* In the March 2022 issue of Compassion, we began publishing excerpts from the English version of An Arduous Journey to Peace - A Memoir (working title) written by Han. S. Park and scheduled to be published by the end of the year.Professor Park taught peace to thousands of young people for 45 years, mainly at the University of Georgia Department of International Relations and the Institute for International Affairs (GLOBIS), and has worked in various fields to see such peace realized. Professor Park's memoir, An Arduous Journey to Peace, provides a look back on Korea’s modern history, from the Japanese colonial period to the present time in 2022.Additionally, this book examines the long unresolved conflict on the Korean Peninsula and with the United States, explores basic political concepts, such as human rights, democracy, and socialism, and evaluates the United States, South Korea, and North Korea on that basis. The memoir provides important historical perspectives and an in-depth examination of current issues. * In this article, 'North Korea' is denoted as 'Joseon'. I have lived in the United States for 50 years, and during the past 20 of them, I was able to travel to Joseon more than 50 times. The distance from the United States to Pyongyang, via Beijing, and then back to the United States is the distance around the globe. So, I have orbited the Earth more than 50 times. I didn’t travel there on vacation. I didn’t even go with the support of the Korean government. I paid all of my own expenses from the pittance of a University professor’s salary. My first visit was in the summer of 1981. To understand Joseon accurately, I thought it was necessary for me to understand the Juche idea from Joseon’s viewpoint, rather than mine. In the United States at that time, when conservative Republican Ronald Reagan had been elected President after defeating Carter, Cold War tensions were running high. At such a time, visiting Joseon felt no different than entering alone into the jaws of death. In fact, as I waited at the Atlanta Airport for my first ever flight to Joseon, I was seized with fright. After much deliberation about my journey, I bought a life insurance policy for my three children for 3 million dollars. I also asked my colleague at the University of Georgia (UGA), Professor Dean Rusk, to routinely check up on my safety. He was a professor of international law at UGA, who had formerly served the Kennedy and Johnson administrations for 9 years as Secretary of State. Why would I actually visit Joseon? I do not believe I would have visited had I been “sane.” To make my own diagnosis, I would say I was afflicted with a severe longing for peace. Even now, I remember very clearly the cruel landscape in Manchuria (northeastern China), where I spent my childhood. All three of my grandfather’s brothers were farmers in Korea’s Gyeongsang Province. In 1906, the year after Korea was forcibly annexed by the empire of Japan, they migrated to Manchuria. Because the fertile lands north of the Yalu and Tumen Rivers had already been occupied by people from Korea’s Pyeongan and Hamgyeong Provinces, my relatives went further north and settled in Harbin, in China’s Heilongjiang Province(黑龙江省). Soon my father joined them. My parents were married around 1931. My mother was also a Korean migrant who left her home in Gyeongsang Province. I was born in 1939, the third of three sons and three daughters. I was a very weak baby, to the extent that I learned to walk after my sister, who was two years younger than me. My head was relatively large, earning me the nickname “improper fraction.” Manchukuo in 1930 © The Hankyoreh My grandfather didn’t allow me to speak Chinese or Japanese at home. My father worked as a Joseon language teacher at a Joseon elementary school, and he also interpreted Chinese and Japanese in the Japanese courts. The Joseon elementary school I attended had only one classroom. First graders sat in the front row, second graders in the row behind them, and the third graders in the back. Shortly after entering school, I skipped grades twice and sat in the third row earlier than the rest. Two unforgettable memories from my childhood in Manchuria are still etched in my mind. The first of those memories were the brutal massacres perpetrated during the “Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party(国共内战).” The other indelible memory was the sight of Chinese bodies piled here and there, dead from opium poisoning. During the Chinese Civil War, people were not equipped with modern weapons. They slashed each other to death with knives, sickles, bamboo spears, or whatever they could lay their hands on. The scenes I witnessed taught me that human life was literally no more important than that of a fly. Although the level of cruelty was beyond what my young mind could comprehend, it became routine, normalized as the backdrop to my childhood. The majority of Koreans in Manchuria supported Mao Zedong wholeheartedly. Most of the Koreans who migrated to Manchuria had no choice but to live as tenant farmers. Chinese landlords charged farmers 70% of their profits as rent, whereas the Japanese landlords, who emerged after Japanese colonial rule came to Manchukuo(满洲国), charged 85%. It was natural that Korean immigrants, subjected to severe exploitation and expropriation, harbored feelings against their landowners. While Chiang Kai-shek(蔣介石) essentially represented the interests of Chinese landowners, Mao Zedong(毛澤東), walking the socialist path, insisted on the “abolition of private property.” Rather than using the term “working class,” a standard in socialism, he used the term the Chinese “people.” By doing so, he modified the socialism imported from the West into a “Chinese-style socialism” that particularly responded to the reality of Chinese peasants living in extreme poverty. Soon enough, Chinese peasants and Joseon people in Manchuria determined to support Mao Zedong. Even among our relatives, there were quite a few strong young men who joined Mao’s People’s Liberation Army. The missions that Joseon people carried out in Manchuria lay the foundation for a special relationship between Joseon and China. Mao Zedong gave preferential treatment to Joseon people in Manchuria. During the Korean War, China dispatched an estimated 100,000 “Reinforcements to Resist America and Aid Joseon(抗美援朝).” The reinforcements included many Joseon people from Manchuria, and their purpose was to liberate their country by driving the United States from the Korean peninsula. Mao Zedong also sent his eldest son, Mao Anying(毛岸英), to the war. On November 25, 1950, Mao Anying was killed when an American fighter dropped a napalm bomb on Daeyu District, Dongchang County, North Pyongan Province. He was buried at the Veterans Cemetery of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army located in Hoechang County, South Pyongan Province. The fact that Joseon remains one of China’s most important allies exemplifies the special relationship formed in the upheaval of Chinese modern history. In an April 7, 2017 interview with Fox Business, after the US-China Summit with Xi Jinping (习近平), President Trump said that he and President Xi had prioritized talks about the North Korean issue, and since the United States could not tolerate Joseon’s nuclear and missile programs, China must help the United States. In response, President Xi explained it would not be easy because of the special relationship between China and the Korean Peninsula, which has existed for thousands of years. Nevertheless, on April 21st, Trump posted on Twitter that due to China being North Korea’s economic lifeline, while it may not be easy, if China wanted to solve the North Korean problem, they could. On April 22nd, China made a firm statement in response: “If the ROK and US forces cross the 38th parallel and invade North Korea on the ground, trying to overthrow the North Korean regime, we will immediately engage in military intervention. China cannot accept the overthrow of the North Korean regime and the Unification of the Korean Peninsula by means of force. China will hold on to this Maginot Line to the end at all costs.” Korean President Park Geun-hye attended Chinese Victory Day celebrations on September 3, 2015. She was there because the Korean government’s policy toward North Korea at the time was to work through China to pressure North Korea into denuclearization. However, could the same China which would later reject Trump’s proposal, accept Park Geun-hye’s proposal and deny their special relationship with Joseon? So, as a signal to China, the Park administration closed the Kaesong Industrial Complex overnight and pushed ahead to deploy the United States’ missile defense system, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) in south Korea, despite China’s vehement opposition. To this day, in 2019, the political and historical legacy of the Park government’s “misjudgment” remains a heartrending tribulation on the Korean Peninsula. Seeing the remains of opium addicts scattered across Manchuria as a child plunged me into deep anguish. 100 years had passed since the Opium War broke out in 1840. British troops had never reached Manchuria, yet nevertheless, there was opium everywhere. Opium infiltrated China so deeply that more than 27% of Chinese men were addicted to it. At that time, China had roughly 60 million people, an estimated 20 million of whom were opium addicts. From early childhood, I witnessed with my own eyes that opium was a weapon as lethal as guns and swords. Opium was far a more barbaric weapon in that it paralyzed the spirit of a nation. Surprisingly, I didn’t know of any Joseon people addicted to opium in Manchuria. No one prohibited opium, nor was there a crack-down against it. To this day, I know of no opium addiction in Joseon. Chinese people are lying on drugs in an opium den. © The Hankyoreh After the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, the Sun Yuan(孫文) and Chiang Kai-shek regimes found that opium had widely been distributed. It was Mao Zedong who eradicated opium addiction from China. He made out that opium, paralyzing the national spirit of China, was a very serious weapon. Any Chinese person caught selling opium was put to death without exceptions. Mao Zedong regarded those fellow Chinese trying to get ahead through partnership with foreign powers as the lowest class, and proposed the concept of “the people(人民)" as an alternative. He believed that the people, armed with the spirit of anti-foreign nationalism, should become the protagonists of a “revolutionized China.” That was the context of the “great” work of relieving the 20 million Chinese people who had been addicted to opium for the past hundred years. Just as opium corrupted the national spirit of consuming countries, weapons also deplete the self-defense capabilities of importing countries. The fact that South Korea is one of the world’s largest importers of US arms is problematic. In 2015, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reported that South Korea was the number one importer of US arms over the previous five years. A major driver behind this reality is South Korea’s security policy, or should I say "security paranoia(安保病),” which blindly obeys the United States and regards Joseon as its “main enemy(主敵).” Let us also note that pursuing security with tremendously destructive weapons actually creates more insecurity on the Korean Peninsula. Imagine South Korea goes to war with North Korea, a nuclear armed state, using the weapons they have incessantly imported from the United States. Is there any conceivable scenario where only North Koreans get killed and all South Koreans emerge unscathed? South Korea’s severe addiction to weapons made-in-the-USA is no different from China’s severe addiction to opium traded by the British at end of the 19th Century. The Joseon people in Manchuria managed to maintain sufficient mental fortitude to prevent their succumbing to opium addiction, however, I question whether South Korea is mentally strong enough to recognize their own addiction to US weaponry. We should look back on how the Chinese people overcame their “one hundred years of opium addiction.” Abandoning the current security policies, which can never actually guarantee Korea’s safety, to create a new paradigm of security which promises both peace and prosperity for all Korean people - this should be the most important and urgent task for those of us living in this era.