Derek R. Ford(PhD, ANSWER member) delivered a speech on Korean Education as Resistance to Colonialism at Korea(Chosun) University at 60th Anniversary Symposium held by the Chosun(Korea) University on November 12, 2016 with overseas Koreans attendants from U.S.A., China, Canada and Japan.(Editor's Note)
Korean Education as Resistance to Colonialism
Derek R. Ford
On behalf of the ANSWER Coalition in the United States, I would like to express our gratitude to the organizers of this conference, and to all of the students, faculty, staff, community members, and activists here. It is truly an honor to spend this time with you, to build with you, and to learn from you. We stand in heartfelt solidarity with the Korean struggle for peace and reunification.
We denounce the Abe government’s attacks on Korean students and Korean schools in Japan. We see this as another facet of the ongoing war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
At the same time, it is an attack on the Korean nation as a whole and an expression of the ongoing legacy of U.S. and Japanese imperialism.
It is in this context that the mission of Korea University and the education of Koreans overseas is so crucial.
Colonization is not just a process of taking land and resources from a people and depriving them of self-determination. These are important aspects of colonialism, but even more fundamental is the colonization of the mind, for the colonization of the mind is what allows for the reproduction of the colonial system.
Education is integral to this process, for through the educational system the colonizer is able to wipe out the language, history, memory, culture, habits, and customs of the colonized; in other words, their very identity.
People always resist. The fact is that people can never be fully colonized, and this is why all colonial systems must come to an end, and this is why the education of Koreans by Koreans in Japan is in itself a resistance against colonialism and imperialism. It is a struggle to continually assert and claim the Korean identity in the face of continued repression.
The repression of Korean education in Japan is an attempt to break up the Korean people and their struggle for reunification by assaulting their national identity. In this way, the Abe government encourages racism against Koreans in Japan. Further, it isolates and demonizes the DPRK, its government, its people, and its allies. Not only is this unjust, but it also serves to increase tensions in the region.
From our perspective in the U.S., the repression of Korean education is a fundamental expression of the imperialist campaign in Asia. The other facets of this campaign are growing increasingly dangerous. The U.S. continues to not only conduct, but to expand, “war games” that simulate the destruction of the DPRK. The most recent plan, “Oplan
2015,” covers a set of war scenarios, targeted strikes on nuclear facilities, and the assassination of political and military leaders.
Additionally, the U.S. continues to organize economic sanctions that strangle the North Korean economy. The goal of the sanctions is to ferment discontent in the country, to weaken the government’s ability to provide for the people, thus laying the groundwork for instability that the U.S. can seize for regime change.
The main U.S. policy on the DPRK has consistently been regime change. For over 60 years now the U.S. government has been saying that the government in the DPRK is bound to fall. And yet the opposite has been the case. Even during the arduous march, the most difficult period since the U.S. war, there was no sign that the government would fall. The DPRK is a stable country with high levels of political participation and consciousness.
Korea University is a testament to this. Given the dire economic situation that sanctions impose on the DPRK, it is truly commendable that they continue to fund the education of Koreans in Japan. This education works to contribute not to a North Korean identity or a South Korean identity, but a Korean identity. Korea is one nation and one people.
Just as the Japanese government is using Korean students as pawns, so too does the U.S. use the Japanese and South Korean governments to maintain its hegemony in the region. While in 2011 the U.S. announced its “pivot to Asia,” this pivot is not so new. It began in 1899. What we are seeing is an increasing pivot to Asia, and the U.S. is able to do this by portraying the DPRK as a threat to peace and stability. The reality, however, is that the DPRK desires peace and stability above all else.
The U.S., however, doesn’t want to make peace with the DPRK. The reason is that in the absence of a peace treaty, the U.S. is able to provide justification for its imperialist expansion in Asia, which is meant to project U.S. power and to contain China. The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense System in South Korea, for example, is really an aggression against China and Russia. So, too, is the Transpacific Partnership agreement the U.S. is trying to push through. This so-called free trade agreement is an effort to draw Asian countries into the U.S. orbit.
U.S. policy toward the DPRK can also be seen in this light. By provoking the DPRK into developing its military, and by exaggerating the threat of the DPRK, the U.S. is able to prevent both South Korea and Japan from aligning more with China.
We see the education of Koreans overseas as an integral part in fighting this imperialist aggression. The reality is that the Korean people cannot be colonized. They will not accept the colonization of their land, their resources, or their minds.
While the situation looks grave, the power of international solidarity has won countless victories. The peoples of Korea—on the peninsula and overseas—and the people United States need to develop our solidarity and cooperation.
We in the ANSWER Coalition are dedicated to doing everything in our power to end U.S. imperialist aggression in Asia, and we offer our solidarity and support in the struggle for Korean education in Japan which is crucial to regional peace and stability.