America, Japan & South Korea: North Korea’s point of view
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
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.