Thursday, February 10, 2005

Japan, Korea and 1597: A Year That Lives in Infamy

Japan, Korea and 1597: A Year That Lives in Infamy - Excerpt of a New York Times article detailing Japan's invasion of Korea in 1597 and Korean resentment lingering from it.

From the site:

When they invaded Korea 400 years ago, Japanese samurai warriors brought back priceless porcelain, ingenious metal type for printing and noses and ears hacked off the corpses of tens of thousands of Koreans.

In one of the world's more macabre war memorials, a 30-foot-high hillock here in the ancient Japanese capital marks where the noses and ears were buried. The 400th anniversary of this Mimizuka, or Ear Mound, will be commemorated in September, underscoring the tensions and hostilities that still set the countries of East Asia against each other.

Few Japanese outside Kyoto know of the Ear Mound, but almost all Koreans do. In Japan, even among those who have heard of it, the Ear Mound is largely seen as a bizarre relic of little relevance today. To many Koreans, it is a symbol of a Japanese brutishness that still lurks beneath the surface waiting to explode.

"Frankly speaking, I think there is a risk" of Japan some day again attacking its neighbors, said Ryu Gu Che, an ethnic Korean in Kyoto, and he suggests that the best way of reducing the risk would be for Japan to acknowledge and repent the savagery symbolized by the Ear Mound.

"So although 400 years have passed," he said, "I think both peoples should study this episode and learn some lessons."

Ryu, who is organizing the anniversary ceremony, says that the lesson that Japan should learn is to show greater remorse. The lesson for Korea, he said, is to avoid corruption and weakness that could tempt foreign invaders.

No comments: