[FOUNTAIN]A lesson from PolandGetting to know about Poland is simple. Elementary students here read the biography of Marie Curie to find out a couple of things about the country. Then, middle and high school students are introduced to Frederic Chopin, a Poland born composer. Also, Lech Walesa, a well-known labor activist, and Pope Paul II were born in Poland.
Kim Gwang-gyun, a poet, describes the dreary scenery of Poland in one of his poems. The gloomy description was well depicted in a movie called White. The movie was directed by Krzyszytof Kieslowski. From this movie one can see that Poland and Korea have many things in common. The two countries have a history of being invaded by nearby powerful nations. Poland, in Eastern Europe, has suffered invasions by Russia, Germany and Austria. Korea was invaded by China and Japan. Japan occupied Korea for 35 years, but Poland was ruled by Russia, Germany and Austria for 123 years.
In the 20th century, Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, starting World War II. Then, Russia invaded the eastern part of Poland. After the war ended, the Poland-Russia border was moved further west, giving Russia territory in the eastern part of Poland, and Poland took German territory in the east in return. Many Polish people have an instinctive antipathy for Germans and Russians, which mirrors Koreans’ feelings toward Japanese.
Then, is there a natural dovetailing of Korea and Poland? The answer is no. Poland and Korea have taken different paths. Unlike the swell of anti-Americanism in Korea, Poland has deliberately moved closer to the United States.
The world was shocked by the news that Poland promised to send 200 troops to join forces from the United States and the United Kingdom against Iraq. But it was not surprising considering the attitude Poland has shown toward the United States. Warsaw, which decided to buy 48 F16 combat planes from the United States, took side with the United States, as European countries were divided between pro-American and anti-American. Poland welcomes the idea of being home to U.S. military bases. The Polish love independence. That is why they are allied with the United States so as not to repeat history.
President Roh Moo-hyun, who will soon visit the United States, should keep the Polish peole’s choice in mind.
by Yoo Jae-sik
The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.