[VIEWPOINT]The First War Had Many Casualties

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[VIEWPOINT]The First War Had Many Casualties

A month has passed since the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon building in Virginia took place.

We have seen many surreal pictures of the horror during the last month through television, daily newspapers and weekly magazines. We also have heard a lot of personal stories from numerous interviews. But what actually is left in our memory are not the words but the images. And we have not seen everything.

Though they may seem like many, the images are actually few in number. Limits have been placed on what we have been allowed to see, which have been repeated over and over again, as if we are being brainwashed.

What we have seen most often, like a process of education, are the scenes of the buildings at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia being attacked.

In the aftermath of the attack, we often thought we were seeing live broadcasts. But except for what was aired on the first day, most of the images presented to us were replays. Banner graphics, such as "America Under Attack" were attached to the images. Images were added and scenes edited to present a more dramatic, movie-like picture. We forgot they were mere replays.

Koreans, who live on the other side of the globe from New York, the heart of global capitalism, were captivated by the feeling that the accident was ongoing, having watched the same images again and again, day and night. They were surprised by and marveled at the spectacles, but eventually became fed up with them.

In other words, we were hypnotized by the scenes that were "eternalized" by those who attempted to take the incident out of the flow of history, thereby holding their audience's emotional reaction at the maximum.

Meanwhile, we did not even try to see how much we failed to notice. What we actually saw could have been edited down to a few photographs. Even though the scenes were shocking and implicitly suggested many unspoken words, that does not mean they informed us of the essence of the incident. Rather, they may have done the opposite. In terms of purely visual information, what we saw was almost nothing compared with what we did not see.

Before Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden is said to be hiding, was bombarded with a variety of high-tech munitions, television viewers around the world had been attacked by the media, which rules the network of the world. If the attacks on Afghanistan are a war, then it is the second war related to these events - after the "media war."

The blanket bombardment with strategic images by major media of the United States, including CNN, preceded the attacks on Afghanistan. And we Koreans who have no other channels to access information but CNN or Korean broadcasters, which relay CNN's image without any filtering, were among the powerless victims of the first war.

What on earth has justified the clear dichotomy between a just war and terrorism, civilization and barbarity and good and evil? Blind trust in the images that were actually selected by the powerful and could eclipse the historical truth is the background on which a barbaric mythology could come to life. The darkest pages of the Old Testament are about to materialize once more on Earth.


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The writer is a professor at Korean National University of Arts.


by Choi Min

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