Letter: South Korean attack does not represent the whole

Mark Lippert, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea was slashed with a razor blade in Seoul on Thursday. After the incident, Kim Ki-jong, the South Korean suspect who attacked him stated that he committed the crime because the U.S. military training with South Korean military forces always makes North Korean dictators upset and can cause war. This means he was trying to express that he was against the U.S military by attacking the American bureaucrat. He also mentioned that “South and North Korea should be united without involving the U.S military.” These statements indicate Kim is one of the rare South Koreans in an anti-U.S. government group that is considered as far left. In order to understand why there are several South Korean groups against the U.S government, although the majority of them are pro-Americans, it is necessary to comprehend the history of Korean politics.

Unlike other nations, ultranationalists like Kim are usually considered as far left in South Korea because they always try to fight against pro-Americans, who are the mainstream. These pro-Americans support neoliberalism and are against the North Korean government, and are also willing to have a good relationship with the U.S government for the multitude of benefits. That is why South Korea participated in the Vietnam War and the Iraq War to support the U.S military. However, people who belong to far the left tend to claim South Koreans are brainwashed by Americans both culturally and politically, so they’re losing their autonomy, traditions and cultures. Some of them even prefer North Korea to America because North Koreans are part of Korean ethnicity and Americans are just strangers with different backgrounds. Since Kim’s extreme nationalistic thoughts were very similar with far left, he ended up committing the crime.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with taking care of traditions and cultures, but South Korea still should keep having a good relationship with the U.S. for benefits when it comes to political issues. Unless the U.S. military supports South Korea, South Korea may be in danger if North Korea attacks. I hope South Korean politicians can find a happy medium between keeping a good relationship with America and keeping their own traditions and cultures, since both of them are important values. I also think that it is legitimate to claim that South Korea should focus on its own traditions, rather than always following Americanized cultures because keeping traditions and cultures is part of a nation’s identity. However, it is not right to attack a bureaucrat from America to express anger. It would be more effective to demonstrate or make a campaign if there is something to complain about, instead of committing a hate crime.