South Korea: America’s Toy in the Asia Pacific

I write this as a direct message to the people of South Korea. From America to the Republic of Korea, we control you. The government of the United States of America takes my tax dollars, directs it to the military, and the military dominates the Korean Peninsula. Just like the colonial system, we dominate your lives. When America says jump, South Korea responds with how high?

The Oxford definition of colonialism is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. Just replace the word settler with soldier and replace economically with militarily, and that is the current relationship between the U.S. and South Korea. It’s still the same, a colony of America. These words I write are painful for me, but it is true. Sometimes, the truth hurts. In the end, the truth is the only thing that matters.

On April 28th, the Hankyoreh published an article about a U.S. soldier smiling as he filmed residents of Seongju weeping while they watched the delivery of the anti-missile system THAAD against their will. It’s like laughing at people who are slowly dying. This is just more evidence to show that the U.S. military has absolutely no regard for human life. In my former life, I was just the same as the soldier laughing.

I am a former U.S. soldier. I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan. I am also born of a Korean mother and I lived in Pyeongtaek as a child for many years. For most of my life, I believed the U.S. was the protector of the world. I believed the U.S. was the main source of peace and stability around the world, especially on the Korean Peninsula. Since opening my eyes and facing the truth, I have realized that I was on the wrong side of history.

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. has been the dominant superpower in the world. Have things gotten any better? No. Our environment is being destroyed. Nuclear war is more of a threat than ever before. More countries are having U.S. bombs dropped on them. Literally billions of people are suffering around the world. How has the U.S. helped any of these problems? It hasn’t.

The very latest of the problems caused by the U.S. is the deployment of THAAD to Seongju. You see, the U.S. military believes that in order to achieve peace, we need war. In order to achieve freedom, we need slavery. In order to gain strength, we need ignorance. By keeping South Korea in a perpetual state of war, slavery, and ignorance, the U.S. can do whatever it wants.

The U.S. military views South Korea as a toy. It plays with South Korea in however it wants, forcing the will of the people to succumb to its dominance. Like a child playing with a toy, the child sees itself as the protector but is willing to destroy the toy at any moment. In the eyes of a child, the toy is replaceable.

Figure 1: Photo of U.S. soldier smiling as he films residents opposing the delivery of THAAD system components in Seongju, North Gyeongsand Province. Source: The Hankyoreh

Look at the eyes of the U.S. soldier laughing while he films. He is the child. South Korea is his toy. Does anybody want to be treated like a replaceable toy? Does South Korea view itself as a toy of America?

I have traveled to South Korea many times since opening my eyes to the violence and destruction that the U.S. military conducts around the world. I’ve met the displaced villagers of Daechu-ri, the residents of Gangjeong village fighting the naval base on Jeju Island, and activists around Yongsan Garrison who continue to record the environmental devastation left behind by the American soldiers. Recently, I met Reverend Kim who is the co-chair of the Seongju Struggle Committee to Stop THAAD Deployment. Rev. Kim just finished a speaking tour in America raising awareness about THAAD. The violence and oppression on behalf of America is vile and odious.

The impact of the THAAD deployment has already proven to be detrimental to the Asia Pacific. Tensions have risen drastically between the Koreas, China, Russia, and America. International relations experts and anti-missile system experts have spoken out on the faults of the THAAD system. The deployment is an extremely expensive, dangerous, and provocative move.

The technology behind anti-missile systems, or missile defense systems, has been proven ineffective. A report published in February from the Missile Defense Agency showed that flight tests of inceptor missiles had an overall failure rate of 56 percent. These tests were conducted under near perfect conditions. In an environment of war, interceptor missiles would perform at a rate of failure far worse than in the tests. The U.S. has all of these “tested” systems in South Korea ranging from the SM-3 to PAC-3 to THAAD.

The initial brunt of casualties will always be on the people of South Korea. Despite this fight being mainly between North Korea and America, South Korea will pay the most. With the most populated city, Seoul, so close to the DMZ, the citizens there will be the first to pay. The U.S. military has no interest in protecting Seoul or the people who reside in it. It is just a part of their toy.

As an American citizen, I warn South Korea to avoid any relation with America as much as possible. You don’t want to be like us. Among industrialized nations, America enjoys:

-the highest poverty rate(both generally and for children)

-greatest inequality of incomes

-lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP on social programs for the disadvantaged

-lowest number of days of paid holiday, annual leave, and maternity

-lowest social mobility rate

-highest infant mortality rate

-highest prevalence of mental-health problems

-highest obesity rate

-second highest consumption of antidepressants per capita

-lowest life expectancy at birth

-largest international arms dealer

-below average scores of student performance in math and science

-8th highest high school dropout rate

-4th highest homicide rate

-largest prison population


If America doesn’t even care for its own citizens, it surely won’t care for the citizens of South Korea. America doesn’t even look at its people as citizens, we are just consumers. We are slowly losing are civic rights, constitutional rights, and human rights. But we are encouraged to keep buying useless products that only devastate our health and environment. Nobody should try to be like America.

I beg South Korea to become a truly independent country with the right to self-determination. The only way to claim your freedom is to kick out U.S. forces. The first step would be to not allow THAAD into your country. You have nothing to lose but your chains!

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