Slalom in Korea and Japan.

Slalom Skateboarding in Japan

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John Gilmour
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Post by John Gilmour » Sat Jan 18, 2003 8:48 pm

I would like to race over there this year. I figure that hte current snowboard sales in Korea- along with a strong footwear industry should make for decent slalom grounds.

Japan has always been on my list.

I really don't want to wait too long for any conflict to escalate.

A email from a friend of mine on this topic is quoted below.

"Japan wants the Kurile Islands back. Russia may sell them. This is part of an overall strategy. As for the Koreas, my two best friends, George and Charlie Haldeman, had and Uncle, Paul Douglass, who worked for the OSS and later the CIA in Korea, where he was America's principal advisor to Syngman Rhee. Rhee's presidential office was on one room. Paul's was in the adjacent room. He occassionally told stories about the antics of Rhee, the CIA, and the U.S. Army in Korea after WW-II. I wish he was still alive, so I could ask him all sorts of questions. From what he said and Chalmers Johnson said, it is a fascinating story of indirect rule and provides an interesting explanation for the anti-Americanism in South Korea these days.

First off, we and the Soviets used similar means to control our satellites. We both used one-party dictatorships in Korea and Japan, which is not truly a democracy (rotten boroughs too boot), in order to ensure our continued military presence in these countries. Although rebellions against our military presence in Japan were endemic from 1952 until after the end of the Vietnam War, we helped maintain (often through CIA funds funneled through the LDP) a single-party regime from 1949-1993, a record for a stable satellite government. The shameless mediocrities of eastern Europe were the same as those of the LDP in Japan and South Korea. In fact, because of Rhee's and Park's notoriety as Japanese collaborationists and Kim's fame as an authentic anti-Japanese nationalist, the NK regime's credibility as an authentically nationalist government is greater than South Korea's. I don't wish to apologize for NK's regime, which I still think we should bomb, but the history is too interesting to pass over.

Anyway, democracy finally began to appear only in Korea 1987, over four decades after the country came into being, largely because the military dictator, Chun Doo_Hwan, had attracted the Olympic Games for the following year and so had trapped himself into behaving in a civilized manner before a global audience when Koreans began to protest his rule. What's more, the US in 1987 did not encourage its Korean military allies to use force to crush dissent, as it had done in the past.

Like East European satraps, Syngman Rhee could never have come to power without the aid of 'his' superpower patron and he and his men were the same kinds of faceless bureaucrats the Soviets put in power in their sphere of influence. We were more ambiguous about what we were doing, however. General John Hodge and the US Army were the real and legal successors to the Japanese in South Korea, by right of conquest. Only in 1948 did we hand over power to Rhee, and even then we retained operational authority over the South Korean armed forces and national police for another year. Precooupied with the security of Japan and indifferent to Korea's status, Hodge ended up thwarting the efforts of patriots such as Kim Ku to reconcile with the North Koreans. Instead, he moved to support Syngman Rhee, who himself was supported by and who staffed his new government with numerous former collaborators with the Japanese whose main credential was their firm and reliable anti-communism. The forces under Hodge's command then trained and supervised Rhee's armed forces in the suppression of any and all dissenters – invariably labeled 'communists' – and waited to see whether Rhee could consolidate his power…(The South Korean government slaughtered 30,000 dissidents on the Island of Cheju. All others were, the American Ambassador said, “killed, captured, or converted.”

By far the most ruthless of Rhee's agents was a paramilitary vigilante organization called the Northwest Youth League, composed of foreign refugees from North Korea, whom the US Army tolerated with full knowledge of their reputation for brutality. The American occupation authorities, in fact, directly funded and trained a similar organization, the Korean National Youth League, under its leader Yi Pom-sok, known to the Americans as “Bum-Suk-Lee,” as a right wing paramilitary organization. These 'youths' were responsible for the widely documented sadistic treatment of Cheiju's women, including forcing female survivors of families they killed to marry them and cede their land to them.

(Clinton showed his sensitivity to this history of massacres in April of 1996, when he golfed on the course built on the graves of 36,000 people). This is not unusual. Because the U.S. government never discloses these histories and because reporters are so lazy, they never tell the American people the dirty side of what we have to do to maintain pax americana, which means Americans are mystified by "sudden" eruptions of anti-Americanism and seem wounded when this fury is directed at us.

Thus, from 1950 to the present, the UN Commander in Korea was and remains a US Army General. The Army was only returned peacetime control of the Korean army to Koreans in 1994. If war breaks out, the supreme command of Korea's army reverts to a U.S. General. Inevitably, therefore, Koreans see America as complicit in any coups or massacres and Americans dismiss this as conspiracy mongering. They do not know that the formal operational command and control arrangements make the links between repression and American complicity obvious to any South Korean. The major difference was that whereas the Soviet Union relied primarily on its own armed forces to suppress these popular movements, the US entrusted repression to the South Korean Army, which it nevertheless controlled. The advantage was that this control was disguised, especially to Americans. Koreans new the truth, especially Park Chung Hee.

Park Chung Hee's coup in 1961 began South Korea's economic development boom, but his background and attitudes are unknown to Americans. First, he was a graduate of a Japanese military academy in Manchuria. Contrary to popular ignorant myth, his goals were to end the South Korea's extreme dependence on American economic aid and restoring relations with Japan. Yes. Japan, his old educators. To do this, he used draconian methods to force South Korea down the road of rapid industrialization and imposed a new “Yushin” constitution (Yushin is the Japanese pronunciation of the word 'restoration') to do this. While Park continued to move the country toward an industrialization that favored steel, shipbuilding, petrochemicals, and manufacturing rather than labor-intensive light industries, he moved South Korea to closer cooperation with Japan and tried to distance his policies from the U.S., backed up by economic independence. Park's intention, not unlike that of the Stalinists in Eastern Europe, was to create the industrial foundations for South Korea's own national defense. He deemed this necessary in view of the probable defeat of the US in Vietnam and its possible withdrawal from Asia. Japan was his going to be his new patron. This did not endear him to Zbigniew Brzezinski or to the Defense Department, so, on October 16, 1979, over dinner, his KCIA Chief , Kim Jae-Kyu, pulled out a pistol and shot first Park's body guard and then on Park himself, allegedly to end his repression of the people. Park's assassination seriously destabilized South Korea and afforded North Korea the most propitious circumstances it had encountered since 1953 to renew the civil war. Yet North Korea did nothing. In South Korea, the US was suspected of having ordered Park's death, because the assassin was the Chief channel of communication between the US government and Park and because it was widely believed that the US had grown tired of Park's nascent independence.

Americans did have one clear motive for wanting to be rid of him, however: as part of his efforts to ensure South Korean victory in any new war with the North, Park had launched a program to build his own nuclear weapons, which the US opposed. Park's death stopped the program in its tracks. Isn't this great!?

As revealed in these documents, the primary goal of the US was to keep South Korea from turning into 'another Iran.' Toward this goal, the Americans were quite prepared to see General Park replaced by a new, perhaps more malleable general who would effectively suppress the rising calls for democracy that might prove 'destabilizing.'

General Chun Doo Hwan & General Roh Tae-Woo replaced him. (Who shook down the Chaebols for $1.2 Billion and $630 Million respectively and were jailed for it)

The following day, General Wickham readily gave Chun permission to use the 20th Division in the final assault against Kwangju, and at General Chun's trial fifteen years later his main defense was that all his actions in 1979 and 1980 had been explicitly approved by Washington. When U.S. State Department Assistant Secretary Warren Christopher cabeled back, “We agree that we should not oppose ROK contingency plans to maintain law and order,” the go ahead was clear. It's amazing how the same names keep coming up and the same issues do, too!

Professor Clark adds that the explicit American endorsement of Chun's recapture of the city 'forever associated the US with the Kwangju massacre.' On May 18, 1980, the special forces troops set about bayoneting all the young men and women they could find and attacked others with flamethrowers.
In the cables released under the FOIA, there is ample evidence that the American Embassy knew about the transfer of the Special forces to Kwangju and what was likely to happen when they applied their well-known skills to civilians. In cables dated May 7 and May 8, Ambassador Gleysteen had gone into Gleysteen had gone into detail on the numbers of special force brigades brought into Seoul and around Kimpo Airport “to cope with possible student demonstrations.”

Under the Combined Forces Command Structure (CFC), Korean special forces (as distinct from all regular army units) were outside joint US-Korean control and did not need US approval to be moved. However, it was routine for the Koreans to inform the CFC of any troop movements. In Ambassador Gleysteen's May 7 cable, he indicated that he knew exactly what these units would be used for, that he did not wish the US to be seen as colluding with these units in acts of repression, but that he had no objection to Brzezinski's view that “In the short term support, in the longer term pressure for political evolution.” According to the minutes transmitted to Gleysteen, “There was general agreement that the first priority is the restoration of order in Kwangju by the Korean authorities with the minimum use of force necessary without laying the seeds for wide disorder later.” On 23 May Gleysteen met with the acting prime minister and told him that “firm anti-riot measures were necessary.” He agreed to release CFC forces to Korean command for use in Kwangju.” General Chun had no intention of allowing Jimmy Carter to disassociate himself from his repression, however. Chun had no intention of becoming another Shah of Iran, so he broadcast the news of the American decision to release the troops throughout South Korea, thus cleverly demonstrating that we backed his actions.

The US DIA has acknowledged that these remnants of the uprising were not communist-inspired but were reacting against the brutality of their own country's army.” We remain close-mouthed about the whole thing, however, and when the South Koreans later had trials of those who crushed the rebellion, President Bush refused to allow Gleysteen or any other American official to testify at the Gwanju, Cheiju, or Chu trials).

Anyway, it is a fascinating account of what we did to retain control over there and gives some context to the anti-Americanism coming out of Seoul these days."


So of course I am concerned the climate there- though I just had a friend go over last week. Does anyone know of any Korean slalomers?

Joachim Leonhardt
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Post by Joachim Leonhardt » Sun Jan 19, 2003 2:20 am

very impressive... did not know those things...

I have a lecture at Peking (VR China) this year.

Do you know if there is a (growing) skate scene ?

Thanks, Joe

Andy Bittner
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Post by Andy Bittner » Sun Jan 19, 2003 2:44 am

Makes me want to print the whole thing out and run it by my uncle, who was wearing a U.S. Army uniform and his first general's star, in Korea, in 1980. Hmmm... maybe asking my cousins would be easier, I have to presume that they'd have some idea, considering they were living there at the time. Interesting.

John Gilmour
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Post by John Gilmour » Sun Feb 09, 2003 7:14 pm

I am hoping for a skate scene there because of all the snowboard interest and they do have a lot of manufacturing capability. The Koreans as a people seem to enjoy racing.

I also look at the Korean speed skaters on ice...pretty impressive in terms of technique and execution they are near flawless skate racers.

Does anyone know any large korean skate equipment importers?

Adam Trahan
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Post by Adam Trahan » Mon Feb 10, 2003 5:05 pm

John, I spent about a month in Korea back in 85. The people then were receptive to the American military presence. I often walked far off base into the "real" parts of the cities that I lived in and had no problems at all. I could have easily been overwhelmed as I traveled solo but was welcomed everywhere I went.

Try the soju with some kimchee and bulgogee when you get there (formaldehyde smelling alcohal beverage, rotting cabbage and bbq dog). The US dollar was strong back then, very strong. Entertainment value was an all time high.

I LOVED Korea and I think you will too.

Keep us wired.

Glenn S
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Post by Glenn S » Thu Feb 13, 2003 4:45 am

Jani posted some pics and video of slalom in Japan back in 1999 over in the movies section here:
<a href=viewtopic.php?topic=434&forum=107&2> Japanese Slalom in 1999</a>

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