The Korea Times (May 26, 2010)
by Casey Lartigue, Jr.
I believe North Korea when it says the South started the Korean War in 1950. I didn’t believe former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in 1994 when he released declassified documents revealing that North Korea started the war.
I believe North Korea didn’t send 31 commandos into Seoul in 1968 to kill Park Chung-hee. I believe North Korea didn’t send armed guerrillas onto the East Coast area of Uljin and Samcheok in 1968, or Heuksan in 1969, or Heukchon in 1970.
I believe the assassin who killed the South Korean first lady in 1974 wasn’t a North Korean agent. I believe several North Korean agents did not cross the border in October 1979. I believe the Earth moved and they only appeared to be in South Korea. I believe that three North Korean agents shot near the Han River in March 1980 were just out for a swim. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death in November 1980 in Hwanggando got lost while hiking. I believe that three North Korean agents shot to death in Namhae a few months later were part of a search party looking for those lost hikers.
I believe that three agents who infiltrated into Geumhwa in March 1981 were sleepwalking. I believe it is routine for North Korean agents to go to sleep in North Korea and magically wake up in South Korea the next morning, fully armed with grenades, machine guns and dreams of reunification.
I believe North Korea didn’t dig tunnels underground in the 1970s. I didn’t believe South Korean leaders when they showed the pictures of the tunnels to the world. I believe the mob of North Koreans who chopped up two U.S. army officers in 1976 did it in self-defense. I believe nine North Korean agents shot to death after their boat sank off the coast of Seosan in 1981 were lost fishermen. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death near the Imjin River in July 1981 and June 1983 were wayward scuba divers. I believe North Korea agents spotted along South Korea’s east coast in 1982 were tourists.
I believe that reports of North Korean soldiers entering the DMZ is South Korean and American propaganda to justify increased military spending. I believe the “imperialists and puppets” from the U.S., Japan and South Korea who are feeding starving North Koreans want war.
I believe North Koreans didn’t set off the bomb killing South Korean government officials in Rangoon in 1983. I believe the North Korean agent who killed three South Korean civilians in September 1984 was a South Korean agent. I believe that Kim Hyun-hee, who helped blow up a South Korean plane in 1987 (killing all 115 on board), is a forgetful woman who left her bomb on the plane.
I believe North Korean agents shot to death in May 1992 (three along the West Coast) and October 1995 (two in Buyeo) were bringing reunification messages. I believe that the North Korean government official who threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames” meant to say a “country of happiness.” I believe defectors from North Korea are, as a spokesman said, “rats,” “criminals,” and “cowards.” I believe that only rats, criminals and cowards would leave if North Korea opened its border. I believe North Korea is protecting South Korea from rats, criminals and cowards.
I believed North Korea when it said that its submarines “drifted” to the South because of “engine trouble” in 1996 and 1997. I believe North Korea cannot prevent such incidents because North Korean subs naturally drift to the South when they have engine trouble. I believe the South uses a large magnet to attract drifting North Korean subs.
I believe the dead man discovered washed up on a beach wearing North Korean clothing and armed with North Korean weapons was an actor. I believe the South Korean tourist shot to death in 2008 on Mt. Kumgang in North Korea shot herself. I believe the Hyundai Asan employee held hostage in North Korea last year for criticizing North Korea was lost for four months. I believe North Korea acted in self defense in 2000 when it threatened to “blow up” the Chosun Ilbo newspaper for “slandering our Republic” for claiming the North started the War. I believe it is ridiculous to suspect North Korea had a role in the sinking of the Cheonan warship on March 26.
I believe all of this because I don’t believe that North Korea actually exists. I believe Boris Yeltsin had the secret documents to prove it.
CJL (originally published 1997, with the following responses for that 1997 version)
PART I: Attacks
Your piece is hypnotic (because repetitive). I creates a certain effect at the level of claims to truth (about good and evil). Was this your only strategy or are there others? I’d bee interested in knowing.
Yes I did write: “Your piece is hypnotic (because repetitive). I creates a certain effect at the level of claims to truth (about good and evil). Was this your only strategy or are there others? I’d bee interested in knowing.” And then I never heard anything from you.
My sense was (and still is actually after rereading “I Believe”) that you are simply interested in levelling all possible ground for making any claims about the past (i.e. truth claims, knowledge, etc.). Hence my question: Was your article’s point simply rhetorical? Poetical? Or some kind of discursive strategy? Certainly, the article, as it stands, can’t be “interpreted” or really be said to mean anything.
I used to enjoy that kind of stuff (I even spent 3 years writing a 227 page thesis called, “Genealogy as a Practice of Freedom: Michel Foucault’s Historical Critique”). Then, after I got some distance from the university, I began to see just how limited in value it really is. It’s just noise; just deconstruction. No?
I believe you believe what you believe is believable. Personally, I believe your beliefs belie your believability. Believe me, I believe you’ll be leaving an unbelievable bevy of beliefs for budding believers. I believe you are nuts. I’ll be taking my leave now. Believe it or not.
And I see that we have been graced of late
by the wit and wisdom of Casey J. Lartigue, Jr.
I was in Seoul the past few weeks so am tardy replying to your post. So you don’t remember me? It’s possible. Back then I used
to use my Harvard account. Anyway, congratulations on your recently published rant on the Texas atrocity– the very notion of “hate crimes” offends you, but your indignation is of somewhat obscure origin. Is it simply that any form of “special consideration” is degrading — neutrality uber alles!?
And what was all that about “von” and Nazis? I am well aware that von Mises was an Austrian. I have read some of his work; have you? Or is he just part of the canon by which your creed demarcates itself, the anti-Marx, so to speak? The Fuhrer was also an Austrian, though it scarcely matters. The “von” implies an aristocratic lineage, real or fabricated, nothing more.
Anyway, labelling is a vice only if it is inaccurate — and political
incorrectness is a virtue only if it is well-reasoned.
Part II: Neutral (or leaning negative)
Let me clear.
So what you cannot believe is North Korea is not real thing?
I am living around Migum Sub station, working at government running organization, Korea Land Corporation. I am 35 years old and could be classified as a sort of conservative type in terms of unification prospective in this peninsular.
My job in [deleted] is very much concerned with North Korea Project.
You sounds like having much informations about NK. I am afraid, however, to ask, first of all,
Are you positive to communicate with you who looks so progressive is no problem under present Korean law?
Having grown up during the USSR-USA, bipolar, cold war I find it a little too easy to take sides. Add to that the eight years I spent with the US Military in Korea, and it becomes difficult not to fight the cold war on when someone sees a post that doesn’t fit in with my idea of reality.
When people start digging in on their side of the North-South issue, the stimulus for intellectual discussion dies, and the shooting starts. Perhaps it is a smaller scale view of the North-South issue, the players involved, and the events that occurred on the peninsula since the big three decided the fate of Korea.
With the recent events that occurred in Korea, such as the IMF bailout, labor, unrest, change in ROK Government, various scandals, North Korea’s threat to resume it’s nuclear program, not to mention the impact on Korea from situations exhisting in other Asian countries, I think there is plenty to discuss that is not a rehash of the last 40 years.
Everyday there are articles and editorials in the myriad of English and Korean language online news sources that offer content for discussion.
Political commentary aside, there was a report in the LA Times on the day after the incident that quoted the captain of the fishing vessel as saying that the sub was underway when south Korean ships and a Lynx helicopter fired on it. It is interesting that this report was substantially different from other press reports and included a great many more details then other reports.
According to that report, the sub was traveling north under power after clearing the net and that a south Korea ASW helicopter and a south Korean navy ship fired on it, after which it rolled over.
What is also interesting is that the report was available at:
http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/ASECTION/t000058272.1.html but is not available now and does not show up in an search of their archive. If anyone managed to save a copy, please post it.
Whatever the case, south Korea had every right to fire on it. Even if it was outside the five mile limit, it was in what many countries consider their security zone and there is a “technical state of war” between the DPRK and ROK(Don’t you just love that term. They are at war 1) However, being anything but truthful about the whole matter leaves the door open to doubt everything that south Korean defense apparatus says or does. When you undermine trust, you lose the first battle in the war.
(or nice enough my mother would approve)
Your writing on I believe is very impressive and shows your depth of
knowledge. Why do you know all of this so well?
Hello Mr. Lartigue,
An interesting essay you posted on the net entitled “I Believe.” Indeed, I have read some of your articles printed in the Korea Times.
Have you been in Korea for a very long time? I’ve been here since 1992, and I must say, you have taken a most ambitious position in your support of the South Korean government. Now, mind you, I am an avid supporter of the South, but, after having been here for a number of years, not quite as supportive as you.
Please do not take the position that I am criticising you, for that is not my position at all. I, obviously, enjoy living here (if I didn’t I would have returned to my homeland years ago). However, I must say, I hope that your position is not based on a sense of infatuation (a realm that many newcomers endure). Would you care to elaborate on this matter?
You are bright, thorough author. I look forward to hearing from you.
Seriously. Sarcastic or not, that was a great piece of wit and I truly
enjoyed it considering I spent many of my years in Korea living with those later, forgotten infiltrations and provocations many of which hardly made the back part of the NYT or Wash. Post.
Looking back it’s all smoke and mirrors.
Yes, Casey, very nice article, but as I’m sure you’re aware, many seem to be dedicated to the kind of relativist ‘fairness’ ethic that dictates we treat all sides in the political struggle as moral equivalents, especially when the ‘other’ side is a left-leaning totalitarian nation.
Oh, and I’m sure you inadvertently left this one out, Casey, but you also didn’t believe reports about the border squirmish where that North Korean soldier crushed the larynx of the prone, helpless US soldier with his boot heel, did you? What, there are photographs of that? Well, who are you going to believe, North Korea or your own eyes?
That was the best article that I have ever had the
pleasure to read! Let [progressives] and the rest gag on it.
Wonderful. Thank You.
Oh, and just one more thing: I’m going to print your message out and post it on my wall so I can remember it when I log into [Websites deleted], etc. again, Thanks
Dear Editor (forwarded to me by the Korea Times):
The article “I believe,” in today’s paper by Casey J. Lartigue Jr. was
among the best and truest and most amazing I’ve read – anywhere.
[Personal information deleted.] Were I to be staying in Korea, I’d try
to get in touch with him myself and encourage him to apply for the US Foreign Service. I’ve been American Ambassador to four or five
countries (Africa and the Middle East). We need people like him. The
Foreign Service can always use brains – but at times it can use, even
more, a sense of humor!
I’d urge him to write to the Board of Examiners, Foreign Service,
Department of State, Washington, DC 20520 – and to apply for the
written exam the next time it is given.
Would it be possible for this letter to be forwarded to Mr. Lartigue?
I enclose a stamped envelope.
My thanks and congratulations to Mr. Lartigue