October 12, 2008

A version of past events.

Yesterday, North Korea was taken off of the 'terrorist blacklist' after the North agreed to a series of steps in disarming its nuclear capabilities. "North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it will again allow inspections by the United States and International Atomic Energy Agency at its Yongbyon nuclear complex to verify the disablement process, pledged under a disarmament-for-aid deal with Washington and four other regional powers."

But in the 70s and 80s, eight Japanese were kidnapped by North Korean agents. So, naturally, Japan considers "that the U.S. decision was 'extremely regrettable.' He (Japanese Finance Minister Nakagawa) said that 'abductions amount to terrorist acts.'"

That's funny, because in 1876, Japan forced Korea into foreign trade with the Treaty of Ganghwa. Then in 1895, the Japanese assassinated Korean Empress Myeongseong. By 1910, Korea was militarily occupied by Japan and forced to sign the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. In 1919, over 7,000 Korean demonstrators were killed by Japanese police and soldiers. Beginning in 1939, over five million Koreans were forced into labor, and tens of thousands of men were forced into Japanese military. Korean language was suppressed, as well as its culture and artifacts. In 1993, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono even acknowledged and apologized for Japan taking female Koreans as "comfort women" during this time.

During World War II, when Japan occupied Korea, the United States fought through South Korea and pushed the Japanese soldiers (and Koreans that were forced to fight) all the way to the border of China. This was done by Macarthur against President Truman's orders. The Chinese, fearing an invasion by the US, helped the Koreans and pushed back the US to the center of Korea, thus the creation of North and South Korea. The US installed a puppet government in the South (a supposed 'democratic-republic') and Russia installed their own government in the North (communist). The Cold War came into effect in the 50s and 60s, and the decades that went by created more and more of a rift between the two Koreas. It all puts a whole new perspective on our view of North Korea, doesn't it? Or Japan? Or us? I love how each country has its own version of history.

Also, "in August, North Korea backed out of negotiations with Japan aimed at resolving the abductee issue. If the issue is resolved to Japan's satisfaction, the government has said it would give North Korea as much as $10 billion in reparations for colonial occupation between 1910 and 1945." So, unless the North resolves the issue of eight Japanese, the millions of Koreans that died will never be apologized for, apparently. What a beautiful world.

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