Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Korean Web Weekly 'n Stuff
February 17, 2003 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Korean Web Weekly The Korea WebWeekly is a non-partisan, non-profit news magazine dedicated to Korean issues. All news summary and editorials are contributed by volunteers. Start here: Korea Web Weekly Editor Interviewed. Other samples: How Many Nukes in North Korea's Arsenal?. Especially for Postroad!--Who Was Rhee Syngman? Korean History Online. Who is Kim Jong Il? Who Was Yo Wun Hyung? The Sacrificial Lamb of the Cold War - The Nationalists of Korea (It's not a flattering reflection of American polciy, that's for sure.) Young Sik Kim, Ph.D - the man behind Korean Web Weekly. A former spook, among other things here's his Korea Intelligence/Counter Intelligence But Wait! Click Now And We'll Add--At No Extra Cost!-- Paul Noll's Korean War Memoirs and his superb South Korean Flag, History, and Statistics. Bon Appétit!
posted by y2karl (36 comments total)

 
Suitable background music for reading about North Korea:
KFA hymn (1.4MB)
I love my motherland (2.5MB)
The arrangements are pretty good actually, in a "Pizzicato Five meets Laibach" kind of way.
posted by ikalliom at 2:51 PM on February 17, 2003


I think the exercise of mentioning members names in FPPs is a disease we should hope doesn't spread.
posted by Satapher at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2003


Calling the Korean Web Weekly non-partisan is like calling Fox News equal and balanced.
posted by Plunge at 4:28 PM on February 17, 2003


You can, perhaps, entertain the concept that nonpartisan Korean is going to be quite a bit different than the broad spectrum of what we might or might not agree is nonpartisan American, can't' you?

The idea that South Koreans might bear vastly different and very mixed feelings about American involvement in their nation's history than those fantasies with which we flatter ourselves concerning the grateful and obsequious feelings South Koreans should feel towards us--that should not fall upon one like a thunderbolt of a hitherto inconceivable notion.

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
And ev'n Devotion!

posted by y2karl at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2003


Korean Web Weekly is a far left of center site. Has been from the time it started up. Just like saying HanKyoRae is a left of center Korean magazine.

Anyone who studies Korea and the like knows this.

Not a knock or a dig or anything. It is just the way it is.
posted by Plunge at 5:18 PM on February 17, 2003


I am disinclined to take your word for it as yet. Just because he has a different understanding of Korean history or takes a dim view about our shoving Syngman Rhee down his country's throat and has a partisan opinion about things like No Gun Ri hardly makes him anything more than a nationalist--from his point of view, a Korean patriot. It's too bad the South Koreans don't all run out and sell everything they own to start a religon devoted to American foreign policy but go figure... Here we're saving their asses--oh, especially lately!--and they have the nerve to be ingrates. Such crust.
posted by y2karl at 5:20 PM on February 17, 2003


Given what I saw while I was in Korea during the Army, and all the things my fiancee holds to be true, y2karl's links ring true to me.

But the truth is difficult. It's undeniable that the US is in some relatively naked sense an imperial power in Korea. You have no idea how galling it is to people as proud as the Koreans that a huge chunk fo their capital city is taken up by a US base they have no right to enter, or that the very first thing that greets passengers arriving at Incheon is a bored, overweight US Army private yammering English at them.

That said, the sheer ingratitude of the younger Korean generation for the struggles of their parents' generation (and that of the US soldiers who fought and died so they could flirt on Samsung cellphones and drive around in snazzy little Hyundais) - well, it still stuns me.

Why, if we hadn't intervened on their behalf, they might be speaking Korean right now!

j/k. Sigh.

Thanks, karl.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:25 PM on February 17, 2003


That's fine. You don't have to take my word for it, but for anyone that is in the field of Korean studies, it is well known and accepted.

It's too bad the South Koreans don't all run out and sell everything they own to start a religon devoted to American foreign policy but go figure... Here we're saving their asses--oh, especially lately!--and they have the nerve to be ingrates. Such crust.

Where in the world did that comment come from?
posted by Plunge at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2003


that the very first thing that greets passengers arriving at Incheon is a bored, overweight US Army private yammering English at them.

Huh? I've yet to be greeted by any US military personel when I fly into Korea, either Incheon or Kimpo before that.
posted by Plunge at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2003


Where are you coming from? Every commercial flight I ever took to Kimpo had such at the bottom of the jetway - of course, I was in the Army then, but they weren't there to greet us, as we were USASOC - and all the United flights I've taken from Narita to Incheon in the last year have as well.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:50 PM on February 17, 2003


I thoroughly dislike the Korea Web Weekly (kimsoft), though I've linked to it before for North Korean propaganda, and rare pictures of oddly unstarving North Koreans. (they must be the un-"expendable" 70%)

The owner of the website was born in North Korea, lives in the United States, and writes prolifically about assisting Kim Jong-Il with his brutal tin-pot Stalinesque dictatorial regime.

Not for the easily nauseated. North Korea is really nothing to flirt with, nor is lauding its supposed virtues.
posted by hama7 at 7:39 PM on February 17, 2003


The owner of the website was born in North Korea, lives in the United States, and writes prolifically about assisting Kim Jong-Il with his brutal tin-pot Stalinesque dictatorial regime.

Anti-Communist sentiment was actually on the rise in 1949 North Korea, prompting Kim Il Sung to become more dictatorial. Had I lived in the South, I probably would have opposed the Americans, but in Hamhung I despised the communists

He is an emigre. And Syngman Rhee lived in the United States, too, for decades at a times--if US residency devalues the Koreanness of a Korean, South Korea had a thug of an unKorean dictator from 1948 to 1960.

A Mormon North Korean emigre who lives in Phoenix, fought the communists as a teenager, went to school, interrogated prisoners for the CIA during the Korean War, who thinks Syngman Rhee was the worst thing that happened to Korea and seems to like Roh Moo Hyun.

I missed the writes prolifically about assisting Kim Jong-Il part in there...

He does seem fascinated by Kim Jong Il, but heck, who isn't?

Here is a signature quote for him:

We must achieve our independence by ourselves and should not count on others to do it for us. If every Korean understood this and acted accordingly, Korea will become independent and a strong nation. This is my lifelong conviction.

Kim Gu


He doesn't seem out of the norm from the Koreans I've met, emigres that they are, in his political opinions. But, jeez, even the guys at the corner store will start bombarding me with stuff way over my ill informed head--I just realized that they were talking about this Chu Mi Ai in the Ro Hoo Myun link the to me some days ago from just now reading it. I don't pretend to know anything about Korean politics but it sure seemed to me those guys were keeping up.

I don't know from where this left of center yada yada comes in--I sure don't see it on the site, and his political opnions are not that different from those I've heard from any other Korean I've met stateside, small pool though that might be, or, apparently in Korea, judging from who they elected President. Korea is our country and nobody else's. That's not a left of center opinion by any means.

A left of center Mormon North Korean emigre--now that's a Chomskian linguistic paradigm--but hardly a fair description.
posted by y2karl at 11:02 PM on February 17, 2003


Sidling away from this ideological dust-up:

Consider Korea-as-meme.

Have you noticed how, even apart from the geopolitical, the life of the peninsula is ever more of interest to ever more folks outside?

It's anecdotal, sure ya betcha. But off the top of my head, Korean broadband market penetration. Korean football team. Samsung: suddenly not a punchline anymore, whatever you think of their politics. (I think they're sucky.) Same for Hyundai. More Korean restaurants every day, in Oakland, in Manhattan - absurdly flavorful. Korean adoption. Korean churches. Korean cellphones.

This is a nation and a people whose time has come, and they know it. I hope the rest of the world makes room for a little more complexity in their largely Sino-Japanese understanding of what constitutes East Asian culture.
posted by adamgreenfield at 11:37 PM on February 17, 2003


Kim Jong-il is a terrorist [pdf].

If Korea wants freedom, peace, prosperity and independence then it can start by not allowing its president Kim Dae Jung to buy the Nobel Peace Prize by bribing despotic North Korean lunatics to the tune of $500 million U.S. (yes, dollars, which they have also counterfeited in the past!), via Hyundai. Sleazy amoral backward deals like this have allowed North Korea to threaten and browbeat South Korea with utter impunity. Too bad impeachment is an alien concept.

Let me add that the South Korean government pays a fraction of the costs of maintaining 35K American troops, and compared to Japan, next to nothing. With this savings and a completely closed import economy, while hypocritically exporting hundreds of thousands of products to the U.S.(reaping billions), the government dumps all profits back into the corporations, Soviet command-style. The government has basicall run the companies with only slight backpedaling because the complete economic collapse in 1997.

He does seem fascinated by Kim Jong Il, but heck, who isn't?

I'm not. He's a tyrannical disgrace. (These are the limits of language.)

Korea is our country and nobody else's

Korea is a small piece of real estate on a very large globe.

How about: "America is ours and nobody else's"?

Sounds dopey if you really think about it, doesn't it?
posted by hama7 at 1:51 AM on February 18, 2003


The owner of the website was born in North Korea, lives in the United States, and writes prolifically about assisting Kim Jong-Il with his brutal tin-pot Stalinesque dictatorial regime

Lets see what Dr Kim actually says about NK, shall we?
Interviewer On your web site you describe Kim Il Sung's Northern government as "medieval." Why is this and how would you characterize the current government of North Korea?

Dr. Kim The personality cult of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il has reached the point where they have become gods. They are said to have mystic powers and North Korea’s official newspapers report numerous ‘super-natural phenomena’ in honor of Kim. North Korean soldiers swear to die for them – not the Workers’ Party, not North Korea.
The people of North Korea believe everything that they have, they owe it to the “Generals”. It is as if they live in a medieval feudal fiefdom, in which the lord owns everything and the people are taken care of their lord almighty. You cross the lord in any way, and your head will roll.
posted by Octaviuz at 2:20 AM on February 18, 2003


You cross the lord in any way, and your head will roll.

Which is extremely odd if you think about it. Part of the (atheist) attraction to communism (Stalinist tyranny, in actuality) was the rebellion against the caste and slave system [pdf], banned by the Japanese during the colonial period. What resulted was just a shabby and horribly nightmarish re-run of hideous tyranny, and deification of the state, which defies imagination.

But heck, Lenin slaughtered 60 million human beings, and now he has a frickin' statue on prominent public display in Seattle. Who's next, Pol Pot? Hitler? Check your own backyard, leftist Americans who are so quick to jump to the defense of hideous genocidal tyrants.
posted by hama7 at 4:08 AM on February 18, 2003


Lenin slaughtered 60 million human beings...
Err, shouldn't that be Stalin?
And where did you get that 60 million figure BTW?
posted by talos at 4:15 AM on February 18, 2003


Hey, neat, a Korea thread. Unfortunately I'm having one of my periodic 'I fucking hate Korea' days that us expat types here have occasionally (or frequently, for the newer arrivals), so I just can't muster the energy to get into it.

Thanks, though, y2karl. I'll have to come back to the smorg later.

adamgreenfield : yes, sorta. But there are a few cultural membranes and tendons that have to part and burst before Korea can be born as a full-fledged phenom on the world scene, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:23 AM on February 18, 2003


Lenin actually arranged the murder millions of people as well. Stalin just kind of expanded things. I don't know about 60 million either, personally, but it was millions.

Personally, I get my Korea-related news from the most impartial source possible. ;D
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 4:36 AM on February 18, 2003


Pseudoephedrine: As far as I know Lenin had nothing to do with the murder of millions. I might be wrong. Do you have any references on that?
posted by talos at 4:40 AM on February 18, 2003


I stand corrected. Lenin's killings merely inspired more.

Well, here's warstats and Lenin had everything to do with this "Murder of Millions".

Here are more statistics on communist butchery and thugocracy.

And Ideas Have Consequences... Like Murder, Tyranny, and Repression .
posted by hama7 at 5:38 AM on February 18, 2003


Although I'm not a Leninist by any stretch of the imagination I'd have a lot to quarrel about with your links above hama7... but this isn't the thread to do it without a total hijack. Maybe another time.
posted by talos at 6:04 AM on February 18, 2003


Hey, neat, a Korea thread. Unfortunately I'm having one of my periodic 'I fucking hate Korea' days that us expat types here have occasionally (or frequently, for the newer arrivals), so I just can't muster the energy to get into it.

What causes that anyway? When I was an expat there, I remember those days quite vividly. But as soon as you leave the damn place, you find yourself yearning to return. *sigh*
posted by Plunge at 6:29 AM on February 18, 2003


Re :- Lenin. It's worth reading up about the Kronstadt rebellion of 1921 - is this when it all went wrong? Or what about the killings of the Imperial Family? (Whatever one's opinion of them). Whether Lenin was responsible for the deaths of millions may be a matter of some dispute, but by the standards of Amnesty International, his government's human rights record would be considered grim...
posted by plep at 7:02 AM on February 18, 2003


talos> I don't have any online sources, unfortunately, just books. The Gulag Archipelago by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn goes into the statistics in the chapter entitled "The History of Our Sewage System". And though I haven't read it yet, I've heard that Dmitri Volkogonov's biography of Lenin deals with it as well.

Basically, Lenin set up the gulags, had the first mass purges and artificial famines and approved the White Sea Canal with Trotsky (who was in charge of the project), where about 75% of the workers (prisoners of the gulags they rounded up) died through malnutrition, over-work, unsafe working conditions or just being shot.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 7:11 AM on February 18, 2003


Dr. Rhee Syngman ruled South Korea from 1948 until his downfall in 1960. His fanatic anti-communism made him a darling of the United States. In spite of his professed faith in Christianity, he had more Koreans killed than any other tyrants in the Korean history.

He was the man behind the Cheju 4.3 Massacre, the Daejun Massacre, the Suwon Massacre, the blowing up the Hangang Bridge, assassination of Kim Ku and Yo Woon Young and countless other killings of Koreans.


But that Syngman Rhee, what a teddybear.
posted by y2karl at 8:47 AM on February 18, 2003


Barry Talks - a blogger who follows North Korea

Random Thoughts writes up what he's hearing from Ashton Carter, formerly Clinton's point man on nonproliferation and North Korea
posted by sheauga at 8:58 AM on February 18, 2003


From first link:

Interesting, cogent discussion about Kim Jong-il's motivations by Robert Madsen in the Financial Times:

Although North Korea's chemical and biological arms sufficed to deter invasion, they did not prevent the US from threatening attack in 1993 and 1994, nor from forcing Pyongyang to abjure nuclear arms in the subsequent Agreed Framework. While many observers believed this agreement had resolved the dispute with North Korea, it is now clear that Mr Kim and his advisers concluded their lack of nuclear bombs left them vulnerable to foreign intimidation. History seems to have vindicated Mr Kim's judgment. Pyongyang's presumptive possession of one or two nuclear bombs has compelled the Bush White House to move rapidly from an obdurate to a conciliatory position. Put simply, the bomb has improved North Korea's security.


Considering what the Iraq invasion is doing for for nuclear proliferation, you'd think there's an opportunity for a tech/industrial investment fund.

chilling quote excerpts from link number two:

Exclusive of other countries, the United States provides 1/7th of North Korea's food intake. The average daily caloric intake is about half that of South Korea's. Given how little South Koreans eat, that can't be healthy. Also along those lines, a sizeable portion of North Korea's children are physically and neurologically damaged, on account of their having been at the bottom of the food redistribution chain during the famines.

And now, perhaps most disturbing, several revelations about North Korea's internal situation and their bomb program. It strikes me, that every time I hear about North Korea internally, from *any* source, it strikes me that the lunatics are running the asylum. When the North Korean regime falls, we're not only going to need to provide economic aid to the poor people living there, but we'll probably need a sizeable psych program as well.

posted by y2karl at 10:13 AM on February 18, 2003


Dr. Rhee Syngman ruled South Korea from 1948 until his downfall in 1960. His fanatic anti-communism made him a darling of the United States. In spite of his professed faith in Christianity, he had more Koreans killed than any other tyrants in the Korean history.

He was the man behind the Cheju 4.3 Massacre, the Daejun Massacre, the Suwon Massacre, the blowing up the Hangang Bridge, assassination of Kim Ku and Yo Woon Young and countless other killings of Koreans.

But that Syngman Rhee, what a teddybear.


Statements like this are incredibly annoying. You are taking incredibly complex issues and attributing the blame to one man.

Syngman Rhee wasn't a loveable guy. But saying he is responsible for all of these incidents is ridiculous.

Just take what happened in Cheju, something I wrote a paper on years ago. You are talking about an incident that was influenced by North Korea, South Korea, the USSR, the US, insurgents from all sides and a mess of other things. There isn't one person responsible.

If you want to talk about a Korean tyrant responsible for death and destruction I would think Kim Il Sung should head the list.
posted by Plunge at 12:46 PM on February 18, 2003


It was a quote, as the italics indicate. I wrote the teddybear sentence. Young Sik Kim has a low opinion of Rhee, as noted in the link above. Kim Il Sung and Kim Il Jong are farther from lovable than Rhee by several orders from magnitude, I agree.

As to the complexity of the issues, well, this is essentially the website of a geek with a computer who has an ax to grind. I trust his opinions as much as I would any other geek with a computer and an ax to grind, that is to say, not very much. But he is Korean, his opinions are obvious and his site is chock full of a lot of links, which is why I posted it.

This has made me interested in Korea's history in general, and immediately after World War II to the Korean War in particular. What would you recommend for reading? Give us a booklist. Make that as evenhanded as possible, of course--or alternately, some from column A, and some from column B where there's a difference of opinion. Please add some links here for our edification as well.

It's a fascinating country of which I am very ignorant. I do have a feeling we will all become more familiar with some of finer points of its history, especially recent history very soon.
posted by y2karl at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2003


What causes that anyway? When I was an expat there, I remember those days quite vividly.

It's when you reach saturation point, and you just have to hibernate for a while, I think. Sometimes it never quite goes away.
posted by hama7 at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2003


Here is my partial book list for learning about Korea:

Basic History Books-

A New History of Korea
Korea Old and New: A History (A standard used by many Korean studies courses)

History with a bit of left bias, but very well researched-

Korea's Place in the Sun : Bruce Cumings

Korean War-

The Forgotten War : Clay Blair
The Korean War : Max Hastings

Origins of the Korean War : Bruce Cumings (Very indepth 2 volume work, remembering this was written before the fall of the USSR and the opening of many of their records)

Uncertain Partners Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War

Kim Il Sung The North Korean Leader : Dae Sook Suh
posted by Plunge at 5:45 PM on February 18, 2003


Another thing...

If I was going to pick two books, I would suggest Korea Old and New: A History and Korea's Place in the Sun. With the first book, you get a good general history book from the beginnings to modern history. With the second, you get a more indepth look at modern history.

Bruce Cumings is one of the most highly respected current Korean historians. He does meticulous research. His political leanings are far to the left and that shows in his writing, but that doesn't take away from the work he does. Most Korean Historians would be considered to be to quite liberal, especially those who have received their training in country.

Anyway, those are my suggestions.
posted by Plunge at 6:37 PM on February 18, 2003


Well, thank you, very much. I will hit the bookstores, the used bookstores first, and see if I can pick up the last two for starts.
posted by y2karl at 12:13 AM on February 19, 2003


Although I still haven't read the Cumings ones, which I've noted are pretty much universally recommended, I'd also recommend The Koreans : Who They Are, What They Want and Where Their Future Lies, by Michael Breen. Snazzy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on February 19, 2003


And then, after you've read all that, you can just toss it all out the window, because nothing really makes sense or explains anything of contemporary Korea, but many writers come close. Some of the nicest people I've met are here, yet sometimes it seems like the country is out to punish all non-Koreans for something, or shock them senseless with crudeness.

Here's the most lucid comment that I've heard in recent memory, and it has to do with the anti-Americanism, which, if you've glanced at my user page, rouses my ire like nothing else. A colleague of mine who has a lot of foreign experience said nonchalantly and calmly to me: (concerning the rash of violently anti-American protests of late) "It's just our history".

I took it to mean that ever since Korea has discovered itself as a country, it's had to protest Chinese colonization, Russian influence and thuggery, and finally a rather long period of non-existence as a province of Japan, protests have been the pride of a independent-spirited Korea. Martyrs of the Korean cause of yore are recognized on public holidays even today.

The mistake that's being made of late, under the influence of North Korea's public relations propaganda moles and websites which equate American solidarity and mutually beneficial protection with "colonization" is the historic display of courageous rebellion, mixed with a preoccupation with victimhood, and self-pity to some extent.
North Korean fascists are exploiting the Korean distrust of outsiders which has existed ever since Korea slammed its doors shut to the world and earned the "Hermit Kingdom" name.

However erroneously, North Korea has projected itself as the historic epitome of the "self sufficient" (juche) Korean civilization, whose enemies are the colonizers and foreign exploiters: Japan, (not China, oddly because one has to count one's allies) and America.

The fact that the U.S. is the biggest trading partner, supporter, and ally of South Korea does not dissuade the Nuclear North from terrorizing the south constantly, without punishment, or even comment in some cases.
posted by hama7 at 4:48 AM on February 19, 2003


« Older 19 inches of snow at Central Park and counting....  |  The Castles of Wales... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments