|The following is a good read and something to think about:
TOKYO -- An honorary professor of Korea University has sparked controversy by describing Japanese colonial rule over the peninsula as "fortune amidst misfortune." Han Seung-jo, 75, in the April edition of the right-wing Sankei Shimbun's Seiron magazine characterized the condemnation of pro-Japanese Koreans as foolish and based on communist and leftist thought, and called for a re-evaluation of the annexation of Korea by Japan.
"The end of the Daehan Empire and Korea's annexation by Japan was a misfortune for the Korean people, but one has to realize that there was fortune within that misfortune." He argued that if Korea had instead been annexed by Russia, which deported Koreans to Siberia and Central Asia in the 1930s and massacred Korean farmers, there would have been much more loss of life than at the hands of the Japanese during incidents like the suppression of the March 1 Independence Movement.
He said Korean culture grew under Japanese rule, and Japanese scholars and their Korean students built the foundations of Korean studies, including historiography, linguistics and literature. He said Korean culture survived without major losses since the occupiers only banned the teaching of Korean in schools from 1937.
"Because Korea had a competitive consciousness of not wanting to lag behind the Japanese, the colonial period greatly stimulated Koreans' desire for growth and development," he wrote.
Han said a government project to re-examine Korean collaboration with the Japanese occupation was an attempt by leftists to discredit conservative forces -- the so-called "vested interest class" -- most of whom cooperated to varying extents with Japan during the colonial period. He claimed the law was designed to permanently emasculate conservatives and establish long-term leftist rule.
Han retired as an active professor in the political science department of Korea University and is now co-chairman of the civic group Free Citizens Alliance of Korea.
The Free Citizens Alliance of Korea distanced itself from the comments on its website Friday after protests from Korean netizens. "We are outraged by Han's claim that Japanese colonial rule was justified and that the conscription of 'comfort women' was unimportant," it said. However, Han is sticking to his guns, saying Russia would have colonized Korea had Japan not done so, and Japanese imperial control served to strengthen Koreans' "ethnic consciousness."