Friday, August 16, 2019

President Moon Jae-in's 8/15/19 speech

The unofficial English translation of President Moon Jae-in's speech on Liberation Day (August 15; called Gwangbok-jeol in Korean) can be found here. The speech doesn't mention the US until about two-thirds of the way through, and then only to talk about future projects. As per usual, history is rewritten to make Korea sound as if it liberated itself, so no other countries (like the US) get thanks for their aid in booting the occupying Japanese out. Some parts of the speech reveal a willingness to find a way forward with Japan, but one of Moon's goals is, apparently, to "overtake Japan," as he says toward the very end of the speech (I have no idea how accurate the translation is). Reunification remains a cherished objective, potentially yielding many benefits, but there is no specific language as to how reunification might occur. In the meantime, the South pledges to continue cooperating with the North to encourage mutual prosperity. Optimistically (and with inadvertent hilarity), Moon claims the North has begun to embrace a market economy. The guiding image, mentioned throughout the speech and presented as a not-yet-attained national goal, is of a Korea that either "cannot be shaken" or is "unshakeable." All in all, I'd say the speech is about 80% vacuous pablum and 20% substance, and I use the term "substance" grudgingly.

Korea might not want to thank us for what we did, but...

1 comment:

Charles said...

The phrase for "overtake Japan" in the original is 일본을 뛰어넘다, so I suppose it is a reasonably accurate translation, even if it doesn't quite capture the flavor (which is more "leap ahead of" or "leap over").

And I'm not really surprised that Moon did not mention the US (or any of the other countries who sent soldiers to fight and die in the Korean War). The goal of the speech, after all, was to raise national morale and inspire patriotism, not to teach people actual history.

I like the Obama GIF, by the way. That's funny (and a good job by whoever did it).