The Horror Next Door

Japan, 2011

No doubt you don’t need to be told about the tragic earthquake and tsunami combination that hit Japan one month ago. But perhaps you may be a little less familiar with the troubled history between Korea and Japan.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Japan occupied Korea to horrendous consequence. The national identity of Korea was stripped, its language forbidden, names changed and a litany of abuses were committed. These terrors included, but were not limited to, murder, torture and rape.

Since the occupation ended in 1945, the two nations have had a strained relationship. To this day, territorial conflicts have been continuing around the Dokdo Islands between the two countries. Children I teach have grandparents who lived through those brutal years under Japanese rule and pass this knowledge to their grandchildren.

Nonetheless, when a catastrophic event occurs of this nature, one has to put the past behind. Walking through Myeongdong in central Seoul I saw this banner which caused me to stop and quietly be proud of this nation and the nature of forgiveness and human solidarity.

Myongdong, Seoul.

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