[EDITORIALS]Professor’s article dead wrongAn article by Korea University Professor Emeritus Hahn Sung-joe in one of the most widely read right-wing magazines, Seiron, claiming that Japan’s rule over Korea was a “blessing in midst of sorrow” has enraged the public.
In his article, Mr. Hahn presumes that Korea would have been more unfortunate had it been annexed by Russia. Russia’s policy at the time ― to divide ethnic groups ― would have forced the Korean people to disperse, Mr. Hahn wrote. Concerning the issue of “comfort women,” Mr. Hahn wrote that Japan was not the only country that forced women into sexual servitude for soldiers and that “comfort women” were only a temporary phenomenon during war time. Mr. Hahn’s claims leaves us dumbfounded. He also wrote that the Korean media relishes publishing articles that stir up anti-Japanese behavior. It is almost as if Mr. Hahn is the spokesman for the colonial Japanese government.
Intellectuals should have the courage to tell the truth and the facts. However, Mr. Hahn’s claims do not seem to rise from scholarly belief but from swashbuckling stubbornness. First, he uses the “if only” presumption in history which any scholar should avoid. Moreover, he bases his writing on a wrong presumption. Not only is his reasoning that Korea would have been annexed by Russia if not by Japan an unproven presumption based on defeatism, it is an oversimplified logic that disregards the profound sufferings of our people under Japanese colonial rule. Mr. Hahn also wrote that the current efforts in Korea to seek out collaborators and their wrongdoings are “rooted in Communism and radical left-wing ideology.” Not only is it illogical to use the dichotomy of the left and right, it is even more incomprehensible that he should presume that the leftists would attack the pro-Japanese because they are leftists. Mr. Hahn’s article bears resemblance to the writings of the “colonial modernization” school that views the Japanese rule positively in terms of how Korea was modernized during that period. This claim has long been criticized as quoting simple economic factors of a certain period without taking historical, cultural and international factors into consideration. We cannot but deplore Mr. Hahn’s claims that come at a time when public sentiments are already aggravated by the resumption of claims from Japan that the islands of Tokdo are Japanese territory.