Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Schizophrenic Han

(Probably Part I of II) Part II can be found here.
From previous posts, such as this one, you can tell I am somewhat sympathetic towards Lee Myung Bak. He just seems to be the wrong president at the wrong time, but anyways I just read this article and every single time I read something like this, the political situation in Korea boggles the mind (But on a side note, I'd also argue that South Korea is one of just two East Asian countries with democratic institutions - Taiwan being the other one. And Japan, well, we'll see). That is, how on earth can people care so vehemently (and violently) about civil rights on the margin when there's North Korea just a fiften minute drive away (of course, it's not really about civil rights. It seems to be more about getting even in my opinion).

But anyways, how can those in Korea (those few that care about politics that is, which in and of itself is amazing -- Considering that half the country still remains divided, the country is still just yet another middle income country, the country is at WAR and has been for half a century) care so little about politics.

How Can This Go On In Korea?
"Now the former president’s supporters are blockading the halls of parliament 24 hours a day, preventing deputies from getting into the chamber and any laws from being passed (see picture). Progressives are demanding the president apologise for Mr Roh’s suicide, claiming that prosecutors who were investigating him were operating at Mr Lee’s behest—a charge the president furiously denies" ("Political confrontation in South Korea: Long, hot summer" Economist)
To take a look at how ridiculous this is, we need to briefly examine Korean history (When Koreans often proudly claim a 5,000 year history, they are referring back to 2333 BCE as the beginning of the Korean People. Koreans not unlike that of Israelis do not distinguish ethnicity from nationality -- although recent trends in South Korea seem to be breaking from tradition among many others, including teaching English before Sino-Korean Characters).

It doesn't make sense to me that there's a country that has pretty much had the same borders and unified borders since the 7th century can care so much about the freedom of the press at the margin when half of the country will -- I honestly believe -- go down in history as the worst example of a totalitarian government that systematically implements human rights violations (perputating ignorance is just as big a human rights violation in my honest opinion as physical torture -- think fascism -- and here North Korea has no parallels).

By the way, on a tangent here, for those Koreans, who believe in this newly created North-South States Period Theory or 남북국시대 (신라+발해 = Korea), let me tell you -- it's pure rubbish, which I would like to address in detail one day(The main question behind that issue comes down to who were the Mohe (말갈, 靺鞨) people. What is uncontested is that the people that lived under Balhae were not the same as that lived under Silla).

But anyways, what is important here is how it is undisputedable that there has been a Korean state since the 7th century. Yet, after about 1300 years as one united (한 나라), half the country comes to be moderately wealthy after a relatively, short period of immense humiliation (36 years out of 5000?) and destitution (is there a precedent in Korean history, where Korea was like an island before? Because, South Korea right now surely resembles an island state like a large Singapore).

To get to the heart of the matter, it's hard to take complaints against the current Lee Myung Bak president seriously when these same people can condone what's going on in the northern half of the peninsula, yet be so vehemently be against alleged human rights violations against the Lee Myung Bak administration that if true would lay on the margins.

Freedom of press violations? (This is where I would say perpetuating ignorance is also a crime against humanity" c'mon Americans only eat Australian beef? Anyways, yes, it looks like Lee Myung Bak is trying to limit some of the gains made by the (State run) news organizations, but still... it pales in comparison to the North.

Are Koreans Schizophrenic? How on Earth can you look at a country when there's a shared history -- imagine, let's say, a thousand years of a country with no minorities. No sense of other. I mean, in the United States, there were Indians, and then the Irish and Germans and then the Latins, etc etc... But, in Korea, there was the Kim clan and Lee clan (of course, gets more detailed) than that and, yes, the Chang clan...
While, half their fellow bretheren -- half of the clan members are just having the time of their lives under Kim Jong Il, freedom of the press is so important or an apology that important or necessary? Does it serve any function other than to ask for the current South Korean president to belittle himself?

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