[LETTER TO THE EDITOR]Freedom is worth livesThe Roh government has responded to the protesters who desire to see the destruction of the statue of General Douglas MacArthur by suggesting that they should not push the issue, as it may erode the Republic of Korea’s relationship with the world’s only superpower. The government’s argument, however, is inadequate and misdirected.
It is a historical truth that but for the US-led U.N. forces that landed at Incheon under the direction of Gen. MacArthur, which retook the South after many civilian and military casualties on both sides, the North would have soon governed the entire peninsula. Gen. MacArthur’s statue appropriately represents the South’s preservation of democracy and the significant number of those who lost their lives during the Korean War.
The call for destruction of the symbolic statue means either the South should have laid down their arms, foregoing the majority of Korean deaths, and lived under a restrictive communist government, or the war-time casualties were a necessary price paid to live under a free democratic government.
The protesters in this issue obviously take the former position. In response, some critics claim that the actual motives behind the protest are communist-idealism and a misunderstanding of historical facts, as some of its supporters distort history and profess the benefits of communism. However, as shown above, the protesters’ belief in its purest form is that freedom is not worth dying for. This viewpoint that may not assign much importance to future generation’s quality of life is, nonetheless, a personal value judgment.
Rather, if the Roh government takes the latter position, its time would be best spent reassuring the nation that despite what the protesters have said, the vast majority of citizens have not misinterpreted history and that war-time casualties, although tragic, gave South Korea’s future generations something invaluable: freedom. It follows that Gen. MacArthur, as the pivotal figure of the Korean War, deserves South Korea’s respect for helping to preserve that freedom.
by Daniel Beuke