It’s a long time since their civil war, but Koreans still have a hard time talking about it. Indeed, I have often felt that the vehemence of Koreans’ resentment of Japan is a kind of displacement of their deep shame, guilt and anger over what they did to each other — to themselves — during the dreadful period of warfare that tore their country apart.
Yesterday the New York Times ran a fascinating story on reconciliation efforts in the Southern Korean village of Kurim, noting that even as recently as 2006, people rarely spoke of wartime killings.
Sooner or later, Korea will have to look squarely at their own past, and Koreans are good at doing what needs to be done. It will not be an easy process, but it’s good to see it beginning, and beginning at the grass-roots level rather than as a top-down government project.