To the Editor:
Dr. Vernasius T. Tandia’s commentary (Jan. 7, 2012) regarding stereotypes harbored by South Koreans toward North Korean refugees among them, and the way that these stereotypes harm hope for reunification enlists the reader in the call for an idealizing and accommodating vision about North Korea that doesn’t seem at all realistic about what such idealization could invite. The bias in Dr. Tandia’s work is clear in his hope for peaceful reunification under South Korean government. North Korea has for a very long time regarded South Korea as an alien imposition.
North Koreans may seem sheltered but they are not naive. They saw how American policy led to the South Korean debacle at Kwangju during the student unrest. They know that American policy and warmakers coddled Manuel Noreiga and Saddam Hussein for years before turning on them when it seemed convenient and treated them with no mercy while selling a vapid story with soundbites. They know all about the murders of Allende and the Kennedys.
Idealizing North Korea as a text is not just a taboo in America, it would also be quickly identified as an attempt to foster the illusion that we are romantically satisfied with them as political shepherds of the Korean people, their legacy and their dignity. If we did that, they would have the right to slap us in our face because they would recognize immediately that it was only a lie masked as an outstretched glove, hiding hatred, because American bigotry towards North Korea runs deep into our own demagoguery and our own denials. …
If there is a legitimate idealism, and I believe you realize there may be, that can adequately replace the unsound, humiliating, unfair, indecent doggerel about an Axis of Evil it would be the civil and humane recognition that the Government of North Korea formed in tragedy, when faced with a horrendous Japanese occupation and then with a supremacist, Christian, klan-like, demented Cold Warrior game of divide whose leader General McArthur got fired when he deliberately stirred up trouble with China and countermanded Harry Truman, a foreshadow of resentment for civilian command that continues to linger and haunt our leadership, making them afraid of their own shadows. North Korea became what they are while believing it the grace of a separate reality.
The answer to the problem of re-unification comes from neither government, and that is why it is so precarious, stormy and dangerous there. The hope comes from the heart of Korea: from the poets, the magistrates, the storekeepers, the self-defining young, the mothers, and their precious children. It comes from a true and ancient character, a people, a place, an entity, a dignity, a future called Korea by all who know and love them, not from a wall of sound and fury signifying nothing.
— Mac Crary, Seattle