Anti-americanism and Taebaek Sanmaek
|Anti-americanism isn't quite among the topics of this place, but as I'm making notes every now and then of Jo Jung-rae's Taebaek Sanmaek which I've been reading for the last few months (doesn't go that quick with us foreigners), I'll write up something about the appearance of the Americans at the seventh volume of the novel, when UN forces have made the Incheon landing, and DPRK forces are retreating in a hurry.|
First, the impact of this novel on how Americans and the participation of the USA (ok, UN) in the Korean war has been perceived must have been huge. Bruce Cumings' work on the Korean War has often been mentioned as an influence on many Koreans' reconsideration of the role of the US after the liberation in 1945, but this novel has been read by millions.
Let's see how the first Americans step on the stage.
First a few words of one of the main characters, Kim Pôm-u, the son of a rich yangban landowner; he had been strongly influenced by leftism, but was more of a Kim Ku style nationalist. At the onset of the Korean War he had remained in Seoul, and was eventually put into propaganda work by the communists.
At the time of the WW2 he had been taken to the "student corps" in the Japanese army, and deserted in Southeast Asia to the Allies' side, where he had been trained by OSS (Office of Strategic Services?) for operations inside Korea [wonder if anything like that actually happened], so he spoke English fluently. When the Japanese capitulated, he became a POW as the Americans regarded him now as a Japanese national. That had made him bitter towards the USA, which he regarded as nothing short of an evil imperialist. For much of the novel, Kim Pôm-u has been telling how Koreans should expect nothing good from the Americans. Now in volume 7, when the war had started and he had chosen not to take refuge and was not unwillingly serving the Communist forces , he was thinking that the US participation in the war was hindering the realization of the true will of the Korean people. (Damn Yankees come and mess up a war which was going all good!)
And now to the first appearance of the US soldiers. Kim Pôm-u had been on assignment, but found the office in Jeonju deserted as he returned, so he decided to go down to his home place in southern Jeolla. As he's trodding the road, he sees how two US soldiers practice shooting on two women's water jars at a well, and later try to rape the women, which Kim goes and stops from happening. The sergeant (or something) of the soldiers hurries to the site and arrests Kim. The sergeant has "blue eyes" (made very clear) and thick bodily hair, which makes Kim Pôm-u to think of him as a furry arctic animal. He and his superior are of course arrogant and haughty towards Kim and Korea.
Not much love to be expected for the Miguk-nom for the rest of the novel.
Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang: literature/movies • Koreanpolitics • contemp.history