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Meant to post this yesterday, when it was actually March 1st.
Declared by the nationalist with a buzz of Wilsonian self-determination, March 1st, 1919 became a famous day for Koreans.
We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people. We tell it to the world in witness of the equality of all nations and we pass it on to our posterity as their inherent right.
We make this proclamation, having 5,000 years of history, and 20,000,000 united loyal people. We take this step to insure to our children for all time to come, personal liberty in accord with the awakening consciousness of this new era. This is the clear leading of God, the moving principle of the present age, the whole human race’s just claim. It is something that cannot be stamped out, stifled, gagged, or suppressed by any means.
An English translation of the Korean Declaration of Independence is provided by Columbia University and can be found HERE.
A cursory look at Bruce Cumings’ completed works list shows the amount of research he has done in an area of the world often misunderstood, or simply “forgotten,” by those of us in — or from — the West. Cumings’ work on the Korean War and the myriad of issues related to the devastating conflict that left a nation destroyed, divided and dirt poor is valuable not solely for the fact it highlights the geopolitical importance America has placed on Korea (and the resulting devastation because of America’s decision to have Korea serve as the ramming head of the bulwark against communist expansion), but because of Cumings’ focus on the travails of the ordinary person, something that other historians tend to avoid. However, the more I read of (and read about) Bruce Cumings, the more torn I feel about him.
I’ve some comments on Carter J. Eckert’s Offspring of Empire: The Koch’ang Kims and the Colonial Origins of Korean Capitalism 1876-1945, which I just finished, and a concept I learned of while at the POSCO museum in Pohang, South Korea (포항). This in addition to some other musings on articles and books I’ve read over the last week.
The rise of China has become a fact although whether it is peaceful or not is still controversial. Having the current hegemon (the US) as an integral player despite the actual geographical distance, it brought new dynamics in East Asian geopolitics. Naturally, Sino-US relations (or power competition) have become a major issue among scholars and experts. The reason is simple: their relations make peripheral states feel uncomfortable. South Korea in particular, has had a dilemma between the two powers; China as a no.1 trade partner on the one hand, and the US as an old and firm security ally on the other hand. Is it too fortunate to have both? Yes or No. One thing for sure is that both powers attempt to have more impact on South Korea. In other words, Korea is becoming a competition arena for them. Regarding this surroundings, it is a significant time for South Korean decision makers. However, it seems that they are making a situation worse. The KORUS FTA is a case that proves this point.
One rather peculiar thing I’ve noticed about the South Korean media is that whenever a big-time Korea-related story occurs there is a tendency to report the fact that major non-Korean media sources also reported on that story. When I started reading North Korean media, I quickly noticed the North Korean tendency to do the same. I’m not a media analyst, so I don’t know how prevalent this practice is in other countries, nor do I have any idea about why and when it started on the Korean Peninsula. Feedback in this regard is most welcome. Since the last major story on the Peninsula was the death of Kim Jong Il, we’ll look at how two major media outlets in both countries dealt with the the “foreign reaction.”
Now I’ve seen it all…