[KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question

Jiyul Kim jiyulkim at gmail.com
Sun Apr 15 12:58:31 EDT 2012

This is all good and fine from a macro view and I see nothing to 
disagree with, but numbers and quantification and metrics do not make 
history. What is left out is the psychology and emotions that Vietnam 
generated in Park, the military, and the populace. No doubt there were 
tremendous materiel benefits for SK and other Asian countries from the 
war, but the war also had unmeasurable "benefits" that were recognized 
then as well for example consolidating national pride and confidence and 
providing the military with combat experience. Since 1953 the only 
Korean forces, North and South, who have experienced real combat were 
the Koreans in Vietnam including a handful of North Korean fighter 
pilots. That experience did much to bolster the competence and 
confidence of the South Korean Army. This is not to justify their 
deployment or to somehow legitimate the Vietnam War. I for one believe 
it was a tragic unjust war for the U.S. and its allies to have gotten 
involved in, but we should not always paint everything about the war in 
broad and condemning strokes.

Jiyul Kim

On 4/15/2012 10:15 AM, Katsiaficas, George wrote:
> The larger context has bearing on your question. The government of 
> South Korea received tremendous economic benefits from the Vietnam 
> War. Park Chung-hee's grandiose scheme to build heavy industry 
> required enormous amounts of money, but he had only limited domestic 
> sources. As much as he squeezed workers and devalued the currency to 
> stimulate exports, he still needed farmore capital.Between 1953 and 
> 1962, US aid funded 70% of Korea’s imports and 80% of its fixed 
> capital investments—about 8% of its GNP.Once the US needed its monies 
> to fight the war in Vietnam, however, it began to cut back. In order 
> to find new international sources of money, Park endorsed a key US 
> proposal: closer ROK ties with Japan. Staunch domestic opposition to 
> normalization prevented a treaty from simply being finalized. On June 
> 3, 1964, Park declared martial law in Seoul and dismissed dozens of 
> professors and students. The US Combined Forces Commander approved the 
> release of two combat divisions to suppress the protests. Despite 
> thousands of students threatening to storm the Blue House (the 
> presidentialresidence), Park rammed the treaty through the rubber 
> stamp legislature of the Third Republic. When the opposition went on a 
> hunger strike to protest the treaty, the ruling party took one minute 
> to ratify it, and at the same time, it also approved sending 20,000 
> troops to Vietnam to fight on the side of the US. In exchange for 
> normalization of relations, Japan paid $300 million in grants (for 
> which Park indemnified Japan for all its previous actions) and made 
> available another half-a-billion dollars in loans.
> Sensing an opportunity to channel public sentiment against the 
> communist enemy as well as a second avenue to raise capital, Park 
> immediately offered thousands more troops for deployment to 
> Vietnam.Despite scattered student protests, war with Vietnam proved 
> less controversial than his settling of accounts with Japan. Park’s 
> movement of troops was so fast, that according to figures released by 
> the US State Department, there were more South Korean soldiers 
> fighting in southern Vietnam in 1965 than North Vietnamese.[1] 
> <#_ftn1> South Koreans soldiers were widely reported to be even more 
> brutal than their US counterparts. At the end of 1969, some 48,000 ROK 
> military personnel were stationed in Vietnam, and by the time they 
> completed their withdrawal in 1973, some 300,000 veterans had fought 
> there. ROK casualties included 4,960 dead and 10,962 wounded. Wars 
> provide experiences for military officers who go on to inflict future 
> casualties. Lieutenant No Ri-Bang served in Jeju in 1948 and went to 
> Vietnam. Future dictators Chun Doo Hwan and Roh Tae-woo served 
> together in Vietnam, before brutally ruling South Korea after Park’s 
> assassination in 1979.
> The economic benefits of military intervention in Vietnam were 
> extraordinary. From 1965-1970, the South Korean government received 
> $1.1 billion in payments—about 7% of GDP and 19% of foreign 
> earnings.[3] <#_ftn3> More than 80 Korean companies did lucrative 
> business in Vietnam—from transportation to supply, construction to 
> entertainment—from which the country accrued another $1 billion for 
> exports to and services in Vietnam. Secret US bonuses paid to Park’s 
> government for Korean soldiers who fought in Vietnam totaled $185 
> million from 1965-1973. When we add all these funds to the $1.1 
> billion in direct payments, the total US allocations to Park’s regime 
> amounted to about 30% of the ROK’s foreign exchange earnings from 
> 1966-1969.[4] <#_ftn4> Altogether US aid to South Korea totaled $11 
> billion by 1973—more than to any other country except South 
> Vietnam—some 8% of worldwide US military and foreign monies.[5] 
> <#_ftn5> Regimes friendly to the US in Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, 
> and Thailand also benefited greatly from the tidal wave of dollars 
> that flooded the region during the Vietnam War.
> Excerpted from my book, Asia's Unknown Uprisings: Vol. 1 South Korean 
> Social Movements in the 20th Century
> George Katsiaficas
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> [1] <#_ftnref1>See the discussion in the volume I edited, /Vietnam 
> Documents: American and Vietnamese Views of the War/ (Armonk, NY: M.E. 
> Sharpe, 1992) p. 63.
> [2] <#_ftnref2>Chae-Jin Lee, pp. 55, 70.
> [3] <#_ftnref3>Cumings, /Korea’s Place in the Sun/, p. 321.
> [4] <#_ftnref4>Martin Hart-Landsberg 1993, 147-8.
> [5] <#_ftnref5>Han Sung-joo, “Korean Politics in an International 
> Context,” in Korean National Commission for UNESCO (editor) /Korean 
> Politics: Striving for Democracy and Unification/ (Elizabeth, NJ: 
> Hollym, 2002) p. 620.
> From: don kirk <kirkdon at yahoo.com <mailto:kirkdon at yahoo.com>>
> Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws 
> <mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
> Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 15:04:41 -0700
> To: Kevin Shepard <kevin_shepard at yahoo.com 
> <mailto:kevin_shepard at yahoo.com>>, Korean Studies Discussion List 
> <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws <mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
> Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
> The question is whether or not they got bonuses in order to 
> "volunteer" for Vietnam. If they got no bonuses, then obviously they 
> wouldn't be "mercenaries." Even if they got bonuses, it would be 
> difficult to pin the mercenary label since soldiers in any army 
> generally get combat pay when fighting overseas. Also, I'm not sure 
> ordinary draftees had any say in where they were sent.
>  All told, 300,000 Koreans served in Vietnam over nearly a ten-year 
> period. Five thousand of them were KIA, many more WIA. The White Horse 
> and Tiger divisions were the principal units. Korean special forces 
> were also in Vietnam. Those whom I have met are proud to have served 
> there. Many of them, grizzled old veterans, turn up at demonstrations 
> in Seoul protesting leftist demos, NKorean human rights violations, 
> North Korean dynastic rule etc. They love to wear their old uniforms 
> with ribbons awarded for Vietnam service, including acts of individual 
> heroism.
> Some of them also talk quite openly about what they did in Vietnam -- 
> and could provide material supporting your thesis re "the type of 
> warfare that they had to fight in Vietnam,
> including guerrilla warfare and civilian warfare." Strongly suggest 
> you come here and interview some while they're still around. They'd 
> tell you a lot, good and bad. Sorry to say, one of them once boasted 
> to me of a personal "body count" of 300 victims -- would doubt if all 
> of them were "enemy." On the other hand, they were also known for high 
> levels of efficiency and success in their AO's.
> Good luck on the project.
> Don Kirk
> --- On *Sat, 4/14/12, Kevin Shepard /<kevin_shepard at yahoo.com 
> <mailto:kevin_shepard at yahoo.com>>/* wrote:
>     From: Kevin Shepard <kevin_shepard at yahoo.com
>     <mailto:kevin_shepard at yahoo.com>>
>     Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
>     To: "koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws <mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>"
>     <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws <mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
>     Date: Saturday, April 14, 2012, 1:40 PM
>     I think you will be hard-pressed to justify calling individual
>     soldiers mercenaries - the Korean government may have received
>     funds from the US, but ROK soldiers were drafted into mandatory
>     service. If you come across documentation that individuals
>     volunteered for Vietnam in order to receive funds from the US,
>     please send such documents to me.
>     Kevin Shepard, Ph.D.
>     Strategist
>     UCJ 5 Strategy Div.
>     ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>     *From:* "koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws
>     <mailto:koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws>"
>     <koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws
>     <mailto:koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws>>
>     *To:* koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws <mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>     *Sent:* Sunday, April 15, 2012 1:00 AM
>     *Subject:* Koreanstudies Digest, Vol 106, Issue 9
>     Today's Topics:
>       1. Discussion Question (brianhwang at berkeley.edu
>     </mc/compose?to=brianhwang at berkeley.edu>)
>       2. March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History and
>           Culture Review" Available Online (Center for Korean Studies)
>     ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>     Message: 1
>     Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 10:15:24 -0700
>     From: brianhwang at berkeley.edu </mc/compose?to=brianhwang at berkeley.edu>
>     To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>     </mc/compose?to=koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
>     Subject: [KS] Discussion Question
>     Message-ID:
>     <7cb59ce69b486f3c15e6bba3e396a6d4.squirrel at calmail.berkeley.edu
>     </mc/compose?to=7cb59ce69b486f3c15e6bba3e396a6d4.squirrel at calmail.berkeley.edu>>
>     Content-Type: text/plain;charset=utf-8
>     Hello all:
>     I am a history student at University of California, Berkeley.
>     Currently I
>     am working on a paper regarding Korean involvement in the Vietnam
>     War. My
>     argument is that although Korean soldiers were 1) mercenaries (because
>     they were paid predominantly by US dollars to go) and 2) anti
>     communists
>     (because of past history), the atrocities that they are accused of
>     committing are not primarily due to the aforementioned reasons, but
>     because of the type of warfare that they had to fight in Vietnam,
>     including guerrilla warfare and civilian warfare.
>     Do you all think this is a valid argument? Are there any primary
>     sources
>     that would help me in my argument, including ones that attribute
>     Korean
>     atrocities to their mercenary and anticommunist nature?
>     Thank you!
>     ------------------------------
>     Message: 2
>     Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 11:00:21 -0700
>     From: "Center for Korean Studies" <cks at berkeley.edu
>     </mc/compose?to=cks at berkeley.edu>>
>     To: <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
>     </mc/compose?to=koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
>     Subject: [KS] March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History
>         and    Culture Review" Available Online
>     Message-ID: <037401cd199f$4b410820$e1c31860$@berkeley.edu
>     <mailto:037401cd199f$4b410820$e1c31860$@berkeley.edu>>
>     Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>     March 2012 Issue of "Cross-Currents: East Asian History and
>     Culture Review" now online
>     The second issue of IEAS's new, interactive e-journal
>     "Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review" is now
>     online. The theme of the March 2012 issue is "Japanese Imperial
>     Maps as Sources for East Asian History: The Past and Future of the
>     Gaih?zu" (guest edited by K?ren Wigen, professor of History at
>     Stanford). Visit
>     http://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-2 to read the
>     articles, a review essay written by Timothy Cheek (University of
>     British Columbia) about Ezra Vogel's new book on Deng Xiaoping,
>     and abstracts of important new scholarship in Chinese. The March
>     issue of the e-journal also features a photo essay by Jianhua Gong
>     documenting Shanghai's longtang alleyways.
>     A joint enterprise of the Research Institute of Korean Studies at
>     Korea University (RIKS) and the Institute of East Asian Studies at
>     the University of California at Berkeley (IEAS), "Cross-Currents"
>     offers its readers up-to-date research findings, emerging trends,
>     and cutting-edge perspectives concerning East Asian history and
>     culture from scholars in both English-speaking and Asian
>     language-speaking academic communities.
>     * * ** **
>     March 2012 issue of "Cross-Currents" e-journal
>     (See http://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-2)
>     *Co-Editors' Note*
>     Building an Online Community of East Asia Scholars
>     Sungtaek Cho, Research Institute of Korean Studies (RIKS), Korea
>     University
>     Wen-hsin Yeh, Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), University
>     of California, Berkeley
>     *Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian History: The
>     Past and Future of the Gaihozu*
>     Introduction to "Japanese Imperial Maps as Sources for East Asian
>     History: The Past and Future of the Gaihozu"
>     Guest editor K?ren Wigen, Stanford University
>     Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873-1945: An Overview
>     Shigeru Kobayashi, Osaka University
>     Imagining Manmo: Mapping the Russo-Japanese Boundary Agreements in
>     Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, 1907-1915
>     Yoshihisa T. Matsusaka, Wellesley College
>     Triangulating Chosen: Maps, Mapmaking, and the Land Survey in
>     Colonial Korea
>     David Fedman, Stanford University
>     Mapping Economic Development: The South Seas Government and Sugar
>     Production in Japan's South Pacific Mandate, 1919--1941
>     Ti Ngo, University of California, Berkeley
>     *Forum*
>     Asian Studies/Global Studies: Transcending Area Studies and Social
>     Sciences
>     John Lie, University of California, Berkeley/
>     Defenders and Conquerors: The Rhetoric of Royal Power in Korean
>     Inscriptions from the Fifth to Seventh Centuries
>     Hung-gyu Kim, Korea University
>     *Review Essays and Notes*
>     Of Leaders and Governance: How the Chinese Dragon Got Its Scales
>     Timothy Cheek, University of British Columbia
>     A Note on the 40th Anniversary of Nixon's Visit to China
>     William C. Kirby, Harvard University
>     *Photo Essay*
>     "Shanghai Alleyways" by photographer Jianhua Gong
>     Essay by Xiaoneng Yang, Stanford University
>     *Readings from Asia*
>     Ge Zhaoguang , Dwelling in the Middle of the Country:
>     Reestablishing Histories of "China" [????:????"??"???]
>     Abstract by Wennan Liu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
>     Wang Qisheng, Revolution and Counter-Revolution: Republican
>     Politics in Social-Cultural Scope [???????????????????]
>     Abstract by Bin Ye, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
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