[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Rhee shoulders blameSteve Stupak creates the impression in his letter to the editor, “Don’t Betray MacArthur,” (Monday, Dec. 20), that the late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung solely started the Korean War. While there is no doubt the North launched the attack, it’s not as if Kim did it out of the blue.
Stupak writes: “The war unleashed by Kim killed hundreds of thousands of people...” And, “To this day, the families of all those people wish Kim Il Sung had not done what he did.”
Many of those same families must also wish South Korean president Syngman Rhee had not acted so irresponsibly and provocatively towards the North as well. Especially after the establishment of two Korean regimes in 1948, there was bitter and violent political polarization between the two states.
Writes Harvard professor Carter J. Eckert, in ‘Korea Old and New, A History’: “Military conflicts along the 38th parallel between northern and southern forces, many of which appear to have been initiated by the South, became increasingly frequent and intense and continued right into the spring of 1950.” “Both Rhee and his generals, moreover, spoke openly during this period of retaking the North by force.”
While these factors in no way excuse the attack, they do offer evidence that Rhee should shoulder some of the blame and not solely Kim.
by Mark Dake