Monday, January 08, 2007

How history is selected by Korean people

.....The panel reviewed the book, which tells the story of a Japanese family fleeing Korea at the end of World War II, after about a dozen parents complained that it was unfair in its portrayal of Koreans and too graphic for 11- and 12-year olds.

"If it was a perfect world, I would like to see us vote on it in January," said School Committee chairwoman Ellen Williamson . She said a vote was possible but she didn't know whether her fellow members felt they had enough information to vote.

Even if removed from the curriculum, the award-winning book, which has been taught in the district for 13 years, will remain in the school library.
The "fictionalized autobiography" was written by Yoko Kawashima Watkins, whose family lived in Korea during the war while her father, a Japanese government official, worked in Manchuria.

After the war, Japanese citizens were forced out of Korea, which they had occupied for more than three decades. Many thousands of Koreans had been killed or wounded or drafted into forced labor during the occupation.

The story, told through the eyes of Watkins, who was 11 at the time, details her family's perilous journey. She, her sister, and her mother are hunted by Koreans because of her father's role in the government. In the book, the girl witnesses women being raped and sees people die. Returning to Japan, the mother dies, and the girl and her sister are left in desperate poverty.

The book is taught in middle schools across the state and country.

Watkins, who lives on Cape Cod, has visited several area schools to talk about the book.
But Henry Jaung, father of a sixth-grader in the Dover-Sherborn schools, has argued that the book tells a one-sided story with no historical context.

He said it portrays Koreans as the villains without any reference to the wrongs committed against the Koreans by the Japanese occupiers. He also argued that the book's graphic content is inappropriate for such young children.

Other parents and students have come out in support of the book, praising it as a much-loved educational experience and a book that illustrates the evils of war in genera.....By Lisa Kocian, Globe Staff | December 31, 2006/Boston com

via 世の中をなま暖かく見守るブログ

And how it should be taught.

Zonath from United States
Posted January 9, 2007 at 3:44 am | Permalink

I think some of you are pretty hard on the Koreans…..for example. Just out of curiousity. What would/could have France done if Russia, England and America had all signed treaties or consented to Nazi Germany’s invasion of France?

France probably couldn’t have done a whole lot, given that the interventions on their behalf basically saved French independence. So where are we going with this one? France, unlike Korea at the time, actually acted to protect itself and ensure that, when Germany invaded, other countries would come to its aid. Korea didn’t act until it was much too late. So really, what’s the difference here? Maybe, by fostering the kinds of international relationships that could protect it, France ensured that its occupation was a short one. And maybe, by closing its doors to the outside world for an extended period of time, Korea weakened itself so greatly (both in its international relations and its technological prowess) that it basically ensured that its own occupation would be much longer than otherwise.

Of course, I point all this out (I’m hard on Korea) not so much for the general pleasure of attempting to crush long-held and mistaken beliefs of persecution and victimhood that the South Korean school system seems to enjoy fostering, but because those beliefs threaten to make much the same thing happen again. Korea’s famous isolationism has long been its single greatest weakness, and continues to be such. Let me just point out my own hypothetical… If tomorrow, China invaded North Korea, what would be the eventual result? Sure, there would be protests and such, and the US and SK would probably move their armies closer to the DMZ in order to make sure that the Chinese army stopped there… There would be the inevitable threats of punitive sanctions against China… But who would actually lift a finger to help North Korea? What country would feel obligated to North Korea in such a way that they would go to war with China in order to ensure that North Korea stayed an actual country rather than a province of China? My guess is that, when the dust settled, and all the sabres stopped rattling, China would have a shiny (or dusty) new province, and the rest of the world would be well pleased about it. A few of them might even secretly agree with China beforehand not to intervene if such a move be made. Would this mean that they’d be selling North Korea down the river? (Of course, this assumes that a Chinese invasion led to a quick collapse of the KJI regime rather than a regional nuclear conflict…)

And so where is South Korea in all this? It’s continuing to press down its own road of isolation by trying to play the ‘balancer’ role in the region. It’s alienating its neighbors by insisting on pressing issues that would probably be better ignored. It’s stupidly isolating its agricultural markets rather than modernizing them. And all this while teaching its students that the Japanese occupation was anyone’s fault but Korea’s, rather than realizing that there’s an important lesson to be learned in history, not just justifications for their own impressively stupid and wrong-headed nationalism.

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