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[Opinion] Northern Invasion Theory

Posted September. 10, 2004 22:00,   


Any Korean knows that “the Korean War was instigated on June 25, 1950 by the North Korean military’s all-out invasion of the South.” But a movement to refute this piece of “common knowledge” has been afoot in some quarters of Korean society. I mention this because a certain opposition group’s website is said to have posted North Korean material claiming that the South had first invaded the North and not the other way around. Did the persons who uploaded these extensive documents—grandly entitled “The Joseon War as Seen by History” and “History’s Indictment”—really believe that netizens would read such material and be convinced of this so-called “northern invasion theory”? Surely not, documentary evidence aside, when the generation that personally lived through the war is still alive and breathing?

Even besides the material noted above, the website’s bulletin board is filled with notable posts and documents. “Anthology of Rodong Sinmun’s Editorials and Commentaries on the Military-First Policy,” “The Criminal Acts Perpetrated by the Invading American Forces in the South,” “Letter of Congratulations from the Central Committee of the National Democratic Front of South Korea in Commemoration of September 9,” “Oh, My Sun! (Biography of Chairman Kim Jong-il)”… Just glancing through the titles reveals their pro-North tendencies. The website looks almost as if it were being managed directly by North Korea. I find myself wondering what sort of people would so strenuously defend the failed regime that is the DPRK.

Scholarly research on the Korean War offers three principal perspectives: one theory claims the North invaded the South, the other that the South invaded the North, while the third is a revisionist theory that claims it doesn’t matter who first invaded whom. Among these, North Korea’s assertion that the Korean War was “a people’s war for liberation against the northerly invasion perpetrated by the colluding powers of the U.S. and President Lee Seung-man” was already disproved long ago on the basis of numerous documents found in the former Soviet Union. Professor Bruce Cummings, a revisionist scholar at the University of Chicago who seemed to support the northern invasion theory in his book “The Origins of the Korean War,” retracted his position during his recent visit to Korea and stated that he had not argued such a theory.

So just what are the intentions of those who purvey North Korean propaganda, which flies in the face of proven historical fact, on the internet? I cannot think of anything other than a desire to provoke social confusion and generate conflict. If this is true, then such people should be severely disciplined. The freedom of the internet is important, but a freedom that is out of all control can endanger the society we live in. The government should exert every effort to pick out those rotten apples that would spoil the entire internet barrel.

Song Mun-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com