The Lede: Settling Very Old Scores in South Korea

2 Mar

In a February 29 post from The Lede, Patrick J. Lyons writes about the South Korean government redistributing land because of collaboration with the Japanese between 1910 and 1945. The Lede poses the question of when has enough time passed that it becomes unfair to punish the descendants of the people who committed the acts?

It’s an interesting thing to take into account. At the end of the post, Lyons talks about the land redistribution after the American Revolution and how the Loyalists lost their land but dealt with it well before the 1840s. Comparatively, as much time has gone by now in South Korea and the descendants are just now being punished.

Another thing to think about is the issue of reparations to African American descendants of slaves. You could ask the same question of how much time has passed that it no longer becomes the problem of the state or the individual. I think that in the case of South Korea, it seems a bit unfair to be taking away the land now, unless the landowners somehow are directly related to the suffering that was caused by their collaboration.

Today, we have friendly relations with Japan and Germany, even though horrible atrocities occurred during World War II. We don’t punish the children and grandchildren of Nazis or Japanese guards at Nanking or Cabanatuan. I don’t think the children should be held accountable for the actions of their parents. With that being said, something should be done to help those families that suffered and still do suffer as a result of the treatment during the occupation. Perhaps those families can be given jobs on the land or have a stake in the ownership.


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