Naive wordsMarch 1 marked the 99th anniversary of the first widespread independence movement against Japanese colonial rule in 1919. Nearly a century has passed since the people of this land staked their lives to win back sovereignty. Yet we still live in fear under a shaky truce with nuclear-armed North Korea. Koreans came under Japanese rule in the early 20th century because they were oblivious to the rest of the world. Japan is first at fault for invading the Korean Peninsula. Global powers armed themselves with modern military and industrial technologies, but Korea remained a hermit kingdom. The March 1 Independence Movement should make us brood on the bitter lessons of history in order not to repeat our mistakes.
In his first Independence Movement Day address, President Moon Jae-in mentioned independence 23 times, the Republic of Korea 20 times, and peace 11 times. The March 1 Movement served as a historical watershed for Koreans’ independence fight through nonviolent means. Moon, however, fell short of pointing to what had prompted the movement and what the country needs to preserve, correct and develop its future. Today’s tensions stem from North Korea’s nuclear threat. Korea has a neighbor, China, whose leader seems to want to rule indefinitely. The future of the peninsula has become murky.
Moon didn’t mention North Korea in his March 1 address. There is a huge difference between the president and his people on the issue of North Korea. Many people are doubtful of that Pyongyang will ever change its spots. But the government remains idealistic and optimistic. Moon Chung-in, special adviser to the president on foreign, security, and inter-Korean affairs, told a forum in Washington that the Korean president can kick out American soldiers in the South if he wants to. A U.S. troop pullout is exactly what Pyongyang wants to hear. The president and government must place a higher priority on defending the nation.
JoongAng Ilbo, March 2, Page 30