[EDITORIALS]List release ill-consideredInstitute for Research in Collaborationist Acivities and a committee formed to publish a reference book of pro-Japanese figures announced yesterday their first draft list of 3,090 people who will be included in the book. The nation has been engaged in a controversy of settling past wrongdoings, and the announcement of the collaborators of the Japanese colonial government further fuels this conflict.
Many of those named on the list are already deceased, and thus lose the opportunity to provide their side of the story. There is also no proof that the institute and the committee compiled the list fairly. Such a list was destined to be controversial. Since the National Assembly passed a law in February to settle pro-Japan activities during the colonial era, the organizations should have waited to see the outcome.
No one will object to assessing history accurately. However, assessments depend on the standards applied. If some actions, which were unavoidable at the time, are judged by today’s standards, those accused will feel unfairly targeted. Truth finding is a difficult task. Of course, there are people who were awarded high posts by Japan or who literally sold the country to the Japanese ― undeniably collaborative acts. There are also people who were forced to assist the colonial government due to unavoidable circumstances. For those first-mentioned, there is no justification, but those mentioned later should be treated with an “understanding of history,” rather than a “judgment of history.”
The point of controversy is the standard used in selecting the pro-Japanese figures. The 36 years of the colonial era was a long era; Suh Jhung-joo, Korea’s one of greatest poets, remembered the time he lived believing that the sky over the peninsula belonged to Korea, not Japan.
Without living through that period, it is difficult to understand why an independence fighter or an intellectual sharply critical of Japan turned to support the colonial government. Many of those named contributed greatly to the Republic of Korea’s foundation and development. If all of them are branded as Japanese collaborators, how will we be able to defend the legitimacy of our nation?
To this end, the announcement of the list, if it were drawn up for academic purposes only, should have been thought through more carefully.
Otherwise, it can easily be interpreted as a political maneuver.