Tuesday, July 08, 2008

58 years on - a little more truth from Korea

The Korean War, so closely following World War 2 was a particularly heinous affair. Intense propaganda from both sides shrouded the truth, and the truth was that at the time both North and South Korea were led by blood thirsty butchers. Both of whom were more blood thirsty than their allies of Red China and the US led UN forces. The North Korean side was particularly brutal, keeping some POWs in tiny holes standing vertical where they could kick heads at ground level.

However the truth of how the southern side acted has always been somewhat hidden. The North of course proclaims endless atrocities committed by the US side, which of course creates much doubt about the truth behind it. However, according to the NZ Herald, South Korea now has a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has revealed that a blind eye was turned as the South Korean regime executed 3500 political prisoners. Furthermore as many as 100,000 suspected leftists were killed in the first weeks of the Korean War. Whilst these slaughters were carried out by the Syngman Rhee regime, the US largely ignored or was modestly critical. The ends do not justify the means, and North Korea was not thwarted by slaughtering suspected South Koreans en masse - it was thwarted by concerted military action.

None of this should give sympathy to North Korea or credence to most of its claims of "atrocities". We probably will never know the extent of those. However, it is important to know what was done by our ally in the name of freedom. South Korea has grown, changed and become a free and open society for the past 20 years. North Korea need not be described. It doesn't reflect badly on either South Korea or the USA today, but it is worthy of remembering. South Korea can face its demons with bravery, and maybe just maybe one day North Korea may even start.

2 comments:

The ex-expat said...

I have a post brewing on this subject because I think the issue is fascinating. AS you point out the Korean war was brutal (hell do some digging on the Koreans in Vietnam and you'll hear some pretty nasty stuff about what they got to over there) and this atrocity just the tip of the iceburg not just for the war but the next three decades that South Korea spent under military dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

The South Korean police battalions were not that organized to go about killing 100,000 in the first few weeks of the war. The number is exaggerated but massacres occurred.

The South Korean police and government officials would themselves be executed themselves upon communist victory. Given the backdrop of a collapsing front line and rapidity advancing communist army the police took the practical measure of executing those who could identity them at a later date.

The South Koreans were up against communists not “leftists”.