Does the National Assembly Have a Sense of History?

      June 22, 2010 12:49

      The National Assembly Policy Committee finally adopted a resolution on Monday seeking to honor foreign veterans and countries who fought for South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. The resolution, which marks the 60th anniversary of the war, expresses deep gratitude for the soldiers and countries that participated in the Korean War and urges the government to come up with concrete measures to honor them. But the National Assembly has yet to schedule a plenary meeting to put the resolution to the vote even though the anniversary is this Friday.

      This is all that the National Assembly has done to mark it. Nor was the latest resolution spearheaded, as one might expect, by the ruling Grand National Party or the main opposition Democratic Party. Instead it was Park Sun-young, a lawmaker with the Liberty Forward Party, who proposed the resolution earlier this month. "I did it out of a feeling of frustration, since the ruling party wasn't paying any attention to the matter even though the anniversary was approaching," Park said.

      GNP Chairman Chung Mong-joon in April said the National Assembly needs to get ready to prepare such a resolution, but then the ruling party apparently forgot about it as it was preoccupied with the regional elections.

      Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. President Barack Obama plans to sign another joint Congress resolution this week. The resolutions reaffirm the U.S.-South Korean alliance, while honoring the sacrifices and services of U.S. and allied soldiers and reviewing the historic significance of the Korean War. They also urge Americans to take part in ceremonies commemorating the soldiers who fought in the war. In contrast, the South Korean resolution merely expresses gratitude to veterans. There is no mention of the significance of the Korean War in history or what people should do to remember it.

      More than 1.9 million soldiers from 16 countries fought for the South. Five other countries sent doctors and nurses. Around 40,000 foreign soldiers were killed and around 100,000 injured. South Korean lawmakers must think about why 14,946 Turkish, 3,518 Ethiopian and 826 South African soldiers came to a faraway land that they had never even heard of.  

      The National Assembly should not struggle to unanimously pass the resolution. Let lawmakers who feel it was wrong for young soldiers to come from abroad to defend South Korea's freedom 60 years ago express their views and cast their votes against the resolution. That will give people a clear view of how each lawmaker feels about the impact of the Korean War on their country's history. 

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