My name is Jinseon Kim, a student in Cornell University and a member of the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK). VANK, a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1999, is a cyber-diplomatic organization of 110,000 Korean and 22,000 international members united under the purpose of properly introducing Korea to the world and correcting distorted information about Korean history.
As an international student who has been studying in the U.S. for the last ten years, I’ve noticed that although the Holocaust is covered in depth during history or English classes, Japan’s imperialistic acts on East Asian countries are rarely studied. Since both the Holocaust and the Japanese imperialism happened in the similar time frame, I, as a global citizen, thought that the world should know both events, so that we, as well as the future generation, could learn from them and prevent such events from happening again. What’s more, Japan’s imperialistic acts still continue by way of distorting historical facts, and the best way to stop this would be to know what really happened in the past.
As you know, Germany’s imperialist acts spurred Nazism, thereby resulting in the Holocaust, German’s mass murder of Jews. Similarly, Japan, under imperialistic influence, colonized countries in East Asia and forcefully exerted its power. Both German and Japanese imperialists massacred tens of thousands of civilians through various inhumane methods, violated women’s rights by forcibly raping young girls and women, and tried to take over neighboring countries’ territories by force.
Many years have passed, and Germany has shown sincere apologies through various means, the most recent one being the Chancellor Angela Merkel bowing in front of the site of the concentration camps. On the other hand, Japan has not shown apologetic moves that are considered genuine by the affected countries. I feel that it is essential for the global citizens to be informed about the issue, as these acts of distorting historical information and not recognizing its faults can go down as the repetition of those imperialistic acts with the affected countries.
Therefore, on May 2014, I, with a fellow VANK member Sehoon Lee from Kyunghee University in Korea, made this website to introduce the idea of continuing Japanese imperialism to the general public. We justified this idea by addressing two unresolved issues between Korea and Japan, the ‘comfort women’ and Dokdo. Information about the Holocaust was also included as a means for non-Koreans to understand the idea more clearly.
We focused on logically explaining the issues and making sure that people who have no background on East Asian history could understand the issues as well. What sets us apart from the other websites is that we incorporated information about the Holocaust. Holocaust is taught in almost all areas of the world, and it is representative of a historical event that should not be repeated whatsoever. We thought that, by explaining the Holocaust alongside the acts of Japanese imperialism, general public could accept the concepts and actions of Japanese imperialists better. It is also written in a rational tone, focusing on listing facts rather than being emotional. What’s more, we utilized resources from various scholarly journals as well as books that are mostly written by foreign scholars to gain public confidence.
I’m confident that this website could be a valuable resource for people interested in these issues. History is interconnected in every ways, and this website serves as an example. With Japan’s sincere apology for its atrocity and its cooperation with neighboring nations, peace in Asia will be solidified. Please take time to look over the website and let us know what you think about it, whether it be praises or criticisms. Thank you for your time.
Oct. 2021. update
Hello, I am Hyeonjong Kim, also a member of VANK, and a member of VANK Global Petition Team. This “maywespeak.com” web site was originally created by above mentioned Jinseon Kim and Sehoon Lee in 2014. As you may have seen, this web site was created in a perspective of an international student who had studied in the U.S., and wanted to tell the world about Japanese Imperialism along with Holocaust.
We have been updating (Global) Petitions and (Global) Posters on this web site periodically after the launch of VANK Global Petition team in 2019. Since then, more people have visited this web site due to regular updates on petitions and posters, Topics dealt in Petitions section vary from issues related to Korea and global issues that should be solved. Posters section deals with not only posters related to Petitions, but also English posters on various themes by VANK.
There also has been requests regarding the original web site to be reviewed again and translated into Korean. This web site is originally for English speaking users who are familiar with Holocaust, but not with Japanese Imperialism which happened in the similar time frame. In Korea, common knowledge on Holocaust underlies among the public, however, it is not that much well-known compared to the Western hemisphere. After a series of discussion, we decided to modify and translate this web site in order for Korean users to easily access information more on Holocaust along with Japanese Imperialism.
Throughout the English to Korean translation process, there has been some obstacles as most topics dealt on this web site are quite heavy and opinions differ by one’s viewpoint. We are well aware that the English to Korean translation might cause misconceptions and errors, but we did our best to keep the perspective of the original English text. Whilst reading, we hope you to understand slightly different point of views formed due to translation process.
For inquiries about translations and additional assistance, please contact us.
VANK (Voluntary Agency Network of Korea), a non-governmental and non-profit organization founded in 1999, is a cyber diplomacy organization of 110,000 Korean and 22,000 international members united under the purpose of properly introducing Korea to the world and promoting cultural exchange through international friendships (http://www.prkorea.com).The members of VANK have taken upon roles as cyber diplomats in order to share Korea with the world and rectify international misrepresentations of Korea. VANK has implemented numerous programs for the members to improve the image of Korea in the global society while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of other countries.
In 2011, VANK has begun “May we speak” project, visiting various institutions abroad to correct distorted information about Korean history and introduce the issue of Dokdo and the East Sea. VANK also facilitates various other programs for their members, such as an education program for cyber diplomats and a world changers program where students can learn to contribute in resolving global issues, such as poverty and environmental crises.
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