[KS] to the moderators

Vladimir Tikhonov vladimir.tikhonov at east.uio.no
Fri Nov 14 04:42:14 EST 2003

Dear Ruediger and all,

Thank you very much for the expression of interest on this issue. In fact, 
yesterday I have learned that a civil society group called "Song Du Yul 
kyosu sOkpang kwa sasang yangsim Ui chayu rUl wihan taech'aek wiwOnhoe" was 
formed in Seoul by Prof. Kim Segyun (SNU), Rev. Ham Seung, and more than 80 
other academic and religious figures 
As the group expressed willingness to work together with the "overseas 
intellectuals", I guess that might be one possible channel for the European 
colleagues wishing to register their concern of Prof. Song's fate.
The barrage of accusations against Prof. Song being as powerful and 
ruthless as it is ("member of N.Korean Politburo" - if this will be proven 
- which I doubt - it will possibly shake to the bottom our conventional 
ideas on the principles along which N. Korean Politburo is formed...) one 
thing I constantly bear in mind is that Prof. Song's academic work, his 
"intrinsic" (naejaejOk - "relativist") approach helped enormously to debunk 
the "totalitarian" paradigm in the scholarship on N. Korea in the South in 
the beginning of the 1990s. Before this, the dominant approach seemingly 
was Friedrichian - Huntingtonian - "traditional absolutism" reproduced 
itself in the "totalitarian" form and that's all. But after him, the 
"condemned temporality" of N. Korean history get somewhat charted on the 
map of Korean modernities. I am not sure whether this is possible to make 
direct comparisons, but Stephen Cohen's work on Soviet history seemingly 
had contributed in a similar way in dissolving the Cold War "totalitarian" 

Again, thank you very much,

Vladimir (Volodya) Tikhonov

At 00:14 13.11.2003 +0100, you wrote:
>Dear Vladimir and all,
>I think it is indeed important that we do not remain silent about this issue.
>I know Prof. Song a bit, since he spent some time as a visiting
>professor at Humboldt University, back in the good old days when there
>was a Korea Institute there. What I know of him is that he is a typical
>intellectual, thinking and wracking his brain a lot, constantly
>challenging and questioning himself, with a strong affection for German
>and French philosophers I myself have a hard time to comprehend, and
>with a strong love for his country.  But we may not be in a position to
>question the correctness of the allegations made against him, since they
>might well be true in a technical sense. Who knows.
>However, and this is the issue here, something must have gone wrong, again
>in a purely technical/legal sense. He was well aware of the difficulties
>awaiting him upon return to South Korea, which is why he did not do so
>right after Kim DJ took over in 1998, and why he stopped short of going to
>Korea last year. That he went to Seoul now leads me and others to believe
>that he was probably given assurances that are not kept. It also raises the
>big issue of how to deal with people who have been close to the regime in
>NK. The current procedure makes me shiver with regard to a unification. I
>am sure many members of the North Korean elite are watching his case with
>great interest; what has happened so far will not quite encourage them to
>follow Prof. Song's example. The conservatives in SK must understand that
>by being tough on Prof. Song, they in fact help stabilizing the regime in
>the North.
>As a matter of fact, in a democracy, rules and laws have to be obeyed.
>Backdoor deals to circumvent these rules are the wrong way, and hence the
>harsh stand of SK government and prosecution has to be respected. However,
>the president in SK has a lot of powers - among them the right to grant an
>amnesty (just think of Chun DH and Roh TW). Trying and sentencing Prof.
>Song first and granting amnesty later to me looks like a betrayal of the
>public and will reduce trust in democratic legal institutions.
>Courage and transparency, i.e. a well defined and formulated general
>amnesty to all those who have cooperated with NK or otherwise violated the
>National Security Law NOW, based on a public debate and including the
>considerations of all parties, seems to be a better way to deal with this
>issue. I think this is what we should suggest to our friends and colleagues
>in Korea, both in the name of justice, in the interest of Korea's
>reputation in the world, and for the sake of the future of inner-Korean
>Ruediger Frank
>Dr. Ruediger Frank
>Visiting Professor
>University of Vienna
>East Asian Institute, Japan/Korea
>Spitalgasse 2-4
>A-1090 Vienna, Austria
>phone:  +43-1-4277 43822
>fax:            +43-1-4277 9438
>email:  rfrank at koreanstudies.de

Vladimir Tikhonov,
Department of East European and Oriental Studies,
Faculty of Arts,
University of Oslo,
P.b. 1030, Blindern, 0315, Oslo, Norway.
Fax: 47-22854140; Tel: 47-22857118
Personal web page: http://folk.uio.no/vladimit/
Electronic classrooms: East Asian/Korean Society and Politics:
                        East Asian/Korean Religion and Philosophy:

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