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Lawmakers Dispute History at Korean Embassy Inspection in Washington

Lawmakers Dispute History at Korean Embassy Inspection in Washington

Posted October. 01, 2005 07:43,   


A dispute over history took place at the annual audit and inspection session at the Korean Embassy in Washington D.C. on September 29.

Representative Choi Sung of the governing Uri Party began explaining government policy by expressing regret, saying, “The recent controversy over General MacArthur generated misunderstandings and frustrations for Americans.”

Nevertheless, Representative Kim Won-woong of the same party triggered a dispute when he said, “When we look back on the last 50 years of history alone, it would be fair to say that the judgment upon MacArthur can be made both in positive and negative ways. Revisiting the past 100 years of history, however, the United States should apologize, though belatedly, for the Katsura-Taft Agreement that brought about colonization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Regarding General Douglas MacArthur, Representative Kim pointed out the general’s mistakes included: causing the national division of Korea, which was not a war criminal state; taking a leading role in maintaining Japan’s emperor system, which helped solidify the cold war system in the Asian region; and not penalizing Japanese war criminals.

In response, Representative Park Gye-dong of the Grand National Party (GNP), who was chairing the meeting, argued, “The Katsura-Taft Agreement was a fabrication,” saying that he discovered that fact from his research. “In an effort to justify [its rule over the Korean Peninsula], Japan forged the treaty itself, which was allegedly concluded in 1905, and sneakingly recorded the contents on the Gokumin, an official gazette only read by the Japanese. It was not until 1923 that Japan openly made that claim in compilation of its own version of Korean history,” said the opposition lawmaker.

He also presented his 14-page article as a basis of his argument.

According to Park, there is a record that being reported of the secret agreement, then-U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt reiterated, “It is nonsense that we recognize Japan’s domination over the Korean Peninsula in order to guarantee our rule over the Philippines.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com