“Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.” It is now understood that 8 to 9 million were killed. Thousands of schools were targeted for bombing, 75 percent of the food supply destroyed. It was one of the most barbarous wars in modern history.
From air bases in Okinawa and naval aircraft carriers, the U.S. Air Force launched over 698,000 tons of bombs (compared to 500,000 tons in the entire Pacific theatre in World War II), obliterating 18 of 22 major cities and destroying much of the infrastructure in North Korea.
Without the context of history and current events, the actions of North Korea look insane, but when put in context we find that the United States is pushing North Korea on this path. North Korea is really not a significant threat compared to what the United States is doing with nuclear weapons, the Asia Pivot and war games off the Korean coast.
The history between Korea and the United States goes back to the late 1800s when the US had completed its manifest destiny across North America and was beginning to build a global empire.
In 1871, more than 700 US marines and sailors landed on Kanghwa beach in west Korea, seeking to begin US colonization (a smaller US invasion occurred in 1866). They destroyed five forts, inflicting as many as 650 Korean casualties. This invasion is still discussed in North Korea, but it has been erased from the history in South Korea as well as in the United States.
A major revolt for Korean democracy occurred on March 1, 1919, when a declaration of independence was read in Seoul. Two million Koreans participated in 1,500 protests. The Koreans also appealed to major powers meeting in Versailles after World War I, but were ignored as Japan was given control over the East. The Japanese viciously put down the democracy movement. Iggy Kim, in Green Left, reports they “beheaded children, crucified Christians and carried out scores of other atrocities. More than 7,500 people were killed and 16,000 were injured.”
The US made sure to keep the capital, Seoul, and key ports. Essentially, the US took as much of Korea as it thought the Russians would allow. This division planted the seeds of the Korean War, causing a five-year revolution and counter-revolution that escalated into the Korean War. The US created the Korean war and the current situation in North Korea.
Initially, the South Koreans welcomed the United States, but US Gen. John Hodge, the military governor of South Korea working under Gen. Douglas MacArthur, quickly brought Koreans who had cooperated with the Japanese during occupation into the government and shut out Koreans seeking democracy. He refused to meet with representatives of the KPR and banned the party, working instead with the right wing Korean Democratic Party – made up of landlords, land owners, business interests and pro-Japanese collaborators.
Some pro-Japanese officials were killed in an uprising. A few days later, the US military declared martial law to crush the uprising. They fired into large crowds of demonstrators in numerous cities and towns, killing and wounding an unknown number of people.
Syngman Rhee, an exile who had lived in the US for 40 years, was returned to Korea on MacArthur’s personal plane. Rhee was elected at 71 years old in an election boycotted by most parties who saw it as sham. He came to power in the midst of an insurgency.
On Jeju Island, the largest Korean island lying in a strategic location in the Korea Strait, there continued to be protests against the US military government. It was one of the last areas where people’s committees continued to exist. Gen. Hodge told Congress Jeju was “a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee,” but he organized its extermination in a scorched-earth attack.
In September, Rhee’s new government launched a massive counterinsurgency operation under US command. S. Brian Willson reports it resulted in the killing of “60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the ‘extermination’ campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled.”
“Torture, mutilation, gang rape and arbitrary execution were rife. . . a quarter of the Jeju population had been massacred. The US embassy happily reported: ‘The all-out guerilla extermination campaign came to a virtual end in April with order restored and most rebels and sympathizers killed, captured, or converted.’” This was the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history and a warning of what was to come in the Korean War. As we will see, Jeju is part of the story in today’s US Asian escalation.
“The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953 was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of US-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the US-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.”
The population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8-9 million people during the 37-month long ‘hot’ war, 1950-1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to belligerence of another.
The North Koreans “simply cannot understand why the US is so obsessed with them.”
The US military does not fear “pipsqueak” North Korea with their low tech missiles and bombs, but in the media they use every test by North Korea as an excuse to escalate. Adams clarifies, “the US military needs a bogeyman to justify spending 60 percent of US discretionary spending on an insane, incompetent and bloated military.”
Constitutionally, is the U.S. supposedly forbidden from maintaining a permanent army? Obviously 'incompetence' is not the real problem.