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Monday, December 18, 2006

since coming to Korea

Since arriving at Korea:

• I have even less time and opportunities to write blog notes than during the last months, or follow the Korean events.
• reading the printed version of Chosun Ilbo, I'm not surprised that some think Chosun bears some responsibility for the skyrocketing real estate prices, as so many of the whole-page ads were about real-estate. But ascribing so many of the present-day social ills to Chosun Ilbo, the critics are admitting that the anti-Chosun activity has been unsuccesful, as far as its aim has been to "normalize" the influence of the paper and achieve a state of affairs that Chosun no more decides the issues of the day.
• I did not remember that Korean TV is this bad. It shows that it's been long since I've been to Korea.

"Anti-communist child Yi Seung-bok"
• I didn't mean to talk about Chosun Ilbo all the time, but the accompanying photograph that I took yestertoday in front of a comprehensive school (ch'odeunghakkyo) in Changwon today inspires me to do so. It's a statue of the "anti-communist child Yi Seung-bok", who was killed by North Korean commandos in 1968 with the most of his family. Chosun Ilbo reported at the time that he had told the commandos "I hate the Communist party" (kongsandang sirheoyo), for which he had been killed and his mouth slashed open. It's not only Chosun's reporting back then and later that has contributed to the use of Yi in anti-communist campaigning, but Chosun's story of Yi's alleged words ("I hate the Communist party") has since the late 1990s gathered the ire of anti-Chosun campaigners as an example of distorted and false anti-communist propaganda, with claims that there's no proof that Yi would have said so and that Chosun's reported wouldn't even have been present after the killings in the location. Chosun has taken the case to court, and the High Court decised last month that Chosun had been correct (see Chosun, Nov 25, 2006; see also Chosun's special section of the Yi Sung-bok case). Chosun was of course triumphant after the decision, and its opponents expressed disappointment and bewilderment because their view is that known facts are against Chosun.

I've always been bewildered by the willingness of the opponents of Chosun to prove that Yi didn't say he hates the Communist party. After all, they have never denied that the killings took place and that they were done by armed North Korean commandos; without Yi's words, the killings would appear even more merciless and sinister than with them, since it is conveivable that hearing "I hate the Communist party" would have enraged the commandos to commit the act. (I'm thinking of for example B.R. Myers' and Andrei Lankov's remarks of the North Koreans' propensity for instant violence, as in the "axe murder case" near Panmunjom in the 1970s.)

• It'll be quite interesting to see people that I've written a Ph.D. thesis about after four years.

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Comments to note "since coming to Korea" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous 원선영> said on 19.12.06 : 

다니던 '국민학교' 앞 큰 길가에 이승복상이 있었는데 언젠가 부터 동상의 위치가 학교 안으로 들어가더니 나중엔 책읽는 모자상으로 교체가 되었었지요. 대부분의 학교 이승복상을 없앤 걸로 알고 있는데 아직 남아있는 곳이 있군요. 신림동에도 있을라나? 즐거운 연말연시 보내세요.

<Blogger usinkorea> said on 20.12.06 : 

This is along the lines of what I call pseudo-politics and is something I hate very much.

The people are more concerned with the politics of today and "playing" politics or group-think or whatever to remember that real people were involved.

It all becomes "my team vs. your team" and anything to help your team or hurt the other team is just fine.

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