Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Sometimes the Jokes Just Write Themselves

The Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has an interesting report on a November 28 "memorandum" made public by The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland and the National Reunification Institute. This document, a "comprehensive survey of the human and material damage caused by the U.S. imperialists to the south Korean people since it occupied south Korea on September 8, 1945", alleges that "[t]he total amount of human and material damage the U.S. imperialists have inflicted upon the south Korean people for nearly 60 years since their occupation of south Korea runs into 43,139,020,630,000 U.S. dollars." [Note: I assume the lower case 's' in 'south' is a convention that these organizations have adopted to make a political point.] While I can't vouch for the math, the report is fairly detailed. Some of the more interesting items:

$22,448,748,170,000 for the 2,323,000 people killed and the 6,520,000 wounded, the document claims, by the United States "right after their occupation of south Korea (September 1945-May 1950) and during the Korean war of aggression (June 1950-July 1953)."

"Hundreds of billions of dollars" for the 38,100 cultural treasures that the U.S. has "vandalized and looted".

Apparently the U.S. has "smuggled" 12 billion dollars worth of illegal drugs into south Korea, "rendering the people mentally and physically deranged."

More than a hundred billion dollars in "sexual damage" has been caused by "the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops", who have "brutally violated many south Korean women and reduced them to sexual slaves, producing hundreds of thousands of foreigners' whores and mixed-bloods." Interestingly, this figure was "calculated according to the standard of compensation to be made for the sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army."

Although this report doesn't quote a single specific source, we are assured that all estimates were "based on a scientific review of various data quoted by statistical yearbooks officially released by the south Korean authorities, publications printed in south Korea and abroad, testimonies of individuals, information available from political, financial, academic, press and various other circles of south Korea and reports of the U.S., Japanese and other foreign media."

...don't know much about history...

The St. Petersburg Times ("General News From St. Petersburg and Russia"? Mmm...) reports that " [a] textbook on modern Russian history that invites students to discuss whether Putin is an authoritarian leader and has formed a police state may be banned in high schools." For his part, Mr. Putin
[...] told a meeting of historians at the Russian State Library on Thursday that history books should not become a political battleground. "Modern textbooks for schools and universities must not become a ground for new political and ideological fighting," he said in televised remarks. "Textbooks should provide historical facts, and they must cultivate a sense of pride among youth in their history and country."

Seems to me the trick would be to take the covers off of all history books, stick them on other, completely unrelated material (like comic books, cook books, Harlequin Romances, etc.), mix them up, and give a different one to each student in the class. Imagine the fun students could have trying to interpret the teacher's history lesson through the lens of "The Joy of Cooking" or "The Justice League of America".
Of course, on the topic of history, the Russians are much better at this sort of thing than the Japanese, who are still busy re-writing stuff from the first half of the 20th century.
Speaking of Japan, the deaths of two Japanese diplomats in Iraq seems to have sucked what little life there was out of any desire to go and help out with the reconstruction effort. I imagine that the Japanese will be ready to go to Iraq round about the time Iraq is ready to join NATO... Meanwhile, PM Koizumi, sounding a bit like GW, is talking tough on terror. Not that I'm a big fan of whoever is behind these attacks in Iraq, but since when is it "terrorism" to engage occupying forces? Maybe we should take the history book idea above and try it out on a dictionary...