Showdown in ‘The Land of the Morning Calm’

The face off between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is merely the latest chapter in the saga of a divided Korea

Gregg Reese | 9/8/2017, midnight
The Land of the Morning Calm is the phrase given to Korea as a reference to it’s splendid tranquility with ...

During this aftermath, the country has been manned by thousands of American G.I.s throughout its boundaries, but especially with the Western Corridor, the main “avenue of approach” a military term describing the route by which the communist hordes would descend upon the civilian population to the south. Starting in 1958 with the “Honest John” rocket, the U.S. began deploying nuclear munitions of all configurations in the country.

The area is/was peppered with scores of installations manned by units of the 2nd Infantry Division (“the Second Eye Dee”), the primary force charged with slowing down the enemy’s advance. By the 1980s, such familiar icons as Burger King were found on military installations.

During the course of the now 64-year occupation of the country since the 1953 Armistice, U.S. tax payers have gone to considerable expense in providing creature comforts to American troops pulling duty in the “land of the rising sun.” These include business districts or “Villes,” commercial areas that have cropped up around any sizable military post. These bastions to the ingenuity of the capitalist spirit include tailor shops, food emporiums, bars and nightclubs catering to every musical and cultural taste, and, of course, houses of ill repute. Technically, these establishments are illegal-both by the Korean government and the U.S. military, but economic convenience and the desire to maintain troop morale have made them a constant well before the Americans came to roost.

The patronage of “comfort women” was a tradition at least as far back as the Japanese occupation of Korea between 1910 and 1945. Taking up after winning World War II, the Americans found it a useful adjunct as they buttressed the Asian flank against the Red Menace. As expected, the Yankee presence brought with it the appropriation of homegrown customs, not all of them benign.

Some governmental reports have the sex trade generating at least 4 percent of the country’s gross national product (to be fair, this is an issue that transcends American moral corruption, as the Korean Institute of Criminology estimates some 20 percent of young Korean men employ sex workers several times a month).

Jim Crow, Asian Style

The traditional habit of racial segregation carried over to the illicit relations between the sexes, and with it the ominous habit of discrimination. Racial uprisings followed, notably the Anjeong-ri race riots outside the garrison at Camp Humphreys, one of the Army’s largest, in 1971. This insurrection, in the western part of the country was supposedly instigated when G.I.s of color destroyed as many as four bars that refused to serve them. Jet Magazine reported that upwards of 2,000 Koreans chased down and attacked Black servicemen with sickles (short-handled bladed tools used for harvesting grain) in retaliation. Afterwards scores of Koreans marched around the base carrying placards with racist taunts like “You return to cotton fields.”

As a result, Park Chung-hee, the president from 1963 to 1979 (and a reported advocate for institutionalized prostitution) set up a series of reforms to 1) inhibit the spread of venereal diseases, and 2) to end discrimination against Black soldiers patronizing in these “special districts.”