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America, Japan & South Korea: North Korea’s point of view

America, Japan & South Korea: North Korea’s point of view

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

North Korea - an image of reality or unreality?
North Korea – an image of reality or unreality?

The shadow of North Korea hangs over northeast Asia and it is easy for America, Japan, and South Korea, to blame this nation for countless ills.  However, just like a battered child which is abused and humiliated; then one day the child may become hostile in adult life and turn inward in order to protect itself.  This may not fit the pattern of North Korea to a T but history is woven into many societies and it can unleash powerful internal mechanisms.

This article is not about exonerating North Korea or justifying the political system of this nation.  Nor is it about anti-Americanism or seeing reality through a different prism.  Instead the purpose of this article is to show some balance and to focus on internal factors within the body politic of North Korea.

It is abundantly clear that the President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, is more hostile towards North Korea when compared with the previous leaders of South Korea which cover the last 15 years.  At the same time, North Korea is the perennial whipping boy when Japan seeks a scapegoat and the quietist nature of Japan’s foreign policy is thrown out of the window.

America also raises the nuclear issue and totalitarianism in order to lambast North Korea. However, the same America is the only nation to use nuclear weapons and allies like France, Israel, and the United Kingdom, are all nuclear powers. 

Also, given the economic growth of both China and India then the nuclear issue is not pointed at these nations; the stark reality is that America and the Russian Federation have enormous nuclear stockpiles.  Therefore, North Korea, just like Iran, is rebuked for trying to join the nuclear club and surely Pakistan is more unstable and this applies to radical Sunni Islamic forces which are potent and growing in Pakistan.

The human rights issue also does not wash because whatever North Korea is; then Saudi Arabia is the same but with even more draconian laws which govern women.  Therefore, while President Obama was seen bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia he uses political language against North Korea and ignores the reality of both nations because one is deemed an important oil and energy ally; while the other nation, North Korea, is seen to be a rogue state.

September 11 was made in Saudi Arabia and terrorists from North Korea are not to be found.  However, the nation of Saudi Arabia and countless organizations within this nation are exporting their version of totalitarianism via radical Sunni Islam.

Also, why did North Korea turn to nuclear weapons?  After all, nuclear weapons will not protect central forces in this nation from an internal uprising. 

The simple truth is that American led invasions in Vietnam and Iraq, alongside interventionist policies against Serbia and countless other nations in the past; all happened because these nations did not have a nuclear arsenal.  This fact is abundantly clear because you have never had a war between two nuclear powers and given the limited resources of North Korea; then the nuclear factor was a defensive mechanism.

Again, this article is not about vindicating North Korea but it is factual that the United States military is based in Japan and South Korea and in countless other nations.  Therefore, North Korea feels suffocated, isolated, and under constant siege from nations who seek the demise of central forces in this nation.

Obviously, America will justify all military bases throughout the region and claim that it is needed in order to prevent a future war on the Korean peninsula.  However, America would feel uncomfortable if North Korea had military bases in Canada and Mexico.  Therefore, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of this reality; in the eyes of North Korea it is seen to be hostile and unwarranted.   

North Korean leaders will also point out that their nation is independent because you have no foreign based military forces in this nation.  However, Japan and South Korea rely heavily on America and independence within both nations is weak because their respective foreign policies need to consider America and the whims of Washington.

North Korea appears to view foreign policy within the reality of history and when did Agent Orange become democratic?  After all, the war in Vietnam witnessed the reality of a democratic nation using chemicals in order to impose its global view on an independent nation.

Democracy is turned on and off within government circles in America, France, the United Kingdom, and all major economic powers.  After all, they all trade and support the government of Saudi Arabia and the pick and mix nature of “Western morals” is not very complex because it is based on self interests.

Since the creation of North Korea which happened because of the reality of what Japan did during the early 20th century and until the ending of World War Two; then did North Korea invade anyone?

Turning to history then why is South Korea so proud and passionate about its nationalistic fervor?

In an earlier article about this topic I commented that The first President of South Korea, President Syngman-Rhee, 1948-1960, was pro-America, despotic, and used pro-Japanese collaborators in order to control South Korea via “an iron fist.” He and the American government abided by the same ex-leaders who had sided with Japan against their own people. Therefore, the new leaders of South Korea had helped the Japanese in their anti-Korean policies.”

“The next strong leader of South Korea to emerge, after the short leadership of Yun Bo-seon, was that of Park Chung-hee (President 1963-1979). Park had a Japanese name (Takaki Masao) and he clearly did well under the Japanese colonial system. For he went to the Japanese Manchurian military academy and Park once more adopted another Japanese name, this time he was called Okamoto Minoru. Park continued to prosper during the invasion of China by Japan.”

“After all, he became a lieutenant and fought for the Imperial Japanese Army, however, it is not fully known if led imperial troops against native Koreans. However, he was involved in the fighting in Manchuria and many Korean communists had supported China in its struggle against Japan.”

“However, Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea, who was Prime Minister between 1948-1972 and President from 1972-1994, had fought against Japanese imperialism. Therefore, unlike South Korean leaders or high officials, Korean nationalism and independence had been kept alive by North Korean leaders.”

The founding father of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, who was known as the “Great Leader,” had risked everything in order to defeat Japanese imperialism unlike the future leaders of South Korea who were lackeys of Japanese imperialism.

Kim Il-Sung had been raised in a Protestant Christian family and his maternal grandfather was a Christian pastor.  Many Christians were more anti-Japanese rather than the Buddhist leadership which was seen to be compliant towards imperial Japan but the future leader of North Korea would view religion to be an “imperialist tool.”

It was Kim who fought alongside other various anti-Japanese guerrilla groups in northern China and China would look on him with fondness because of this reality.  Therefore, the founding father of North Korea had fought against Japanese imperialism but the political history of South Korea is one based on compliant Koreans who supported policies against their own culture and nation.

Also, if we look at political dynamics in Asia then is North Korea so unique?  After all, the nations of China, Iran, Laos, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and others; are all governed by either the same one party state, same long term ruler or by an Islamic state or the same monarch. 

Democracy in Japan is also fickle because the Liberal Democratic Party dominated politics until recently.  Also, many members of the Democratic Party of Japan have their roots in the Liberal Democratic Party but this is done through the democratic process.

Focusing on the reality of past history, then it could be argued that North Korea is a victim of outside forces which intruded on the Korean peninsula.  The Hermit Kingdom was based on feudalism prior to Japanese imperialism and the future North Korea was built on the ashes of Japanese imperialism and the power mechanisms of the Cold War.

Millions of people have died on the Korean peninsula because of the shortcomings of outside forces.  Therefore, from the North Korean point of view it was their leaders which fought against external powers and not the leaders of South Korea who had collaborated with the policies of external forces.

The leaders of North Korea find it difficult to trust South Korea because it is difficult to forgive “your brother” when the brother colluded with outside forces.

Therefore, irrespective if you are opposed to North Korea and hate the political system of this nation; it is important to see the world “through their eyes.”  The political system in North Korea can be lambasted for not allowing freedom and because the economic system failed to install a modern based economy. 

However, if you try to look at North Korea’s stance and look into “a mirror based on factuality” then North Korea was made in Japan and was manipulated by Cold War powers.

This article may seem to be “apologist” but this is not the purpose. On the contrary, it is meant to add a different dimension to the daily anti-North Korea mass media in Japan and in other nations which have vested interests.  It should be remembered that Koreans have suffered at the hands of others throughout the 20th century.

The current stalemate will never move forward when one nation is ridiculed and despised.  If a new approach is not taken then nothing will change.

The people of North Korea are being held to ransom by their own national government and much of this is based on past history and because of policy mistakes by hostile forces.  Therefore, the wall which was built will not break unless “a real sunshine policy is implemented” and “soft power” may work unlike the usual “hard power” which just maintains the status quo.  

http://moderntokyotimes.com

 

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NORTH KOREA’S point of view

North Korea’s Point of View

 

By Lee Jay Walker  – THE SEOUL TIMES
Tokyo Correspondent

 

Kim Il-Sung and Chairman Mao Zedong: Kim Il-Sung is seen making a toast at Donghu Hotel with Chairman Mao Zedong of China, who invited the North Korean leader to Beijing on Nov. 25, 1958. During the Korean War (1950-53). Mao sent huge troops to save Kim Il-Sung’s North Korean government.

The government of North Korea ordered a new nuclear test in the full knowledge that world leaders would rebuke the position taken by North Korea. However, for North Korea it is about protecting the nation state from hostile forces. It is also abundantly clear that the current leader of America, President Obama, is rather “new and inexperienced” when it comes to global issues and the leader of South Korea, President Lee Myung-Bak, is more hostile to North Korea. Therefore, the leaders of North Korea see a new opportunity to further their cause and to pave the way for the future leader of this nation.

This article today is not about vindicating North Korea’s foreign policy or the government of North Korea. It is merely focused on the point of view of North Korea. After all, nearly all articles about this nation just lambast the current leader and offer no real solutions or theories. Instead it is just the same negative mantra.

Before we focus on the “democratic morals of the West” we need to focus on real issues. For example, both India and Pakistan have developed their respective nuclear stockpiles in recent times. Despite this, Pakistan is still deemed to be an ally of America and India is increasingly being seen to be a future power.

Also, what about Israel? For it is clear that Israel is a nuclear power and that in the past this nation developed a nuclear capability but this will not stop America from being pro-Israeli. Do not get me wrong, I am not arguing that America should be anti-Israel or anti-India, or whatever, but we need a more honest approach to North Korea.

Iran will also share a similar view to North Korea when it comes to the need to protect the nation state. After all, other nations like America, China, the Russian Federation, France, and the United Kingdom, all have nuclear weapons. Also, given America’s recent history, for example Vietnam, bombing Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and others, then clearly nations who view America with hostility are deeply alarmed.

After all, you have never had a war between two nuclear powers and clearly it would appear that obtaining nuclear weapons is in the interest of marginalized nations.

So when we turn to the nuclear reality, it is clear that the leaders of North Korea understand history. After all, you have never had a war between two nuclear powers. However, for nations who were seen to be weak, like Iraq, Vietnam, and Serbia (the former Yugoslavia), and a host of others, we saw the real notion of Western democracy.

Then if we focus on democratic values it all comes apart once more. For how can you lambast North Korea on the one hand but support nations like Saudi Arabia on the other hand? Yet for nations like America and the United Kingdom, and a host of others, this issue does not even enter the equation. Why?

Also, does North Korea have foreign troops based throughout any other nation? Of course not, yet in both Japan and South Korea, and a host of other nations, you have American armed forces. So when it comes to being an independent nation, it is apparent that North Korea is more independent with regards to national independence than either Japan or South Korea.

Turning back to democracy and lambasting North Korea on this issue, then how does this relate to America’s foreign policy? After all, what happened to democracy when America dropped Agent Orange all over Vietnam? This was followed by America supporting right-wing governments in Central and Latin America.

Also, more recently, thousands of people in Yugoslavia were killed by “democratic bombs” and the majority of people killed were ordinary civilians, including small children and old people. The same applies to the huge loss of life in Iraq and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. You may support America in all of these invasions or you may deem these conflicts to be in the interest of national security or whatever. Yet for nations like China, the Russian Federation, India, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and many others, they were all opposed to America’s foreign policy.

Yet during the same timescale, did North Korea invade anyone? Apparently not! Despite this, the nation of North Korea is deemed to be a major threat to humanity and “beyond the pale.” However, for North Korea it is America, and not North Korea, which is a global threat to peace. You may not agree with this, or I may not agree with this, it is not important, but if you look at history then which is more absurd?

Turning to history, we must remember that Korea was invaded by Japan and colonized in 1910. So how different are the leaders of both Korea’s and which nation can claim to be independent or pro-Korea?

The first President of South Korea, President Syngman-Rhee, 1948-1960, was pro-America, despotic, and used pro-Japanese collaborators in order to control South Korea via “an iron fist.” He and the American government abided by the same ex-leaders who had sided with Japan against their own people. Therefore, the new leaders of South Korea had helped the Japanese in their anti-Korean policies.

The next strong leader of South Korea to emerge, after the short leadership of Yun Bo-seon, was that of Park Chung-hee (President 1963-1979). Park had a Japanese name (Takaki Masao) and he clearly did well under the Japanese colonial system. For he went to the Japanese Manchurian military academy and Park once more adopted another Japanese name, this time he was called Okamoto Minoru. Park continued to prosper during the invasion of China by Japan.

After all, be became a lieutenant and fought for the Imperial Japanese Army, however, it is not fully known if led imperial troops against native Koreans. However, he was involved in the fighting in Manchuria and many Korean communists had supported China in its struggle against Japan.

However, Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea, who was Prime Minister between 1948-1972 and President from 1972-1994, had fought against Japanese imperialism. Therefore, unlike South Korean leaders or high officials, Korean nationalism and independence had been kept alive by North Korean leaders.

Kim Il-sung, known as the “Great Leader,” had risked everything in order for North Korea to become independent. Kim had been raised in a Protestant Christian family and his maternal grandfather had been a Christian pastor. Both his parents were active in the Christian church and both were anti-Japanese.

He joined various anti-Japanese guerrilla groups in northern China and this proved vital for two factors. Firstly, he clearly fought against the invaders of Korea and secondly, China would remain loyal to him during the Korean War. So clearly, it was Kim and not future leaders in South Korea, like Park Chung-hee, who had fought against Japanese imperialism with bravery.

If we look at regional politics, then is North Korea so unique? Yes, political systems are different and economic development stages are also hugely different. The same applies to political and economic freedom. However, is the political mindset so different in parts of Asia?

For example, the nations of China, Japan, Iran (1979 onwards), Laos, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Vietnam, and others, have one common thread. This applies to the same political party dominating society and the central role of consensus ideology or thinking.

This does not mean that all societies are similar, of course they are not, but all the above nations have “a guiding political party” or “guiding ideology” which maintains order. Of course, we can argue that North Korea goes to the extreme, but you do have the same power-plays happening but under different systems in other parts of Asia.

Focusing on past history, then is North Korea a victim of many negative forces? This applies to “old” Korea being overwhelmingly feudal and based on agriculture prior to Japanese imperialism. After all, the nation was called the “Hermit Kingdom.”

Korea, therefore, went from feudalism to Japanese imperialism and then the Korean peninsula became a victim of global power politics. Added to this, you had the height of the Cold War and an alien ideology, communism, adding to the equation.

On top of this, millions have died and been displaced since 1905 onwards and many massacres have happened, be they by outside forces, for example by America or Japan, or because of internal massacres.
After all, how can North Korea trust South Korea given the closeness of the leaders to either past imperial Japan or to modern day America, or to both outside nations? How can you forgive “your brother” when they colluded with outside nations?

Obviously, the South Korean point of view will be very different, but today is about trying to understand all the competing forces which have pulled both nations apart, despite sharing the same ethnic identity and to understand the current stalemate.

If we turn to current events, for example the Six-Party Talks, then it is clear that North Korea is linking military developments alongside obtaining “a genuine peace” whereby America no longer threatens the nation, and also to obtain economic aid in order to stabilize the economy. The six-party talks aim is to find a peaceful resolution to a very complex problem. For North Korea, they believe that they need a security guarantee because of a possible military attack by America or by combined American and South Korean armed forces.

Also, Japanese leaders have played the nationalist card in order to bash North Korea for a very long time. Yet look at the consequences, yes, they have merely forced North Korea into a corner and this is always dangerous. So today we have a more potent leadership in North Korea which is bent on protecting its independence.

The Japanese government used the nationalist card during the recent dispute over a missile test or satellite which was launched by North Korea on April 5. Other more moderate regional nations, notably the Russian Federation and China, stated that nations must remain calm otherwise the consequences may become dire. However, Japan continues to make “noisy statements” and clearly North Korea will see this to be nothing more than an historical hatred of Korea by nationalists in Japan who still pray to war criminals.

Therefore, irrespective if you “love” North Korea or “hate” the government of North Korea, it is essential to try and see the world “through their eyes.” Also, if you consider everything, then North Korea may have some valid points when it comes to international relations and being independent.

This article is not meant to be an “apologist” article, on the contrary, it is merely meant to challenge the daily anti-North Korea mass media and to merely add a different dimension. People should remember that Koreans have suffered at the hands of others throughout the 20th century and sadly today both Korea’s are divided because of this history. However, how can the Korean peninsula move on when one side is “ridiculed” or “despised?” Surely, a new approach is needed?

LEE JAY WALKER

leejayteach@hotmail.com

http://leejaywalker.wordpress.com

 

 

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