Sunday, March 21, 2010

"But apart from sanitation...and the fresh water system what have the Japanese ever done for us?"*

Here is another interesting article by Andrei Lankov talking about how the development of clean water supplies in Korea's cities under Japanese colonial rule helped increase the average Korean's life expectancy from 24 years in 1911 to 45 years in 1945.

*Bonus point if you got the obscure Monty Python reference.


  1. The conceit at work here is that in the intervening four decades, had Korea been left alone, no such changes would have occurred. But if you read the contemporary works in the decade before Japan took over, these things were already in the works.

    The Japanese imperialists did not introduce public utilities, Western education, or modern medicine; rather, they usurped the country and the processes — many of them brought to Korea by foreigners (including Japanese contractors) at the behest of the Korean government — that were putting these in.

  2. And the reference is from Life of Brian, with a group of Hebrew terrorists grousing about the Romans, no?

  3. Actually there is no conceit at work here, at least not by me. I'm not making any claims about "what would have occurred." I just thought it was an interesting article and a handy opportunity to employ a Monty Python reference which, yes, congratulations, you have correctly identified.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. True, that is not a conceit you espoused, but it is at the heart of a meme trotted out by no small number of people as a justification (semi or whole) for Japanese rule: Sure, the Japanese may have done some bad things, but look at all the good they did.

  5. You're right there. Which was also why the Monty Python reference seemed so appropriate. Unless you think Monty Python was earnestly defending the Romans? I suppose that is debatable on second thought. However I am certainly not contending the Japanese were on the whole a "good thing" for Korea. Such discussions are so tiresomely contentious and unfruitful.