What They Said is a weekly series on the quotes behind the headlines.
On September 30, 2022, a trilateral military exercise involving South Korea, the United States, and Japan was held in the East Sea for the first time in five years. Due to the strained relationship and the unresolved historical and territorial disputes between South Korea and Japan, this military cooperation has raised concerns in South Korea, particularly over the possibility of Japanese forces intervening in problems on the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, it was confirmed that the Japanese forces flew the Rising Sun Flag during the exercise, prompting many Koreans to express their disapproval.
Lee Jae-myung, the leader of the Democratic Party of Korea, criticized Korea’s participation in the military exercise with harsh words, calling it “pro-Japanese defense” and a “self-harming security that cannot be overlooked”. He also predicted that “the Rising Sun Flag might fly on the Korean Peninsula”.
On October 7, Chung Jin-suk, chairman of the People Power Party’s Emergency Planning Committee, criticized Lee Jae-myung’s statement in a Facebook post:
“Now there’s someone saying that because South Korea, the United States, and Japan conducted a military exercise in the waters 180 kilometers away from Dokdo, Japanese troops wearing the Japanese flag will soon occupy Korea. He also said that it reminded him of the end of the Korean Empire. Saying that the Japanese military will be stationed in Korea and that our sovereignty may be usurped, this is scaremongering.
Moon Jae-in’s theory about Kim Jong-un’s promise of denuclearization and Lee Jae-myung’s theory that Japanese troops will be stationed in South Korea are the two most ludicrous lies that undermine the security of the Republic of Korea.
Why did Joseon fall? Was it destroyed by the Japanese invasion? Joseon was rotten from the inside, and thus it was destroyed. Japan never went to war with the Joseon Dynasty. …
The Joseon Dynasty was incompetent and ignorant. … Joseon had no power to defend itself. Such was the case at the end of the Korean Empire.
On October 7, South Korea was ranked 6th in the “Power” category of the 2022 “Best Countries in the World” by the U.S. News and World Report, a leading American magazine, in a joint survey with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. South Korea is the 7th largest exporter in the world and the 11th largest economy in the world. FYI, the Wharton School is the world’s leading business school.
France was ranked 7th and Japan 8th in terms of national power.
Not much of the Korean media covered this good news that Korea had surpassed France and Japan in terms of national power. Was it because they couldn’t believe it? Or because they didn’t want to believe it? … I do not want the public to be deceived with a facile perception of history. I would like to make a promise to the people: the presence of Japanese troops in Korea will not be permitted unless the Republic of Korea gives up its sovereignty.”
— Chung Jin-suk, chairman of the People Power Party’s Emergency Planning Committee, October 11, 2022
Chung’s statement, however, was met with criticism from all around, including politicians, historians, and educators.
“‘Japan never went to war with the Joseon Dynasty’???
Is this truly a statement made by the chairman of our party’s Emergency Planning Committee?
These are vulgar remarks that play into the trap that Lee Jae-myung laid.
Why did the Imjin War and the Jeongyu War occur?
For what did Yi Sun-sin, Ahn Jung-geun, and Yun Dong-ju sacrifice their lives?
I strongly request that Chung Jin-suk, chairman of the Emergency Planning Committee, apologize to the people for his ludicrous remarks and resign from his position. I would like to make it clear that the People Power Party does not agree with Chung Jin-suk.”
— Yoo Seong-min, former National Assembly member for the People Power Party, October 11, 2022
“Typical aggressor logic.
Goguryeo also faced internal conflicts, so does that mean that it did not fall because of the Tang invasion? It is flabbergasting enough to see him taking Russia’s side…”
— Kim Woong, National Assembly member for the People Power Party, October 11, 2022
“… My jaw dropped in shock at how a Korean National Assembly member, moreover the leader of the ruling party, could possibly make such a shocking claim that reduced to nothing the sacrifice and devotion of our ancestors who fought for our people’s independence.
It is absurd to see that, at a time when he should be reflecting on and apologizing for his grandfather’s pro-Japanese activities that have been reported by the media, he is instead making ludicrous claims.
It is Chairman Chung Jin-seok himself who is turning the issue of Korea’s diplomacy and security into a debate about pro-Japanese sentiments. You should reflect on your inferiority complex and learn the history of our country anew. …”
— Jeun Younggi, National Assembly Member for the Democratic Party, October 11, 2022
“Joseon became a colony… because the Korean Empire had no power… and because [becoming a Japanese colony] was the only way for the people of Joseon to survive and adapt to the historically logical fate and global trend. #Words of Ye Wan-yong in an article from Maeil Sinbo, May 30, 1919.”
— Choi Tae-sung, history instructor on EBS, October 11, 2022
“… The controversial part is where he said, why did Joseon fall? It fell because of our problems, our internal issues. Because we have no choice but to think that this is related to colonial historiography. After Japan annexed Korea, one part of the logic that Japan put forward was that Joseon was destroyed because the people of Joseon were incompetent, not because Japan invaded the country. With this logic, Japan educated and brainwashed Korean people. … It is downright shocking that the chairman of the Emergency Planning Committee of the ruling party has that kind of mindset and way of thinking. …”
— Choi Jin-bong, professor at Sungkonghoe University, October 12, 2022