- 一般財団法人 アジア政経学会
- アジア研究 (ISSN:00449237)
- vol.63, no.3, pp.12-29, 2017-07-31 (Released:2017-09-05)
During the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1973, more than 310,000 Korean soldiers were dispatched to Vietnam. The killings of many Vietnamese civilians that occurred during this period are often mentioned in the recent ‘anti-Korean sentiment’ boom in Japan. This article discusses narratives of the memory of killings in both Korea and Vietnam. At the end of the 20th century in South Korea, what was once a ‘bravery story’ that killed ‘Aka (Communist)’ began to be viewed as an event that ‘killed civilians’. This difficulty in facing the reality of the home country’s negative history resulted in divided public opinion. A Korean NGO, NAWAURI, has attempted to contribute to future peace by apologizing to the Vietnamese people, listening to the people who survived from the killings, and understanding victims’ feelings.
On the other hand, in Vietnam, based on the slogan ‘Close the past and head towards the future’, Vietnamese survivors can only mention the historical recognition of the war in a way that does not affect international relations. This slogan has not only been simply championed by the state but also become a national consciousness, so there is little movement to record war memories of the general people so as to convey them to posterity. The slogan suppresses the honest feelings of survivors of mass killings, who have been forced to live difficult lives.
The national history of the Vietnam War, therefore, is a story of the brilliant triumph of the North Vietnamese army, or the National Liberation Front, who fought risking their lives. As a result, memories of mass killings that are unrelated to the victory would inevitably be unrecognized in Vietnamese national history. This means that when the state regulates memories and constitutes it as ‘the history of so-and-so country’, only favourable events are recorded, and some memories that do not promote nationalism are truncated. Memories of mass killings by the Korean army usually disappear with the death of the survivors, but ironically, the activities of the Korean NGO, which is revealing war memories of survivors in an attempt to ensure future peace, are contributing to the healing of the survivors and also to maintaining diverse war memories that are not subsumed by the state.