Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Unhealed Scars of the Korean Psyche

While in the States recently I visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. I was interested in things Korean so I spent some time in the Asian area of the museum. I was upset and had an inkling of what the Koreans understand by "Han".(원한)

In the Asian area there was only one section in which I found a representation of Korean Life. I went over to the Japanese section and found many more but the placard that I found annoying was the one that said many things came into Japan from Asia. I have forgotten the exact words but it must have been difficult for those writing to mention that it came in from Korea. There is nothing in history about Japan before 57 AD and it is my understanding that it was the Koreans that transformed the Japanese stone- age culture into a agricultural and metal one. If this be the facts, it is no surprise to see that Japan is one of the reasons for the Korean "Han". Not only do Koreans have this "Han" feeling for I also found it difficult to shake. The history of Korea is older than that of Japan and much of what the Japanese have received did come in from China but by way of Korea. This is difficult for the Japanese to accept.

The dictionary definition of Han is: a grudge; resentment; a bitter feeling; spite; hatred; rancor; a mixed feeling of sorrow and regret (unique to Korean); an unsatisfied desire.

It is a scar that is never really healed. The Koreans have suffered a great deal over the centuries at the hands of others. A small country surrounded by three giants and in recent history the United States is included. Korea has been a pawn for others over the centuries to meet their individual needs. This article does give one a general understanding of "Han".

North Korea and "Han" would be a good place to understand the antics of this part of the peninsular. They have many unhealed scars. If this is true of the South we can say that this is felt in the North many times over. Especially now that they are having difficulty feeding their own people and demonized in the world press.

The Catholic Church with many years of persecution in their beginning history in Korea has also been scared and has worked to rid itself of this feeling of "Han".
The "Han" has been sublimated.

Jesus was very clear what has to be done with the "Han" feeling. "if you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar , go first to be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. "
Mt (5:23)


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