For decades, consumers of the US media have been fed a series of repeated lies concerning the status of northern Korea. Tales of mass starvation and brutal torture are told over and over, occasionally updated but essentially the same as those told when Washington first realized it could not defeat the national forces headquartered in Pyongyang.
Naturally, these stories become more frequent and considerably more dramatic during those times the US military heightens tensions in the region. While some of these “reports” are probably based in fact, the more revealing aspect of their being told is the lack of context involved in their telling.
In other words, most US residents have very little knowledge of Korean history and culture and, if asked, would most likely be unable to identify where Seoul or Pyongyang are on the map. This serves the interests of the powers that be in DC quite nicely. If the citizens of an aggressor nation (which the United States certainly has been in Korea) are ignorant of the land and people their rulers wish to attack, then those citizens are likely to believe most anything they are told by those in power intent on making war.
This seems especially the case when it comes to Korea—now Washington’s longest surviving enemy. Indeed, most all US political figures liberal and conservative, military members and media folks buy into the commonly held portrayal of northern Korea as a land ruled by a brutal dictatorship imposed originally from the outside that starves many of its people and enslaves the rest. Even many of those who have expressed doubts about similar claims made by war hawks in regards to other nations (Iraq, Iran) believe such stories when it comes to Korea.
This situation exists because it strengthens the US argument for the continued occupation of the Korean peninsula and its maintenance of the state of not-quite-war. As author Stephen Gowans makes clear in his recent book Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom, the history of Korea is quite different than that most US residents have been told.
By removing the US-imposed imaginary line of demarcation along the 38thparallel that divides Korea into two entities, Gowans is able to provide a history closer to the Korean history understood by many Koreans. It is a history of resistance to outside intervention; a resistance forged in blood from fighting Japanese and US invaders. It is also a history that emphasizes the self-reliance and independence of a people.
Gowans begins his text with a discussion of Korean history prior to World War Two. His summary highlights the independence of the Korean people and the series of invasions and occupations they repelled over the centuries. He discusses the Japanese occupation in detail, providing a summary of the manner in which the Japanese stole Korean lands, enslaved its people and forced thousands of its women into prostitution to serve Japanese troops.
Concurrent to this history, Gowans explains the world situation at the time—a situation that saw the great imperial powers Britain, Russia, France and the US heading towards war while the lesser powers (esp. Germany and Japan) saw war as the only way they might obtain more resources and markets. Weaving these stories together provides the reader with an alternative understanding of how and why Korea’s history took the path it did.
When the second of the twentieth century’s two great wars was over, Korea was free of outside domination. Japan had been defeated and awaited its fate. Meanwhile, the Korean people began to take back their country. The resistance forces who had helped overthrow the Japanese occupation forces began to set up local and regional governing councils. This action was supported by the Soviet Union but was strongly opposed by the United States, which had already decided it was going to make Korea its outpost in eastern Asia.
To this end, policy makers in Washington and generals in the Pentagon worked together to devise a way to destroy the popular government being constructed in Korea. In a now-familiar scenario, right-wing figures from Korea were given positions of power in the governing structure put in place by Washington, leftist and democratic organizations and individuals were imprisoned, tortured and killed by Washington’s clients, and fake elections were held. Many of the officials in this government had also served the Japanese occupation regime—a fact that did nothing to make the US-imposed authorities any more popular. So, the resistance continued.
The military leadership of Kim Il-sung combined with the popularity of the resistance’s political platform proved a serious opponent to US plans. Ultimately, it was the strength and depth of the resistance that led to the intensification of hostilities, a division of the nation and the conflict the west calls the Korean War.
Patriots, Traitors and Empires: The Story of Korea’s Struggle for Freedom is a crucial text for those seeking to understand how many Koreans see their world. It is fiercely anti-imperialist in its understanding of history and pulls no punches when discussing the destructive nature of the United States’ role in modern Korean history.
Some readers may find Gowans’ indictment too strong and even unfair. If one finds themselves among those readers, I suggest they forge ahead anyhow. His history is not just valid, it is probably closer to the truth than the history most Americans have been fed the past seventy years. Indeed, it could even clarify Korea’s uncertain future—a future hopefully of peace and prosperity.
Originally published on 2018-05-04
Author: Ron Jacobs
Source: Counter Punch
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the US-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles, the US Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by ...
The Cold War 1.0It is a pure historical fact that “in a sharp reversal of its withdrawal from Europe after 1918, after the end of World War II Washington employed all available tools of public and cultural diplomacy to influence the hearts and minds of Europeans” as a strategy of the US-led Cold War policy against the USSR, and after 1991 against Russia up today. Undoubtedly, the US succeeded after 1990 to transform herself into a sole global military-political hegemonic power – an unprecedented case in the world’s history.It is usually and generally considered that the end of the USSR ...
Islamic forces entered Europe from Asia and North Africa in order to enslave, convert, persecute and either completely destroy Christianity or to enforce dhimmitude. Before this process began you had the complete annihilation of Christianity in many parts of North Africa and in various parts of the Middle East it was one long sojourn into dhimmitude, pogroms and massacres.
Christianity survived in some areas, for example in Egypt, however, numbers succumbed after Arab colonial and Islamic discrimination took route. Therefore, a complete Islamic inquisition took root in Arabia (modern day Saudi Arabia) and just like the Sunni Islamic inquisition against Buddhism ...
Edward S. Herman died on November 11, 2017, at the age of 92. Fortunately, it was a peaceful death for a supremely peaceful man. In all he did, Ed Herman was a tireless champion of peace.Ed Herman could be considered the godfather of antiwar media critique, both because of his own contributions and because of the many writers he encouraged to pursue that work. Thanks to his logical mind and sense of justice, he sharply grasped the crucial role and diverse techniques of media propaganda in promoting war. He immediately saw through lies, including those so insidious that few dare ...
The history of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is continued with Ilan Pappe’s recent work, The Biggest Prison on Earth. For those who have read Pappe’s earlier histories, it is clear the original Zionists recognized the existence of the Palestinian population and the resistance most likely to rise from it. Also recognized are the actions taken throughout the occupation and settlement that the Jewish settlers were intent on marginalizing, displacing, and cleansing as much of Palestine as they could of its residents.
The revelation in this continuation of the history is the high degree to which these policies were officially planned ...
The Israeli historian Benny Morris has been very vocal of late in denying that Palestine was ethnically cleansed of Arabs in order for the “Jewish state” of Israel to be established. In a series of articles in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Morris has debated the question with several of his critics who contend that ethnic cleansing is precisely what occurred. Not so, argues Morris. So who’s right?It’s worth noting at the outset that, while such a debate exists in the Israeli media, the US media remains, as ever, absolutely silent on the matter. Americans who get their information about the ...
The image of Srebrenica tells us more about the reality of the majority of the media and of course the “Muslim victim card” is being used in order to cleanse the Bosniak Muslims. After all, from enslaving Orthodox Christians during their brotherly love with the Turkish slave masters of the Ottoman Empire to having Muslim SS units who supported Adolf Hitler; then “victimhood” is needed in order to justify their history and culture.Of course the wishy-washy brigade will tell us that the Ottoman period was enlightened and that the system of taking the eldest Christian boy (devshirme system) in the ...
While the typical narrative of American history positions the United States as a supporter of democracy and opponent of fascism which helped to defeat the Nazis, key figures in Washington also supported dangerous dictators in Italy and Germany in their early days of power.Noam Chomsky, the renowned political philosopher, historian and scholar, examined the flip side of U.S. opposition to dictatorship in a conversation with Zain Raza, a senior editor at the independent media outlet acTVism Munich. An excerpt from the conversation was published Sept. 30 as part of acTVism Munich’s “Reexamining History” series.Speaking to Raza about Italian dictator Benito ...
Atrocities and war crimes are subjectively defined as acts of violence that exceed military necessity. All war includes atrocities. The stress of combat includes a build up of emotion during action that leads to vicious attacks on the enemy when the opportunity arises. American military units are trained and indoctrinated to avoid inhuman treatment of enemy combatants. Soldiers who violate the norms are prosecuted. This reduces but does not eliminate the problem.
Photo of Vietnamese civilians killed by an American unit
Atrocities During the Vietnam War
The actions of armies in war have seldom been as humane as the modern American military -- ...
The personal diary of Osama Bin Laden has been released by the CIA, along with the list of bizarre things on his personal computer found in his compound in 2011.However, not all documents found on that occasion are released by the CIA.Here you will find some of those unreleased documents from Osama Bin Laden's archives followed by his personal remarks: My favorite US DemocratKosovo Albanians are my favorite jihad soldiers in the ISIS in Syria and IraqMy favorite film-maker company: 20 Century FoxWhy Americans hate me and my Al-Qaeda?A global map of Al-Qaeda's terror interventions - top secret! Zbig and ...
The sad reality about the United States of America is that in a matter of a few hundreds years it managed to rewrite its own history into a mythological fantasy.The concepts of liberty, freedom and free enterprise in the “land of the free, home of the brave” are a mere spin. The US was founded and became prosperous based on two original sins: firstly, on the mass murder of Native Americans and theft of their land by European colonialists; secondly, on slavery.This grim reality is far removed from the fairy tale version of a nation that views itself in its ...
Note: We are republishing this essay by S. Brian Willson describing the true history of genocide in the United States which stands in stark contrast to the myth of Thanksgiving because of its popularity with readers and its educational value.The Defining and Enabling Experience of Our “Civilization” As we again plan to celebrate what US “Americans”call Thanksgiving, let us pause for a moment of reflection. Let us recognize that accounts of the first Thanksgiving are mythological, and that the holiday is actually a grotesque celebration of our arrogant ethnocentrism built on genocide.Native Americans in the Caribbean greeted their 1492 European invaders ...
The 4th of July is Independence Day for the United States of America and commemorates the 4 July 1776 Declaration of Independence for America, the key passage of which is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Unfortunately American racism has grossly violated the proposition that “all men are created equal” and the worst form of racism involves invasion of other countries. The US has invaded about 70 countries since its inception ...
Outrageous: Slobodan Milosevic cleared of charges by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. But no-one is talking about it!The ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) has discharged Slobodan Milosevic from 1992-95 Bosnian war crimes allegations. This is definitely prime time news, while it holds endless political implications. Oddly enough, though, no major international mainstream media seems to have noticed.Well, it is understable for everyone to be keeping it quiet: those who with one voice did dub him the “butcher of the Balkans”; those who associated him to Hitler, initiating a pattern which would later be extended ...
In another grim milestone for the United States and NATO, the Council of Europe (COE) released an explosive report last week, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo.”The report charged that former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) boss and current Prime Minister, Hashim Thaçi, “is the head of a ‘mafia-like’ Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe,” The Guardian disclosed.According to a draft resolution unanimously approved December 16 in Paris, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights found compelling evidence of forced disappearances, organ trafficking, corruption and collusion between ...
Adolf Heusinger was far from being the only Nazi war criminal who would later serve at a top position in NATOOnce again this March, the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, the Club of Generals and Admirals of Serbia and other independent non-party associations in Serbia pay tribute to the victims of NATO’s 1999 aggression on Serbia (FRY).This aggression took lives of more than thousand defenders, military and the police and their officers, and also of thousands of civilians, including 87 children.Regrettably, the final list of the civilian casualties has not been determined as yet, although the number is ...
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was given a host of assurances that the NATO alliance would not expand past what was then the East German border in 1990 according to new declassified documents.Russian leaders often complain that the NATO extended an invitation to Hungary, Poland and what was then Czechoslovakia to joint the alliance in 1997 at the Madrid Summit in contravention of assurances offered to the Soviet Union before its 1991 collapse. The alliance has dismissed the notion that such assurances were offered, however, scholars have continued to debate the issue for years. Now, however, newly declassified documents show that ...
When it comes to Russia or the Soviet Union, reports and historical accounts do get blurry; in the West they do, and consequently in all of its ‘client states’.Fairytales get intermingled with reality, while fabrications are masterfully injected into sub consciousness of billions of people worldwide. Russia is an enormous country, in fact the largest country on Earth in terms of territory. It is scarcely inhabited. It is deep, and as a classic once wrote: “It is impossible to understand Russia with one’s brain. One could only believe in it.”The Western mind generally doesn’t like things unknown, spiritual and complex. ...
Much is being written regarding the Charlie Hebdo issue in Paris, France. I do not condone any killing but at the same time I do not support issues that violate human rights, religious freedom or freedom of speech and thoughts. Using cartoons to condemn Divine thoughts and beliefs is utterly wrong because they fall under hate crimes and not under freedom of speech as we are lied about. The perpetrators of hate continue to be protected. Islam is under attack and its adherents, the Muslims, are being targeted through provocation. In a recent article Charlie Hebdo and Tsarnaev’s trial: Cui ...
In just one week the United States government will commemorate its 16th anniversary in the bombing and occupation of Afghanistan.This war did not really begin in 2001 resulting from the attacks on September 11 where planes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon headquartered right outside of Washington, D.C.U.S. involvement in the destabilization of Afghanistan goes back to the late 1970s when the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDP) led a socialist-oriented administration which advanced the cause of working people and farmers as well as providing fundamental civil rights to women. ...
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Russia and the Cold War 2.0
Western Policy Doing the Bidding of Islam in Kosovo: Destroying Orthodox Christianity
Thank You, Edward S. Herman (1925-2017) – Tireless Champion of Peace
A Book Review: “The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories”
Benny Morris’s Untenable Denial of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Srebrenica: Bosnian Muslim Jihad Killings of 3,500 Christian Serbs
US Had a ‘Pretty Supportive Attitude’ Toward Fascism in 1930s
Vietnam War Atrocities Committed by the US Army
EXCLUSIVE: Unreleased Documents from Osama Bin Laden’s Archive!
Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Genocide of Native Americans
Genocide and the Thanksgiving Myth
Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia: Unpleasant Truths no One Wants to Know
“Mafia State”: Kosovo’s PM Accused of Running Human Organ, Drug Trafficking Cartel
19 Years since the Start of the NATO Military Aggression on Serbia (FRY)
Newly Declassified Documents: Gorbachev Told NATO wouldn’t Move Past East German Border
Why the West cannot Stomach Russians
The Demonization of Islam
United States Imperialism Continues War in Afghanistan and the Destabilization of Africa
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS