SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Korea Bizwire) – Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung Hwa said regarding author Han Kang’s New York Times essay titled ‘While the US Talks of War, South Korea Shudders’ that “as a writer she is entitled to her own opinion, but her understanding of history and the way she described it is a problem.”
Kang’s statement was in response to a question from a National Assemblyman during a hearing of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee on September 12.
Han’s New York Times piece was published on October 8 and was met with consternation both locally and abroad for writing “the Korean War was a proxy war enacted on the Korean Peninsula by neighboring great powers”.
Many cried foul over the Man Booker winner’s labeling of the war as a proxy war, accusing her of misrepresenting the North’s role in initiating the conflict.
The controversy grew as Han’s essay was uploaded onto the Blue House’s official Facebook page.
The Bareun Party’s Yoo Seung Min, a previous electoral rival of current President Moon Jae In, called for the person responsible to be fired. Yoo said, “The Blue House’s Facebook page is not a place where any type of post should be uploaded.”
He further criticized the wording of the essay, saying, “Does this mean that on June 25, 1950, the invasion of the South by North Korean forces, despite Kim Il Sung’s opposition to war, was initiated by order of the Soviet Union?”
In a series of text messages sent to journalists attending the hearing, Kang emphasized that her answer was meant to show her disagreement with Han’s professed belief that the Korean War was a proxy war waged between neighboring powers and to clearly state that the war was caused by the North’s invasion of the South.
Kang did express solidarity with Han on one point. She said, “I am fully in agreement with the writer’s insistence that there must not be a second war on the peninsula, no matter what.”