fatal formula that Korea should be free and independent 'in due course'.In the end, in spite of efforts by the Russians (who were not in Cairo),Korea got the worst treatment of any nation in the whole world as a resultof the Second World War. In spite of the fact that it had had absolutelynothing to do with any attack on the Allies, it was occupied in
North of the 38th Parallel by the Russians, South of the Parallel by theAmericans. Like
which was an aggressor nation, it was divided.But it got a much worse administration in the South than did WesternGermany
in a sense, Korea (South) got the occupation which Japandeserved, or which was designed for
Korea, which was one of the oldest nations on earth, with a rich culture,was occupied by Japan from 1910 until 1945 and annexed outright toJapan
an extremely harsh administration. The fact that it wasoccupied by a non
European power and that both its language and that of the colonising country were known by few in the West contributed to thegeneral ignorance of the country. Very little was published in the Westabout the resistance to Japanese colonialism. Unfortunately, probablythe best known fact about Korea was that many Koreans were deployed
guards by the Japanese in POW camps, where their brutality becamelegendary. After 1945 very few Western correspondents visited Korea. Oneof the few to do so was Edgar Snow, who spent New Year 1946 with UStroops on the 38th Parallel. In what seems to have been his onlv articleon the trip, a little
known short piece in the
Snowopened with an important statement: 'When everything has been saidabout our occupation of Korea, probably the most
thing is thatwe stopped a revolution
In fact, unbeknownst to most people inthe West, the US had actually overthrown the existing nation
wide Koreanregime set up in September 1945 and was backing, arming and oftenparticipating in a reign of terror which ultimately broke the left
wingmovement in much of the South and drove it either underground, intoprison, into the North, or to its graves. Mark Gayn was one of the veryfew people to witness some of the upheavals in the South under theAmerican occupation, which he ranked, justifiably, with the great peasantrebellions of
By the time the Korean War erupted in June 1950probably about 100,000 people had been massacred or killed in guerrillafighting in the South.
Ignorance about what was really happening in the South, as well as of thehistory of Korea (including of Korea's lack of responsibility for waragainst the Allies) was combined with an equally total ignorance of whatwas happening in the Northern half of the country. Unfortunately, in bothcases it was not 'pure' ignorance: lack of knowledge, as often, was fusedwith false knowledge, prejudice and outright lies.