[KS] Toronto as hotbed of Korean Radicalism

Baker Don ubcdbaker at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 22 17:49:24 EDT 2006

In regard to Aidan's comment about Toronto being known for a while as a 
hotbed of Korean radicalism, I wasn't aware that Toronto had that 
reputation. Out here on the far western edge of Canada, I don't know much 
about what is going on way back east. However, I have a couple of ideas of 
why Toronto may have had more than its share of anti-Park and anti-Chun 

First of all, there is a "North Korean" immigrant community in Toronto. 
They immigrated from Japan but consider themselves to be North Koreans 
rather than South Koreans. At least, that was the case several years ago. 
Back then, they numbered only about 100 or 200 and didn't have much to do 
with the much larger Korean-Canadian community in Toronto (maybe 60,000 or 
so) that identifies with South Korea. 

Second, Toronto for well over a decade was the home of Choi Honghee and his 
International Taekwondo Association. He created Taekwondo in South Korea 
but then didn't get along with Park Chung-hee and went into exile in the 
1960s. He remained bitter that the rival World Taekwondo Federation, 
promoted by Park and his successors, was much better known than his 
association and Choi became pro-North Korean in his old age. There are 
reports that his son was involved in a plot to kill Chun Doo-hwan when Chun 
visited Toronto in the 1980s, but I'm not sure of the details. I believe 
Choi, though he had once been a general in the South Korean army and an 
ambassador for South Korea, died in North Korea in 2002 and was buried with 
official honors. 

Out here in Vancouver, we weren't involved with disputes over which was the 
legitimate Taekwondo association and we don't have any North Koreans living 
there (none that I know of anyway). We are able to travel to North Korea 
legally (since Canada recognizes the government in Pyongyang as a 
legitimate government) and even had a travel agency here that tried to sell 
Canadians on Pyongyang as a good vacation destination. As far as I know, 
that travel agency didn't find many takers. I didn't join any of their 
tours because I'm still waiting for an invitation from Pyongyang to come 
there and spend a few days with all expenses paid:)

Don Baker
Associate Professor, 
Department of Asian Studies
Director, Centre for Korean Research
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z2
dbaker at interchange.ubc.ca

>From: Afostercarter at aol.com
>Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>Subject: Re: [KS] trips to DPRK by Korean-Americans
>Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 12:29:06 EDT
>Thanks to Ken for reminding us of this.
>Another category of Korean-Americans who could
>visit the DPRK, and presumably still can, are those
>deemed sufficiently sympathetic to Pyongyang. Or,
>at least, who are prepared to go on tours organized
>by those of such persuasion - of whom there have
>always been some, even in the US of A; see eg
>When I attended Sunday service at Pongsu church
>in Pyongyang, way back in 1990, there was quite a
>large group of Korean-Americans in the congregation.
>I think they were of this category, rather than visiting
>relatives, They were mainly elderly, from the Los Angeles area.
>Ken mentions Toronto. Back in the bad old days, this city
>had the reputation of being a hotbed of Korean radicalism:
>strongly anti-Park and Chun, with quite a big pro-NK fringe.
>Does anyone know why this should have been so?
>A further consideration is that North Korea may operate
>different bureaucratic procedures for ethnic Koreans,
>distinguishing them from other foreigners; just as China
>has separate channels for overseas Chinese. Again, I
>wonder if anyone can confirm that?
>More generally: Anyone who has never visited North Korea
>should surely grab the chance.
>Honorary Senior Research Fellow in Sociology & Modern Korea, Leeds 
>Home address: 17 Birklands Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3BY, UK
>tel: +44(0)  1274  588586         (alt) +44(0) 1264 737634          
>+44(0)  7970  741307
>fax: +44(0)  1274  773663         ISDN:   +44(0)   1274 589280
>Email: afostercarter at aol.com     (alt) afostercarter at yahoo.com      
>[Please use @aol; but if any problems, please try @yahoo too - and let me
>know, so I can chide AOL]
>In a message dated 22/06/2006 16:25:06 GMT Standard Time,
>ken.kaliher at us.army.mil writes:
> > Subj:Re: [KS] trips to DPRK by Korean-Americans
> > Date:22/06/2006 16:25:06 GMT Standard Time
> > From:ken.kaliher at us.army.mil
> > Reply-to:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> > To:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> > Sent from the Internet
> >
> >
> >
> > Tracy,
> >
> >    I don't know about tours "at this magnitude," but for a period 
> > the early 1990s, it was becoming almost common for Korean-Americans 
> > presumably other kyopo populations) to visit their relatives in North 
Korea under
> > carefully prearranged circumstances.  A friend of ours went then with 
> > parents (early '70s immigrants to the U.S.), flying in from Beijing.  
They were
> > part of a good-sized group, which spent several days touring Pyongyang
> > together, then split up to meet and visit their respective relatives at
> > predetermined sites.
> >    Our friend and her parents stayed several days with the father's 
> > and his family near Hamhung.  Other relatives came to see them there.  
> > grandfather's tomb had even been moved to a site near the uncle's home 
so the
> > American visitors could pay their graveside respects without having to 
> > to another location.  Not surprisingly, the uncle's home had been 
spruced up
> > for the occasion, and the local KWP branch sent over some special 
rations and
> > a couple of "helpers" who were in the kitchen during all waking hours,
> > within easy earshot of conversations with the visitors.  It was 
natural, of
> > course, for such visitors from overseas to bring gifts and money, and 
> > standard procedure as well to buy the local NK relatives a color TV or 
> > such luxury.
> >    These trips were not hard to arrange back then, and a 
> > travel agent was booking a lot of them.  At some point in the early 
> > however, the NK regime seems to have determined that the ideological 
> > these visitors brought with them was not worth the hard currency and 
> > material benefits it was reaping from the program, and that door 
> >
> > Ken Kaliher
> > Seoul/Pyongtaek
> >
> > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> > Back-up E-mail: kenkaliher at hotmail.com
> > - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> > 1) The results of a Roh Moo-hyun-Kim Jong-il summit ??œmay well exceed 
> > expectations [because] Kim is always being portrayed as broad-minded in 
> > North Korean media.???
> > -- South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok, speaking to 
> > on May 3, 2006
> > 2) ??œNorth Koreans live in the most censored country in the world.... 
> > is supplied almost entirely by the official KCNA. It serves up a daily 
> > of fawning coverage of ??˜Dear Leader??? Kim Jong-il.???
> > -- Committee to Protect Journalists, announcing ???10 Most Censored 
> >  May 2, 2006
> >
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> >
> > From: Tracy Stober <sayyes2korea at yahoo.com>
> >
> > Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2006 2:50 am
> >
> > Subject: [KS] trips to DPRK this summer and fall
> >
> >
> >
> > > Dear all list members,
> > > According to New Korea Tours, Korean American citizens are being
> > > allowed to visit North Korea 'for the the first time ever'.
> > > Please check out the website http://www.newkoreatours.com/
> > > I was wondering if such tours had ever occured at this magnitude
> > > before, and whether or not the United States had limited the
> > > travel of its' Korean American citizens. I believe American
> > > citizens have been allowed to visit under certain circumstances.
> > >
> > > Thank you for your help. I was also wondering if anyone was
> > > interested in taking part in one of these tours this year.
> > >
> > > Sincerely,
> > > Tracy Stober
> > > MA International Relations-Korea Studies
> > > UW-Seattle
> > >
> > >
> >

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