[LETTERS to the editor]Colonial hangover

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[LETTERS to the editor]Colonial hangover


Regarding the editorial, “Write unbiased history texts” (March 25): The Textbook Forum’s new history book seems to have created unnecessary controversy, inasmuch as the same distortions found in troublesome Japanese textbooks were reportedly made in the Forum’s new history text.
If it were factually true that “During the Japanese colonial period, ‘economic progress was made and modern civilization was imported,’” then should we feel obliged to give thanks for the Japanese colonial rule, blotting out anti-Japanese sentiment, which has always been a cause of vitriol against us by high-ranking Japanese officials?
Far from “economic progress being made and modern civilization having been imported,” the 36 years of Japanese colonial rule was a long period during which any kind of intellectual and cultural foundations upon which to build our own progress, economic or civilizational, including the independence movement, were thoroughly demolished.
First and foremost, the stealthy policy Japan undertook to enforce, after completely depriving Korea of national sovereignty, was a process of Japanization.
As an important part of the linguistic, historical and cultural process of Japanization, or assimilation by Japan, the Korean people at that time were coerced by law to change their Korean names, both family and given names, to Japanese names.
Having undergone a long period of so horrible a process of forced assimilation by Japan, we bear until now the scars of the deep cuts from the colonial sword that remain to this day still unhealed.
Probably that is why we are still making unthinking distortions of our own history much akin to the wilful distortions of the same history by the Japanese.
Let it be taken to heart that a successful process of de-Japanization, which had cost us dearly, was the sine qua non of Korea’s achieving, on our own, genuine modernization.
Lee Kwon-suck, Gwangju, Gyeonggi

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr. Each letter should contain the writer’s name and full address. They are subject to editing.

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