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[Op-Ed] Pro-Japanese Collaborators’ List

Posted December. 16, 2009 09:09,   


When the private think tank Institute for Research in Collaborationist Activities released a preliminary list of pro-Japanese collaborators in April last year, President Lee Myung-bak said, “The collaboration issue should be viewed from a balanced perspective considering both achievements and mistakes.” The main opposition Democratic Party and other opposition parties criticized him for being negative on releasing the list. The institute released Nov. 8 the final list included in the directory of pro-Japanese collaborators. Apart from this, the Presidential Committee for the Inspection of Collaborations for Japanese Imperialism released another list of 1,005 collaborators. The presidential office, however, has yet to show a response. What has changed in its perspective on pro-Japanese collaborators?

Seoul National University professor Park Hyo-jong, an advocate of the New Right Movement, will raise the issue at a discussion hosted by Citizens United for a Better Society today. In his manuscript released in advance, he said, “We do not know whether the government’s take on the list of pro-Japanese collaborators is a silent agreement or avoidance of the issue itself, but it is cowardly. Does the government want to leave it up to right-wing conservatives to take maroon out of a burning fire?” Park asked why only conservatives must correct what he called “the politically distorted list” of collaborators.

The committee ended its activities last month but the dispute over the impartiality of the list continues. Eleven committee members finalized the list according to majority rule in a meeting in which they were supposed to decide on the list one by one. It is nonsense that the leftist-dominated committee formed by the previous Roh Moo-hyun administration decided on the list through majority rule. A series of documents have been found describing the pro-Japanese activities of Yeo Un-hyung, a favorite of leftists who was excluded from the list.

The incumbent administration should recognize that the committee’s list of collaborators is intended to undermine the country’s legitimacy. Moreover, the committee is under the presidential office. The government should discern right from wrong with a sense of responsibility when handling the wrong process and results. This is an important task since the nation’s identity and morale are at stake. It will be greatly disappointing if the administration’s “middle path pragmatism” turns a deaf year to the issue because of its sensitive nature.

Chief Editorial Writer Hong Chang-sik (chansik@donga.com)