Friday, January 12, 2007

We don't talk about that



"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them." - George Orwell

After reading Pak Noja's observations about how, in Russia,
strongly nationalist/masculine/militaristic “anti-hegemonism” is largely destroying the ground for the real anti-imperialism/anti-capitalism - just like the way it happens with the NL (”national liberation”)-dominated Korean left today
I got to thinking about some of those topics that aren't included in the CSAT study manuals:
  • the massacres of Vietnamese peasants by ROK forces
  • political prisoners, imprisoned for 40 years
  • WW2 crimes committed by Korean soldiers
  • the widespread and calculated terror pursued by Rhee's regime, from 1948 and continuing into the civil war
  • reference to the war as a civil war
  • patriotism as something other than loyalty to the state
  • a defence of the right to withhold labour
  • the dangers lurking in "pure blood" mythologies
  • feminist, race, queer theories of any kind

I'm working on it, the trick is to disguise the text as a conventional study manual, else students - and publishers - will have no use for it ...

3 comments:

lirelou said...

Reference the ROK "massacres of Vietnamese peasants". In early 1968 I served in a Special Forces team whose area of responsibility adjoined the 9th ROK Division's area. Thus I worked in close coordination with the 9th Division on both combat operations and civic action. At no time during that period did I ever see any evidence of "masscres of Vietnamese peasants" by ROK soldiers. I did see a few instances of rough handling of uncooperative captives. I can only speak for a single battalion of the 9th Division, but they were as concerned with "winning hearts and minds" as any American unit, and between the two, the Koreans were far more professional and disciplined. I cannot speak for either the Tiger Division or the ROKMC Blue Dragons, as I did not serve in their AO, but I presume that they were as professional as the White Horse division. I would note that Quang Tri province was more heavily VC than Binh Dinh and Khanh Hoa, and the scene of much heavier fighting. Just an observation from someone who was really on the ground around Koreans, for what it's worth. So how does a nation "own up" to massacres it may not have committed, except in the popular imagination.

IKTU said...

Thank you, I appreciate a contribution from a veteran.

Revelations of the massacres emerged in Korea in 2000, at around the time that knowledge of No Gun Ri became public.

The Asian Human Rights Commission published an urgent appeal that stated:

Korean soldiers participated in the Vietnam war from 1963 to 1973. They killed approximately 41,400 of the enemy. However, an unknown number of ordinary Vietnamese people tragically lost their lives as well. The Ministry of Culture and Communication of Vietnam has publicly estimated that the number of innocent victims killed in the provinces like QUANG NGAI, QUANG NAM, and BINH DINH was approximately 5,000 people. It was reported that most Vietnamese people have not forgotten the shock of the
massacres yet and the mental anguish of the survivors have had serious and had lasting effects.

There is a report published here where retired colonel Kim Ki Tae describes a number of massacres.

Historian Ku Soo-jeong writes that:

The Vietnamese government claims that the number of civilians butchered by the Korean army is around 5,000. But this represents only the numbers surveyed in the 1980s. There were about 80 massacres of civilians in the five southern provinces where the Korean army had stayed. Thus, it is strongly estimated that the number is not 5,000 but around 9,000. This number is only the result of investigations of massacres, so the number is likely to increase as the investigation progresses.

A number of massacres are described in grim detail.


The basic premise here is that a nation has the right to know what is done in its name.

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