[KS] Re: To the Observer of Korean Politics

C.E.Williamson uiliwill at nuri.net
Wed Oct 24 18:49:50 EDT 2001

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Mr.Pankaj Mohan <mohan at hum.ku.dk>:  I am not defending anyone or
The situation in China is worlds apart from that of Korea during the
50s/60s/70s and even 80sm, in my "observation." China is not divided
two separate states each looking and making opportunitities to overcome
other.  Think about this.  If the displayed upheval at Tiananmen Square
successful and the communist regime collapsed at that time, would the
opposition have been able to assume the role of government and maintain
order?  Do you think they had a plan to "govern?" The effect, which was
make an international statement, sufficed for that time in history.

However, I stick by my assertion that democracy does not fall from the
Even if an opposition comes to power, the population needs to have the
system to ensure that democratic government works.

While the odds are in favor of a country like Yugoslavia where there is
fundamental understanding of democratic values, Asia and the Asian
historical experience can account for differences in perception of
and the value system that goes along with it.

For example, people in America would not tolerate massive numbers of
motorcycle riders driving on the sidewalk and threatenting one's
security without lodging a complaint; wherein Korea, it is a quite
practice, despite being a violation of the law.  There is quite a
between where one's civil rights end and begin in Korea and in the
States. Still, Korea is perceived from afar to be democratic just
elections are held, in peace.

As for my disparaging (I prefer to say critical) comments about the
Nobel Prize "winner" as is proudly talked about, contrasted to
lately, well, it is still common knowledge here in Korea that he was the
recipient of numerous apple boxes filled with Won (even he admitted to
and his record shows shifting of political allegiances and allignments
the years, even with the meanie dictators like Chun Doo Whan.  I
from afar, the Forth and Fifth Republics really looked evil, but from
up and compared to the actual level of civic duty held by "citizens" of
South Korea, even ordinary Koreans were and are grateful for the
deeds of Korea's recent dictators.  I personally think that had Kim Dae
not been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, his compulsion to oppose
intents of Park Choung Hee would not have been as intense.

The metaphor of someone getting into a truck to "run down" Kim Dae Jung
used in this forum.  In my view, a more accurate rendition would be that
Dae Jung persistantly jumped in front of that truck--a truck built to
an impoverished nation.  I witnessed that poverty in the mid and late
sixties and was shocked at seeing corpses dead from starvation and
I saw with my eyes gangs of roving youth without jobs at that time too.
Then when I returned again to live here during the late 1970s, that sort
poverty had nearly disappeared as had the gangs of roving youth.  The
country was then "ready" for democratization.  Modern history clearly
that democracy cannot exist as long as there is extreme poverty and no
You are free to disagree all you want, but I am convinced. By the way,
one violates a law time and again, shouldn't one be arrested?  That was
Kim Dae Jung was arrested, he violated laws of the ROK.  Now, you say
laws were bad.  Why were the laws bad?  I say because the National
was bad.  Why was the Nat'l Assembly bad? I say because the assemble men
simply had not internalized values that are required of National
or Assemblywomen to cut-off being politically incorrect.  So, how did
people get elected?  I say, they were elected in ways that did not meet
criteria for a wholesome democratic country at that time.  Common
here is that Kim Young Sam's wealthy father played a role in getting YS
the National Assembly as the youngest ever.  Money played an important
in sparking capitalism in South Korea during the late 40s and onward.  A
non-captialist, non democratic nation does not self-start.  The pump had
be primed.

Of course, you don't have to take my word.  Just look into Korea's
history with a "critical" as opposed to "disparaging" eye and it becomes
clear. And, if I might add, don't just rely on Western sources nor only
sources written in English.  Read some original documents written by
themselves in Korean-most enlightening.  Afterall, a people should be
to determin their own destination...a fundamental value of Western
wouldn't you agree?

really not a mean guy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Pankaj Mohan" <mohan at hum.ku.dk>
To: <korean-studies at iic.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 2:59 AM
Subject: Re: To the Observer of Korean Politics

> REPLY sends your message to the whole list
> __________________________________________
> I would like to know what the so-called 'observer of Korean politics'
> has to say about the students of China who opposed in the spring of
> 1989 the PRC regime, or to borrow his expression, although grafted in
> a different geographical context (with the cute inverted comma
> intact), 'the so-called "cruel" dictators who implemented  policies
> that led to enriching the lives of the  multitudes'. The military
> junta of Burma uses the same economic rationale to justify its
> suppression of human rights. This elitist approach towards human
> rights and democracy is an affront to human intelligence, because it
> implies that those who wield guns have legitimate power to herd the
> common people like a flock of sheep and to impose their whims on
> them, as if the poor and uneducated people don't know where their
> interests lie and how to shape their own destinies. Every human
> being, whether rich or poor, educated or illiterate, has a right to
> live a life of dignity. Human right is not a privilege, but a
> birthright of mankind. There are people in every society, however
> advanced, who do not know how to "handle" democracy, but it does not
> mean that democratic rights are to be confined only to graduates of
> ivy-league colleges.
> It is naive to assume that 'dictatorial politics' is a necessary
> precondition of  economic growth. There is no reason to believe that
> had DJ been elected to presidency in 1971, Korea's economic
> development would have stopped.  Indeed, DJ as a legitimate occupant
> of the Blue House would not have felt the need to whip up
> anti-communist hysteria, and the national resources would have been
> channeled more profitably towards developmental programs and balanced
> distribution of wealth instead of financing KCIA's torture-chambers,
> abductions, rape, fakely 'suicided' dissidents or even brazen
> executions of innocent citizens on trumped-up charges (with mutilated
> bodies arbitrarily cremated). Road to democracy has not to be soaked
> in blood.
> The observer's comments on Kim Da-jung as  ' having earned his
> reputation from the world "outside" of Korea" is also quite
> bewildering. If he earned his reputation outside Korea, how did he
> manage to garner 45% percent votes in the 1971 election.
> And Mr observer, ordinary Korean "citizens" do not go about their
> daily lives "detached" from the international world of Kim D.J. Most
> of them rejoice DJ's international recognition, while those who
> prefer to live in the shade of fossilized Macarthian politics resent
> it. And you don't need to worry whether  Kim DJ and dozens of other
> Nobel laureates of the year will use their prize money to buy 'soju'
> for themselves or some  rice for North Korea. It is their personal
> business.
> Pankaj Mohan
> --
> Dr Pankaj N. Mohan
> Teaching Fellow
> Department of Asian Studies
> University of Copenhagen
> Leifsgade 33, 5, Københavns S., DK-2300
> Tel: +45 35328844 (Work) +45 32584310 (Residence)
> email: mohan at hum.ku.dk
> ____________________________________________________________
> If our server rejects your message to me, please try this address
> instead:
> mohan at spam.hum.ku.dk
> or
> Pankoji at hotmail.com

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