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Korean War is not a `forgotten war,` but a `living war`

Posted June. 24, 2013 09:13,   


Tomorrow marks the 63rd year milestone since North Korea’s unexpected invasion into the South at 4 a.m. Sunday. It has been 60 years since the armistice that was signed by the United Nations Commander, the North Korean People’s Army Commander, and the Chinese People’s Army Commander on July 27, 1953, following a tedious two-year negotiation. Technically speaking, the Korean War is still an ongoing and living war.

North Korea has insisted that the U.S. initiated the Korean War and triggered tragic nuclear armament on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s propaganda website “Uriminzokkiri” said on Sunday, “Had the U.S. not invaded us, the Korean Peninsula would have been a peace zone and denuclearization would not have been an issue.” North Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Sin Son Ho said at a press conference in the U.N. headquarters in three years, “For 60 years since the armistice agreement, the U.S. has been responsible for easing tensions. Disbanding the U.N. Command in South Korea is a prerequisite for the protection of easing tensions and peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the Asia Pacific region.”

North Korea still claims that the Korean War was started with the invasion by the South. This claim was once popular in the South due to Bruce Cummings. But after diplomatic documents of former Soviet Union in the mid-1990s were unveiled, a conscious scholar cannot argue that the war was triggered by Kim Il Sung under the approval and support by Stalin and Mao Zedong.

As the generation that experienced the misery of war passes away, people have vaguer perception on the Korean War. According to the survey by the Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry in November last year, 23.2 percent of respondents aged 20 or younger said they have no idea what the Korean War is. A recent survey by the Security and Public Administration Ministry found that 35.8 percent of adults aged 19 or older and 52.7 percent of middle and high school students said they do not know when the Korean War occurred.

Modern history has long been put on the back burner at schools. Even it is not a mandatory subject in the Korean SAT. Ahn Yang-ok, president of the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association, recently said, “We should designate Korean history as a mandatory subject to strengthen students’ knowledge of history.” This must have been a heartfelt advice to correct the lack of understanding in modern history for the generations to come. If the Korean SAT includes a few questions on modern history related to building the identity of the Republic of Korea, students would take it seriously and a change will be felt at school.

There is no future for the people who do not learn a lesson from history. We are easily swayed by North Korea’s offensiveness probably because we forgot the beginning of the Korean War and its historical meaning.