Monday, May 14, 2007

미국은 은인이 아니죠?

During class recently, my Korean teacher at SKS was talking about tour in Korea when she mentioned about Gwanghwamun being a pick-up point for tour buses. I agreed with her because I used to wait for the tour bus, which took us to Jisan Ski Resort, at a place near to Gwanghwamun subway station. Just to ensure I got it right, I added that there was also a bronze statue of Admiral Yi Sun Shin at the junction. My teacher confirmed that it was the place she was talking about. She went on to say that besides the statue, there is also the Kyobo Life Insurance Building and next to Kyobo is the US Embassy.

"I find it hard to understand why US is allowed to build its Embassy in the heart of Seoul." my teacher said.

"Isn't US the benefactor of South Korea? If that is so, why shouldn't they be given a prime land in Seoul to build their Embassy? I asked.

"Most of the Koreans don't think of US as our benefactor." she replied.

"Why not? Didn't US prevent South Korea from turning into a communist state?" I asked.

"Though I am glad that we did not become communist state, the fact is that many Koreans don't regard US as our benefactor. Do you know Incheon landing?" she looked at me waiting for an answer.

"You mean the Incheon landing during the Korean War." I responded.

"Yes. During the Incheon landing, the US killed a lot of Koreans who came running to them. Furthermore, the US soldiers raped many Korean women during the war. The Chinese soldiers, on the contrary, were more disciplined. They didn't go around raping Korean women and if they did they would be executed." my teacher explained.

I read about the Korean War but those books always carried the perspective of the Americans. It was enlightening to hear a native Korean's perspective about the war. As it is, history is opened to interpretation. It is also not about who was right or wrong, it is about what have we learnt from it.

Just a short note on the Incheon landing. North Korean Peoples Army (NKPA) went pass 38 parallel and started invading the South on June 25, 1950. Within 4 days of the invasion, Seoul was captured. By September that year, the NKPA was already threatening to overrun the Busan Perimeter. Just when the situation at Busan was in dire state, the Incheon landing was made at Wolmido on September 15. That landing was critical in reversing the tide of war in favour of the US-led United Nations Force.

I saw these two mascots of Wolmi Special Tourism Zone outside of the Incheon station. They are called "Worldee". Their head has the symbol of "taegeuk" or "taiji". Their ears are like seagull in flight and their legs are shaped like sea and wave. Looking at these cheery mascots, the pain of war could no longer be felt at Incheon.

Has the memory of pain faded away with time? Sometimes I do feel that the pain has found their way into the Korean dramas, movies and songs. Recently I have been listening to this Korean song "미안해요" (I am sorry) from the OST of the Korean drama "결혼합시다" (Let's get married) which was sung by Bobo. You will probably know what I mean in this paragraph after listening to this song. The song ended with this lyrics "그댈 잡고 싶지만 그 말을 차마 할 수 없죠… ". (I want to hold you back but I cannot bring myself to tell you that.) The song has that tint of sadness that I have come to associate with Korean song.


  1. I think it is that feeling of Han that is ingrained in Korean people I guess...

    Even their traditional pansori also sounds very sad...

  2. Shin, as a Korean, you should know better me, don't you :)

    Aini, lest we forget what? That pansori also sounds very sad?

  3. Oh...."Lest We Forget" is something we usually say/use during Remembrance Day in November or on any other significant memorial day . It means We Should Not Forget what had happened so that we can have a better future/ and live in peace or something.

    Gwangju Massacre Memorial is coming up - on my Dg's Birthday. Gonna blog about that. Dun forget to visit me.