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The left-right confrontation in Korea - Its origin
A short history of modern Korea as seen from a Korean nationalist’s eye
Kim Young Sik, Ph.D.
10/23/2003

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[The following is an excerpt from Kim Young Sik's paper "The left-right confrontation in Korea."]

They say that Korea is the last place on Earth where the Cold War is still hot. Decades after the Cold War had ended elsewhere in the world, the Koreans are still at it, willing to kill each other with gusto. Today, the four horses of Apocalypse – famine, death, pestilence, and war - are galloping toward Korea: North Korea is going nuclear and the US and its allies – Japan and South Korea - are gearing up for a nuclear war in Korea.

Why do Koreans want to kill fellow Koreans? If you were to ask one hundred experts, you will most likely get one hundred different answers. Having lived through some of the most turbulent years in our history, I have formulated my own take on the root cause of the Korean ‘puzzle’ and tragedy. I am sure many of you in the audience will not agree with what I am about to say - but all I ask is that you put on your best critical thinking hat and reexamine the modern history of Korea as you know it.

My proposition is that the Korean people suffer from the trauma of the Japanese occupation of Korea that began in the 1880s, that the left-right conflicts, which began early in the 1900s – decades before the Cold War began - are syndromes of post trauma stress, and that the best way to cure us of the syndromes is to seek the truth and learn to see beyond the dunghill of distortions, lies, and half-truths that divide the Korean people. The truth will set us free from our long nightmares. When the truth is known, the post-trauma stress syndromes will go away and we will be able to see things more clearly and objectively, and we will become free to strive to understand the other side – the real other side untainted by untruth. Then, Korea will become one happy nation again.

Kim Young Sik is the editor of Korea WebWeekly.

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