[OUTLOOK] No Apology, No Visit by Kim Jong-ilWe have always demanded an apology from Japan for its pillage of Korea, and still continue to do so today in many different forms.
We have always demanded that Japan correct its distortions of history in textbooks, and still continue to do so today.
The Japanese who plundered us 100 years ago are not the people ruling today's Japan. It was their grandfathers, great-grandfathers,and even great-great-grandfathers.
The people playing key roles in today's Japan had not yet been born, or were very young when their forefathers were ravaging Korea. Why do we then ceaselessly demand an apology and remedies from the Japanese who did not know and had nothing to do with what their forefathers were doing?
There is only one reason for this for the future of international society. The reason for our demands lies in laying a solid foundation for peace and coexistence in future society by making the Japanese recognize their forefathers acts of inhumanity against fellow human
beings in a neighboring country.
An apology or correction of distorted history textbooks has to do with the past, but we are not demanding these measures to hold today' Japanese accountable for the past. The purpose lies in the future and in holding them accountable for their future thoughts and actions.
Because acts of the past cannot be atoned for by an apology alone, the Japanese cannot become true members of international society unless they think and act differently in the future. Only then can their posterity be absolved of the crimes of the past.
But Japan was always stingy with its apologies and its corrective measures always turned out to be insufficient. It always took the political route, with the question "Why us?" for something their grandfathers did lurking in the back of their minds.
Why are we demanding Chairman Kim Jong-il.s apology for the Korean War, for blowing away a civilian airline and for
other atrocities? As one key member of the ruling party recently claimed, he was only six when the Korean War broke out and there is no hard evidence that he ordered the KAL bombing. Like today.s Japanese leaders, he did not know and was not directly involved. So why are we demanding his apology? Shouldn.t the incidents be dealt with under international law first, as the ruling party member
insisted, and isn.t it preposterous to demand an apology?
The Korean War was just as great a destruction of history and national tragedy as Japan.s 36-year-occupation of Korea was. Three million Koreans were killed and more than 10 million were separated from their families. The entire nation was devastated and the national territory was reduced to ashes. Even more tragically,Korea became a region filled with intense rage, hatred, hostility and
animosity unprecedented in any part of the world for more than half a century after the war ended.
Unlike the 36 years under Japan.s occupation, the people who personally experienced the war and North Korea.s subsequent atrocities are still alive today, leading lives burning with enmity. But even so, issuing an apology is not for the benefit of these people, but for the future, in the same way Japan.s apology is. An apology signifies resolution and plans for a future of genuine reconciliation.
Genuine repentance and a genuine apology offered from the bottom of a truthful heart.only these can allow us to confirm North Korea.s genuine change of direction toward peace and coexistence,and only these can guarantee national reconciliation in the future. It was because there was no
such penitence and apology that North Korea, despite having committed the heinous crime of starting the Korean War, did not hesitate from committing further acts of terrorism, such as the Aung San and KAL airplane bombings,actions that branded it as a rogue state. An apology is an act of morality and conscience that comes before the law. The Korean War and the KAL bombing are the Korean people.s internal issues before they are international issues. Nothing could be more inhumane and go more against
humanity than refusing to apologize.
We do not need a return visit without an apology; such a visit is not worth having.Chairmanlg Kim Jong-il is not the six-year-old that he was during the Korean War, but the highest leader of North Korea who inherited total control over power and the responsibility for war.Today, the South is using this respectful name, Chairmanli Kim Jong-il, even more than the North as a form of flattery. No one in the South calls him just Kim Jong-il any more, but Chairman Kim Jong-il. That is because he is not the six-year-old Kim Jong-il who did not know and did nothing, but the powerful leader Kim Jong-il who believes that even reunification is up to him.
A reciprocal visit without an apology is nothing more than a political game among politicians.It will take peace and coexistence out of Korea.s future. There will be no morality or national justification in that future. From a historical perspective, it would be an act of throwing away legitimacy.
by Song Bok