Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Guess where this is from

Answer here It's important to look at the reality and not just accept the stereotypes we are given. While certainly the poorest state in the region and also the unhappiest, human beings live there.
It's a lovely place, Charles. Makes me think of Ireland -- the thatched cottages, the incredible greenery everywhere. And its people are very strong and hardworking.
Well, yes... and also terrified and hungry and repressed, PW. That's the sad thing. And the winters are pretty nasty, not like Ireland at all.

Americans don't understand the history. US forces and Soviet forces rushed into Korea after the collapse of Japan. South Korea was controlled by Syngman Rhee while North Korea was controlled by Kim Il Sung's forces. Basically South Korea started the war by refusing to abide by the trusteeship plan hammered out during WW II, creating a crisis of governance.

Rhee was not exactly a poster boy for democracy. As Wikipedia says, "he governed in an authoritarian manner and allowed the internal security force to detain and torture several suspected Communists and North Korean agents. His government also oversaw several massacres...On April 28, a DC-4 belonging to the CIA operated Civil Air Transport swiped Rhee out of South Korea and away from the clutches of a lynch mob that was closing in. Kim Yong Kap, Rhee's Deputy Minister of Finance, revealed that President Rhee had embezzeled $20 million in government funds." What followed in both north and south was not democracy, though the north was of course more brutal. There are suggestions in the history that Rhee murdered political opponents.

Frankly, if the US government had not been so concerned about the shipping lanes near Japan and the encroachment of the Soviets on them, we might have happily let the factions fight it out. Very likely Korea as a whole would have democratized in synch with China. Instead, we have a south always in danger of reverting to authoritarianism and a north that verges on the deranged. I think that if there were not such vigorous opposition to Bush, the United States could come to resemble North Korea quite closesly.
My god, what a beautiful country. Thanks for the pix, PW.
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