[EDITORIALS]Seeking truth from the pastThe efforts to ferret out pro-Japanese and unpatriotic deeds during the colonial era will become intensified with the passing of a bill on investigation of Korean collaborators with Japanese colonial rule. Even though it is shameful that the debate over settling the issue of collaborators has been going on for half a century, this is a project that must be undertaken for the sake of historical clarification. It is a chance to wash away the historical residue by undertaking a clear examination of the past.
This issue has consumed our society for a long time, ever since the end of the colonial era. There was a stark conflict between those who demanded punishments for the sake of establishing our national spirit and those who asserted that there are many problems in effectiveness and impartiality. This project must now put an end to the age-old debate and move toward stitching together our society. The project’s motto must be national reconciliation.
The outlook is not optimistic. There is conflict between those who believe the new law has become a piece of legislation that condones the pro-Japanese figures, and those who believe it could be abused politically. The act of resolving the past must not increase conflict to cause another seed of division in our nation. Whatever the rationale is, we must not delay our steps toward the future.
To prevent this kind of situation, flexibility in historical interpretation is needed as well as rationality in standards of judgment. In some sense, most people who lived in the country during the colonial era cannot exempt themselves from direct or indirect pro-Japanese activities, except perhaps the independence movement fighters who struggled abroad. Given that Japanese oppression was intense, it is not fair to judge a few pro-Japanese remarks as being unpatriotic. There should be a clear differentiation between active traitors and those who were passively pro-Japanese. Most of the people involved are dead, so we can only rely on partial data.
We hope this task is undertaken quietly. The nine commission members must work with an open mind. Those who are suspected as pro-Japanese must refrain from unconditional criticism, admit their mistakes and seek forgiveness to heal the conflict.