2020: Prof. B. Cummings on inter-Korean Peace

[Hankyoreh - Interview] Moon has done more for inter-Korean peace than any other president, US professor says
June 24, 2020.

Bruce Cumings of the Univ. of Chicago
views the Korean War as the outcome of a post-liberation civil war

"...  Rejecting the traditional perspective emphasizing the Soviet Union’s responsibility for the war’s outbreak, he instead presented the analysis that it was the result of a civil war between left and right on the Korean Peninsula that had persisted after Korea’s liberation from Japanese imperialism in 1945. He also maintained that the US played a large part in this, with its employment of former collaborators under the Japanese occupation.

Criticisms of his revisionist perspective intensified in the 1990s with the revelation of a confidential Soviet document stating that North Korea had invaded the South after Kim Il-sung was granted approval by Joseph Stalin. But Cuming has stayed firm in his convictions, insisting that the question of who “pulled the trigger” on the Korean War is less important than understanding the context from which the war emerged.

Cuming’s connection with South Korea dates back to 1967-1968, when he taught English at Sunrin Middle School as a US Peace Corps member. He would go on to marry Meredith Jung-en Woo, a South Korean colleague and student. His books include “Korea’s Place in the Sun” and “The Korean War: A History.” He remains prolifically active, explaining that he was finishing up the spring semester with 90 students in two classes when he was contacted for the interview.

In an interview on June 24, Cumings said that compared to his predecessors Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, current South Korean President Moon Jae-in “has done the most to try and engage North Korea.”

“I think it is very important for President Moon to keep trying to engage with North Korea,” he stressed. ..."

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