But now that we're six years on from the incident, it's time for some reflection. In the aftermath of the accident, after the U.S. genuinely and sincerely apologized numerous times, paid damages, and followed all protocol dictated by culture and by treaty, we witnessed a display of anti-Americanism and plain old xenophobic hatred that perhaps may never be rivaled here again.
Soldiers were stabbed, kidnapped, beaten up, and showered with rocks and aggression. There were numerous cases of assaults against foreigners, and countless cases of intimidation and discrimination against foreigners and Korean women in the company of foreign-looking men.
Restaurants and businesses prohibited foreigners from entering, with signs that said ``Americans not welcome here'' and ``USFK You are all guilty.''
And the netizens and mainstream media, then as now, distorted facts, fabricated accounts and intentionally mislead the public into taking to the streets with a wild-eyed fervor usually reserved for democratic movements and soccer games.
As with the anti-beef protests of today, when it comes to this incident, opinions seem to be divided according to nationality.
Koreans, in general, still firmly believe the U.S. military committed a grievous error and still contend the incident represented U.S. arrogance and carelessness.
On the other hand, Americans look at the events of 2002 and see that, though the deaths were a tragedy, the public outrage was far too aggressive for such an accident.
Yes, no amount of money can bring those two girls back, but is it not hypocritical to be so outraged in a country ranked the most-dangerous in the world for pedestrians? Is it not hypocritical to protest the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) when South Korea has them with countries that quarter the ROK military?
Is it not hypocritical to bemoan the U.S. military in this case when vehicular homicides involving South Koreans go unnoticed every day? And is it not hypocritical to profess to want to internationalize and welcome foreigners, while at the same time attacking them, blaming them, and forcing them away?
Thus, in order to properly normalize relations between cultures, it is proper that South Korea and its level-headed citizens apologize for the ugly behavior exhibited in the aftermath of this accident.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Korea Times: "2002 Tank Incident and Aftermath."
Um . . . okay, to be fair, I wrote this piece last Friday, before all of this other garbage started happening. So not the most opportune time to have the article appear, but I stand by it nonetheless. An excerpt: