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North Korean Crisis and the American Dream

April 20, 2013

In the whirlwind of reports of the current crisis caused by North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, who “threatens” the mighty USA with its nuclear attack, and watching Kim Jong-un being depicted as a wild animal by the American government and people, I had an urge to read what Don wrote about America.

In college, I began to question the assertion that America was “the city on the hill,” in John Winthrop’s words, a new, different kind of nation that stood in stark contrast to the corruption of Europe. But the truth was, Americans had it easy, or that’s how I saw it. This was a largely empty continent that we invaded, and then we exterminated much of the native population. We were largely free from external threats. We could establish a new society without any feudal past or other historical constraints. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much been given to so few as it has been given to Americans. A vast open land, with enormous natural resources, and only a few Indians to subjugate and kill, along with the importation of many Africans to enslave and exploit.

Inevitably, I came to realize that the enormous “race sins” of our nation had been perpetrated against Native Americans and African Americans. And they were compounded by the corrupting influence of wealth, and of economic and social disparity. The way I saw it, we created oppression and then used its results to justify further exploitation. This was nowhere close to what I believed the American Dream to be.

Filled with growing ideas and increasing realizations about his beloved country, America, Don was confused but excited to shape his life in directions unimaginable growing up in rural Iowa. During this first trip to DC, he wrote, “Walking around the nation’s capital, I was drawn to the notion that, as an American, I should be part of not only a personal, but a national dream—one accessible to all of us—and that I should pursue a life course for its realization. The importance of political awareness started to stir my consciousness, binding individual dreams to that of society as a whole. I came to realize that I could not and should not isolate my welfare from that of my fellow citizens.”

True to his determination, Don led a life of public service in which the welfare of fellow human beings was the primary concern. Later, living with me in our New York apartment and suffering from his worsening health, Don wrote how he was in profound despair about the United States and the American Dream. He lamented how George W. Bush claimed to know what is just and pure, based on his moral certainty. He grew sadder each day to see how GW and many Americans impose the American Dream on any nation or person. How America misused its superpower around the world.

During his last year on earth, 2008, Don was passionately involved in working for Obama victory, as sick as he was. Alas, he died three days before Obama’s inauguration, which saddened me beyond words.

During that first year of the Obama administration, I tried to hear Don’s gentle advice, “Dai Sil, don’t be so impatient. After all, he took over eight years of GW’s presidency.”

But as the second and third year came, I tried to console myself that Don was better off not to live with the Obama administration as I was. Then the intense campaign between Obama and Romney gave me no choice but to support Obama again.

Well, now I am following how Obama is doing during his second term. He is a bit more gutsy with handling some crucial issues such as gun control, and immigration. He has no more re-election worries. But on his handling of my place of birth, North Korea, he is NO GOOD.

During his first term, I was distressed by his dealings with South Korea. He supported that “arsehole” president Lee Myung-bak but continued to demonize or isolate North Korea without showing any concern or interest to know about the small country. Now using the young leader of North Korea, he seems to be pursuing American interest in the worst way—to secure South Korea as a possible battle ground with China and doing all sorts of things for American interests.

We must never forget that behind the wars that America launches in the name of democracy or help of an allied force (South Korea, in this case), what America is looking for is expanding its geopolitical territories with economic gain.

I am not trying to bow and praise Kim Jong-un. To be sure, he is reckless and obnoxious as if he were the youngest son of a large family who is desperate to draw attention from his father.  But he did not fall down from the sky. He has been in the making for a long time, much of the time by outside forces, primarily the USA.

For the last half a century, I have known that the US policies in Korean Peninsula and its dealings with North Korea and South Korea should be understood in comprehensive historical and political contexts.

Just like the US is trying to impose its democracy in the Mid-East without asking if the people themselves want it, they never bothered to know what it was Koreans wanted at the end of World War II. If they did, Korea might not be divided.

I want to write about this for the next couple posts.

PS. Please do not forget to order Iowa Sky: A Memoir by Donald D. Gibson

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