Event with a Lasting Impact on Korea
The Korean War is an event that will forever be remembered in the Korean history. In this war, over two million Koreans were killed and thousands were separated from their families. Moreover, this war made it difficult for the Koreans to grasp the idea of peace. Psychological peace is still not part of them because the war not only splits the land but it also separates families. The war ended through an armistice agreement; however, this agreement cannot remedy the suffering that the Koreans went through during that period.
Any war exacts a toll on civilians and the Koreans are no exception. There were a large number of Korean civilian causalities as some were missing, dead, and wounded. Over a million people fled from the northern to the southern part of the country during the early days of the war. Noteworthy, the majority of those people expected to return to their homes once the war ended, but it was not the case. In 2002, the government sponsored reunions, and it brought together some families in North Korea after 50 years. Sadly, some families fled to the south during the war, but their bond was broken as parents were apprehended or killed while their children were lost and died of hunger.
Evidently, the number of families disrupted during the war is not known. However, in 1999, the Associated Press informed the world of a cruel incident that had an impact on the thousands of Korean civilians. The press told the sad story of No Gun RI, where South Korean refugees were killed by the US soldiers in the fear that agents from North Korea had penetrated the fleeing families. The Southern Koreans who were killed were peasant families; their death was a result of fights between the American forces and the North Korean invaders. The civilians were not only shot under direct orders but they were also victims of indirect and random violence.
Accordingly, the Korean War had negative and positive effects on Korea and the whole world. Being the most damaging war, it brought both social and economic damage to Korea. After three years of bombing, there was barely a modern building left standing. The war further strengthened the boundaries between South and North Korea. Now, South Korea a free republic, and North Korea is a communist state. Nonetheless, countries such as Japan and the USA benefited from the Korean War because it boosted their economy. The war boosted Japan’s economy in that the war materials were bought from Japan. Although the Korean War was devastating, it was able to bring a fresh start to the Japanese in the form of a better economy. Furthermore, the Korean War not only legitimized the United Nations but also led to an increase of military power. It is due to this war that America had established its series of military bases all over the world as well as its intelligence and defense systems at home.
Moreover, the Korean War caused the death of many parents, leaving behind many orphans. These orphans formed a part of the refugees, and as a result, an adoption stream amongst the US and Korea began. More to say, it runs until today. The Korean War created not only orphans but also bi-racial children; they were fathered by American soldiers and born to Korean women. After the war, the Korean government created the Ministry of Social Affairs that saw to it that mixed-race children were sent overseas for adoption. Considering the fact that the Koreans cherished their bloodlines, it was difficult to accept children from other races. The majority of the Koreans still experience the aftermath of war; some live in the hope of seeing their lost families again while others live in the guilt of giving up their children for adoption.
Steps to Repel Invasion
The Japanese had always thought themselves as a strong country, one that could not be conquered by the West. However, they were proved wronged when an American Navy, Matthew C. Perry, stormed one of their bays. The Japanese ordered him to leave, but he did not comply with the directive. Later, he later brought the Japanese the treaty to sign, and the terms of the treaty were dictated by the US. Japan did not have a choice but to comply since they were technically outmatched. As the result of being forced to sign the treaty, the Japanese decided they had to be as powerful as the West or bear the risk of being beaten by them. Consequently, the Japanese imitated the West greatly. Not only did they adopt the dressing style of the West, but also they recreated their military like that of the West.
For Japanese to match up to the West truly, it had to engage in imperialism, a country that failed to engage in colonialism appeared to be weak. Japan had to appear strong and the only way it could do this was attack Korea. By this time, Japan looked at Korea as a massive liability in that it had not yet made reforms like Japan, and it could be conquered easily by any Western nation, making Japan vulnerable to invasion. Japanese had to deal with this situation like the West, and their aim was to attack Korea. Evidently, Japan had the motive to attack Korea, and it was only fair for Korea to prepare for a war.
Commonly, countries have been known to retaliate whenever an attack on them happens. The desire for revenge is so strong that people forget there are other ways of solving conflicts peacefully. For example, if Japan were to attack Korea, then Korea would definitely have felt the need to revenge. However, to prevent an attack by Japan, it was advisable for Korea to make peace with Japan. Japan could be interested in the coal available in Korea and to have this coal, then a peaceful agreement on how the trade should have been conducted must come in place. Korea had to understand the factors leading to the desire for an attack by Japan. Japan wanted to feel like a colonial state; it would have been wise for Korea to join arms with Japan. This would happen through having diplomatic talks that would bring these two countries together.
Secondly, Korea could have peacekeeping talks with Japan. It is important for the conflicting parties to negotiate peace settlements. The two countries could aid each other in building workable institutions of governance, through monitoring the human rights, and disarmament. These countries should have understood that when there is a war, both parties suffer. Therefore, they should have laid strong foundations for maintainable development and peace. The military in both countries should not be quick to engage in a war; they should maintain peace in their countries.
Nonetheless, proper communication between Japan and Korea should have been carried out to avoid information failures that may lead to misunderstandings. Therefore, it was advisable to choose skilled and knowledgeable people to take part in peace talks. These two nations should have been willing to finance development in the two countries among the disadvantaged groups. Joining hands make the two nations stronger, and thus, able to stand on their defense in case any western country attacks. Finally, the two nations should have come to an agreement on disarmament; this way, they could trust each other and decide to work as a team. Democratic institutions should have been promoted so that future conflicts could be prevented.
Radical Changes in Korean History
The term ‘jag-pa-ganda’ and ‘shijip-ganda’ represent the Joseon period and the modern period in the Korean history respectively. During the Joseon period, Korea was an agricultural country, and it depended on farming for their source of income. Korean society during the Joseon period had perfected its art in farming, producing more harvest without overstraining the soil. Therefore, this society worked on producing everything it required without much strain. The Koreans had efficiently distributed their labor and the only time they worked hard was during the planting and harvesting season.
Although traditional Korea was to be admired for its collective labor and good crop produce, it had its downside. It was a monarchy with different classes of people and it was a male-dominated society. Nevertheless, traditional Korea had certainly admirable charms; constant competition amongst the people was unheard of. Simply put, the Koreans worked hard to produce more than they had to and enjoyed their free time without trying to outrun each other. However, this was short-lived when the issue of modernity came in. Korea as a country was comfortable with the way it ran its business but countries like Japan, France, and America felt that Korea had to embrace modernity.
Despite the fact that embracing modernity should be the choice of an individual country, it was a different case in Korea. Modernity was imposed on Korea first by the American and French warships that demanded the opening of the ports in Korea. Secondly, Japan imposed modernity by utilizing Korea’s human resource. The main principle of modernity is to turn people into resources. Japan felt that it was superior to Korea and felt the need to impose its ideas on Korea; people were dehumanized and objectified. Sadly, most Koreans were subjected to hard labor that left hundreds of them dead. As if that was not enough, the Japanese took the Korean women to work as sex slaves for their soldiers. To worsen the situation, thousands of Koreans were taken by Japanese to serve as lab specimen in human experimentation.
Consequently, Koreans had no choice but to modernize; they did not want to undergo such cruelty again. Therefore, it was not a surprise that Koreans had focused on modernizing as quickly as they could. This could evidently be seen during the reign of Park Chung- hee, a dictator who led Korea into joining the first world. In most of his speeches, Park Chung-hee always talked of homeland modernization. However, Korea was very far in the race the world was engaged in towards modernity. Therefore, Korea had to devise a way of catching up with the nations that were far ahead in the race. In order to catch up, Korea managed to commodify its citizens better than any other country had. Due to its experience with Japan, it was not hard to put the practice of commodifying people into use. Hence, Korea immensely invested in education and raised high numbers of skilled people.
Through the authoritarian rule and nationalistic exhortation, Korea was able to the squeeze maximum labor out of the skilled people; the result was Korea being among the leading nations in modernity. Focusing on the changes Korea has faced, modernity can be classified as the major cause of the problems. Furthermore, modernity is not a problem limited to Korea, but it is a universal problem. Every capitalistic and industrialized society encounters this problem. The results of modernization are high death rates, as people struggle to meet the demands of the growing society, and once they cannot, they chose death as their exit.