There are no free lunches under the sun.
An old Korean saying says, “At the feast of others, say ‘Bring persimmon: bring pears." It means ridiculous meddling in the business of other people.
Historically Korea was indebted to America two times: first, Korea got liberation for nothing from Japan defeated in the Second World War, thanks to the United States of America.
Second, South Korea managed to defend its half part of Korean Peninsula from North Korea’s attack in the Korea War in 1950-53 through the forceful support of American soldiers. As a result, Korea became a state which has been served free lunches two times from USA.
If that so, America is a country of an angel to Koreans? According to Gallup Research, about 58 percent of South Korean love America by two percent more than Americans loves their country.
In the early 1950s, a British journalist said, “expecting democracy to bloom in Korea is like expecting a rose in a trash can.” In those days, Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, relying on corn powder and dry milk powder offered by USA. John F. Kennedy asked his high-ranking personnel how to keep South Korea from North Korea’s threat. His aides advised him that America should help South Korea achieve two things: One thing is to help enhance South Korean’s quality of life, and the other is to achieve political democratization.
Surprisingly in half a century, South Korea has achieved not only its economic growth in the eleventh place in global economic power but also political democratization. By strong people’s power, they have driven out the military dictatorship of more than thirty years. America’s diplomatic policy for supporting South Korea resulted in great success. Koreans proved to be a beautiful rose is in full bloom in a trash can. Namely Korea made the Miracle of the Han River.
I think that main motives to have led Korea’s economic development and industrialization were due to its time-honored history, Park Chung-hee’s timely development dictatorship, and people’s cooperation. After Park took the power through military coup, he mapped out the First Economic Development Plan to lead export-drive policy from 1961 to 1979. The export-drive policy brought a rapid economic growth and industrialization in South Korea. However, his eighteen-year-old authoritarian rule had committed numerous human rights abuses and yielded socials conflicts between conservatives and liberals.
But except this positive facet, America’s wrong policies against South Korea sometimes gave South Koreans disappointments and frustration. They have played a disturber’s role in modern Korean history, I think. I would like to describe America’s mistaken policies: One is “the Shufeldt Treaty” of May 22th, 1882, signed between Chosun and America. King Kojong in the late of Chosun Dynasty period was said to have danced in the palace before his subjects. The reason was that USA will help Chosun(=Korea) sustain independence without China and Japan’s interference, but it was a wrong political judgment. On the contrary, President Theodore Roosevelt was a believer in Social Darwinism and “Big Stick Diplomacy” in international affairs. The Taft-Katsura Memorandum on July 27, 1905, was a secret document which means Japanese control over Korea and the Japanese establishment of suzerainty over Korea.
The other is that Carter administration overlooked Chun Doo-Hwan to dispatch his army’s 20th Division to Kwangju to quell the demonstration from May 18 to 27, 1980. After President Park Chung-Hee was assassinated by KCIA’s chieftain, the spring of democratization seemed to come like a mirage. Opposition leaders insisted that we should choose our president through direct vote. Gradually the political situation engulfed into a large turmoil’s tornado. Major General Chun who took power in 1979, declared the Martial Law to prohibit all political activities. Every day demonstrations broke out in all larger cities. Especially, thousands of people in Kwangju’s street were demanding an end to military rule and seeking the restoration of democracy. He dispatched the Korean army and the Special Forces “black berets” with M-16s and bayonets fired at unarmed civilian protesters. More than 600 citizens were said to be killed. Namely the Korean army committed massacre which does have an American connection. America insists that Wickham had no power to keep the division under his control. It was a clear lie. Since 1950, the joint defense of South Korea is under the coordinated command of an American four-star general.
Nowadays, North Korea and US are competing each other’s diplomatic power to gain a good position through bargaining of ”give and take” for denuclearization of North Korea, leaving south Korea as a looker-on.
In conclusion, after Korea was served expensive free lunches, it unintentionally lost her military sovereignty. Whenever Korean political situation ups and downs in the process of democratization, America has exerted her wrong influence upon the Korean Peninsula. In 21st century, we have the responsibility for passing over a normal state with our military sovereignty to our descendants so that they never expect to be served other’s free lunches again.
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 Andrew C. Nahm, 新韓國史通論(A History of the Korean People-Tradition and Transformation) pp.203-205.
 Los Angeles Times: US role in Kwangju and Beyond Korea: Joint command of troops keep complicity in military misdeeds an open question, August 29, 1996.