Posted by: rbbadger | October 10, 2011

Historical bias in Korea

Professor Andrei Lankov, a Russian-born Korean studies scholar at Kookmin University in Seoul, has written a fairly interesting article on bias in South Korean academia.  Some Korean professors, especially in the field of history, tend to veer towards the leftward side of the political spectrum. 

In a recent book on North Korean history published by some South Korean scholars, North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il-sung’s land reforms are extravagantly praised by these scholars.  Professor Lankov is amused by what they leave out.  In some sense, writing history is a bit like writing fiction.  This is not to say that all history is fiction or that historians make things up as they go along.  However, what a historian chooses to include or exclude can change the resulting history a great deal. 

While they praise Kim Il-sung for his land reforms, the scholars have totally neglected some important facts.  Almost everything that was done under Kim Il-sung’s signature in the early years of North Korea was done solely with the approbation of the Politburo in Moscow.  Kim Il-sung’s legendary land reform was drafted by Russians and subsequently signed by Kim.  Even the plans for the first North Korean parliamentary assembly were done by Russians with no Koreans present.  The Russian government has since declassified all the related documents.  The documents have since been translated and published in South Korea.

You can read more of Professor Lankov’s take by clicking here.


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