Lately, the distortion of Korean History in textbook published by ‘Kyo-hak’ is at the center of the controversy. It is said that the textbook might diminish some important parts of Korean modern history and contain inappropriate comments on the comfort women forcibly mobilized by the Japanese army. Have you ever heard about the controversy on Dok-do, comfort women, China's Northeast Project, and fighters for national independence? If ever, do you know the exact meaning of them? These are the words that Korean people should know. However, people’s indifference to their history is faltering the foundation of Korean history. Then, nowadays how do people perceive the truth of history? An interview by a certain broadcasting company shows that most interviewees mistook AhnJoong-geun’s achievement for a lunch bomb, not the assassination of Hirubomi Ito, Wanyong Yi, the traitor for the independence fighter, and misunderstood Shrine of the Yasukunias a ‘gentleman’ of the Yasukuni. In order to correct these misunderstandings of the historical truth and to gaze at Korean history within the framework of the world history, Seo Kyung-duk, a publicity expert of Korea, and several experts of the Korean history gathered together. How precisely do you know about controversial issues mentioned in news and newspapers? Let’s think of the book 10 Korean Histories You Should Know About treating10 most crucial issues with detailed and comprehensible explanations. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Although all issues are important, let’s look into 2 representative issues. First, much attention needs to be paid to the most miserable and yet unsolved history, ‘comfort women’. I recall the man who, asked question ‘What do you think of the comfort women?, replied ‘Isn’t it a place related to an independence movement? ’The Japanese army´s comfort women are the victims that were forcibly taken to the war and enforced to live as sex slaves. This is the deliberately organized war crimes. Japanese imperialism waged many wars of aggression from early 1930 to 1945. And to prevent venereal diseases infection, soldier’s rape, and leakage of military secrets in invaded territories, they treated Asian women as soldier’s playthings. This was one of the colonial policies. Comfort women’s lives were tragic and inhumane. Violence and torture were part of their life and they were exposed to S.T.D (sexually transmitted disease) and suffered from after-effects of injection for cure. Even after the war, when they returned to their sexiest society, they had no choice but to live with a sense of guilty that they lost their chastity. Korean society, undoubtedly, discriminated them thoroughly. They have lived their lives concealing these facts all the time.
To recover their wrecked human rights, several human rights organizations have been set up. For instance, Korea Chong-shin-dae Associaton started with the aims to investigate the correct ways to remedy Comfort Women’ situation. Also, Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan has maintained that the Japanese government should solve the ‘comfort women’ problem that they had committed. They also have requested 7 agendas, including penalizing the person in charge of Comfort Women since 1993. The ‘House of Sharing’, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, has researched on the violence inflicted on women during the war including the Japanese army´s comfort women, and has been active in protecting and improving women’s human rights. In addition to these organizations’ many activities, the activities of the victims of comfort women have been changing the society. Every Wednesday afternoon, the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan has been holding protest gatherings in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul since Jan, 8th, 1992.More than 1000 times of protest gathering have been continuously held so far and it is time that people’s attention is needed to settle this unsolved problem.
The next issue is the ‘Yasukuni Shrine’. We have seen that whenever Japan’s politicians paid a visit to Shrine, Korea and China expressed dissatisfactions about it, which developed into diplomatic problems. Have you ever thought of the reason? It’s because worshiping at Shrine is an activity to honor those people who fought and died for Japan. If we let these actions keep happening, it would be accepting the Japan’s justification and glorification of their colonization and the war of aggression. Let’s scrutinize the meaning of ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ worship. As the frequency of worship at ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ increased with the number of deceased solider increasing, the concept that people who fought and died for Japan would become the god of ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ were inscribed in Japanese people’s mind. In a word, ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ is the place that gathered the spirits of the people who had died for Japanese emperor.
It is said that the number of ‘gods’ in ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ is about 2.5 million. There are no dead people’s remains in it. It just retains the list of engraved dead people’s names. What’s serious is that if you look into the pamphlet at Shrine, it says ‘To console people who devoted their life to the country that strives for World’s Peace and to convey their contributions to descendants.’ This means that they are justifying and glorifying the war. In brief, ‘Yasukuni Shrine’ might be regarded as the incarnation of Japan’s militarism. Consequently, it is natural that we, Koreans, feel resentment toward Japanese’s shrine worship.
Thus, Korean people should know such words as ‘comfort women’ and‘ Yasukuni Shrine. ’If you don’t know them, you should be ashamed. However, what is more important is that we shouldn’t find the reason of this consequence only in personal ignorance of the history .Korea’s improper educational system which focuses only on English and Math might lead to this problem. Compared to the history education of other developed countries, we can clearly see what the problems of our history education are. In high school curriculum of Germany, China, and France, history class is compulsory while in Korean high school's history course is optional. Furthermore, in those developed countries about 10% to maximum 20% of the curriculum is history while history class in Korean high school curriculum is barely above 5%. Looking at this fact, maybe it was natural for the interviewee to reply with such absurd answers. As one of the independence fighters, Sin,Chae-ho once mentioned, ‘There is no future for those who forgot the history,’ the importance of history consciousness cannot be overemphasized. People need to be aware of the importance of learning their history rather than being indifferent to their lack of history consciousness.