[KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question

Ruediger Frank ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at
Tue Apr 17 06:36:46 EDT 2012

Dear Michael and all,
as an individual, I definitely and without any reservation agree. War is bad and stupid, and justifying killing by an alleged human condition or anything else is outrageous. However, as scholars we must acknowledge the existence of highly influential International Relations theories (such as realism and its spin-offs) that pessimistically and cynically explicitly regard war as a human condition. So do I. The former is, I am afraid, a sad truth, but also what history teaches us. Why else would humankind keep repeating the same old mistakes? We should have learned, but we obviously haven't. This could mean we never will. That's just as the world is - not as we wish it to be.
Needless to say that including Immanuel Kant, liberalists claim the opposite, i.e. that peace is normal and war a result of some disturbance of the laws of nature (what an economist would call Adam Smith's Invisible Hand). Hence they emphasize interdependence, dialogue, and pluralism. Ironically, though, the liberalist idea that democracies would never lead a war against each other has served as the justification for what we could call the forced export of democracy - and thus to more wars. See Francis Fukuyama as an example. Homo homini lupus.
PS: China and North Korea, by the way, are among the classical examples of a realist perspective on IR. That's at least what I teach students in my IR in East Asia course. 

on Dienstag, 17. April 2012 at 01:57 you wrote:

Mr. Kim,

It is too easy to blame war and violence on some predisposed human condition (and that is very convenient for militaristic governments and individuals who hope to profit from such violence).  And preparing for war is surely the best way to prevent it and make the world safe.  We are certainly doing a fine job of that as I write.

I am a premodernist and I teach my students about the futility and uselessness of war and how that damaged the lives of individuals and society.  It is not a human condition as you state, but rather resultant from greed and the desire to take from others what one might not have.  I find it rather amazing that this is something I need to state in academia, but clearly we have a ways to go.
Michael J. Pettid
Professor of Premodern Korean Studies
Department of Asian and Asian American Studies
Director, Translation, Research and Instruction Program
Binghamton University

From: Sheila Miyoshi Jager <sheila.jager at oberlin.edu>
To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws 
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 8:22 AM
Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question

Unfortunately war is a necessary evil in the human condition. The better you are prepared for it the better the chance of preventing it. No one is more anti-war then the people who have to fight it if it occurs. You can condemn war, and rightfully so, but you can't eliminate it. 

Jiyul Kim.

On 4/15/2012 7:50 PM, Michael Pettid wrote: 
Mr. Kim

I am happy that you were able to find a silver lining in a war that killed tens of thousands of combatants and many, many more non-combatants.  The war experience that was able to "bolster the competence and confidence" of the SK troops was surely worth such a cost, right?  Wars are the plague of humankind and nothing more than the actions of various governments to achieve their goals.  War must be condemned in whatever fashion necessary.

Michael J. Pettid
Professor of Premodern Korean Studies
Department of Asian and Asian American Studies 
Director, Translation, Research and Instruction Program
Binghamton University

From: Jiyul Kim <jiyulkim at gmail.com>
To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws 
Sent: Sunday, April 15, 2012 12:58 PM
Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question

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 hesqueezed 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] 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] 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] 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] 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] 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] Chae-Jin Lee, pp. 55, 70.
[3] Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun, p. 321.
[4] Martin Hart-Landsberg 1993, 147-8.
[5] 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>
Reply-To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2012 15:04:41 -0700
To: Kevin Shepard <kevin_shepard at yahoo.com>, Korean Studies Discussion List <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> wrote:

From: Kevin Shepard <kevin_shepard at yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [KS] Brian Hwang's Discussion Question
To: "koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws" <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.
UCJ 5 Strategy Div.

From: "koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws" <koreanstudies-request at koreaweb.ws>
To: 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)
  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
To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: [KS] Discussion Question
    <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>
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>
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


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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