Disrespecting Gen. Paik (KOR)

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Disrespecting Gen. Paik (KOR)

 Leaders of our society are making absurd remarks one after another as if to reflect a country in confusion after the coronavirus outbreak and the suicide last week of Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon over a sexual harassment scandal. What concerns us most are the derogatory statements by Kim Won-woong, head of the Heritage of Korean Independence (HKI), and lawyer Noh Young-hee, a famous commentator, about General Paik Sun-yup, who passed away last week. The remains of the Korean War hero were buried in the Daejeon National Cemetery earlier this week.

General Paik made a priceless contribution to safeguarding our country from the June 25, 1950 North Korean invasion by founding father Kim Il Sung in league with the Soviet Union and China. As the commander of the First Division, the general stopped three North Korean divisions from marching further to the south through a painstaking victory in Dabudong in North Gyeongsang. If we had not had the general at the time, South Korea would have disappeared from the world map. Paik also played a pivotal part in establishing the South Korea-U.S. alliance after the Armistice in 1953. Thanks to his devotion to the alliance, American generals serving in South Korea always expressed their deep respect for him as a living legend.

Nevertheless, Kim Won-woong, chair of the HKI, claimed that Gen. Paik massacred a countless number of civilians before and after the war. Kim went so far as to send a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump asking for a summoning of the Commander of United States Forces Korea, Robert Abrams, who also serves as commander of R.O.K.-U.S. Combined Forces Command. We cannot understand Kim’s ridiculous act. General Paik only reacted to the North Korean Army, which killed our soldiers and civilians in the bloody war. No records show General Paik slaughtered civilians.

Affiliated with the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, the HKI receives a subsidy from the government. We are deeply concerned about the head of such an organization defaming a war hero. Does Kim have any authority to demand the U.S. President bring back the USFK commander? We seriously wonder if he desires to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington. It is regrettable that such a person serves as head of an association representing our independence fighters.

That’s not all. In a radio show, Noh Young-hee, the lawyer, said, “Should Paik be buried in the national cemetery for his merits of shooting and defeating North Koreans, the same people as South Koreans?” If her words are correct, our military should not have countered the North Korean attacks so that South Korea could be turned into a Communist state.

No one would agree with her view. Appearing on a radio program she hosted, the lawyer apologized for her remarks and quit the show. But that is not enough because she denied the identity and Constitution of our nation. We wonder if she could continue to work as a lawyer in the future.

67 years have passed since South and North Korea reached an armistice. But the two countries are poles apart by any standards, including freedom and prosperity. Both Kim and Noh must thank their forefathers who strongly fought against the North Korean Army seven decades ago to allow them to enjoy such privileges.

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