Donald Trump recently responded to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s mention of direct communication channels with North Korea by tweeting, “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man.” He went on, “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
Americans are increasingly worried about a possible nuclear war with North Korea. But some appear unconcerned about the potential fallout, as, in the (in)famous words of Trump, “If thousands die, they’re going to die over there.”
To Korean Americans, such callousness is dehumanizing to the people of Korea and Asia Pacific. The so-called “thousands over there” are our families and friends. A war in Korea would be devastating to Koreans in diasporas around the world and will almost certainly involve the surrounding region, including China, Japan, and Guam.
On October 10, HOBAK (Hella Organized Bay Area Koreans) invited Korean Americans to join a conversation via twitter about U.S. militarism and provocations in Korea and around the world:
As tensions continue to rise, and threats of war continue, it is critical to uplift Korean voices and their stories, and to ground ourselves in more comprehensive analyses of the current situation. HOBAK is hosting this online Twitter chat to create a forum for Koreans in diaspora to connect and speak on their perspectives on militarism, war, and US imperialism – and the generations of impacts that exist, past, present, and future. We are witnessing the lack of comprehensive information in the media, even progressive media, as well as the lack of centering of Korean voices. Join us to hear from those that call for de-miltarization, and who are demanding another pathway forward that promotes peace, reunification, and self determination of the Korean people!
The invitation elicited over a hundred tweets in one hour, and highlights of the conversation can be viewed here:
One of the questions posed by Hobak was:
Many noted that the mainstream media fails to provide accurate historical background to the current escalation of tension — most notably that the Korean War is still un-ended after close to 70 years. Some discussed the devastating impact of the 1950-1953 war on the Korean people:
The Korean War, often referred to in the U.S. as the “Forgotten War,” is shrouded in secrecy and silence in many Korean American families. As Ramsay Liem reminds us:
[F]or Korean American survivors and their children, the Korean War remains a source of shared, if not publicly expressed, pain and division. To speak openly about this past is to violate a pervasive popular culture that renders this war ‘forgotten’, to risk provoking Cold War divisions that linger within Korean American communities, and to expose children and grandchildren to deep personal conflicts that survivors, themselves, may not have reconciled.
Trauma stemming from war and division continues to be buried as the broader U.S. public and media willfully forget the history of the Korean War.
Hyejin Shim of HOBAK referenced a 2003 International War Crimes Tribunal, which presented findings by the Korea Truth Commission on U.S. atrocities in Korea from 1945 to 2001. The findings included the U.S. military’s “gross and systematic violence committed against women in northern and southern Korea, characterized by mass rapes, sexual assaults and murders.”
Shim and Christine Ahn also noted that U.S. militarism continues to displace South Korean people from their homes and communities:
Seongju currently hosts the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. For over a year, residents of Seongju fought to prevent the U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) from deploying the missile defense system. Last month, the USFK completed the THAAD deployment as the South Korean police forcibly removed protesters blocking the entry of the THAAD launchers. On Jeju Island, the South Korean government completed the construction of a naval base despite a decade of resistance from local residents. The base will reportedly host U.S. stealth destroyers like the USS Zumwalt.
To view more from HOBAK’s #KoreanPeace Twitter conversation, click on the link below:
End All Wars in the Middle East and Solidarity with Puerto Rico
On October 7, Korean Americans joined a protest in New York against U.S. wars abroad and white supremacy at home. Juyeon Rhee of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development spoke at the rally of several hundred people:
What did the U.S. say about a war on the Korean Peninsula? It said that the war would happen over there, not here. We, as Koreans living in the United States, must come together with a unified voice to oppose Trump’s war.
Rhee and others called on the Trump administration to stop its provocations against North Korea and end its wars in the Middle East, including Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The rally also expressed solidarity for the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination and the people of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria and the U.S. government’s failure to respond, which has left the people there with no access to food and clean water.
Puerto Rican activists talked about the current situation as rooted in the history of U.S.’ colonial occupation of Puerto Rico:
Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States for 119 years. We are not suffering from a debt crisis. We are not suffering from a hurricane relief crisis. We are suffering from a colonial crisis… the same forces that occupied Palestine, the same forces that occupied Haiti, the same forces that are pushing imperialism around the world are the same forces that repress my country… we need to unite.
By ZoominKorea staff