a brighter note, South Korea and China are more successfully burying the hatchet. Beyond the touching meeting of Chinese and Korean veterans, or PARK Geun-hye's offer to return the remains of Chinese troops fallen in Korea, the simple fact that for the first time, the Beijing Regime refered to the conflict as the "Korean War" and not the "war against the US and to help the DPRK" signals that the reconciliation can also reach all the way to America, where Barack Obama just proclaimed July 27 Korean War Veterans Armistice Day.

The conflict is not over, but the world starts moving on. With notable exceptions, and not only in the Strange Kimdom up North.

Of course, Japan is moving in the wrong direction. Shinzo Abe didn't wait long after his electoral success to confirm its warmongering stance: he already added drones and amphibious units to his suicidal wishlist**.

But let's not forget that South Korea too can move in the wrong direction. Under Lee Myung-bak, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was torpedoed, and the teaching of History at school undermined, contributing to an already acute education crisis***. Park Geun-hye does intend to fix this, and she recently declared "The history of a country is like the soul of the people. If a person grows to be a citizen without proper knowledge of history, that person could be left without a soul".

@theseoulvillage tweet 20130727
Shame on : can't celebrate , criticize & stop teaching

But this is not just about the soul of the people as individuals: it's about the people as a nation, at the very fundamentals of democracy. Remember that you'll always find a minority who'd love to see Korea follow Japan's path and submit its whole political system to a tiny yet almighty anti-democratic force, to the risk of renouncing democracy altogether.

So this is not just about teaching History, but about doing it fairly. Korea doesn't need more twisted and biases takes at history, and we regularly come across these, be it in MB's Museum of Contemporary History, or in recent commemorations of the June Uprising.

Again, this President of the Republic of Korea has a historic opportunity to lead the region by example, and to expose impostors from all horizons starting by the ones who are undermining the nation from within. For that to happen, she must make sure her own familial history is properly and fairly taught at school.

Then she can ask the same to Mr. Abe with a resounding legitimacy, and ask the Korean people to resume its indispensable truth and reconciliation effort.

Seoul Village 2013
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* see "Report: since armistice signing, DMZ has shrunk by 43%" (he Hankyoreh - 130725)
** see previous episodes: "Shinzo Abe: an offensive Defense White Paper ahead of the elections... and Constitutional Revolution", followed by "To better bridge the gap between Japan, Korea, and China, let's measure the gap within Japan". And now "Japan Defense Paper Calls for Strengthened Military" (Chosun Ilbo 20130727)
*** a recurent theme on this excuse for a blog, see latest mention in the final paragraphs of "Teaching Geography - Dokdo Inside" (March 20, 2013), which allows me not to mention here that even more embarrassing pro-creationism episode... Not to mention today's news ("History ignored in classrooms" - Korean Times 20130726).

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