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South Koreans Feel 'Sacred Wind' of Change'

July 12, 1986

After reading Sang Dal Cha's article (Editorial Pages, June 27), "South Koreans Feel Sweeping Wind of Change," one comes away with the impression that the "sacred wind" he speaks of is something that originated in some place entirely remote from Korea, sweeping different countries in the world and finally hitting Korea--its latest beneficiary. But such a sacred wind is always indigenous with the people against whom injustice and oppression are done.

If his expression "sacred wind" is more than a hyperbole, then it should be recognized that its divine origin has a universal implication because the God who creates and sends such a wind is a universal God. That sacred wind is stirred up invariably in the very midst of the oppressed themselves, be it ancient Israel in Egypt, modern Palestinians in the occupied areas, Filipinos under Ferdinand Marcos, South Africans under the white ruling class, or South Koreans under Chun doo Hwan.

Even a cursory review of Korean history (especially beginning from the Dong-Haak Revolution in the 19th Century through various independent movements under Japanese occupation, the April Student Revolution in 1960, and the current scenes) would shatter Cha's naive assumption regarding the Korean people and the origin of the "sacred wind."

Korea is not "now . . . awakening from a long sleep." In fact, it has never been asleep. And it definitely is not now "slowly finding strength, courage and wisdom to start a bold new period of history." These qualities always have been there--only stifled by military or other kinds of dictatorships.

It also appears that his long absence (more than 40 years) from Korea has put Cha slightly out of touch with what is really happening in Korea today. Even after the last election, the result of which has put the ruling party on the alert (the figure would have been more than 65% had the election been not rigged), the members of the National Assembly have not been able to make any serious attempt to truly represent the grass roots--the farmers, the laborers and the students, many of whom Chun's regime maliciously but conveniently labels as "Communist agitators."

I join with Cha in appealing to the American President, and urge him to at least stop sending cronies like Secretary of State George P. Shultz to South Korea to make asinine remarks. ("There is no parallel between South Korea and the Philippines"). But, sadly, I cannot resist the suspicion that Ronald Reagan is hardly the President to break the track record of the American foreign policies that Bishop Desmond Tutu once described as being notorious for taking the wrong sides.

I am afraid President Reagan will continue to support the Chun regime until the situation develops to the point where the inevitable change would directly affect. American interests in South Korea. Then, whatever he does at that point, if it is successful, will be a deft political maneuver but hardly "helping" the cause of the Korean people.

What astonished me the most about Cha's article is his statement that if Chun recognizes the irresistible nature of the wind and facilitates the transition of democracy, he "will earn a place in Korean history as a man who ushered in a new era." A new era will surely come, but it will have been ushered in by "Min Joong" (the suffering and striving grass roots)((, not by any one man or political party. At any rate, Korean history has never bestowed such an honor to any one who shed so much innocent blood as did Chun in Kwang Joo, May 1980. And it never will.

SHIN BYUNG KIM

Claremont

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