Ending the Park Era for Good

Park Geun-hye, the former South Korean president, just got sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption. This is good.

Some perspective. Following the imposition of the U.S. Occupation on (southern) Korea in September 1945, the U.S. handpicked the Korean nationalist Syngman Rhee (Lee Seungman) to head the emerging South Korean colony. (The Koreans were still viewed by the U.S. forces as hostile, if only because Korea had been part of the Japanese Empire and Koreans had fought in the Japanese Army.  Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge, who headed the occupation administration, explicitly described the Koreans as “enemies,” refused to recognized the newly-formed Korean People’s Republic—which had been recognized by the defeated Japanese—actively suppressed its “people’s committees” throughout the south, and initially ordered Japanese colonial administrators to remain in their posts to serve the U.S. in its occupation goals.)

Rhee had been living in the U.S. since 1904, receiving degrees from George Washington University, Harvard and Princeton and making a name for himself as an advocate for Korean independence. A Christian convert from his youth, married to an Austrian woman, Rhee was little known in Korea. (Kim Gu, who had been based in China, had the greater revolutionary nationalist credentials.) He had spent two years (1910-12) in China and Korea, but otherwise lived in Hawaiian exile. As it was the U.S. imposed him as dictator in the south, while…

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