Where’s the Outrage?

South Koreans’ unifiction mania may have cooled for the moment, but B.R. Myers tells us that public anger toward North Korea doesn’t approach that directed against America after the 2002 accident, and that plenty have made the decision to disbelieve the evidence that North Korea sank the Cheonan:

It would be unfair to characterize these skeptics as pro-Pyongyang, but there is more sympathy for North Korea here than foreigners commonly realize. As a university student in West Berlin in the 1980s, I had a hard time finding even a Marxist with anything nice to say about East Germany. In South Korea, however, the North’s human rights abuses are routinely shrugged off with reference to its supposedly superior nationalist credentials. One often hears, for example, the mistaken claim that Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, purged his republic of former Japanese collaborators, in alleged contrast to the morally tainted South. [….]

South Korean nationalism is something quite different from the patriotism toward the state that Americans feel. Identification with the Korean race is strong, while that with the Republic of Korea is weak. (Kim Jong-il has a distinct advantage here: his subjects are more likely to equate their state with the race itself.) Thus few South Koreans feel personally affected by the torpedo attack. [….]

This urge to give the North Koreans the benefit of the doubt is in marked contrast to the public fury that erupted after the killings of two South Korean schoolgirls by an American military vehicle in 2002; it was widely claimed that the Yankees murdered them callously. During the street protests against American beef imports in the wake of a mad cow disease scare in 2008, posters of a child-poisoning Uncle Sam were all the rage. It is illuminating to compare those two anti-American frenzies with the small and geriatric protests against Pyongyang that have taken place in Seoul in recent weeks.

If demographics are destiny, accounts like Myers’s suggest that our alliance with South Korea has no long-term future. Like Robert, I don’t think this is the time to speed up our disengagement or appear to abandon South Korea, but it’s as appropriate as ever to proceed with an orderly transition to an independent South Korean defense from which both countries will emerge stronger.

Hat tip to a reader.

30 Comments

  1. I wish I weren’t about to drive a friend to the airport right now, because I would elaborate on what I see as the intellectual sloppiness of that op-ed piece, particularly the conflating of the 2002 or 2008 protesters with the wider public as a whole, the failure to properly address who was really behind manufacturing the emotional response, and the notion that the 2008 Mad Cow protests were not really an anti-LMB exercise.

    For now, I’ll just address Joshua’s closing point, that “if demographics are destiny, accounts like Myers’s suggest that our alliance with South Korea has no long-term future.” This is, I feel, an inaccurate conclusion for many reasons. First of all, the general public — even those who are angry at USFK — generally have a localized response (to the incident at hand) and are more interested in fixing the problem (USFK: behave better, Bush: stop making us import bad beef) than a more generalized one of “kick out USFK). Second, the young people Mr Myers apparently encounters tend to be a group that doesn’t hold onto their leftist beliefs long after college. There are more reasons, of course, and were this not true, LMB could not have gotten elected and even the left-of-center politicians would not have to say they believe in the US-ROK alliance.

    Finally, reactions to the circumstances between an ally and friend (e.g., the US) and those of a dangerous neighbor and enemy over which influence is limited (e.g., North Korea or China, vis-à-vis the Olympic torch eruptions of 2008) are so apples-and-oranges different that it is unfair for Mr Myers to draw the conclusions he does from the comparisons.

    Really, this was sloppy.




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  2. South Koreans’ unifiction mania may have cooled for the moment, but B.R. Myers tells us that public anger toward North Korea doesn’t approach that directed against America after the 2002 accident,

    Serious understatment. A correct wording would be “public anger toward North Korea doesn’t even remotely approach that directed against America after the 2002 accident”




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  3. That is because the man on the street here is not altogether sure that North Korea did it, isn’t it.

    The problem would not be with that state of affairs per se, if said man on said street were analyzing the situation and concluding, just for example, that the “objective” “international” investigation seems, to put it mildly, to have been extraordinarily skewed in the direction of liberal democratic South Korean allies.

    But said man doesn’t seem to be doing much analyzing or a great deal of rational concluding. The man is, as B.R. Myers points out, almost irrationally prepared to give North Korea the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps even more irrationally unprepared to extend the same grace to the United States. And it is that type of automatic reaction without recourse to logic that is likely to be the hardest to change.

    By the by, as Leonid Petrov has pointed out, could the investigation not have been even a little more “international”?

    LP: “The invitation of Russian and Chinese experts into the team of foreign investigators should have been done from the outset. It was strange to see the investigation team composed only of ROK’s allies (US, Australia, Canada, UK and neutral Sweden). This can only be explained by the sensitivity of joint ROK-US military and naval exercises which were going on in the area where Cheonan sank.




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  4. Well, isn’t a Russian team on its way to look at the evidence for itself? It will be interesting to see what they make of things.

    Just out of interest, I was reading a NYT article in which I found this:

    “We believe it’s in everyone’s interest, including China, to make a persuasive case for North Korea to change direction,” Mrs. Clinton said after meeting South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak.

    She implored the Chinese to study the 400-page South Korean government report that concluded that the North torpedoed a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/world/asia/27clinton.html

    Does anyone know where the full report is available?




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  5. Not one can human being on Earth can reason with a hermatic sealed delusional ethnic Asian group who has considered themselves to be one homogenous “race” for over 5,000 years. The whole worl knows that Koreans are the most diverse ethnic group in NorthEast Asia. The refuse to believe this fact. When they realize that Koreans are a heterogenous mix of Altaic/Mongolian/Han mixture maybe then both Koreas will realize that they are not “unique by one bloodline”, they are “unique by many”.




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  6. OK, lets try this again…

    Not one human being on Earth can reason with a hermatic sealed delusional ethnic Asian group who has considered themselves to be one homogenous “race” for over 5,000 years. The whole world knows that Koreans are the most diverse ethnic group in NorthEast Asia. They refuse to believe this fact. When Koreans realize they are in FACT are a heterogenous mix of Altaic/Mongolian/Han mixture blood, then maybe both Koreas will realize that they are not “unique by one bloodline”, they are “unique by many”.




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  7. Apparently most readers of this blog are unaware of the Korean mythology that explains the history of their race. The legend is that Hananim, the God of Heaven, was petioned by a Lion and a Bear for the right to become human. Both were given a test and the Lion failed. The bear became a woman and bore the offspring of Hananim, the mythical ancestor of the Korean race, Tan Gun. This happened in 2333 BC according to Korean folk history.

    This all took place on Mount Paekdu, which is the highest mountain in Korea and is located on the Sino-Korean border. Paekdu is mentioned in the opening line of the South Korean national anthem. The Norks claimed to have recovered his remains and erected a shrine to him near Pyongyang in 2002. Koreans from both sides of the MDL celebrated this ‘discovery.’

    The Chinese have culturally annexed Mt. Paekdu as Changbai Mountain. This is no doubt with a long term view of annexing Korea politically. This will be easier to do once USFK is permanently off the peninsula. Leftist Koreans want USFK gone but probably have not thought through the long term consequences with regard to their big brother across the Dooman and Yalu Rivers.

    It is Christianity that has opened up South Korea to the rest of the world more than any other factor. South Korea sends more Christian missionaries abroad per capita than any country on earth. That is a staggering accomplishment when one weighs the relative youth of the Church in Korea (about 150 years, but real explosive growth began as recently as the 1970s). Kim Jong-il and the Juche cultists up north are terrified of Christianity and oppress it more than any other country on earth.

    Favorability towards the USFK waxes and wanes in proportion to the perceived threat from the DPRK. It is also a bit risky to guage Korean opinion strictly by the size and intensity of protests. The Leftists are louder and mobilze better than conservatives, but conservatives are more likely to back up rhetoric with action.

    My opinion is that most South Koreans are deeply embarassed by Kim Jong-il and his bellicose and bizarre behavior. However, for whatever reason (fear of military attack or Confucian respect) they temper their outrage toward him. The sinking of Cheonan must be viewed in the perspective of a pattern of North Korean behavior that can only be described as extortionary. South Korea rose to prosperity with 13,000 missiles aimed at them for over 50 years by living in denial while a handful of military and political leaders dealt directly with the threat. Perhaps now that democracy has succeeded in the ROK, the people will be asked to shoulder more of the moral load of dealing with a decaying and extremely dangerous regime just north of the 38th Parallel.




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  8. People including the author overlook the important factor in public response. First, students in campaus are under PC-atmosphere imposed by leftwing professors. Blasting N. Korea openly is branded repugnant, and small group of die-hard campus lefties, supported by professors, would hound and demonize them. The vapid disinterested types just swallow the leftwing talking points and go on. After all, their Chongyjo teachers in middle and high schools fed same dribble of pro-North leftwing talking points which were rage in underground Juche activists on campus. These people are now in 40’s and brainwashed people in 30’s & the 20’s. I know all about it. They have been subscribing to it since 70’s behind closed doors. They only came out public in late 90’s and 00’s. They say they are democratic activists, but they were after socialist(or Jucheist) revolution. Democratic uprising was the first step, with which they gained credibility. The next stage is unrelenting push for unification drive along the line of N. Korea’s Koryo Federation. They say they are independent activist, but their pro-North attitude is ingrained to the bone. Sometime you may wonder why they decided to rise up against authoritarian government of the past. Is it because they thought the government was dictatorship or the puppet of imperialist U.S.? Their theme is about so-called liberation in the leftiwing sense. Liberation does not mean freedom. It is liberation from what they see as oppressive system. In reality, it means western-style capitalist Bourgeois society. It is that system they want to get rid of. Most of them saw the escape from authoritarian rule was leftwing socialist revolution.
    Hypernationalism of N. Korea penetrated into S. Korean leftwing circles, who became NK’s faithful client. Hypernationalism in leftwing circle is originally created as the justification for NK regime to isolate itself even from other communist countries, who moved away from Stalinism Kim Il-sung loved so much. He was almost close to be ousted in late 50’s while de-Stalinization was in full-swing. The rabid cultish behavior of N. Korean communists infected S. Korean left who saw NK as the morally just alternative to S. Korean regime. Hypernationalism was the good selling point. S. Korea sucks up to imperialists and volunteer for the life of slaves, but N. Korea is independent. What’s the use of affluent life when you sell out such an essential principle? You are not beter than whores. It is to choose a life of collaborators, who are no different from Korean collaborators under Japanese colonial oppression. So goes the argument.
    It is the lame excuse to blame past regime for their unconditional pro-North behaviors.
    I got side-tracked a bit on details on S. Korean left’s past. What I want to really point out is who organizes such a massive sustained uprising these days in S. Korea. You cannot do it without extensive organization and die-hard support group which may be small but quite dedicated. Only the S. Korean left has such organization. Their network of civic group fronts, labor unions, campus activists, and academics make up one component. The other is people from S. W. province of S. Korea. It is ingrained to the bone that they have to rebel anything which can be opposite of the direction their god Kim Dae-jung preached. This fanatic tribalism can mobilize large number of people. So if you see violent sustained unrest in Seoul, you would easily see that participants are mostly from these two groups, and other people mixed in as marginal participants whipped up by incitement and agitation. Especially the second group provides enough manpower to make it sufficiently big and sustainable. Without two groups, it would be far less organized and response would be muted, as we see now. The two groups are currently busy subscribing to all manners of conspiracy theories to pin blame on current government.
    For the second group of people, if the other side takes power, they are compelled to oust it at all costs. They feel like it is the end of their existence. This has been the pattern for more than 12 years. Once they had the power, they cannot let it go. Even worse, they made themselves willing accomplice to brutality of N. Korean regime, which is several order of magnitude worse thatn Chun Doo-hwan government did to them in 80’s. S. Korea is full of people who got pissed off by government they lived under and went to the biggest enemy of the govenment at the time. The enemy of my enemy becomes my true savior. If they got pissed off, they junk the whole package and swallow the opposite one in full, without questioning it, and becomes unconditional truth. This is no longer something which can be resolved by rational discussion and reasoned persuasion.
    So, we have member of rabid cult who would fanatically stick to their dogma to the last bitter end. Only the catastrophic blow can wake them out of their madness. The run-of-the-mill 20 something and 30 something folks may look spoiled wimps, and marginal member of the cult. That does not mean that many of them would ditch it once they see their nature. Marginal members could also have identity hard enough to resist change. Especially, it can be sold as part of identity of their generation.
    The two group could be only shaken enough for coming out of their shell if N. Korean regime collapse and the result of its brutality is laid bare in up close and personal manner. It is akin to Nazi concentration camp finally opened and allowing people to see horror inside up-close. Grievance S. Korean left and its loyal ally, folks from S.W. province, are being nursed and regenerated and sustains the identity of the said two groups. However, their grievance and sense of victimhood would pale in comparison with what N. Korean people went through. When N. Korean regime goes down, N. Korean people will learn about these collaborators in S. Korea, and won’t forgive them for next 50 years. They would be on the receiving end of denunciation and hatred they hurled against their opponents in S. Korea. The silverling from this looming tragedy is that cripping shock from N. Korea’s liberation would inflict irrevocable damage to S. Korean left. They cannot shake out of their role of collaboration with one of the most heinous regime in history. They loved to claim that their connection with N. Korea is merely incidental, something they can ditch if necessary. However, that is far from true. It was deeply ingrained part of their identity. No amount of their repackaging cannot wash it away. Their action and attitude would give it away, no matter how they claim otherwise. The Cheonan incident is a mini-catastrophe of sorts to the left. It ended up taking off the mask from S. Korean left and showing glimpse of their true nature: ingrained pro-North reflex and leftwing nature they loved to cover up it as claiming that they are moderates. Whole hosts of leftwing figures got snared by Cheonan incident, prematurely and stubbornly denying N. Korean involvement. There will be more to come, as N. Korean regime continues to head down to its end.
    N. Korean regime and S. Korean left are connected with umbilical cord. Whether any of those from S. Korean left is directly recruited by N. Korea as spies or agents is not important. When N. Korean regime dies, S. Kroean left would wither.

    So next time you see another violent leftwing mass riot in Seoul, it would be almost certain that it was organized by leftwing front groups with the extensive support of militant union(including financial support,) and mass participation from those who hail from certain region of S. Korea. The participation from the rest of society would be marginal, and short-lived. They are the vocal minorities and it would be misguided to judge the whole situation based on their public display. No doubt they have bullying power, but they also turn off majority of people in S. Korea. That is why their political party is not popular among general population. In a way, S. Korea is fortunate in that it would take bitter medicine before the cancer of pro-North left spread to the core.




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  9. “Where’s the Outrage” has engendered an excellent discussion on this board of the moral issues attendant to the Cheonan sinking. Mr. Stanton does well to suggest the scenario if the shoe were on the other foot. Particularly though Moon over Namsan is terribly telling in each of his points above. Just as local German townspeople were marched through Nazi concentration camps upon their liberation by Allied forces in 1945 to force them to confront their willful ignorance of evil, so I have hoped that when Korea’s great day comes, a good few liberal arts and social sciences professors in Seoul, and Sunshine policy diehards in Honam should be made to confront their willful ignorance of evil. Korean people on either side of the Imjin will according to their different needs at the time find moral regeneration and peace in Him, and then folks in Kwangju and Chongjin can accept each other as brothers.




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  10. A thought experiment: image the outrage we’d see if a U.S. Navy ship had sunk the Cheonan accidentally.

    Your hypothetical question may get a real-life answer if conspiracy theories gain traction. Far lefist web posts citing Korean MSM reports are getting translated and picked by Japanese and US fringe and leftist outlets like Democratic Underground. The Jaju Minbo claimed that a KBS news report showed footage of a US helicopter lifting what looked like the body of a US soldier out of the water and cited this as proof that a US submarine was sunk after a collision with the Cheonan. I found a still photo and it appears the corpse was encased in a black body bag. Not sure how the sleuths at Jaju were able to determine the nationality of the corpse in the bag.

    Even reasoned MH commenters like Craash and Seoulfinn wonder why there’s so much rust on the torpedo, apparently unaware that the hull of the Cheonan bears a similar degree of rust in places. It’s too easy for consipiracy theorists to litter the internet with claims about bodies and rust, citing Korean sources that most of the world cannot locate and read and making allegations that most readers lack the background knowledge and critical thinking skills to question. I wouldn’t have thought about comparing rust on the torpedo to rust on the hull until I read a comment on a Free Republic thread and searched for photos.

    I think a fair number of Koreans, perhaps even a majority, will give credence to conspiracy theories blaming the US military because it’s preferable to acknowledging that North Koreans murdered 46 South Koreans and weighing possible responses.




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  11. Firstly, Joshua, you assume in your thought experiment, that the average South Korean believes the official account. I didn’t even have to elicit – indeed, I was trying to avoid it, but the lesson involved conspiracy theories – an account of the Cheonan incident for my students at PNU to give me a synopsis, complete with the opinion that it might be a conspiracy theory. The belief that it might be fiction is out there and very strong.

    Also, as far as Myers’ main point, John Pomfret argued that China might be the loser here, if it’s perceived as the heavy supporting the DPRK too loyally. And, if the US can position itself as South Korea’s more culturally attractive and loyal ally, as it did during the Cheonan investigation with the Lee administration, it might win back fans. As China becomes identified more with the DPRK and t has to use its soft power to compensate for its policy failures in failed states, South Koreans might not admire it any more. South Koreans still admire American culture – support for whiter skin and music couldn’t be any louder in my classes – but South Koreans prefer a supportive ally to a commanding one. So, I disagree with the entire premise of your post. Not only is it apples and oranges as Kushibo rightly points out, but the US might have exceeded its own expectations in this crisis.




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  12. I would also point out that, although my students do not identify as left-leaning by any standard, still they nearly unequivocally express skepticism about the major conservative dailies. This goes as well for my wife and our friends who are older. Any information from a major daily is not trusted, and that also came up in the students’ accounts of what they perceived to be a possible conspiracy theory centered around the Cheonan. In another lesson on media, students expressed exasperation with the lack of media sources they could consume.




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  13. South Koreans might not admire it any more. South Koreans still admire American culture – support for whiter skin and music couldn’t be any louder in my classes –

    Korean pop music has strong American influences, but the desire for lily white skin dates back centuries before the first hairy barbarian appeared on the peninsula and is shared by other Asian cultures. Popular white Western entertainers have long sported fake or real tans, and ordinary white Americans don’t look very white from June to September. The preference for tanned skin hasn’t gone unnoticed by Koreans, who proudly attribute their youthful looks to an avoidance of the sun. If Koreans really wanted to emulate the appearance of Westerners, they’d eat to put on at least 30 pounds.

    Any information from a major daily is not trusted, and that also came up in the students’ accounts of what they perceived to be a possible conspiracy theory centered around the Cheonan. In another lesson on media, students expressed exasperation with the lack of media sources they could consume.

    I share your students’ frustration. The severe polarization of the Korean media and general lack of professionalism reduce their value as sources of information, especially on controversial events and topics. The best Korea-related content comes respected Koreanists publishing in foreign media.




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  14. Firstly, Joshua, you assume in your thought experiment, that the average South Korean believes the official account.

    Not at all. I’m finding significance in the still-unquantified percentage of South Koreans who choose not to believe the multinational investigation report, in defiance of overwhelming evidence, because they’d rather not believe the conclusion. We both know that there wouldn’t be conspiracy theories all over the internet if the multinational investigation found that a U.S. Navy torpedo accidentally sank the Cheonan. There would be riots.

    Yet you seem to give credence to their disbelief. Do fill us in, and then explain to us why we should accept this as reasonable. Why not add their thoughts on Roswell, 9-11, and Michael Jackson’s autopsy? Or tell us where they do get their news? That would be more probative than whether they identify themselves as left-leaning.

    I’m not quite at the point of giving up on South Korea, at least not yet. This episode may well have moved the majority of them closer to reality. And it may well be that it’s just the goofy nationalist left that knows how to organize mobs of wacky netizens. I suspect the results of the next election will enlighten us all.




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  15. I’m back from the airport. 🙂 My Myers mentions “a small but sizable minority” that “suspect an elaborate government conspiracy of some sort,” in a way that suggests it may be more representative of the larger population that has “more sympathy for North Korea… than foreigners commonly realize.”

    I hate to seem as if I’m making a tu quoque argument, but let’s analogize the “Southers” to “Truthers” or “Birthers.” Right now 14% of Americans believe President Obama was born outside the US (28% of Republicans believe this, while 30% aren’t sure), while in 2006 about 36% of Americans “suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.”

    While these may also qualify as a “small but sizable minority,” I would be remiss in characterizing Americans in general of being Birthers or Truthers, or even suggesting that there is “more sympathy” for these views than “non-Americans commonly realize.”

    This was sloppy. Very sloppy. It is a facile idea desperately searching for facts to support it. Sloppy.




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  16. Oh, crap. I forgot to mention Joshua’s thought experiment. This one doesn’t require too much rumination, because it is obvious how the chinboistas would run with it:

    This same kind of thing plays out again and again. Each potential issue must be pushed as far as it can go to see which has the potential to resonate with the larger public that is not accustomed to going out and protesting or even attending candlelight vigils. Like blasting solid rock with high-pressure water hoses to see where the one fissure is that will — if the pressure remains high and constant — eventually be the crack that splits the rock in half.

    They might go further with this particular issue, but ultimately, I think cooler heads would prevail (à la USS Stark?), but it would get very, very, very loud from that side.

    Indeed, this underscores one of the apples-and-oranges differences between the vocal fringe on the far left versus the middle or right: the latter have jobs and other day-to-day things they must do and are not supported to sustain a campaign of white noise against their opponents.

    But I don’t like such hypotheticals anyway. How is it that the US would come to accidentally torpedo it’s ally’s ship? Would it be denying the situation à la Pyongyang? Would there be a touchy situation going on at the time that would complicate things to the point of such egregious friendly fire?

    And I really hate to skewer the general population based on a presumed reaction to a hypothetical that has not occurred. There are already too many expats in Korea who are angry over things that could happen but haven’t.

    Heck, even before the Chonan sunk, I wouldn’t have even wanted to entertain a hypothetical about that kind of thing.




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  17. Sonagi: Good points all. But, most South Korean students wouldn’t think that far back or that critically. Americans are lucky when the ephemera of popular culture works for them in the ROK. I think what Pomfret is arguing is, that policy-makers should heed that. Visits by American leaders are always helpful, especially when they open themselves up to candid conversations. That’s a very endearing aspect of Korean culture.

    Joshua: Quite the contrary! Students and my wife overwhelmingly identify as conservative – believe it or not my wife votes GNP. But, my wife complains about her own parents’ subscription to the Dong-A. Busanites are generally conservative, GNP supporters. I think it’s generational and cultural. The editorial style of the media is stodgy and preaching, like the public school teachers they despise. Or, media just reminds them of a parents’ lecture.Most told me they get news from blogs and comments boards – and I always take that opportunity to promote the Korea expat blogosphere, including this blog, for informational and educational purposes.

    Again, though, I agree with Kushibo. Your hypothetical is incendiary and no one expressed that opinion. South Koreans, beyond the fringe, are not anti-American, but rather anti-hegemony. America is aces until it starts acting like a doddering professor or parent. In connection with the Cheonan, I also wanted to say, that what I think made the average person angry was not the attack per se, but the loss of life. I think South Koreans assume the North Koreans will do what they do to annoy everyone, but murdering sailors, sons, brothers, and husbands, crosses the line. My wife always says, that she thinks of her brothers who have finished their military service, whenever any conscript dies in one of these incidents. It was noteworthy, too, that students began their sentences with “46 died…”, or used the name of the diver first or in the first sentence in English. It took forethought to craft what they were trying to say, and I find it interesting that’s what they first wanted to say, before talking about conspiracies or even the North Koreans or government. But, after that it was hard really to distinguish which was worse, government r North Koreans. Like the 2002 incident with the schoolgirls, it’s personal, not political.




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  18. I always take that opportunity to promote the Korea expat blogosphere, including this blog, for informational and educational purposes.

    Wow. You really like me? Now I know how Sally Field felt.

    South Koreans, beyond the fringe, are not anti-American, but rather anti-hegemony.

    A little known fact: Noam Chomsky gets a five-cent royalty every time that word is used. Anyway, out with the egemony-hay! Wait till things settle down and withdraw the ground forces. But the air and naval forces probably contribute more to regional stability than they cost us in political capital, and they’re far enough south that they’re much less vulnerable.




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  19. Aside from a sincere effort to keep it fair and balanced – hah! – various conservative bloggers have caused my gorge to rise for years. But, there are gems in the trash, whether it’s straight facts or info on what’s happening with the activist groups. And, no matter what is said, we’re both always soldiers. My battle buddy in BCT was a Pentecostal Christian who annoyed me to no end about religion and his conservative opinions, but after two years of training and all these years after our discharges, I’d guard him and his family with my life like nothing changed. I actually agree that USFK should be redeployed. It’s a libertarian point I want progressives to support. But, as Charli Carpenter has argued, this has to happen in the context of a long-term plan with ample provision for human security and human rights.

    And, Noam deserves our money!




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  20. I actually agree that USFK should be redeployed. It’s a libertarian point I want progressives to support.

    The imagined cost savings of pulling out US forces is a fantasy of people who do not fully understand how much Northeast Asian peace and stability relies on the unique role of the US presence, and do not have enough creativity to realize how things will precipitately go south not long after the US departure (eventually leading to a war that sucks the US in and costs the US economically in a way that negates the imagined cost savings).

    The Pax Americana in Northeast Asia is good for the region, good for the US, and good for our values, but it’s as if the very success of the US presence is being used as a reason to dismantle it. Joshua’s suggestion…

    Wait till things settle down and withdraw the ground forces. But the air and naval forces probably contribute more to regional stability than they cost us in political capital, and they’re far enough south that they’re much less vulnerable.

    … is as far as it should ever go. Something on the ground — a substantial naval base and air base like we already have, and possibly an army base that can be used to train troops and deploy them around Asia — should remain in order to have utility and to make it absolutely clear to the usual suspects that the Korean Peninsula is hands-off.




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  21. I do not think the lack of street protests against the North Koreans in the South is a lack of patriotism or anger against the North. It is very tiring to be a South Korean adult. They work the longest hours amongst nations in the OECD and they live in one of the most hyper-materialistic and competitive societies in the world. Also when fighting a war will mean your life is on line and your apartment is within artillery range of the enemy, you start thinking hard rather than acting up.

    There are over a million men in South Korea who are on call for the Reserve forces and I am certain quite a few of them were checking their uniforms, combat boots and dog tags when President Lee announced formally that they had found fragments of a North Korean torpedo. The reason they do not join street protests against North Korea is that they are all too aware that when the shit hits the fan, they will be called to do a whole lot more.

    I do not believe anyone who has not served in a military force where combat is imminent can understand what goes on in the minds of 20 and 30-something South Korean males. The most major factor is that really really awful things happening is a major possibility and that they have a lot of stuff to do that is more urgent than shouting at a rally.




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  22. Here’s yet another reason to detest Leftist religious groups and their bizarre approaches to persecuted Christians:

    “Seemingly, Western church groups, especially, the World Council of Churches, always view South Korea or the U.S. as responsible for ‘provoking’ North Korean aggression.

    “These church groups not only have been silent about North Korea’s various aggressions, including the recent torpedo attack. Even more egregiously, they are silent or even make absurd excuses for North Korea’s inhuman persecution of Christians. Western church groups often naively visit North Korea’s handful of government-run show churches in Pyongyang.

    The World Council of Churches Communists has a great deal to do with the world and almost nothing to do with Church. This is unconscionable and worthy of the sternist condemnation.




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  23. This is about as complete and entertaining a paean of the theory of geographic hegemony as is to found anywhere. However, for those that espouse power transition theory, or, like me, see pax americana as an episode in the history of balance of power, this episode will pass, at the worst bloodily. It behooves a responsible power to transfer its powers wisely before its declining economic and diplomatic powers lead to a contest over its corpse.

    As for your long list of open wounds America keeps cauterizing, they are nonetheless America’s fault, including Formosa. The rickety infrastructure of corporate links, captured domestic and foreign interest groups and their regulatory agencies, and military bases still can’t justify keeping the wounds bleeding. America’s main interest lies in keeping the air and sea transport links open, and nothing more. On that much, I do agree with you.




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  24. In case you doubt NK’s brutal repression and persecution of Christians, consider this.

    Each year Open Doors releases the World Watch List, a detailed analysis of Christian persecution worldwide. In this free resource, countries are evaluated and ranked according to the severity of persecution that occured in the past year.

    This year North Korea again sits at the top the list.

    “There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner,” says Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA. Watch video interview>>

    One expert on North Korea stated: “Christians are the target of fierce government action, and once caught, are not regarded as human. Last year we had evidence that some [of those captured] were used as guinea pigs to test chemical and biological weapons.”

    Despicable.




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  25. gems in the trash

    🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks for making me start the day with a laugh, Left Flank. I suppose that metaphor is slightly more complimentary than one about the broken clock being right twice a day.




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  26. Once again I want to thank Mr. Stanton and all of the thoughtful posters here at OFK. I continue to learn much.




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