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AP: South Korea covered up mass abuse, killings of 'vagrants' (ap.org)
283 points by coloneltcb on Apr 19, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments

I wasn't alive in the 80s, but it blows my mind that South Korea was a military dictatorship. I know this is common news to most people outside the West, but I think it is good that in this day of fast communication and very few places to hide, that tough information like this comes out, so we can deal with it and learn from our horrible mistakes. Not all saying I'm glad this happen, but at the very least, I hope we can all learn something from it.

it blows my mind that South Korea was a military dictatorship

Why? China, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan all derive their political cultures primarily from Confucianism, a strongly hierarchical system that modern commentators would probably, if it could be seen undoctored today, describe as a dictatorship. North Korea, a personality cult with similar structure, persists.

At the same time, in the 1980s, nearby Taiwan was also a dictatorship of the Nationalist Chinese army and was also supported if not set up by the US. They stopped off in Burma to grow heroin and prop up a military dictatorship there along the way. In the last few years, the US has basically let the dictators out of prosecution to counter growing regional Chinese influence which was formerly set to dominate the country. Singapore is widely accused of setting up its stock market explicitly to launder the drug revenues, and still has - and indeed probably only exists today - because of major US support.

Vietnam is the only really strong story of the lot, repulsing an attack from China after kicking out the French and Americans and re-asserting its independence, then removing another dictatorship (Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge) from Cambodia in 1978.

Don't forget US support for the Greek military junta:


And the US military LOVED Saddam Hussein.


US also loved Franco in Spain, and a bunch of undemocratic latin-american governments.

Not even recent, the US supported Mubarak since he took power after the Sadat assassination.

Cambodia had help from U.S. on Khmer Rouge, too. Marcinko, SEAL 6 founder, covers his time training them to fight Khmer Rouge in his book Rogue Warrior. Far as Vietnam, I agree that their resolve was impressive. I just don't recall it going the way you described with instead them splitting up with one side backing communist imperialists and the other capitalist imperialists. They fell for the games plenty enough but resisted a lot, too.

The one with most potential is probably Singapore given what they've accomplished in a short time. They just need a cultural shift to get them out of this conformist, nationalist, factory-worker mentality. They could become a hub of not only trustworthy business in Asia but innovation or quality-focused business too. The reactionaries are doing everything they can to prevent that, though, as it will threaten their power.

The US provided training, enormous air power, and weapons including land mines to the Lon Nol government.

It may be in the realm of conspiracy theory still, but some would contend that the CIA installed the Lon Nol government and helped oust Norodom Sihanouk as king. Sihanouk himself wrote a book called "My War with the CIA" and as I understand it (haven't read it) his position is that this happened in retaliation for Cambodia remaining neutral in the Vietnam war.

I'm not sure to what extent this is true, or whether or not Sihanouk quietly supported the VC, but Cambodia was absolutely devastated by US bombing and it can only be described as evil. As a personal anecdote, I recently met some Cambodian men who subsisted as children by salvaging unexploded American bombs.

Between 1965 and 1973, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of explosives -- more than the Allies dropped in the entirety of World War II -- on Cambodia, whose population was then smaller than New York City's. Estimates of the number of people killed begin in the low hundreds of thousands and range up from there, but the truth is that no one has any idea.


You're forgetting to add why the US bombed Cambodia. The North Vietnamese were using the border areas with Vietnam as a refuge and a supply route for war materials.

Note that the US didn't bomb Cambodia until quite late in the war. That probably helped the North Vietnamese more than anything.

The bombing happened all over the country. A few weeks ago I was in Kompung Thom (right in the middle of Cambodia) and talked to quite a few people about this. The members of these communities were farmers, not combatants or VC sympathizers, and they didn't even have much awareness of why they were being bombed.

I also have to add that there is no reasonable "why" to excuse bombing largely civilian areas. Undoubtably the VC were crossing over the border -- the Cambodian side of the Vietnam-Cambodia border is ethnically and linguistically a mixture of Khmer and Vietnamese, and that border has been fluid up until recent history -- but still most people there would have been civilians.

When military convoys are running through town you no longer live in a "civilian area".

I'll stick with "an area with many civilians" as my definition of a civilian area. These people weren't wealthy, and it's where they happened to own land and build houses. It becomes a choice between being homeless and impoverished, or staying where you are and taking the risk of being bombed.

If you commit to the idea "I will not bomb civilians", then you offer an enormous advantage to your adversary, who will therefore proceed to make sure civilians are well-distributed in any area of military operation.

Cambodia had help from U.S. on Khmer Rouge, too.

Never heard of this but it no doubt pales in comparison to Vietnam's "remove them with a land army" commitment.

I just don't recall it going the way you described with instead them splitting up with one side backing communist imperialists and the other capitalist imperialists. They fell for the games plenty enough but resisted a lot, too.

Any way you look at it Ho Chi Minh was brilliant military tactician and strategist who drew from both ancient Chinese and modern western military philosophy to lead his people to independence. I'd argue that the use of socialism was probably not as significant (versus other options of wartime economies) as commonly thought. It was useful, however, to get diplomatic support and military hardware from allies such as Russia and China. I don't think it greatly shaped Vietnam, which is now very capitalist, just like China and Singapore, two other nominally 'communist' party-led modern Asian nations.

Not as strong on the history part to know about remove them with land army. However, I agree Ho Chi Minh was brilliant at strategy. Far as our opponents go, I particularly was impressed with whoever realized that Americans would likely pull out if they saw enough messed up stuff on TV. That's one of reasons they started doing stuff near places like churches. It was a brutal strategy but it worked quite to their advantage. They proved America didn't have the guts to keep up a war against Vietnamese. Many couldn't even watch one.

A big part of why North Vietnam succeed in winning the war was the ability to send a steady supply of solider into the grinder. Somewhere between 500K and 1M North Vietnamese soldiers died during the war. And that's not even including the war with the French prior.

Not unlike WW2 for the Soviets.

Ho Chi Minh kicking out the French significantly accelerated the end of the Colonial Era - all of a sudden, the impossible was proven possible: small impoverished nations could throw out their European overlords. The man is a much under-recognised talent.

> Cambodia had help from U.S. on Khmer Rouge, too.

>> Never heard of this

It's true right up until the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh. Then US diplomats and officials were evacuated in helicopters, while the city was left for slaughter.


Those who have not yet seen it should watch The Killing Fields.

> China, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan

You forgot Thailand. With the cult of the president and full cooperation of the army, it's pretty much a dictatorship as well.

...Cult of the King. Living in Thailand was a real eye-opener for me. Having to stand up for the King before movies, to stop in public places to honor the King when the loudspeaker played, and to watch what I said with regards to the King was a very jarring experience.

Of all the countries I have visited as a tourist, I felt Thailand was the most overrated because of all this. It's surreal to see busy people in train stations at rush hour stop for the anthem, which as I saw later in the cinema is basically a dystopian hail to the king deal (I was continually reminded of Borat's anthem, especially the last line). Add to that the people prostrating themselves at monks' feet on busy streets, the schoolboys with all identical shortcropped hair, and then the old white men with young girls draped around them. Everything just had an evil vibe and I couldnt wait to leave (and they even made me pay an exit fee at the airport!).

Holy damn and I thought it was bad in the Gulf!

Ahum, I think you forgot the Philippine islands... Marischal Ferdinand Marcos doesn't seem to have been the most democratic guy in the neighborhood.

Why is that Confucianism, and not plain old military coup like the rest of the world?

Vietnam is the only really strong story of the lot

You say that as if Vietnam did it on their own. They were as supported by China and Russia as Taiwan was by the US.

And now that China is encroaching on Vietnam's sovereignty, who do they cozy up to? The US.

It's all politics.

The Soviet and Chinese relationship was an interesting one. Mao disagreed with Khrushchev's liberal (compared to Stalin) policies, and China and the USSR became enemies. Vietnam (and Mongolia) were close Soviet allies to protect themselves from Chinese domination.

China allowed Soviet military aid passage through the country, but once the threat of having an American client cf. South Korea was waning (early 70s) repaired relations with the US and invaded Vietnam (1978).

It's all politics.

Of course. Actually they have had many invasions and multiple occupations from China over the course of the last 10-20 centuries. They are, long-term historically speaking, essentially a China breakaway, but similarly southward-expansionist state.

> Actually they have had many invasions and multiple occupations from China over the course of the last 10-20 centuries.

Right now there is conflict with China over their Vietnam's territorial waters and the South China Sea. China invaded Vietnam via land as recently as 1979.

> They are, long-term historically speaking, essentially a China breakaway

Hmmm ... China hasn't controlled Vietnam in a very long time, AFAIK; maybe never. Vietnam has a different culture and language.

> similarly southward-expansionist state

South of Vietnam is ocean; what does this comment mean?

Hmmm ... China hasn't controlled Vietnam in a very long time, AFAIK; maybe never.

China has occupied Vietnam many times. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Vietnam

Vietnam has a different culture and language.

The language is very much a dialect of ancient southern Chinese. In fact, it is used by linguists to reconstruct (along with other languages) ancient Chinese pronunciation. Culturally, Vietnam has Chinese holidays like Chinese New Year, plus Chinese characters (though they are forgetting how to read them after the installation of Romanized script), Confucianism, Taoism, etc.

South of Vietnam is ocean; what does this comment mean?

Sinified Vietnam (ie. the first beginnings of modern Vietnam proper) expanded southward overrunning completely culturally distinct countries such as Champa, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champa

not only was it a military dictatorship, it was a military dictatorship with its domestic, foreign and signals intelligence agencies set up by the CIA and NSA. Part of the historical and ongoing extensive cooperation between the US DoD and the South Korean armed forces.


There's another way to see this.

A question asked in chat just today by a German journalist friend who specialises in Asia and esp the Koreas:

"And im seriously wondering: if there were no americans holding back the sk tyrants of that time, would sk be any better than nk in terms of human rights?"

Well, it'd probably be a capitalist randian chaebol clusterfuck of industry and manufacturing, rather than juche.

HN chat? Sounds like an interesting person... (as a German living in Seoul)


The South Korean military was fully under the command of the US military until 1994.

This may not be quite the way it sounds.


Yes, a good reminder of why the hippie liberals refer to Imperialist America.

You don't have to be a hippie liberal to see horrible truths in the history of post-WWII American foreign policy.

I don't think you need to be a 'hippie liberal,' nor is it necessary to make value judgements of the nation's actions.

You can simply look around the world and see that the US has hundreds of military bases in other ostensibly sovereign countries.

You can just look at the basic facts and see that there is more than a touch of imperialism at play here.

Concerning military bases:

1. The US pays for those bases to be there.

2. Host countries want those bases to be there for defensive and economic purposes.

If we look at the basic facts we see this is clearly not imperialism.

> 2. Host countries want those bases to be there for defensive and economic purposes.

Really? Even the closest one to the US at Guantanamo Bay, where Cuba keeps demanding that the US gets off their soil?

The US's foreign base policies are a little more complex than you're suggesting.

The policy of forcefully extending a nation's authority by territorial gain or by the establishment of economic and political dominance over other nations. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/imperialism

The second half of that is pretty spot on, and if I'm not mistaken some of the overseas bases did originate from the use of force.


Currently, the Pax Americana is based on the military preponderance beyond challenge by any combination of powers and projection of power throughout the world's commons—neutral sea, air and space. This projection is coordinated by the Unified Command Plan which divides the world on regional branches controlled by a single command. Integrated with it are global network of military alliances (the Rio Pact, NATO, ANZUS and bilateral alliances with Japan and several other states) coordinated by Washington in a hub-and-spokes system and world-wide network of several hundreds of military bases and installations. Former Security Advisor, Zbignew Brzezinski, drew an expressive summary of the military foundation of Pax Americana shortly after the unipolar moment:

In contrast [to the earlier empires], the scope and pervasiveness of American global power today are unique. Not only does the United States control all the world's oceans, its military legions are firmly perched on the western and eastern extremities of Eurasia... American vassals and tributaries, some yearning to be embraced by even more formal ties to Washington, dot the entire Eurasian continent... American global supremacy is...buttered by an elaborate system of alliances and coalitions that literally span the globe.

Besides the military foundation, there are significant non-military international institutions backed by American financing and diplomacy (like the United Nations and WTO). The United States invested heavily in programs such as the Marshall Plan and in the reconstruction of Japan, economically cementing defense ties that owed increasingly to the establishment of the Iron Curtain/Eastern Bloc and the widening of the Cold War.


Remember though that if not for US action, there would be no South Korea; there would just be a larger and more terrible North Korea, and millions more people would live in suffering and bondage.

Personally, I don't think the US should have intervened in Korea, for all the very good reasons that your founders cautioned against foreign intervention and entanglements.

But the intervention saved millions from enslavement. It was a net benefit to everyone in South Korea, then and now.

It wasn't the US alone - it was a UN-mission under the lead of the US, more than twice the South Korean soldiers fought than US soldiers, and don't forget all the other coalition forces who also fought: the British soldiers, the Turkish, the Australians etc.

If we go back even further, Korea as a whole was under Japanese rule. If the US negotiated with Japan instead of going all out, Korea wouldn't have to be split apart to begin with.

Also, if there was no South Korea, then who knows, maybe the "larger" North Korea would just be like China today; kind of terrible but not so terrible.

Without the US-backed South Korea, China would not be so interested in backing [North] Korea, and indeed would see them as a realistic threat rather than a client/buffer state.

And also the pre-WWII American foreign policy, including but not limited to the Philippines.

Never mind that the Soviet government had entire departments dedicated to developing, spreading, and generally promoting that sort of worldview.

I'm not sure how good an argument/excuse this is, but do remember that the country was technically at war with North Korea all this time, and under very real military threat.

I think that's never a good excuse.

Arab states use Israel's existence as justification to military dictatorship. Saddam also used the threats from Iran (which were very real).

Meanwhile, Israel managed to develop into an industrial democracy despite being surrounded by enemies from all directions.

Israel treats it's Palestinian population as if it were a military dictatorship.

Yes, that is occupied enemy territory, not the nation they purportedly serve.

Treating occupied enemy territory the way that Israel has treated Palestine violates international law in so many ways it's frankly ridiculous. They really are acting like a military dictatorship.

Was South Africa really a democracy under apartheid? Or the US under Jim Crow? Or Turkey currently?

I don't think you can be considered a democracy if you are at war with half of the people within your borders.

Democracies are always local.

Was the US a liberal democracy during WWII when it cluster bombed Germany and Japan?

Think about the context here: how South Korea in the 80s was treating its own people.

Israel is a democracy within its local population despite being surrounded by enemies.

Therefore, having an enemy at the border is not a good excuse for a military dictatorship.

I haven't been to Gaza, but I grew up in South Korea in the 80s. If half of what I see in the news is true, how Israel treats people of Gaza is much worse than how South Korea treated people of Seoul in 80s.

Put another way, I'm sure even Pyongyang has some happy citizens. Even dictators usually let some local population live happily. The trick is being part of the right local population.

Gaza is practically enemy territory for Israel ..

Containment as a foreign policy led to extremely bad outcomes globally, as did colonialism. It wasn't just SK treating it's citizens poorly, it was the vast majority of second and third world countries that had a history of colonial subjugation. Looked through the lens of colonialism, it makes perfect sense.

Of course not.

It came out more than 30 years too late. Sadly, I doubt any senior leader responsible will face any repercussions. Either the public will forget or they'll imprison one minor scapegoat and move on.

"[A former principal] said severe violence and military-style discipline were the only ways to run a place filled with thousands of unruly people who didn't want to be there."

And the lessons of Nuremberg go unheeded again. Dear God, I hope there's standing for an ACTA claim, since it's damned certain ROK isn't going to try and make this inhumanity right again.

> the lessons of Nuremberg

Mind elaborating on that to people (like me) not deeply familiar with European history?

The Nuremberg Trials[1] / "Nuremberg Defence"[2].

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_trials [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superior_orders

My takeaway from learning about Nürnberg was that everyone is responsible for their own actions and you are guilty even if you "just"followed orders.

What if you're under duress, which everyone in the military basically is at all times? (Nowadays, you typically have the right to refuse an order if you know it's illegal, but I doubt that was the case in the SS in 1944.)

When it comes to committing a crime against humanity such as the mass murder of civilians, you're expected to refuse the order even if it means being killed for doing so. Self-preservation is not a reasonable excuse for committing a war crime, and it never has been.

OK, but try explaining that to an 18-year-old kid whose buddy / father figure / platoon sergeant has a gun to his head. Difficulty: You get to be an anonymous intellectual half a world away who might not ever find out if he makes the wrong choice. I think I can pull up 20 or 30 million data points from the last century that say it's an unrealistic expectation.

I think judges see that.

Not everyone was given death penalty in Nürnberg either.

I think the most important fact was they ruled that "just following orders" wasn't a blanket excuse.

What about all the civilians who no doubt contributed economically and indirectly to the Nazi regime simply by not opposing or fighting them?

They were punished quite severely by Germany's reparations at the end of the war. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_reparations_for_World...

What about the American companies who built war machinery for the Nazis?

Does that mean the people who did oppose the Nazis had to pay reparations too?

Such is the cost of being a citizen of a country that goes to war unfortunately. It's also a lesson in why everyone should be vigilant about stopping their leaders doing evil things. Some modern leaders should take note.

>Nowadays, you typically have the right to refuse an order if you know it's illegal, but I doubt that was the case in the SS in 1944

That was the breakthrough of the Nuremburg trials. Judges cut through that and established the principle that everyone in the SS could have known they are committing genocide and could have known that a genocide is not covered by the rules of war. That's why you can refuse an illegal order in Western armies now.

The alternative would have been that everyone in the chain of command had claimed duress up to the NSDAP leadership - and those were mostly dead by then.

Post-Nuremburg, everyone knows that you will get punished and the higher your rank, the worse for you if you are part of genocide. Ideally. In reality, a lot of war crimes and genocide still goes without punishment.

While I share your hope that there will be some service of justice, nothing could make that right.

Yeah, I deliberated on that, knowing that the victims who survived can never be made whole, let alone those who died beneath a shroud of official silence. I suppose I should have said "the ROK will never bring the guilty to justice," though a tort claim isn't real justice either.

To be fair, GP said "try and make this inhumanity right again" which sounds very reasonable.

I was under the impression this wasn't exactly hidden knowledge.

South Korean cinema has made movies on it. The South Korean intelligence agency involved even renamed itself and has had some powers stripped because of it (and other reasons).

I guess it's just not that well known in the west.

I made some Korean friends on a semester abroad in college… Kind of shocked me how much I hadn't heard of concerning Korea and Japan, from specific stories like this to differences in daily life and what is considered "normal behavior". Things sometimes don't really make it out—could it have to do with the differences in how negative it's considered to face a potentially embarrassing situation?

I am a pretty informed EU person, and I had no idea South Korea was a military dictatorship so recent. If I think about it, I don't know anything about that region regarding the 80s.

What is described here is worse that what happened behind the Iron Curtain at the same time, in terms of numbers at least (more people tortured).

Yeah, it's stunning how little we learn about Asia in European schools. The "I'm a pretty informed EU person" attitude is part of the problem -- how many of the countries on the top 30 economies list have you actually ever read the History Wikipedia article of? Why not?

That's propaganda for you. 80% of it is simply emphasizing certain stories and ignoring others.

North Koreans have probably heard this story.

Talking to South Koreans about the PCH era is very difficult. It quickly leads to agitation, even if you pose no reason for it - no matter their opinion, people seem to feel put on the defensive (or offensive, sometimes). The opinion you get to hear often seems to be their Official Family Opinion. It's tends to be either very pro ("Korea made so much progress in that time") or very con ("a monster"). It varies regionally, too - people from down South in Gyeongsang tend to think differently on average than native Seoulites, say.

Here's a bunch of interesting stuff:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwangju_Uprising is a key point in history.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHu39FEFIks is a recent politically-charged South Korean pop song. It's (intentionally paradoxically) interpreted by a young girl, but it was penned by an older, male composer. The lyrics are superficially waxing nostalgic about the Sogyeokdong district of Seoul, however during the times shown in flashbacks in the video, this used to be the location of the HQ of the Korean Defense Command, which ran a "School Greening Project" arresting and interrogating students believed to be activists in the democratization movement, and trying to turn them into informants. Several died. So when the girl sings "Do you remember Sogyeokdong? It hasn't changed at all ..." it's biting sarcasm. The music video directly features related events, including the haunting, eerie curfew sirens and government broadcasts about the SGP.

If you want to do some serious learning, this is a very good book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Park-Chung-Hee-Transformation/dp/0...

Disclaimer: I'm a German citizen living in Seoul, and I enjoy life here very much and am crazy-fond of the country and many of its people. Yet it's a very complicated place, in particular its 20th century history.

Off topic, but when a story involves multiple people with the same surname, they really should write out their full names at all times instead of just "Park" or "Kim".

Kim and Park are kinda like Smith and Jones in the Anglo world. I suspect it's not the real names.

Why would the author choose the same fake name (Kim) for two people? They're definitely their real names.

Even more so. Something like 20% of Koreans are surnamed Kim. Park is another 8% or so.

Apparently people used to buy in to more prestigious family names which lead to whittling down of Korean surnames.

From the article:

  [The Brothers Home, a mountainside 
  institution] got government subsidies 
  based on its number of inmates, so it 
  pushed police to round up more vagrants, 
  the early probe found. And police officers 
  were often promoted depending on how many 
  vagrants they picked up.
Oh, so, kind of like this:



IMHO "cash for kids" was small potatoes compared to the Drug War. The prison-industrial complex has to eat, and it only eats two things: money and human lives. One would expect this behavior, to some extent, anywhere there are prisons.

we have the EFF for digital rights, is there something similar fighting on the side of individuals in the drug war? NORML I guess..

Perhaps the best comparison is LEAP [0], although given the fact that most prominent members got their pension before joining I'd understand if someone were a bit suspicious. Actually I'm suspicious of non-profits in general. Non-profits have much more often created rather than ended awful laws. I appreciate those who advocate in principled fashion without hiring lawyers, accountants, and marketers.

[0] http://www.leap.cc/


More like the Colombian False Positives, where the government gave US funds to the army based on how many kills they got.


Add another reason to the massive pile of reasons I avoid everything to do with the Olympics, and have for 20 years. They get neither my attention nor my money.

One more argument against militarization of the police force. We should recruit cops from the communities they serve, set a minimum age, disarm them, and emphasize negotiation skills over SWAT training.

Reading this is hard.

It's graphic, shocking, and makes you wish you didn't read it.

I don't know what else to say.

It should come as no shock that, right now, the elderly in South Korea lack social security in absolute squalor and dignity. Most are abandoned by their families and left alone to kill themselves, usually by jumping off a bridge. There is some occassional food assistance, but there is rarely enough to go around.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominant_minority should go and live in separate country

As a South Korean, I can firmly say that this is propaganda. The country's rapid and flourishing economic growth is due to the military dictatorship.(You can see historical charts for the evidence) Before any of them, the system was so chaotic. The "so-called" dictators unified the people to have a sense of patriotism that eventually gave them the incentive to work hard and live strong. They were also the people who stood against the North Korean spies that intentionally tried to infiltrate into the system with Marxist ideologies. The leaders during that time are still the most respected people in all Korean history. Even during the most notorious Jun-doo-hwan period the economy rapidly progressed.

Unfortunately, during president Kim-Dae-Joong's period, people twisted history and defamed the previous dictators with propaganda. This president was the person who won Korea's first novel peace prize for funding North Korea with billions of dollars. This money was eventually used for building the nuclear bombs. Yet, many people still think of this as a great feat. In truth, it is shameful.

As a South Korean, you're full of shit.

Dictator Rhee Syngman was a fine murder who left us with, among other atrocities, this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodo_League_massacre

Dictator Park Chung-hee was killed by his own aide (Kim Jae-gyu), while drinking with his servants, when Kim somehow snapped and decided Park should no longer live, for the sake of the country. Another aide (Cha Ji-cheol), also killed by Kim, reportedly remarked shortly before the shooting:

> "캄보디아에 서는 300만 명 정도를 죽이고도 까딱 없었는데 우리도 데모대원 1∼200만 명 정도 죽인다고 까딱 있겠읍니까?" (Cambodia was fine after killing 3 millions. What's the problem if we kill a million or two of those demonstrators?)

Oh, years before he became a dictator, Park was also a member of the Southern Labor Party (남조선로동당), a secret communist organization that worked toward a Marxist revolution in South Korea. Make of that what you will.

Dictator Chun Doo-whan came to power by shooting his own people: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwangju_Uprising

Among his other crimes, he's also credited with Samchung Educational Camp (삼청교육대), which basically committed the same crimes reported in the "Brothers Home" in the article, but in a national scale.

Oh, by the way, Kim Young-Sam, who was a president (from a conservative party) before Kim Dae-joong, spent 3.2 billion dollars on North Korea... due to an international agreement (including the US and Japan) on building nuclear reactors in North Korea in exchange of NK giving up its nuclear arsenals. See: https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%A1%B0%EC%84%A0%EB%AF%BC%EC...

> 재원분담협상 결과 대한민국은 실 공사비의 70 %를 원화로 기여(46억 달러 기준으로 3조 5,420억원)하고 ...

Apparently, the difference from Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine policy" is that under conservative governments, we only do the paying, and let the US decide everything on how to handle the situation. It's supposed to make us feel more secure.

By the way, one more thing:

In 1973, Park Chung-hee also tried to murder Kim Dae-jung, then a prominent opposition leader. Korean government agents kidnapped Kim in Japan (which predictably blew up into a big diplomatic scandal), and dragged him into a boat, blindfolded and bound, ready to throw him into water once they're far enough from the shore.

But somehow a ship or an airplane intervened. (It seems there are many conflicting accounts. Some say it was a ship from Japanese coast guards; Kim apparently remembers that the crew cried "There's an airplane!") Several sources say that CIA discovered Kim's kidnapping and alerted the Japanese government.

So, most likely CIA saved Kim Dae-jung from being murdered by Park. I'm usually not a fan of American foreign policy, but in this one case, I'm thoroughly grateful.

* It seems there's uncertainty on whether Park ordered the murder, or if it was planned by some overzealous officer. Well, they're all dead now, so we'll never know...

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