[EDITORIALS]Leave history to the expertsPresident Roh Moo-hyun said, “Because of our tragic history where the left and the right were sharply divided, there is an aspect that we refrain from disclosing one part of the independence movement despite our knowledge.” We agree with his idea, which is to bring onto the official historical pages a part of history that has remained unrecorded. The issue of Korean independence fighters was likely to come up naturally in the process of carrying out the proposed historical inquiry. In that regard, the president should not have spoken so specifically about the direction that the inquiry should take. The president’s words will invariably influence the future make-up and activities of the inquiry commission, which eventually will cast questions on the objectivity of its outcome.
Under Japanese colonial rule, it is true that a significant number of Korean intellectuals sought answers in socialism after the success of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The toils and struggles of these independence fighters, however, were buried in the volatile post-liberation history where the left and the right confronted each other sharply, where two separate governments were established in the south and the north and the Korean War broke out. Because the South and North Korean governments did not recognize each other, independence fighters never got a historical assessment. But to condemn ourselves as if we had committed a grave error, without taking into consideration the volatile whirlwind of events at that time, would be another kind of historical distortion.
Our politics and economy have grown and matured to the extent that there are calls to recognize leftist Korean independence fighters. Nevertheless, we should be prudent in determining who should be recognized and honored. A large majority of the leftist independence fighters participated in setting up the North Korean regime, but later were purged by Kim Il Sung and his forces.
Those who lived, however, spearheaded the move to invade South Korea. Some engaged in guerrilla warfare to subvert the Korean government. The government cannot simply acknowledge their pre-liberation work regardless of what they did after August 1945. That could prompt a situation where the legitimacy of the South Korean government would be undermined. We are wary of this issue being used for political purposes or goals; it should be left to objective experts.