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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Building statues of Syngman Rhee, Park Chung Hee, and General MacArthur: A tribute to their legacy

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Kim Hoi-chang

By Kim Hoi-chang
The author is General Representative of Korea-US General MacArthur Memorial Foundation and General Representative of US Association for the Succession of Park Chung-hee Spirits.

We welcome Kim Gi-hyeon, Chairman of South Korea’s governing People Power Party (PPP), and his entourage, who are visiting Los Angeles at the invitation of the Overseas Koreans Committee. The achievements of General Douglas MacArthur, a hero of national salvation, Founding President Syngman Rhee, who established liberal democracy, and President Park Chung Hee, who led industrialization in the 1960s and 1970s, are being highlighted once again in South Korea following President Yoon Suk Yeol’s inauguration. We look forward to the restoration of the identity of a free Republic of Korea and the nation’s creativity.

Additionally, the recently launched Overseas Koreans Agency is becoming an ‘Agency of Hope’ for Koreans abroad, including those in the United States. This is a result of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s commitment to fulfilling his pledges and the passionate communication leadership of Chairman Kim, who is in sync with President Yoon. Chairman Kim’s visit to Los Angeles demonstrates his affection for his compatriots living in the United States, and we believe it will synergistically contribute to enhancing national esteem.

It presents an opportunity for Korean Americans to collaborate with the Yoon Suk Yeol administration, which is shaping a new history of globalization. We also anticipate strengthening the ROK-U.S. alliance, a pressing task for the Republic of Korea (ROK), by creatively utilizing Korean talents worldwide, eradicating the dissemination of false narratives, and working towards the reunification of the two Koreas.

A new leadership is needed to invigorate history with new energy. We are promoting the honoring of General MacArthur, who saved South Korea from communist invasion, Founding President Syngman Rhee, who laid the foundation for a free and democratic country, and President Park Chung Hee, who successfully industrialized Korea. Erecting statues of these three national heroes in Southern California is one of the tasks for this new leadership.

Such statues are expected to convey pride to Korean Americans and gratitude to their blood ally, the United States. Honoring the spirit of those who laid the foundation for the prosperity of a free Republic of Korea is also an investment in the future. Fortunately, there are philanthropists and companies that have already expressed their willingness to support our plan.

Kim Gi-hyeon, chairman of South Korea’s governing People Power Party, second from right, and U.S. Representative Young Kim, second from left, pose for a photo after their meeting in Washington, D.C., on July 11. Chairman Kim and his entourage are scheduled to visit Los Angeles on July 14. [YONHAP]
Currently, South Korea is receiving global attention for its scientific and technological advancements, cultural developments, and religious leadership. As the historian Arnold J. Toynbee said, these three individuals represent a creative minority and remnants of Korean history, leaving behind a legacy of their spirits.

The erection of the three statues is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it contributes to the development of the Korean residential area. Erecting the statues in Fullerton Park, where the Korean War Memorial is located, will create a landmark that attracts the attention of many Americans. This area is becoming the center of the Korean community in Southern California, and the World Korean Business Convention is scheduled to be held in Anaheim, Orange County, in early October.

Secondly, it is expected to have an impact on conveying the leadership of General MacArthur, President Rhee, and President Park to Korean descendants.

Thirdly, if a Korean museum is also built alongside the statues, it would be a perfect addition. This museum would become a center for Korean history and culture, offering insights into Korean culture, food, history, language, music, movies, dramas, and missions, which are of great interest to the world.

Fourthly, it is crucial for strengthening the ROK-U.S. alliance. Erecting the three statues is a task to rediscover our forgotten history and can be an opportunity for intercultural communication with Americans. It will also serve as a place where Korean descendants can develop pride and understanding of Korea and their parents’ generation. Through this, the next generation of Korean American leaders can emerge, further strengthening the ROK-U.S. alliance.

In May, we sent a letter to the President of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the U.S. House, requesting their support for the construction of these historic statues to enhance the ROK-U.S. alliance. We are excited about the new history that will be made in the future with Chairman Kim Gi-hyeon’s visit to Los Angeles.