Ruins of Korea cont.

As a political science major with interest in politics around the world; I am always wondering about the political scene of countries and fascinated by corruption. In this continuation of the ruins of Korea, the people in power (political power) sparked my interest. How those in power also help to create ruins by causing the downfall of their “empire.”

Greed and corruption human traits that can cause so much harm to the innocent, is also the cause of the collapsing of empires. Many Korean people, those that held power at the time cooperated with the Japanese and helped with the colonization of Korea, “Japanese political control was implemented not only by Japanese administrators but with the help of large numbers of Korean collaborators who ranged from ex- Joseon officials and landowners in the governor-general’s pay to people from the lower classes who took work in the police or as informers.” (Tudor 19)

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Korean volunteers in the Imperial Japanese Army, January 1943

Corruption in government is something that seemly has always happened and of course, happens behind closed doors. In recent news, corruption in the case of Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Donald Trump (and collusion with Russia?). There was also corruption and infighting in Rome which ultimately lead to its downfall. Trouble in its leadership/political sphere lead of barbarians dismantling one side of the Roman empire. Even in J.M. Coetzee’s, Waiting for the Barbarians there was a hint of corruption, agents of the Empire suspected the Magistrate of corruption.

A brief note on Japan’s occupation of Korea, “The 1905 Japan–Korea Protectorate Treaty turned Korea into Japanese protectorate and in 1910, Japan effectively annexed Korea by the Japan–Korea Annexation Treaty. Korea was controlled by Japan under a Governor-General of Korea until Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945.”

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Japanese language being taught in Korean public schools

Corruption leads to ruins. The greed of those who wanted money, land, power, or at times safety from punishment/harm lead to a weakness that was exploited. Those officials, landowners, police, and informers may all have their different reasons for collaboration with the Japanese, but their collaboration and not resistance, their corruption lead to the colonization or their land and people. They helped to contribute to the suffering of their people from the cleansing of culture to the exploitation of labor and more. Corruption lead to the fall of the Joseon empire, and left behind were ruins. After Japan’s surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945, a fractured country split into two, occupied once more (for a little while) by the west (the Soviet Union and the United States). And for a time Korea was left in shambles, only knowing destruction, war, and loss.

Sources Used:

“The Koreas | Boundless World History.” Lumen Learning – Simple Book Production. n.d.

Tudor, Daniel. Korea: The Impossible Country. Boston: Tuttle Pub, 2012.

Images Used:

One Reply to “Ruins of Korea cont.”

  1. Interesting thoughts! I do believe that the corruption and greed are one of the factors that indeed contribute to the ruins of any Empire and Korea, being one of them, was no stranger to those factors. In talking about greed and corruption in collaborating and not resisting Japanese imperial forces, this idea really does remind me of Waiting for the Barbarians, in which Colonel Joll’s character acts as Empire’s representative and decides to corrupt the Magistrate’ s ways of running the town and ridiculing the barbarians in front of the townspeople. I think that as much as the Magistrate wanted to oppose Colonel Joll (and so he did but not without consequences), his power was not enough to even change the minds of the people; this left the novel, in my opinion, with a sort of negative, apprehensive feeling about the future. In this case, those who held power in Korea believed in protecting themselves rather than the people around them and made that sacrifice to give up their country to the Japanese, later the Americans, and so on. However, with the culture they have now, even if it may be influenced by the Japanese and the Americans, does it not showcase some form of resistance? Their own cultural, history, their mannerisms, customs, etc., are still very well practiced and remembered, so I believe that thinking about their perseverance and their preservation of their cultural values and customs as a strong foundation may have helped to quickly build up their country after a period of war and destruction.


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