Stumbling into History


A week or so ago, I popped into David Stockman’s website.  He was in the Reagan administration for awhile before getting the boot.  Very sharp guy regarding economics.  Anyway, he had an entry about The Donald and the offer to sit down for talks with North Korea.   I expected some commentary, but ended up with a bit of history lesson instead.

Like many Americans, the only things I knew about Korea were:

  1. We fought a war there in the 50’s, when North Korea invaded South Korea.
  2. Korea was divided in two at some earlier point in history.
  3. They make an awful lot of cars and electronics.
  4. Some of their food is “call the fire department  because flames are shooting out of your mouth” hot.

Well, it turns out that there are some valid reasons that Koreans in the past have been wary of the US.  After being partially colonized by Japan up to and including WWII, the country was arbitrarily divided at the 38th parallel by the US and Russia.  It was not a well thought out decision, but instead a decision made in 30 minutes by the US the night of Japan’s surrender.  The idea was to prevent Russia from getting the whole territory.

So then the US went into the south, set up a strongman (sound familiar?), and proceeded to help kill and bomb quite a bit of the country.  This was prior to the 1950 invasion by the North.  In addition, the side the US was backing had a large contingent of Koreans who had collaborated with Japan.  So obviously there was a lot of resentment by Koreans.  So when the North invaded, it wasn’t necessarily just a power grab.

It has some parallels to Vietnam, and I would encourage you to read the article.  I am putting a link below:


Just gives you a little more information about why the North would be paranoid about the US, and why the US wasn’t always the good guy riding to the rescue.

2 thoughts on “Stumbling into History”

  1. Keep in mind that the Koreans have been historically just as wary of the Russia as Japan. The Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) was fought over who would dominate Manchuria and Korea. In that war, the Japanese were seen locally as the good guys, not because they were good, but because their treatment of the locals was several orders of magnitude nicer than the Russians.

    As for those who fled both North Korea and North Vietnam, it wasn’t just the old colonial collaborators, it was Social Democrats, Socialists, Trotskyists and the whole panorama of political dissidents. Both Kim and Ho-Chi-Minh made their bones by slaughtering 10’s of thousands of their political opponents and their families well before they turned attention to colonial matters.

    1. Thanks for the additional info. I think even the chinese were messing with korea over history. I feel sorry for the koreans.
      Have not looked into the early years of kim and minh. One of these days…

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