Survey: Korean War a mystery to the young
Stars and Stripes June 27, 2007
SEOUL — If those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, consider this:
South Korea’s Ministry of Public Administration and Security issued a statement on Tuesday, the eve of the 58th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, saying more than half of about 1,000 South Korean teenagers surveyed knew very little about the three years of hostilities that devastated their country.
According to the statement, 56.8 percent of South Korean teens were unaware that the war started June 25, 1950, and 51.3 percent didn’t know the war started with North Korea’s invasion of the South.
"Survey analysis shows the students are very confused about the security reality of South Korea being faced with North Korea and the powerful nations surrounding it," the statement said.
An informal Stars and Stripes survey conducted at Yongsan Garrison, next door to the Korean War Museum, showed American teens didn’t fare much better than their Korean counterparts in their knowledge of the war.
"I didn’t even know the anniversary was today," 16-year-old Veronica Gaskey said. "I feel so bad. I’m half Korean."
When asked when the Korean War started, 16-year-old Ken Fiddler said, "In the past. 1900s."
Eighteen-year-old Angye Law got a little closer to the mark.
"Nineteen-fifty-two? Was it ’50? In the ’50s," she guessed.
She was equally unsure of who started the war.
"The Soviet Union? China?"
In addition to not knowing the dates, the students also weren’t entirely clear on who participated.
"Well the Koreans, obviously, and the States," Fiddler said.