Sunday, October 15, 2006

Radioactive Sunshine

Eventually, the light of reality exposes distortion. This now appears to be happening in South Korea. Dangerously, the light is not the "sunshine" South Koreans had been promised, but emanates from a source more radioactive.

The lead news story on Thai television last night was a report that 2,000 people demonstrated on the streets of the South Korean capital against their government's “Sunshine Policy” which, say protestors, has amounted to appeasement of the North Korean dictatorship. They burned North Korean flags.

Curious about this development, I switched the channel to Arirang, the overseas broadcast service of South Korea (available on Thai cable). But on the South Korean news, not a word was spoken about the protests in Seoul, nor – more strikingly -- was there any mention of the fact that North Korea’s nuclear testing has caused turmoil in domestic South Korea politics (news that made the front page of the International Herald Tribune).

From what one long-time foreign resident of South Korea told me, the “mute approach” to the North Korea problem extends to local news coverage. In her opinion, the South Korean population had not been getting the straight facts about the North.

Integral to South Korea’s “Sunshine Policy” appears to have been an “Ostrich Policy.”

Some South Koreans with whom I have spoken are of the opinion that the North is their “friend” and the real "enemy" is the US (and Japan). This fantasy is analogous to the untenable belief held by so many Americans that “WMD were found in Iraq,” or the conviction of many Japanese that Japan's high school curriculum teaches “the facts” about Japanese imperialism in Asia.

In each of these instances, the truth lies elsewhere; and a complicit mainstream media has proven itself unwilling to challenge conventional wisdom that serves the country's leaders, supports current state policy, and appeals to influential special interest groups.

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