[KS] RE: Koreanstudies digest, Vol 1 #438 - 5 msgs

Clark, Donald dclark at trinity.edu
Fri Sep 6 09:36:58 EDT 2002

Regarding the cult of personality around Syngman Rhee. . .
I can remember in the 1950s that on Rhee's birthday, March 26, there was always a big birthday parade and a kite flying contest as well as literary competitions, concerts, and other things that were beyond my view (I was a teenager). The kite flying contest circa 1956-57 took place in a large open space where the US Embassy now is, and the calligraphy competition among senior scholars happened in the Kyonghoeru pavilion in the Kyongbok Palace.  The parade was mainly military and ranks and ranks of schoolchildren passing a reviewing stand, either on Sejongno or in front of the Tong'a Ilbo.  Planes flew; balloons were strung; congratulatory arches were constructed over the street, etc.  However, the mood seemed more like looking up to an aged patriot rather than the kind of adulation that Kim Il-sung got on such occasions in the DPRK.  Rhee and his wife Mme. Francesca would sit on the stand surrounded by their supporters, generals, and assorted bag men gazing in avuncular pride at the nation's youth as they passed in review.  The event was grand entertainment.
Don Clark

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