History will repeat itself

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.”

Korea and Her Neighbors: A Narrative of Travel, with an Account of the Recent Vicissitudes and Present Position of the Country

— from amazon review

must-read for Korean history learner 2014/6/8
Tad – (Amazon.com)

This book was written in 1897 by Isabella Bird, who was an English woman, about her experiences, researches and perspectives that she had during her travels in Korea, Japan, China and Russia from 1894 to 1897. There are still some disputes about the history between Japan and Korea before WWⅡ. I think this book shows a part of the true history of Korea during the time.

The author of the book said the following,
1. Koreans hate Japanese because the latter are arrogant to the former and the Japanese military intruded Korea in the end of the 15th century.

2. The economic and political situations in Korea are terribly bad. People in Korea have been exploited by the privileged class like bureaucrats or aristocrats of its dynasty. Some of them tried to modernize Korea with the help of Japan. But then they had to struggle with people sticking with the old regime. In the end, they couldn’t change their country.

3. Many changes which were instructed by Japan could seem valid and effective, if only they would be just implemented properly. However it seems impossible to modernize Korea by Koreans themselves.

I would like Americans who are interested in the history between Japan and Korea, to read this book first in order to have a better understanding about two countries’ history. I’m afraid some recent books might be biased.

I would also like readers to read the book entitled “ The New Korea” , which was written in 1926 by Alleyne Ireland. He was an expert of reign of colonies in the world. The book is not available in amazon.com, but it can be ordered from amazon.co.jp or you can find it at libraries.


You can read the book for free here. Or read my excerpts.

Japan have helped Korea before 1945 and after a lot. Japan have shown tolerance and patience with Korea.

It is time to stop.

It’s better off for both of Japan and Korea to have very little to do with each other. Forget about trilateral cooperation with Japan and the United States as Mr. Sneider believes in.

Korea won’t listen and blame you later.

Korea has been under heavy influence of China most of the history like Xi said.

We should have listen to Fukuzawa’s advice.

Datsu-A Ron (leaving asia)
–  published in March 16, 1885.

Japan, as a national mind, despite the fact that country is located in Asia, accepted the modern civilization of the west. However, an unfortunate thing for Japan is that Japan has the two neighboring countries. One is Sino(China), another is Chosun(Korea). It might possibly be because we are just racially different from the beginning or the educational level is different, the difference of the national mind between Japan and the two countries is just tremendous even though these two countries also possess the same classic and belong to the Chinese character cultural sphere as well. In this era of a rapid information exchange, while knowing the modern civilization and the international law, two countries still adhere to the past. This national mind is nothing more than the one from the 1000 years ago. In this actively progressive era of the modern civilization, the education is limited to Confucianism where they learn superficial knowledge, and in practice, their attitudes seem not only disregarding the scientific principles, but also morally collapsing while they have no self-examinations but arrogance.

In my view, China and Korea cannot survive as independent nations with the onslaught of modern civilization to the East if they keep the way they are. There is no doubt that ruins and divisions of countries are inevitable unless noble men of reform appear in these two countries and manage to reform the countries from top to down just like the Meiji Restoration. It is because locking self up in a closed room and shutting the air flow avoiding the wave of modern civilization, will only suffocate themselves.

Although 輔車唇歯 in Zuo Zhuan stands for reciprocity of neighboring countries, Sino and Chosun today have nothing helpful for Japan while Japan might be mistakingly confused with these two countries by the westerners because the three countries are geographically close. For instance, if Sino and Chosun are under dictatorship or if they are country of Confucianism, the western scholars might misunderstand that Japan might as well be so. Or if Sino ignore the international law or manners without hesitation/shame, some might think Japan may do the same. If Chosun brutally executes people, some might doubt Japan do the same. And there are countless examples like this. This is as if outsiders looking at a village full of cruel and crazy people. Even if one person in the village is criticizing other members of the village, it does not make much difference to outsiders. Outsiders would consider every one in the village are pretty much the same. In fact, this kind of view in Asian diplomacy can be seen here and there. That is one big unfortunate matter to Japan.

Japan should no longer wait nor expect the two countries to possess international common sense. Japan should now ditch the illusion that those countries, together with Japan, will help archive the prosperity in Asia. In stead, Japan should leave those countries behind and join the western civilization to go forward. Just because they are neighboring countries, Japan should not associate with these countries with special emotional attachments. For these two countries, Japan only need to keep relationships according to the international law and common sense. Those who are intimate with bad friends are also regarded bad, therefore I deny friendships with those bad East Asian friends from my heart.

A full and better translation can be found here (pdf).



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