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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Han

Lee Jae-myung’s dangerous perception provokes historical controversy

Lee Jae-myung, Governor of Gyeonggi Province and a presidential candidate for “the Democratic Party of Korea,” recently stated, “Unlike government establishing stage of other countries, the Republic of Korea was unable to clear its pro-Japanese, and they maintained their ruling system intact in collaboration with the US occupying army.” It was a statement made at the Lee Yuksa Literature Museum in Andong City, North Gyeongsang Province in the context of "our country’s inability to depart well.” Before this, Kim Won-wung, chairman of Heritage of Korean Independence, referred to “the US military as an occupying army, and the Soviet Union as a liberation army” in a speech to high school students. Together with this, the Lee’s remark created a huge controversy. Later, Governor Lee said, “The US army called itself as an occupying army” and argued against criticizers, “Fill the lack of your knowledge.”

This is an inappropriate statement and a really dangerous perception for a national leader who wishes to become the president of the Republic of Korea. It seems to be influenced by the "out-of-season" or "frontier theories" including the "perception of liberating postwar history" which is asserted by some scholars in the progressive camp have been advocating after attracting the movement sphere for a while, but this is not true. Unlike the Soviet Union's military regime, which created the North Korean administration of Kim Il-sung in a meticulous and careful manner, the South Korean administration under the US military regime was a chaotic mix of anti-communist rightists, nationalists, and socialists. Claiming “pro-Japanese rule” is also wrong. It is obvious from seeing the Lee Seung-man’s first administration, the heads of the legislative, judicial and administrative branches were from top officials of the Provisional Government independence activists. President Lee Seung-man was the first president of the Provisional Government, and Shin Ik-hee, the president of the Constitutional National Assembly, was the Minister of the Internal Affairs of the Provisional Government. Kim Pyong-ro, the chief of justice of the Supreme Court, was the chairman of the central executive committee of the anti-Japanese nationalist group “Shinganhoe.” Most ministers were anti-Japanese independence activists. The fact has become gradually clear that North Korea’s propaganda that of clearing its pro-Japanese was not true.

You may think of the remark of Choi Jin-seok, Honorary Professor of Sogang University "We are very fortunate that the United States, not the Soviet Union saved us in the miserable conditions we had to be saved. Let’s stop despise ourselves and feel too much self-condemnation by giving legitimacy to North Korea.”

Still, repeating claims similar to Governor Lee’s among the ruling party due to a political intention. This is a “pro-Japanese frame” in which the current administration frequently mobilizes to divide special political groups internally by attacking them. This is exactly how “authorities instigate people by manipulating historical facts and identifying their political cause with ethnic history.” That is why the Blue House cannot say anything about a series of controversies. It is irresponsible.

As a result, it became a political controversy though it is a form of a historical controversy. Former Prosecutor General Yun Seok-yeol, an opposition runner, also argued publicly, "Now that you have seized control of the national government and distorted history to continue to control the next government, what are you aiming at and who do you represent? At a time when competing over the future, or even today is still not enough, they are fighting over something happened more than 70 years ago. It is unfortunate for the Republic of Korea.


JoongAng Ilbo on 5 July

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